Sushil Kumar Pandey vs High Court Of Jharkhand 2024 INSC 97 :: [2024] 2 S.C.R. 217 – Judicial Service -No Change In The Rule Midway

Judicial Service – Selection process of District Judge Cadre in the State of Jharkhand initiated in the year 2022 – Full Court resolution introduces securing 50 per cent marks in aggregate (combination of marks obtained in main examination and viva-voce) as the qualifying criteria for being recommended to the said posts – Writ Petition Allowed – High Court to make recommendation for those candidates who have been successful as per the merit or select list, for filing up the subsisting notified vacancies without applying the Full Court Resolution that requires each candidate to get 50 per cent aggregate marks. The part of the Full Court Resolution of the Jharkhand High Court dated 23.03.2023 by which it was decided that only those candidates who have secured at least 50% marks in aggregate shall be qualified for appointment to the post of District Judge is quashed – if the High Court is permitted to alter the selection criteria after the performance of individual candidates is assessed, that would constitute alteration of the laid down Rules – Referred to Sivanandan C.T. & Ors. Vs. High Court of Kerala [(2023) INSC 709)]

Jharkhand Superior Judicial Service (Recruitment, Appointment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 2001; Rule 14 – empowers the High Court administration in specific cases to reassess the suitability and eligibility of a candidate in a special situation by calling for additional documents – High Court administration cannot take aid of this Rule to take a blanket decision for making departure from the selection criteria specified in the 2001 Rules. The content of Rule 14 has the tenor of a verification process of an individual candidate in assessing the suitability or eligibility. (Para 24)

Service Law – “no change in the rule midway” dictum has become an integral part of the service jurisprudence -K.Manjusree -vs- State of Andhra Pradesh and Anr. [(2008) 3 SCC 512] in which the change of recruitment criteria mid-way through the selection process has been held to be impermissible still holds the field. (Para 19)

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