The Uttarakhand high court passed a judgement on 9th January 2020 in the case Smt. Rashmi Nautiyal Vs. Secretary, Uttarakhand Public Service Commission, Haridwar and others (writ petition no. 82 of 2019) the case was presided over by the Hon’ble chief justice Mr. Ramesh Ranganathan and Hon’ble justice Alok Kumar Verma
FACTS OF THE CASE
The petitioner in Writ Petition (S/B) No. 78 of 2019, a Ph.D with nearly eight years of service as an Assistant Professor (Drawing and Painting), applied for the post of Assistant Professor (Drawing and Painting) pursuant to the advertisement issued by the Uttarakhand Public Service Commission (for short the ‘Commission’) dated 04.08.2017, on 12.08.2017. A screening test was held on 06.05.2018, the results of which were declared on 21.08.2018. The petitioner was among the candidates successful in the screening test, and was therefore called to appear before the interview board constituted by the Commission on 28.12.2018. The results of the interview were declared by the Commission on 04.01.2019, and respondent nos.6 to 9 were declared to have been selected ie two in the General category (ie respondent nos.7 and 9), and two in the Scheduled Castes category (ie respondent nos.6 and 8). The petitioner belongs to the General category. In the interview, respondent no.7 secured 74 marks and respondent no.9 secured 72 marks, whereas the petitioner was awarded only 57 marks resulting in her not being selected to the post of Assistant Professor (Drawing and Painting). Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner invoked the jurisdiction of this Court.
If there are clear indicators that the decision-making process may have been compromised by bias, actual or apparent, this may lead to a decision, that has been reached, being challenged and nullified. The principal issue is not whether the decision itself is legitimate but whether the decision-maker ought to have taken the decision in the first place, as the possibility of bias would undermine its credibility. Even if a person believes that he is acting impartially and in good faith, his mind may be unconsciously affected by improper considerations that affect his judgment. In defining the scope of the rule against bias and its content, at least three requirements of public law are in play: The first seeks accuracy in public decision- making, the second seeks the absence of prejudice or partiality on the part of the decision-maker. An accurate decision is more likely to be achieved by a decision-maker who is in fact impartial or disinterested in the outcome of the decision, and who puts aside any personal prejudices. The third requirement is for public confidence in the decision-making process. Even though the decision-maker may in fact be scrupulously impartial, the appearance of bias can itself call into question the legitimacy of the decision-making process.
In the light of what we have held here in above, selection of respondent nos.6 to 9 in Writ Petition (S/B) No.78 of 2019, as Assistant Professors (Drawing and Painting), is set-aside as the presence of Dr. Shekhar Joshi, in the Interview Board, has resulted in the entire selection process being vitiated by bias. Writ Petition (S/B) No.78 of 2019 is allowed to this limited extent. For the reasons stated hereinabove, Writ Petition (S/B) No.82 of 2019 is dismissed. However, in the circumstances, without costs.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ANANTH PAI