Universally applicable selection criteria is not prejudicial in nature: Bombay High Court

If a selection criterion is universally applicable, then it may not be stated that such a selection criterion was created in the interests of prejudicing or causing harm to the petitioner, held, a division bench of Justice SG Mehare and Justice Ravindra V Ghuge, while adjudicating the matter in Rukmini Suryabhan Bele v. The State of Maharashtra; [WRIT PETITION NO.6445 OF 2020]

The petitioner belongs to a Scheduled Tribe. An advertisement was published by respondent No.2/Chairman, District Integrated Health and Family Welfare Society and the Chief Executive Officer, Zilla Parishad, Aurangabad, District Aurangabad on 03.11.2019 declaring the selection process for filling in various posts, including the post of a “Taluka Samuh Sanghatak” (Taluka Group Co-ordinator) under the National Health Mission in Zilla Parishad, Aurangabad purely on contract basis for 11 months. Only one post was available for the Taluka Group Co-ordinator, which is at issue in this petition. The petitioner has based this petition on the select list for the post of Taluka Group Co-ordinator dated 13/07/2020 which was published by respondent No.2 showing the petitioner at Sr.No.1 on the strength of her aggregate marks being 70.45. This score included 70% of the final year graduation course marks, which rule was universally made applicable to all the candidates while computing their scores. The petitioner appeared before the competent committee with necessary documents, which was a condition to be fulfilled for verification of all relevant documents before an appointment order could be issued. By the impugned communication dated 20/08/2020, respondent No.2 intimated the petitioner that her final year graduation marks are actually 58.22% as per the marks memo and not 86.36%, which was erroneously recorded while calculating her aggregate score in the selection process. Apparently, on account of the correction made by respondent No.2 in the erroneously calculated aggregate score, the petitioner did not retain serial number 1 in the select list.

Contention of the petitioner is that she was not aware about the manner of calculating the aggregate score before preparation of the select list. As she was not aware of the criteria for calculating such aggregate score, her rank at Sr.No.1 in the select list, though based on an incorrect noting of her final year marks as 86.36%, must be retained. It is however conceded that the petitioner had not scored 86.36% in her final year graduation and has passed in second class scoring 58.22%.

The Court upon considering the aforesaid facts stated that; “We do not find that respondent No.2 has unilaterally introduced a new rule only to cause prejudice to the petitioner or a different set of selection criteria was made applicable only to the petitioner by way of an exception. The selection criteria that were followed by respondent No.2 was universally made applicable to all the applicants. There is no allegation of nepotism or bias or prejudice or personal animosity between respondent No.2 and the petitioner.”

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