Tripura HC Strikes Down TPSC Notification Cancelling Existing Recruitments, Allows Recruitment of Lecturers
Tripura High Court in State Of Tripura and Ors. Vs. Pratik Saha and Ors. — W.A. No.229/2020, directed the Tripura Public Service Commission to complete the selection process for the post of Lecturers in Diploma Level Technical Institution which was cancelled by notification of TPSC dated 13.11.2018 as the new recruitment policy was formulated by the State Government on 05.06.2018. The new policy stated that all existing recruitment processes were to be cancelled but the court allowed the continuation of the selection process. The petitioners had approached the court where a single judge bench on 02.03.2020 set aside the notification dated 13.11.2018 in W.P. (C) No.1097 of 2018. The present appeal was filed by the State of Tripura against the said order.
Two judge bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice S.G. Chattopadhyay held:
“to allow the State Government to annul the entire selection process would be neither permissible nor desirable. As many as 65 vacancies were notified in the year 2016. These vacancies must have arisen earlier. These vacancies pertain to teaching posts in Government Technical Institution. These vacancies, therefore, must be filled up at the earliest. It is unfortunate that because of one legal challenge after another coupled with the State decision to change the recruitment policy midway through the selection process, such important vacancies in such large numbers have remained un-filled for over 5 years.”
The original petitioners were candidates who applied for 65 vacancies vide advertisement No.05/2016, for the post of Lecturers in Diploma Level Technical Institution. All petitioners cleared the written examination and were called for oral interviews which were scheduled in November 2017. The TPSC Memorandum dated 30.03.2017 prescribed that in 100 marks allotted to the personality examination were divided as 50 marks for viva-voce and 50 marks for academic performance. This was challenged before the High Court which by judgment dated 29.06.2018 in Sri Jayanta Choudhury vs The State Of Tripura — W.P. (C) No.1404 of 2017, held that such condition was irreconcilable and TPSC should follow the notification dated 29.11.2007 for the selection process.
The original writ petition — W.P. (C) No.1097 of 2018, was filed by the original petitioner candidates as the TPSC had not undertaken the selection process despite directions issued by the court in Jayanta Choudhury (supra), praying for the selection process to be completed. The TPSC submitted that State Government on 05.06.2018 notified a new recruitment policy to minimize the scope of arbitrariness due to viva, and cancelled all existing recruitment processes. Placing reliance on Sri Samudra Debarma vs. State of Tripura and Ors. — W.P. (C) No.831 of 2018, the single judge bench in the present original writ petition on 02.03.2020 ordered that the new recruitment policy cannot be applied retrospectively and held:
“Some other decisions have also been relied on in respect of the change of rules in the mid of the recruitment process but in this case what is noticeable primarily is that without bringing any change in the recruitment rules based on which the TPSC initiated the selection process, the rules of the recruitment have been suddenly changed by way of so called policy. Even in the policy it has been stated that those polices would be prospective in nature, but it appears that the operation has been given retrospectively.”
The state government appealed against the above order and argued that the judgment of Samudra Debarma (supra) on whose ratio the present order denying retrospective effect is given is stayed by the Supreme Court. The respondent candidates submitted that after the judgment was passed in Jayanta Choudhury (supra), TPSC was to conduct fresh interviews based on the recruitment policy of the year 2007. The posts are lying vacant for more than five years. The respondent candidates submitted that they would not object to conducting of fresh interviews, provided that there is a ceiling of marks for viva as per the new recruitment policy dated 05.06.2018.
The court examined the new recruitment policy which states that weightage to oral interview cannot be more than 10% of total marks. Court taking note of the submission of respondent candidates opined that the remaining selection process can be completed by conducting interviews afresh where weightage to viva is not more than 10%. The candidates for the interview must be selected from the results of written exams already conducted. The actual weightage of the interview was left to the discretion of TPSC with condition that it shall not exceed 10%. The court held:
“However, to allow the State Government to annul the entire selection process would be neither permissible nor desirable. As many as 65 vacancies were notified in the year 2016. These vacancies must have arisen earlier. These vacancies pertain to teaching posts in Government Technical Institution. These vacancies, therefore, must be filled up at the earliest. It is unfortunate that because of one legal challenge after another coupled with the State decision to change the recruitment policy midway through the selection process, such important vacancies in such large numbers have remained un-filled for over 5 years”
The court upheld the decision of the single judge bench setting aside notification dated 13.11.2018 which cancelled the entire selection process. However, the orders were modified to the extent that interviews can be conducted afresh with the rider that its weightage cannot exceed 10%. The entire process is to be completed within six months.
Vaibhav Karadale | Research Intern | EduLegaL