PCS recruitment (judicial branch): Punjab and Haryana HC turns down demand for fresh expert panel
Punjab and Haryana HC has dismissed nearly two dozen petitions, mainly seeking constitution of fresh expert panel to examine questions and answers key put out of preliminary exam of judicial officers’ recruitment in Punjab.
The Punjab and Haryana high court has dismissed nearly two dozen petitions, mainly seeking constitution of fresh expert panel to examine questions and answers key put out of preliminary exam of judicial officers’ recruitment in Punjab.
The exam was conducted on January 22, 2023 for which a total of 8363 applications were received and as many as 6497 candidates appeared in the exam. The 159 posts of judicial officers (junior division) were advertised on September 6, 2022 by the Punjab Public Service Commission and Punjab and Haryana high court. The answer key of the preliminary objective type exam was put out on January 24. Recruitment committee consisting of five judges of high court constituted an expert panel comprising of three members of the rank of additional district and sessions judges to examine objections and submit recommendations.
After two rounds of objections and cross objections, finally recruitment committee ordered uploading of final answer key on February 21. As many as 1,354 were declared qualified for the main test based on the final answer key. Some plea challenged decision about some questions, while majority were for constitution of fresh expert panel.
The bench of justices Lisa Gill and Ritu Tagore dismissed the pleas observing that judicial restraint was always to be exercised qua interference with answer keys provided by expert committees, when high court is invoking its extra ordinary powers given under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
The court said it had examined details of objections raised by the petitioners, their consideration by the expert panel and their evaluation by the recruitment committee, it found no glaring mistake or opinion which was “unreasonable” and called for interference by the court.
It also observed that routine constitution of such expert committees have been deprecated by the apex court while dealing with such litigation.
The court made it clear that it had deliberately not entered the realm of discussion on the individual questions even as in some cases arguments have been advanced on that. In the event of doubt, benefit necessarily has to be given to the examination authority rather than the candidate and exclusion of an offending question has been found to be correct way out, it further added.
In the backdrop that no allegation of malafide has been levelled by the petitioners against the expert panel or the recruitment committee, it said, there was no ground for the court to interfere in the matter.