Selection Criteria Discretion: Supreme Court’s Verdict on Teacher Recruitment Case

In a significant legal ruling, the Supreme Court of India provided a verdict on the teacher recruitment case involving the setting of selection criteria discretion. This case stemmed from a dispute between the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board (DSSSB) and private respondents regarding the fixed minimum qualifying marks for selection as per Advertisement No.1/2006. The Court’s decision has implications for the maintenance of standards in teacher recruitment processes and the discretion of recruiting agencies. Learn more about the details and outcomes of this case.


  • Private respondents filed Writ Petitions bearing Nos.16126-130/2006 challenging the discretion of DSSSB in fixing minimum qualifying marks for selection as per Advertisement No.1/2006.
  • Contention was that this discretion violated directions in a previous judgment, seeking consideration for remaining vacancies without fixed marks and publication of results for all vacancies.
  • DSSSB declared results for only 1638 posts out of total vacancies advertised due to introduction of cut-off marks, contrary to the direction in the previous judgment.
  • Writ petitioners contended that limiting candidates through cut-off marks was arbitrary and discriminatory, affecting their right to employment.
  • Corrigendum modified vacancies from 3348 to 2348 under different categories, but the Advertisement did not specify cut-off qualifying marks.
  • The High Court of Delhi considered all writ petitions together, and the DSSSB had the right to fix the panel’s validity period.
  • Private respondents, including the appellant in L.P.A.No.65/2008 and connected appeals, challenged the Court’s order in this appeal dated 03.11.2008.
  • DSSSB conducted a written examination on 02.07.2006, where neither the private respondents nor other petitioners/appellants qualified.
  • Clauses 25 and 26 in Advertisement No.1/2006 pertained to fixing minimum qualifying marks and non-disclosure of examination marks, respectively.
  • Order dated 29.11.2007 passed by the Single Judge in W.P. (C) Nos.16126-130/2006 was interfered with.
  • Division Bench directed the Municipal Corporation to appoint Shri Surender Singh and Shri Rakesh Sharma as Assistant Teachers (Primary).
  • Order dated 03.11.2008 allowed the appeals and provided directions for the appointments.

Also Read: Solapur Municipal Corporation vs. Majarewadi Gram Panchayat Employees


  • The DSSSB must follow the requisition given by MCD for selection process, as they are just an agency to conduct interviews/tests and prepare panels.
  • Executive policy decisions regarding recruitment eligibility criteria remain sustainable without statutory rules or laws.
  • Allegations of discrimination were deemed not sustainable as the cut-off percentage criteria were uniformly applied to all candidates.
  • The Court was made aware of a writ petition pointing out the quality of education in MCD and NCT schools being below standard in a Public Interest Litigation.
  • The Court stated that there is no legally enforceable right and the writ petition was not maintainable.
  • The Court should not set minimum standards for candidate selection, as it could impact student quality if unqualified teachers were hired.
  • The Division Bench was found to have accepted the criteria of prescribing minimum marks in the selection process in 2008, indicating no conscious decision fault.
  • The contention was raised against the Division Bench’s interference by fixing its criteria for selection and accommodating candidates who did not qualify for the posts.
  • The judgment in ‘State of Haryana vs Subhash Chandra Marwah & Ors.’ was referred to, highlighting the government’s right to set higher scores to maintain competition standards.
  • The DSSSB and appellant refuted claims of illegal or arbitrary power use for fixing cut-off marks to maintain education standards.
  • The appellant argued that to maintain education standards, a cut-off higher than the bare minimum for qualifying was necessary, and there was no discrimination in the selection process applied to all candidates achieving above the set marks.
  • The Division Bench was criticized for interfering in the process of judicial review without grounds of discrimination or arbitrariness.
  • The DSSSB and MCD were noted to have different stands regarding teacher quality and merit bars for selection, justifying the fixed cut-off for recruitment.
  • Despite higher scoring candidates being available, the Division Bench erred in directing selection of lower-scoring private respondents.
  • The DSSSB began publishing minimum percentage of marks for transparency, as noted by the Court.
  • The Single Judge considered the decision in ‘Kuldeep Singh’ extensively, on which the writ petitioners relied heavily.
  • The learned counsel for the private respondents defended the order passed by the Division Bench.
  • They referenced a previous case to argue that selecting the private respondents would not harm the appellant MCD as no other candidates had challenged their selection earlier.
  • The Division Bench, in a previous hearing, had considered all aspects and concluded that the private respondents could be accommodated without setting a precedent for others.
  • The counsel mentioned that even if other candidates now approach the Court, they would not be entitled to claim benefits due to the relief granted to the private respondents.
  • The petitioners were aggrieved by specific clauses in the recruitment advertisement for Assistant Teacher (Primary) for the benefit of the appellant MCD.
  • The impugned clauses gave full discretion to the Board to set minimum qualifying marks for selection in each category.

Also Read: Vaishali Wadhwani and Mamta Mishra vs. MPPSC: Upholding Justice and Integrity in Recruitment Processes


  • The Division Bench in the case of L.P.A.No.65/2008 and connected appeals considered the issue of unfilled vacancies in the selection process for Assistant Teachers
  • Private respondents were marginally below the last selected candidate in the merit list and sought selection despite not meeting the cut-off percentage
  • The Division Bench exceeded its jurisdiction by evolving its own criteria for selection and directing the selection of candidates who did not meet the set standards
  • The discretion of the Selection Board (DSSSB) in fixing minimum qualifying marks was upheld by the court, as it ensured the maintenance of minimum standards for teacher recruitment
  • Judicial interference to lower the bar for selection would impede the employer’s right to choose suitable candidates and cause injustice to other participants
  • The Court observed that candidates had the opportunity to challenge the criteria before participating in the selection process, and not doing so waives any subsequent grievance
  • The Appellants were directed for selection by the Division Bench based on vacancies remaining unfilled and narrow differences in marks obtained
  • The DSSSB was directed to consider the appellants for appointment against the remaining vacancies despite their marginal marks difference compared to the last selected candidate
  • Employer has the discretion to determine the range of selection
  • Recruiting agency is not bound to fill all available posts
  • Court held in the case of Ashwani Kumar Singh vs U.P. Public Service Commission & Ors. (2003) 11 SCC 584 that cut-off positions fixed by the employer should not be altered unless completely irrational or tainted with malafides
  • The benefit provided to the private respondents in this case should not be based on the principles from the U.P. Jal Nigam case, as done by the Division Bench.
  • The order from 03.11.2008 by the Division Bench in L.P.A. No.65/2008 has been deemed unsustainable and set aside.
  • The appeal has been successful and allowed, with no costs imposed.

Also Read: Jagdishchandra v. Joint Charity Commissioner & Ors.


Case Number: C.A. No.-005588-005588 / 2010

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