10 June 2024


Judgments

High Court of Bombay

Vasant Khela Sarak and Ors. Vs. State of Maharashtra and Ors.

MANU/MH/2685/2019

26.09.2019

Service

The scope of judicial review is limited; Court cannot substitute its own value judgment for that of appointing authority

The Petitioners, who are working on the establishment of present Court as 'Personal Assistants', have filed present petition taking exception to the prescription of shorthand test, as a selection criteria, for promotion to the post of 'Private Secretary' to the Judges of this Court.

Before institution of present petition, the Petitioners had submitted a representation to the High Court Administration on 3rd September 2018 for dispensing with shorthand test for promotion to the post of Private Secretary to the Judges. The High Court Administration, by communication informed the Petitioners that the representation was considered by the Administrative Judges' Committee in its meeting and it has been decided to reject the said representation. The Petitioners have, thus, assailed the said communication, dated 11th February 2019 and have sought a declaration that Rule 13 of the High Court Appellate Side Service Rules, 2000 ('the Service Rules, 2000') does not envisage holding of a shorthand test, and a consequential direction to the High Court Administration that, the Petitioners be promoted to the post of Private Secretary without conducting shorthand/typing test.

The pivotal question which crop up for consideration is whether the prescription of shorthand test for promotion to the post of 'Private Secretary' is in conformity with the Service Rules, 2000 and within the province of the authority of the Hon'ble Chief Justice.

The historical perspective of creation of the posts of Personal Secretary and Private Secretary purportedly for removal of stagnation, does not justify an inference that promotion to the post of Private Secretary from the feeder cadre of Personal Assistant is to be made on the basis of seniority alone.

It is also well settled that, what should be the criteria for the selection is a matter within the province of the appointing authority. The scope of judicial review in this regard is extremely limited. The only aspect which the Court can consider is whether there is any rational nexus between the selection criteria and the duties and functions of the post for which said criteria is prescribed. The Court cannot substitute its own value judgment for that of the appointing authority.

The proficiency in Stenography has an important bearing upon discharge of the duties by Private Secretaries. It cannot be gainsaid that the efficiency and proficiency have a defining functional nexus with the discharge of the duties by the Private Secretaries. Ultimately, inefficiency and unpolished skills of a Private Secretary would adversely affect the discharge of the functions by the Judges. Thus, the prescription of stenography/shorthand test has rational nexus with duties attached to the post of Private Secretary.

The prescription of the criteria of shorthand test emanates from the very concept of selection envisaged by Rule 13 of the Service Rules, 2000. Secondly, the second proviso to Rule 60 expressly saves the said criteria, which has been in operation since prior to the enforcement of the Rules. Thirdly, the prescription of shorthand test is necessary for maintaining the efficiency in the administration of justice. Resultantly, the challenge raised in the instant petition is unworthy of countenance. The petition, thus, stands dismissed.

Tags : Selection Criteria Legality

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