SC to consider options of re-evaluation, fresh exam to fill posts of civil judges in Haryana

New Delhi, Dec 3 (PTI) The Supreme Court Tuesday said it would consider all options including re-evaluation of papers and conducting fresh examination for filling up 107 advertised vacancies of civil judge (junior division) in Haryana.

The case had caught the attention of the top court which was apprised that only nine aspirants, out of 1,195 candidates who had appeared for the final examination, were finally selected as against 107 advertised vacancies.

Initially, for 107 advertised vacancies of civil judge (junior division) in Haryana, more than 34,000 candidates had applied and more than 14,000 aspirants turned up for the test.

Of those who appeared, 1,282 aspirants qualified for the main examination.

Later, only 1,195 candidates took the main exam leading to final selection of only nine against 107 vacancies and the results were declared on April 11, 2019.

The top court took note of the factual situation and requested its former judge Justice Justice A K Sikri to assess different aspects related to examinations and selection process and suggest measures to rectify alleged deficiencies.

The apex court had on April 29 restrained the Punjab and Haryana High Court Registry from appointing any civil judge in Haryana without its nod.

A plea was also filed by 92 aspirants to the post of Civil Judge, seeking quashing of the result of its Main (Written) Examination.

A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices B R Gavai and Surya Kant on Tuesday heard arguments of lawyer Prashant Bhushan, appearing for some of the aspirants and senior lawyer Nidhesh Gupta and reserved its verdict in the case.

'We will consider all the options,' the bench said, adding that re-evaluation of papers of those who took up the mains or conducting examination afresh are the options which would be considered.

Bhushan said the marks obtained by candidates in papers which were tough and easy can be moderated or balanced and then merit list can be revised to ensure level-playing field for the aspirants who took up the main examination.

The counsel appearing for the registry of the Punjab and Haryana High Court opposed the submission saying that the suggestion may not work in the present case.

The bench said it would also look into the suggestions of Justice Sikri and one of them was to conduct a fresh examination.

Earlier, the apex court had taken a serious note of the fact that only nine candidates made to the interview level out of the 14,000 aspirants who had taken up the preliminary examination for the posts of Civil Judge in Haryana and had requested former judge Justice Sikri to assess the evaluation of the main written exam and suggest measures.

It had also directed the Punjab and Haryana High Court to place the answer scripts of all the candidates who appeared in the main written examination before Justice (retd) Sikri.

The plea of 92 has sought quashing of the result of the Main (Written) Examination and challenged the selection process and evaluation method adopted in the examination on the grounds of being 'unreasonable, arbitrary and mala fide'.

It alleged that if the examination's selection process was not stayed, it would cause irreparable damage to the petitioners and other un-successful candidates.

The petitioners have alleged that various RTI applications were filed immediately after the result of the main examination seeking disclosure of marks, copies of answer scripts, model answers and marking criteria, but to no avail and the interview tests were scheduled on the basis of the already declared results.

The petitioners have also alleged that there was a 'serious problem' with the evaluation method being conducted for selecting judicial officers in Haryana.

The plea further said that it was 'surprising' and 'invited disbelief' that at least 20-30 candidates, who had appeared for the main exam but were not selected for the interview are those who have already cleared judicial examinations of other states or are sitting judges in their respective states.

'Some of the candidates who have not been found fit for the interview are the toppers and gold medalists in their respective reputed law colleges, the plea has said.

Through the information obtained under RTI Act, it is clear that in the last examination cycle leading to appointment of successful candidates to state judicial services, there was 'no marking criteria' for the evaluation of answer scripts in the related mains examination and the performance of the candidate in the written examination depended solely on discretion of the examiner, the plea has alleged. PTI SJK RKS SA