Requisite Qualification & Experience Mandatory on The Prescribed Cut Off Date for Appointment: Jharkhand HC
Jharkhand High Court in Reeta Mukta V. State of Jharkhand and Others — W.P. (S) 5648 of 2018, upheld the dismissal of Assistant Teacher, whose appointment was held invalid for lack of required experience on the set cutoff date mentioned in the recruitment advertisement. The Jharkhand State Government had allowed Para Teachers with 2 years of experience 50% reservation in appointment as Assistant Teacher under the Jharkhand Primary School Teachers’ Appointment Rules, 2015. The petitioner fulfilled experience criteria on the date of appointment but lacked the same on the cutoff date prescribed in the recruitment advertisement. Subsequently, the District Superintendent of Education terminated her appointment, and the petitioner challenged the termination before the court.
Hon’ble Justice Dr. S.N. Pathak held:
“The Hon’ble Apex Court, in the case of Bedanga Talukdar Vs. Saifudaullah Khan and others reported in (2011) 2 SCC 85 has held therein that since petitioners failed to fulfill requisite conditions stipulated in the advertisement and could not submit valid caste certificate issued by competent authority within stipulated period, their candidatures under respective reserved category have rightly been rejected. Similar is the situation here where petitioner failed to bring on record the valid certificate of experience within stipulated time as per the conditions stipulated in the advertisement. The selection process has to be completed strictly in terms of the criteria mentioned in the Advertisement as held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court”
06.01.2014 the petitioner was appointed as Para Teacher. Pursuant to Advertisement no. 04/2015 the petitioner applied for the post of Assistant Teacher. 31.12.2015 her appointment was confirmed. The advertisement prescribed that those Para Teachers who had completed two years or more service from 1st August of cross pending calendar years of appointment would get reservation of 50% in the appointment of Assistant Teacher.
The petitioner contended that her appointment was confirmed by competent authorities after verification of eligibility. The competent authorities have the discretion of providing relaxation to condition of service in regard to any individual and a class of person under the Appointment Rules, and her appointment shall be considered the case of such relaxation. Though the appointment is of irregular nature for lack of requisite experience, same will be regularized if in the meantime where requisite experience is gained in the service and reliance was placed on Bholanath Mukherjee v. Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Centenary College — (2011) 5 SCC 464.
The respondent raised the contention that for reservation, 2 years of continuous service as a Para Teacher on the date of 01.08.2015 is a pre-condition for appointment. This condition must be strictly adhered to and therefore the appointment of the petitioner was void-ab-initio.
The court observed that no interference is warranted in the present writ petition. The court placed reliance on Bedanga Talukdar Vs. Saifudaullah Khan and Ors. — (2011) 2 SCC 85. In this case Apex Court held that all appointments to public office have to be made in conformity with Article 14 of the Constitution of India. There must be no arbitrariness and power to give relaxations must be explicitly mentioned in the appointment rules applicable. If any such relaxation is given contrary to criteria prescribed in the advertisement, same shall be given due publicity. It is necessary for other candidates to be accorded an equal opportunity to apply and compete in light of such relaxations. In the present case, no such publicity regarding relaxations was given, hence the court held:
“This Court is of the considered view that the prayer made in the writ petition cannot be accepted as the same amounts to violation of provisions of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. If the contention of learned counsel for the petitioner is accepted, the same will amount to discrimination as equal opportunity has to be given to all appearing candidates. Admittedly, petitioner failed to fulfill the requisite conditions stipulated in the advertisement. She could not get the benefits of 50% reservation and rightly her case was turned down.”
In summary, relying on Rakesh Bakshi Vs. State of J & K — (2019) 3 SCC 511 — the court held that the eligibility of the candidates must be decided with reference to the qualification possessed as on cutoff date. Any qualification acquired at a later point in time cannot make the candidate eligible. The court allowing the termination dismissed the petition.
Vaibhav Karadale | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL