Haryana Judicial Services exam: SC appoints ex-judge A K Sikri to look into evaluation process

The Supreme Court Friday appointed former apex court judge Justice A K Sikri to look into the evaluation process of the main exam for the post of Civil Judge (Junior Division) in Haryana, in which only nine people were shortlisted out of more than 1,100 candidates. The exam was conducted to fill 107 vacancies. A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said that more than 1,100 candidates appeared for the main exam and only nine have qualified. The bench said Justice (retd) Sikri will look into whether the evaluation was acceptable or not and will submit the report to the apex court. The bench, also comprising Justice Deepak Gupta, directed the Punjab and Haryana High Court to submit answer sheets to Justice Sikri. The top courts order came on a plea filed by 92 aspirants to the post of Civil Judge (Junior Division) in Haryana, seeking quashing of the result of its Main (Written) Examination which was declared on April 11. The apex court had on April 29 directed the Punjab and Haryana High Court Registry not to appoint any civil judge in Haryana without its nod. The petition challenged the selection process and evaluation method adopted in the examination on the grounds of being unreasonable, arbitrary and mala fide. It alleged that if the examinations selection process was not stayed, it would cause irreparable damage to the petitioners and other un-successful candidates. The petitioners have alleged that various RTI applications were filed immediately after the result of the main examination seeking disclosure of marks, copies of answer scripts, model answers and marking criteria, but to no avail and the interview tests were scheduled on the basis of the already declared results. The petitioners have also alleged that there was a serious problem with the evaluation method being conducted for selecting judicial officers in Haryana. A total 14,301 students took the preliminary examination held on December 22, 2018 for total 107 vacancies. 1,282 students, out of 14,301, who were declared successful in preliminary examination, took the main examination held on March 15 and 17, 2019, it said. The plea further said that it was surprising and invited disbelief that at least 20-30 candidates, who had appeared for the main exam but were not selected for the interview are those who have already cleared judicial examinations of other states or are sitting judges in their respective states. Some of the candidates who have not been found fit for the interview are the toppers and gold medalists in their respective reputed law colleges, the plea has said. Through the information obtained under RTI Act, it is clear that in the last examination cycle leading to appointment of successful candidates to state judicial services, there was no marking criteria for the evaluation of answer scripts in the related mains examination and the performance of the candidate in the written examination depended solely on discretion of the examiner, the plea has alleged. It also alleged that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had further responded that information was not available with the concerned branch about existence of model answers or their copies and principles governing grace marks. The petition said the high court has already scrapped the entire preliminary examination held earlier on July 16, 2017 on account of paper leak and had issued direction for an enquiry in to the entire issue. It said that unless the selection process is re-examined to make it more rational and reasonable, one of the most important factors responsible for huge pendency and delay in justice, which is lack of sufficient number of judicial officers, will not be tackled.