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No legally enforceable right accrues in favour of a successful candidate in a selection not held in accordance with law: High Court of Calcutta

The petitioner cannot reap the benefit of a selection process that was not held according to the guidelines published in the Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Siliguri Area Office brochure. This was held by the Hon’ble Justice Amrita Sinha of the Calcutta High Court in the matter of Laxmi Basfore vs. Senior Area Manager, Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Siliguri Area Office & Ors. [W.P.A. No. 705 of 2019].

An advertisement was published in a newspaper by the Indian Oil Corporation Limited, inviting applications for awarding LPG Distributorship at a certain mentioned location. The petitioner, with interest, had applied for the same. After applying for such interest, the petitioner was initially selected after a draw of lots, post which, she was asked to pay a security deposit of Rs. 20,000/-, along with necessary documents. However, according to the respondents, the petitioner failed to comply with the instructions, and her application was rejected, whereas, she complained that she was never informed of such an incident. Meanwhile, the Company had arranged a redraw of the lot, to which Her Lordship has stated in her judgment that the Company has not even produced a “single scrap of paper” to prove that the petitioner was informed of such re-draw, and therein, a third-party candidate got selected, and this third party candidate when requested the Company for an extension of seven days to deposit the security deposit of Rs. 20,000/-, such third party’s candidature in the selection process was allowed despite depositing the required security deposit amount along with the other documents after the extended time period.

The Hon’ble Court relied upon the fact as to “whether the Company acted in accordance with the guidelines for selection of LPG Distributorship”. The Court perused the facts and circumstances. Raising the precedent of Glodyne Techno Serve Limited vs. State of Madhya Pradesh & Ors., and Nobel Resources Limited vs. State of Orissa & Ors., that had been put forth by the respondents, the Hon’ble Court said that, “… the matter of Nobel Resources was a well settled proposition of law that disputed questions of facts ordinarily could not be entertained by the High Court in the exercise of its power of judicial review.” Adding to that, in contention of the respondent relying upon the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Glodyne Techno, it held that,”…it was the discretionary power of the authority to reject the candidature of the petitioner on account of non-submission of the deposit and the necessary documents.” On the other hand, the Company failed to convince the Court that the petitioner was ever informed of the re-draw and the subsequent steps taken to intimate her of being successful.

Thus, Hon’ble Justice Sinha strictly held that the Company did not adhere to the guidelines at the time of holding the re-draw of the selection process, and such re-draw was illegal and arbitrary. The subsequent steps undertook by the Company, too, shall be deemed to be illegal and liable to be set aside. Her Lordship also stated that solely by submitting the security deposit by the subsequently selected candidate will not be able to save the redraw from the vice of arbitrariness.

Hence, the Hon’ble Court directed the Company to proceed with the redraw from the stage when the selection of the first successful candidate was canceled due to the non-compliance of the provided guidelines, and such re-draw must be strictly held following the guidelines provided by the Company in its brochure.

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