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Panelist must withdraw if kin faces interview

THE ALLAHABAD High Court has ruled that if a selection committee is constituted for the purpose of selecting candidates on merits and one of the members of the selection committee is closely related to a candidate appearing for selection, it would not be enough for such member to merely withdraw from participation in the interview of the candidate related to him. He must withdraw from the entire process of selection.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 00:07 IST

THE ALLAHABAD High Court has ruled that if a selection committee is constituted for the purpose of selecting candidates on merits and one of the members of the selection committee is closely related to a candidate appearing for selection, it would not be enough for such member to merely withdraw from participation in the interview of the candidate related to him. He must withdraw from the entire process of selection.

Such member should ask the authorities to nominate another person in his place on the selection committee, otherwise selection would be vitiated, the court said.

However, giving this ruling, a division bench comprising Justice VM Sahai and Justice Sabhajeet Yadav said the above principle, as its stood, could not be applied in respect of selection made by Central or State Public Service Commissions, where members of the commission whose close relatives were appearing for selection, he need not withdraw from selection altogether. Rather, he should abstain from interview of his close relative and further deliberations in allocation of marks. But in multi-member commissions, where other alternatives were available, it would be most appropriate to leave the matter of interview and deliberations of allocations of marks to another member comprising board of selection.

The court said where the selection committee was constituted under statutory rules of government orders, a member, if disqualified in a given situation vis-à-vis a particular candidate whose promotion or selection was in question, there could be no difficulty in his excusing himself and requesting another officer to be substituted in his place in the committee. Alternatively, when there were three or more members in such a committee, the disqualified member could leave it to the other remaining members to take a decision. In case, however, they differed, then authority which constituted the committee, could be requested to nominate a third member in case of committee having three members, said the Bench.

The court said the aforesaid rule would also be applied with necessary modification in the matter pertaining to ‘disciplinary action’, where the commission was to be consulted and in cases where the inquiry or disciplinary or appellate authority was disqualified to take decision on account of bias, affecting such decision.

According to judges, there could be no difficulty in applying the rule in connection of members of screening committee, constituted for the purpose of compulsory retirement with necessary modification, if any member of screening committee were disqualified on account of bias in taking even advisory decision.

However, the court said that before setting aside such decisions tainted with bias, it was necessary for the courts or tribunals to examine as to whether the decision could be saved by applying the doctrine of necessity in the manner indicated herein before as exception to the rule against bias affecting the decision. But where there was no such statutory compulsion, the doctrine of necessity could not be pressed into service.

This judgement was given by the court in a writ petition (no-73680 of 2005) filed by Dr Virendra Kumar Sharma and another.

In the present case, the petitioners apart from others had challenged the appointment of the person (respondent no-5), who was appointed on the post of medical officer, Ayurvedic on contract basis. The plea of the petitioner was that this appointment was vitiated under the law, as the father of this person had participated in the process of selection, being member of selection committee.

The court allowed the writ petition and quashed the selection and appointment of the respondent no. 5 and also directed the respondent to vacate the post in question forthwith.

First Published: May 31, 2006 00:07 IST