Setting Precedent: Upholding Instructions in Civil Judge Selection Case

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of India delivered a judgment in the case concerning the selection of Civil Judges, emphasizing the adherence to instructions provided by the Commission. The case involved a respondent seeking relief despite violating mandatory instructions during the examination process. The court’s decision highlights the significance of maintaining integrity in public appointments and upholding established legal principles. #SupremeCourt #LegalCase #CivilJudgeSelection #Precedent


  • The Commission invalidated the Law Paper 1 of the Respondent for violating instructions.
  • The Respondent filed a Writ Petition in the High Court for result declaration and appointment as Civil Judge.
  • The High Court directed the Commission to announce the result of the Respondent in Law Paper-1.
  • The written test was conducted on 11 and 12 August, 2018.
  • The Respondent was successful in the preliminary examination conducted on 09.06.2018.
  • Results of the written test were announced on 19.09.2018 without the Respondent’s name.
  • The Commission was directed to conduct the interview of the Respondent as a special case if found qualified.
  • Interviews were conducted from 27.09.2018 to 05.10.2018.
  • Final results were published on 05.12.2018 with another candidate of the same community being selected despite performance issues.
  • The High Court granted relief to the Respondent despite non-adherence to Instructions.
  • The Respondent had underlined answer sheets with a pencil in violation of Instructions.
  • The High Court considered the marking as a violation of Instruction 22 (1)(II).
  • The High Court accepted the claim of inadvertent marking by the Respondent.
  • The High Court granted relief on humanitarian grounds due to the inadvertent mistake.
  • The Respondent pleaded for leniency and success in the main examination, which the High Court allowed.

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  • Mr. Venkatramani contends that the Respondent’s initial denial of using a pencil disentitles her from the relief sought.
  • He argues that the mandatory Instructions for the examination candidates must be followed without exception.
  • Ms. Mohana vehemently argues against the exercise of discretion under Article 136 of the Constitution of India.
  • She appeals for not nipping the career of a meritorious backward class candidate based on a violation of the Instructions.
  • Ms. Mohana persuades the court to dismiss the appeal to enable the Respondent to compete for the position of Civil Judge.
  • Mr. Venkatramani highlights the bar on using a pencil in the Instructions for the Civil Judge selection exam.
  • He raises concerns that granting relief to the Respondent would lead to similar claims from other disqualified candidates.
  • Mr. Venkatramani argues that there is no substantial legal question in the Special Leave Petition that warrants court intervention.

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  • Hard cases highlighted by the High Court must not be used to create bad law.
  • Strict compliance with the terms and conditions of the Instructions issued is crucial.
  • The High Court cannot amend or relax the Instructions provided by the Commission.
  • Upon reviewing the answer sheet, the High Court found a violation of the Instructions by the Respondent.
  • In extreme cases, established legal principles are tested.
  • Yielding to the desire to correct extreme cases rather than adhering to legal principles can result in cost and violation of the principle of equality.
  • This can also lead to arbitrariness.
  • Exercise of power of moderation can create a feeling of distrust in fair and impartial selection processes for public appointments.
  • The cost of yielding to extreme cases is captured in the legal aphorism: ‘Hard cases make bad law.’
  • High Court judgment not approved due to candidate violating mandatory instructions.
  • No order in favor of violating candidate to avoid setting bad precedent.
  • No approval for using Article 142 to pass non-precedential order.

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  • The judgment of the High Court is set aside.
  • The appeal is allowed.


Case Number: C.A. No.-006669-006669 / 2019

Click here to read/download original judgement

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