Sanjay Singh & Anr. v. U.P. Public Services Commission, Allahabad & Anr.

After reading this judgement you will learn how the Supreme Court went into depth of the petition to assess whether scaling was a good method to examine papers during examinations, like the UPSC.
COURTSupreme Court of India
JUDGES/CORAMJustice Y.K. Sabharwal, Justice C.K. Thakker and Justice R.V. Raveendran


The present writ petition is a writ filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India by the unsuccessful candidates of the Uttar Pradesh Public service commission who had appeared for the examination conducted by the commission for the purpose of filing 347 posts of Civil Judge (Junior Division). The petitioners have challenged the method of scaling that had been used by the Commission for the purpose of evaluation as unconstitutional.


The facts of the case are as follows: The petitioners had appeared the examination for the purpose of filling 347 posts of Civil Judge (Junior Division) which was conducted by the defendants-Commission. The appeal has been made under Article 32 of the Constitution of India as the petitioners feel that the method of scaling used by the Commission for evaluation in the said examination was unjust and arbitrary and had thus violated their fundamental rights

As many as 51,524 candidates appeared for the preliminary exam conducted on 21-3-2004. The preliminary examination was an objective type exam and it consisted of two papers which were General Knowledge and Law. After the result had been declared 6046 candidates had qualified to appear for mains exam which was of the descriptive type. The main examination consisted of five papers each of 200 marks and the subjects were General Knowledge, Language, Law I, II and III. The number of candidates who appeared for the said examination was 5748. It was contented by the petitioners that the method of scaling that had been used in the said exam was unjust and thus was also unconstitutional

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Also the decision of the Apex Court in the case of UP Public Service Commission v. Subash Chandra Dixit[1] which had upheld the method of scaling by the Commission was challenged. The contentions of both the parties, the judgment of the Hon’ble Court and the stance taken towards scaling has been dealt with in the following analysis.


The main issues in the case were:

  1. Whether scaling of marks is unjust and contravenes the provisos of the concerned Rules?
  2. Whether the scaling system adopted by the Commission is illogical and unreasonable, and whether the decision in S.C. Dixit [(2003) 12 SCC 701] approving the “scaling system” requires reassessment?

Contentions of the Parties

The petitioners, in the present matter were the unsuccessful candidates of the examination and have thus been aggrieved. The petitioners contend that the system of scaling adopted by the Commission for evaluation is unjust and also contravenes the provisos of the Uttar Pradesh Judicial Service Rules, 2001. They also contend that conversion of their raw marks into scaled marks, by using the formula of scaling used was unjust and was done in an arbitrary manner and was thus inappropriate.

 It is also contended by the Petitioners that such unreasonable method of evaluation employed by the Commission had resulted in meritorious students being ignored, and less meritorious students being awarded higher marks and selected. Thus it was submitted by the Petitioners that their fundamental rights had been violated.

While from the Commission’s side it was contended that the system of scaling was scientific and correct and thus relied on the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of UP Public Service Commission v. Subash Chandra Dixit[2] wherein the Court had upheld the process of scaling. The Commission also provided that it was under Rule 50 of the U.P. Public Service Commission (Procedure and Conduct of Business) Rules, 1976, that it could adopt any such formula or method or device to eliminate variation in marks. The Commission argued that it had observed that there was variation in the marks awarded by different examiners known as “examiner variability”. And thus such scaling system had been adopted by the Commission to eliminate this undue advantage some students would gain over the rest.

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Summary of court decision and judgment

The Hon’ble Court dealt with the whole issue in a very detailed manner and first chose to deal with the concept of scaling itself. After doing so the Hon’ble Court came to the conclusion that the scaling method would only be actually able to deal with the issues of “examiner variability” and the “Hawk Dove Effect” in cases where the candidates have different options  of choosing their optional papers(like the UPSC examinations). The Court thus observed that in exams like the present judiciary exam, where there were no optional papers to choose from and where all the examinees were subject to the same exam papers, the method of moderation was fine enough and scaling had rather certain demerits in such aforesaid cases. Hence the Court opined that the use of the process of scaling was unjust and incorrect.


Regarding the power of the Commission to evaluate the papers by using suitable means as would be reasonable according to them under Rule 50, it was held that Rule 50 would give way to the Rule 20(3) of the Judicial Service Rules, which clearly did not grant any such power to the Commission.

The Court then next dealt with the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Subash Chandra Dixit[3] and overruled the part of the judgment which had only dealt with the method of scaling and had approved of it stating that the assumptions for which scaling had been upheld in the aforementioned case did not validly continue in the circumstances of the present case.

However, the prayer of the Petitioner to declare the whole examination and the results of 2003 to be null and void was not granted by the Hon’ble Court as it did not stand any grounds. Simultaneously, however the Court ensured that certain relief would be granted to the petitioners if they fulfilled the conditions as set by the Court regarding the calculations of the marks. Thus, the appeals were partly allowed by the Hon’ble Court.

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In my belief and after having studied and gone through the Judgment of the Hon’ble Court, I am of the strong belief that the Court’s decision was appropriate and correct. The Hon’ble Court did not leave any doubt at all regarding its stand as it gave a very lengthy and a detailed judgment after having relied on several other Judgments. The judgment also conforms to the existing laws and the Court in its judgment gave excellent reasoning and analysis for the judgment.


The present case was very well detailed judgment by the Supreme Court as it went on to ensure that justice was served to the petitioners in every way possible after coming to a very logically defined conclusion that the method of scaling employed by the Commission was unjust and incorrect. The Court took into considerations the various technical aspects in a very appropriate way and after much deliberation and rightly so came to the conclusion that the method of scaling was not fit for the purpose of the said examination.

[1] 1 (2003) 12 SCC 701.

[2]  Ibid.

[3] Ibid.