Calcutta High Court grants interview opportunity to IBPS Exam candidate despite Date of Birth discrepancy; Calls it ‘trivial error’

“The object of a public examination cannot by any means be construed to be so restrictive as to be cruel on the candidates, particularly for brilliant people like the petitioner, who has already cleared the preliminary and mains in the tough banking examination concerned. The endeavour of the authorities ought to be encourage such people and not to shut them out on trivial issues.”

Calcutta High Court

Calcutta High Court: The petition was filed by the petitioner, a young lady from a remote area in Jalpaiguri, seeking relief due to the denial of her interview opportunity by the authorities concerned upon detecting discrepancies in her date of birth across submitted documents by taking help from a cyber cafe. Sabyasachi Bhattacharya, J., held in favor of the petitioner, ruling that the discrepancies in her date of birth were trivial and did not warrant disqualification from the interview process for the position of Probationary Officers/Management Trainees in banks. The Court further directed the publication of her name in the provisional allotment list within 24 hours.

The petitioner, a young lady from a remote area in Jalpaiguri with poor internet connectivity, applied for the position of Probationary Officers/Management Trainees in banks. The exams were conducted by the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS), utilizing an online platform. Despite the challenges posed by her location, she managed to submit her application online through a cyber café with her father’s assistance. She filled out the application form with her credentials, including her date of birth, which she declared to be 30-03-2000.

After successfully passing both the preliminary and mains exams, the petitioner faced an obstacle during the interview stage due to discrepancies regarding her date of birth across various documents submitted. While her Aadhaar Card and PAN Card indicated 30-03-2000, her birth certificate and Indian School Certificate (ISC) admit card displayed 23-04-2000. The banks, responsible for deciding whether to permit her interview, deferred the decision to IBPS, the body overseeing the examinations. Feeling aggrieved, the petitioner challenged this decision, arguing that the discrepancies were minor and did not affect her eligibility for the position. She sought relief from the court to overturn the decision and allow her to proceed with the interview process.

Counsel for petitioner argued that the discrepancies in the petitioner’s date of birth were trivial and did not constitute willful misrepresentation or fraud. The petitioner contended that she fulfilled the age criterion for eligibility regardless of which date of birth was considered. However, counsel representing IBPS argued that the petitioner failed to meet the eligibility criteria by submitting conflicting documents. They pointed out that the rules stipulated that all particulars mentioned in the online application, including the date of birth, would be deemed final, with no modifications permitted after submission.

The Court noted the disadvantaged background of the petitioner, hailing from a region with poor internet connectivity. The Court emphasized the importance of inclusivity in public examinations, especially in reaching remote areas where access to resources is limited. The court observed that minor errors or discrepancies should not disqualify a candidate if they do not confer undue advantage and are not indicative of willful misrepresentation or fraud. The Court concluded that the discrepancies were indeed trivial considering the petitioner’s successful completion of earlier exam stages and her eligibility based irrespective of either of the conflicting date of births.

The Court remarked that “I do not find from the records that the petitioner could derive any undue advantage or, for that matter, any advantage whatsoever from the discrepancy in her date of birth, as either way, the petitioner would qualify on the eligibility criterion in respect of age. There does not arise any question, thus, of any willful misrepresentation on her part. The petitioner was permitted to take the prelims and mains and already crossed those hurdles and as such made herself eligible with flying colours to have an opportunity to participate in the interviews. Accordingly, the petitioner in the present case comes within the window as provided by the judgment of the Supreme Court, there being no gross anomaly or mala fides in the discrepancies relating to her date of birth.

The Court held in favor of the petitioner, allowing her petition and directing IBPS to inform the concerned banks of her eligibility for interviews. It ordered IBPS to publish her name in the provisional allotment list within 24 hours. The petitioner was granted an interview date, and no costs were imposed.

[Reshmi Bhagat v State of West Bengal, WPA No. 5442 of 2024, decided on 27-03-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Shanka Maiti, Ms. Antara Panja, Mr. Sartak Singh, Advocates for the petitioner.

Mr. Dipanjan Datta, Advocates for Respondent 2-IBPS.

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