Published on: 25 September 2023 at 15:02 IST
The Supreme Court has clarified that the submission of original documents during interviews is not mandatory, as it is not directly related to a candidate’s qualifications or eligibility.
In a case where several candidates were on the merit list but were not appointed due to a delay in producing original documents during interviews, the Court allowed their appeals and directed the respondents to accommodate the candidates.
The bench, consisting of Justice J. K. Maheshwari and Justice K. V. Viswanathan, observed that the requirement for the submission of original documents at the interview stage is not connected to a candidate’s qualifications or eligibility. The Court found that the rejection of candidates based on this criterion was unjustified.
The case stemmed from the 30th Bihar Judicial Service Competitive Examination, where two candidates, including the appellant, participated in the Civil Judge (Junior Division) position.
The appellants had passed the preliminary and main examinations with scores exceeding their respective category cut-offs. However, their candidature was rejected during the interview stage because they did not present original character certificates, instead submitting true photocopies. This led to their disqualification from the selection process.
The Court clarified that while a candidate’s character is essential in the selection process, producing original documents during interviews is not mandatory.
The Bihar Civil Service (Judicial Branch) (Recruitment) Rules, 1955, outline the required documents to be submitted, including educational qualifications, character certificates, references, medical certificates, and certificates of practice duration.
These documents must be true copies of the originals, certified by a gazetted officer. Although candidates may be asked to produce the originals during the viva voce test, the Court emphasized that producing original documents at the interview stage is optional.
The Court referred to the case of Charles K. Skaria and Others v Dr. C. Mathew and Others (1980), which distinguished eligibility from proof of eligibility.
The Court reaffirmed that if a candidate fulfills the eligibility criteria before the selection process, they can be granted benefits even if proof is provided later.
The Court found that there was sufficient evidence on record, including true photocopies, to support the appellants’ cases. Rejecting candidates solely based on the non-production of original documents during interviews, especially when it was optional according to the rules, was deemed unjustified.
The Court disagreed with the Bihar Public Service Commission’s (BPSC) argument that producing original certificates was mandatory even if candidates possessed them at the time of application.
The Court held that non-production of original copies was optional and insufficient grounds for rejecting a candidate placed in the merit list.
The Registrar General of the High Court of Judicature at Patna confirmed that the cases of the appellants were similar to that of another candidate, and the state government agreed to accommodate all three candidates.
Therefore, the Court directed to provide the appellants with the same benefits as other candidates and to adjust one vacancy for the benefits of one appellant who applied under a specific category.
Case Title: Sweety Kumari v The State of Bihar And Others (2023)