Candidates cannot challenge selection process without concrete evidence: Himachal Pradesh High Court

Once a candidate has accepted a particular selection process and has participated in the same without challenging it, she/he cannot challenge such a process upon not being selected, in the court of law without concrete evidence. The High Court Bench of Himachal Pradesh, consisting of J. Sandeep Sharma, in the case of Mukesh Thakur and Others v. State of Himachal Pradesh and Others [CWPOA No. 5994 of 20190], decided that the court should not interfere in the selection process for posts, wherein there lies no evidence of illegality or irregularity.

The petitioners along with other eligible candidates had applied for the post of Drivers in 4th Battalion Home Guards, Nahan, pursuant to a notice published in the newspaper. The respondents conducted the fitness test, the driving test and the written test of over 122 candidates, out of which a list of 15 selected candidates was issued. None of the petitioners was selected and they were shocked to see that certain persons on the list had either failed the driving/fitness tests or had not even participated in the selection process. A few of the petitioners wrote a complaint to the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Himachal Pradesh and Inspector-General, Home Guards, stating illegalities regarding the selection process and requested to take action in accordance with the law. A few other petitioners also applied for information gathering regarding the marks in the tests along with a copy of the videography made at the time of the driving test. The report of illegalities and irregularities in the procedure was also published in the newspaper. Upon no response from the authorities, the petitioners approached the Himachal Pradesh Administrative Tribunal praying for the call of records, quashing the selection process and directing the respondent authorities to carry out a proper inquiry into the illegalities. The respondent while denying all the allegations, claimed that “the selection process under challenge, was conducted in a fairest and transparent manner”, and hence, the petition should be dismissed. The Tribunal granted time to the respondents and ordered that the finality of the selection process would be subject to the outcome of the petition. 

The Court, after careful consideration, remarked that “Though in the case at hand, petitioners have claimed that information sought for by them under RTI Act is yet awaited but delay, if any in furnishing information cannot be a ground/reason for this Court to infer that the respondents committed illegalities and irregularities while selecting respondents Nos. 4 to 8 in the selection process, wherein admittedly petitioners had also participated. Save and except bald statements/allegations having been made by the petitioners, there is no concrete evidence adduced on record by them suggestive of the fact that respondents Nos. 4 to 8 had either not cleared the fitness/driving test or not appeared in the selection process. There is no plausible reason rendered on record by the petitioners, which can persuade this Court to disbelieve the version put forth by the respondents in their reply, which has been admittedly filed under the signatures and affidavit of Commandant, Home Guard, 4th Battalion”.

Relying on Madras Institute of Development Studies and Another v. K. Sivasubramaniyan and Others [(2016) 1 SCC 454], the Court dismissed the petition on the basis of it being devoid of merit, stating that “Since it stands duly established on record that the writ petitioners before laying challenge to selection process had participated in the selection process without any demur, now it is not open for them to lay challenge to selection process after having been declared unsuccessful that too on the bald and baseless allegations”.

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Judgement reviewed by-Sarita Kumari

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