A Supreme Court-ordered re-evaluation of answer sheets of the 2014 Delhi Judicial Services (DJS) exam has disclosed that at least 12 more candidates are eligible to qualify for the exam. It was mired in controversy after at least 65 sitting judicial officers flunked the test, while the children of some sitting Delhi High Court judges cleared it.
As first reported by The Indian Express, Union Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda in June last year sought a scrutiny by the Delhi High Court Chief Justice into accusations of “corruption, favouritism and nepotism” in the exam. The topper and another successful candidate of the main exam were daughters of sitting HC judges.
The exam was conducted to fill 80 vacancies of district and sessions judges in Delhi. Judges of the Delhi HC are involved in the preparation of question papers and the evaluation process.
Later, citing the law minister’s letter, NGO CPIL had moved the apex court, asking for a re-evaluation and for the court to prescribe guidelines for fair assessment.
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In November last year, a bench led by Justice Dipak Misra asked former Supreme Court judge Justice P V Reddi to re-check all answer sheets but decided to leave the successful candidates out. On Friday, in his report submitted to the apex court following a re-evaluation of answer sheets of the top 200 candidates, Justice Reddi said marks of these 12 candidates had to be increased and that they now stand qualified for the interview.
The 12-page report adduced before a bench led by Justice Misra stated that these additional candidates crossed the cut off marks of 425, which made them entitled to be called for the interview — the final stage of selection.
Since only 15 candidates out of 80 vacancies were earlier called for the interview and selected, the 12 candidates now declared eligible by the one-member court panel can be accommodated for the rest of the vacancies.
Justice Reddi also pointed out that he has rechecked only 200 of the total 659 answer sheets, based on the aggregate of the candidates’ marks. According to him, re-evaluating the rest of the answer sheets could be an exercise in futility since their marks were very low.
The judge, however, has left it to the bench to decide if other answer sheets should also be rechecked. Justice Reddi has added that some errors might have cropped up during the evaluation of answer sheets but the checking appeared prima facie fair.
On Friday, the court allowed senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and advocate Prashant Bhushan — who represented a candidate and the CPIL respectively — to peruse Justice Reddi’s report to enable the lawyers to argue their petition on March 10.
Hegde and Bhushan said they can make further submissions into the matter only after they go through what the one-member panel has stated about the manner of evaluation.
The DJS main exam was held in October 2014, and the results were declared on May 1, 2015. Of the 659 candidates who appeared for the exam, only 15 — or just over 2 per cent — were declared successful.
Records showed at least 65 sitting judicial officers from 11 states failed the exam, raising questions over the evaluation process. The list of the 65 unsuccessful judicial officers included 10 toppers, who had held first or second rank in their states, as well as some who had cleared the judicial services exams in more than one state.
Data analysed by The Indian Express had also revealed that among those who failed were six who had topped the judicial services exams in their states and four who had held second rank.
Three unsuccessful candidates, one each from Jharkhand, Gujarat and Rajasthan, had cleared the exams in their home states as well as in one more state between 2012-14. On the other hand, some of the candidates who were declared successful had failed to clear the judicial services exams in their states.