Supreme-Court-oF-India

SC: Non-merit based selection for public employment is unconstitutional

Tanvi Sinha

A two-judge bench of Justice L Nageswara Rao and Justice Indira Banerjee gave the ruling and upheld the order passed by Jharkhand High Court which allowed for selection of 43 persons for Police Sub-Inspectors on basis of merit.

The Supreme Court earlier last week stated that any selection in a public office that did not take merit into account and chose those who have lesser merit instead of those who secure more marks is unconstitutional.

The issue arose when the appointees to the post of Police Sub-Inspectors and Company Commanders were terminated on grounds that the select list was prepared wrongly by ignoring the merit of the candidates.

42 people who had appeared in the merit list, had allegedly been given undue importance erroneously as was discovered by a High Level Committee report.

The High Court maintained that the 43 petitioners could not be held responsible for the errors committed by the authorities as there was no fraud or misrepresentation from their part.

When the matter came to the Supreme Court, the court was in agreement with the High Court’s stance but stated that relief was only granted to the 43 petitioners on grounds of them already being appointed and having served the state adding that public employment should still only be made on basis of merit.

“There is no doubt that selections to public employment should be on the basis of merit. Appointment of persons with lesser merit ignoring those who have secured more marks would be in violation of the Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.”

Even so, the bench maintained that they were not inclined to direct appointment of the intervenors as sections pertained to an advertisement that was issued in 2008.