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There is no bar in intimating the candidates through SMS, more particularly when large number of candidates had to appear in the subsequent process: Supreme Court

In any event, though indulgence was shown in the earlier cases, a line has to be drawn at some stage as otherwise, the recruitment process undertaken by the competent authorities would be meaningless without a time line and the next recruitment process will also get effected since determination of the number of vacancies for the next process will keep fluctuating as held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court through the learned bench led by Justice A.S. Bopanna in the case of State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors v. Pankaj Kumar (CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6860 OF 2021) (Arising out of SLP (CIVIL) No.5006 of 2020).

The brief facts leading to the present appeal is that the appellants had published an advertisement in the year 2015 to recruit Police Constables to the Provincial Armed Constabulary (Male) by direct recruitment. The respondent herein was one of the candidates who had responded to the said advertisement and submitted his application. In order to complete the process of selection, the documents were to be verified and the candidates were to be subjected to physical fitness test which was to be made subsequently as the next stage of recruitment process. The issue presently is with regard to the respondent being unable to appear for the physical fitness test and the verification of documents which he alleges is for want of written communication. According to the appellants, the candidates who were required to appear for the physical fitness test and document verification were intimated by issuing SMS over the mobile phone, the number of which had been furnished in the application. Several other candidates who had received such SMS had appeared and taken part in the process of document verification and the physical fitness test. The respondent who had not appeared, made out a grievance about appellants not intimating the respondent through post. According to the respondent, as per rule, a call letter was required to be issued. The Learned Single Judge though did not record a finding with regard to there being violation or non­compliance of any rule, had arrived at the conclusion that there was inadvertence on part of the respondent since an applicant would not have deliberately not participated in the process of recruitment. The appellants herein, claiming to be aggrieved by such direction issued by the Learned Single Judge filed an intra court appeal in Special Appeal No.366/2019 before the Division Bench of the High Court. The Division Bench has further indicated that there is no dispute to the fact that except for the SMS sent to the respondent no other mode of information was sent and in that view the Division Bench approved the direction issued by the Learned Single Judge whereby an opportunity has been granted to the respondent to appear for the document verification and physical fitness test.

After the perusal of the facts and arguments, the Hon’ble Court held, “The process herein had commenced in the year 2015 and the document verification along with the physical fitness test was held in 2018. Several candidates who were permitted pursuant to the order of the High Court had taken part in early January 2019. Since, sufficient time has elapsed thereafter it would not be appropriate to make an exception in the case of the respondent at this stage as otherwise the trickle would continue. We are therefore of the opinion that the learned Single Judge as also the Division Bench of the High Court was not justified in their conclusion. The order dated 12.03.2019 passed by the learned Single Judge and the order dated 29.08.2019 passed in Special Appeal by the Division Bench are set aside. Consequently, the Writ petition No.693 (SS) of 2019 titled Pankaj Kumar vs. State of U.P. and Ors. stands dismissed.”

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Judgment reviewed by Vandana Ragwani

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