Highlighting the significance of merit while appointing candidates to various commissions and public bodies, the Supreme Court Monday urged the governments to always undertake a “good and effective exercise” to make sure “unworthy” people are weeded out in the selection process.
The message by a bench led by Chief Justice of India J S Khehar came as the apex court directed the Tamil Nadu government to carry out afresh an exercise to pick 11 people for appointment as members in the state Public Service Commission.
Madras High Court had last month quashed a government order appointing 11 members to the Tamil Nadu PSC, saying the constitutional process was not followed. All the 11 members were appointed on a single day following the CM’s recommendation.
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As the state moved an appeal, the bench, also comprising Justices D Y Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, agreed to examine the legal challenge and larger questions of law on the parameters of making such appointments. However, it declined to stay the high court order or let those continue as members until the new selections are completed.
Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, representing Tamil Nadu government, said issues regarding the prerogative of the appropriate government to make appointments to PSC and such other commissions shall arise in the matter, to which the bench agreed, saying it was indeed the government’s prerogative.
“We agree it is your prerogative but appointing 11 persons on the same day is bad…it shows lack of process. Appointing the district judge who was prematurely retired at the age of 58 is the worst example of bad selection. Besides, verification and integrity check for 11 was all done in one day,” said the bench.
The AG said there was nothing adverse against any of these candidates. “The appointment process cannot become bad only because the Governor cleared 11 names in one day,” he added.
The bench responded, “We think the consideration has to be effective. We will hear you but we will not stay this order. Remember that members of a Public Service Commission will have a very important role in selection, posting and transfer of people. You cannot afford having people who are unworthy of being appointed.”