Chhattisgarh High Court: A Division Bench of P. R. Ramchandra Menon and Parth Prateem Sahu, JJ. sets aside the impugned order and allowed the appeal.
The facts of the case are such that a combined notification (Geology and Mining Department and Panchayat & Rural Development Department and Public Works Department i.e. PWD) governed by 2008 Rules, 2011 Rules and 2016 Rules respectively was issued for filling up the posts of Draughtsman/Assistant Draughtsman (Civil) specifying the eligibility conditions and prescribed qualifications in terms of the relevant rules. The test was conducted, and a provisional list of successful candidates was declared when it was noticed that the selected candidates were not having the ‘prescribed qualifications’ under the Rules and the Advertisement, but were having much higher qualification of Degree or Diploma in Civil Engineering and such other subjects. A representation to the Board followed by a petition was filed but to no avail. It was held that the relevant Rules and Advertisement did not stipulate any higher qualifications of Diploma, Degree or Post Graduation in the subject concerned, but for stipulating ITI, it was decided that the persons with higher qualifications would not be considered and included in the list of eligible candidates. But nothing was mentioned as to why the same analogy was not applicable in the case of the PWD. The learned Single Judge held that the higher qualification of Degree/Post Graduate Degree in Civil Engineering would presuppose the lower qualification as per advertisement, in view of the law declared by the Apex Court in Jyoti K.K. v. Kerala Public Service Commission, (2010) 15 SCC 596. The answer given in the ‘positive’ by the learned Single Judge, dismissing the writ petition challenging the proceedings is put to challenge by the instant appeal.
Counsel for the appellants Mr Prateek Sharma submitted that having directed the Government to give effect to the undertaking that they would modify the select list in respect of the Mining & Geology Department, by excluding the higher qualified candidates and confining it to the candidates having the specific qualifications as prescribed in the Rules and notified in the Advertisement, the learned Single Judge went wrong in not extending the said benefit in the case of the PWD involving exactly similar Rules and the similar qualifications as given in the advertisement, which in fact has resulted in differential treatment. This has resulted in patent arbitrariness and discrimination on the parts of the State, violating Article 14 of Constitution of India.
Counsel for the respondents submitted that the qualification prescribed in the Advertisement is only the ‘minimum qualification’ and that there is no bar either in the Rules or in the Advertisement that the persons with higher qualifications will not be considered. It was further submitted that the Rules do not place any bar in selecting candidates with higher qualification and that it is sustainable in view of the law declared by the Supreme Court in Jyoti K.K. (supra) that possession of higher qualification pre-supposes lower qualification. It was also submitted that there is absolutely no merit in the appeal as all the candidates placed in the list are candidates who have proved their merit by virtue of their qualification and performance.
Scope of the verdict in Jyoti K.K (supra)
The Supreme Court in Jyoti KK. (supra) held that if the candidate has acquired the higher qualification in the same faculty, such qualification can certainly be stated to presuppose acquisition of the lower qualification prescribed for the post.
The Court observed that the decision was rendered with reference to a statutory rule, particularly Rule 10(a) (ii) of the 1956 Rules which enabled reckoning of higher qualification which presupposes the acquisition of lower qualification prescribed for the post as sufficient for appointment to the said post.
The matter came up for consideration in Zahoor Ahmad Rather v. Sheikh Imtiyaz Ahmad, (2019) 2 SCC 404 wherein it was held that the verdict passed by the Apex Court in Jyoti K.K. (supra) was on the basis of a specific enabling rule i.e. Rule 10(a) (ii) of the 1956 Rules, where the higher qualification presupposed acquisition of lower qualification and in the absence of any statutory rule in this regard, such inference cannot be drawn.
The Court observed that no rule in the ‘2016 Rules’ can be referred enabling to reckon the ‘higher qualification’ as well, which presupposes the acquisition of lower qualification for appointment to the post of Assistant Draughtsman in the PWD. It was observed that because of the absence of any such enabling rule to reckon the higher qualification presupposing the lower qualification for recruitment in the Mining & Geology Department, the Government has already taken a decision to modify the list by excluding the candidates having higher qualifications and to confine the same only to the specific qualification as contained in the Rules/Notification. Despite the fact that the rule position is exactly same in the PWD (as in the case of Mining & Geology Department), such a course was not pursued by the Respondent/ Government which results in blatant differential treatment.
In the above facts and circumstances, we do not find any justification for the Respondents to have provided a differential treatment for recruitment to the post of Assistant Draughtsman in the ‘PWD’, unlike the course sought to be pursued in respect of the ‘Mining & Geology Department’, having exactly similar rules governing the eligibility conditions/qualifications as notified in the advertisement.
In view of the above, appeal was allowed and impugned decision was set aside.[Praveen Kumar Rajak v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 648, decided on 18-03-2021]
Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.