COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

Keeping in view the pandemic in the form of “Corona Virus”  (COVID-19) in the country, the Director General has relaxed the provision as entered in regulations 26 & 31 of ‘The Employees’ State Insurance (General) Regulations , 1950′. The proviso of regulation 31 shall be read as 45 days instead of 15 days for the contribution payable for the month of February & March 2020 only.

The ESI Contribution for the month of February & March 2020 can be filed & paid up to 15-04-2020 instead of 15-03-2020 & 15-04-2020 respectively.

Employees State Insurance Corporation

[Notice dt. 16-03-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Granting a one-time relaxation in favour of those candidates who were enrolled during the academic years 2001-2005 and who, in terms of the judgment passed on 03.11.2017, are eligible to appear at the test to be conducted by AICTE, the bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit, JJ directed:

“All such candidates, who wish to appear at the forthcoming test to, be conducted by AICTE in May-June 2018 and who exercise option to appear at the test in terms of the judgment, can retain the degrees in question and all the advantages flowing therefrom till one month after the declaration of the result of such test or till 31.07.2018 whichever is earlier.”

In the present matter a clarification was sought on the judgment dated 03.11.2017, wherein the bench had suspended the admissions of the students enrolled in the Distance Learning Engineering Courses of certain Deemed Universities during the Academic Sessions 2001-2005 and directed AICTE to conduct appropriate tests of the students in order to determine whether their degrees should be restored or not.

Senior advocate V. Giri, brought to the Court’s notice that the controversy in the said judgment was principally concerning the cases of in-service candidates who were initially employed as diploma holders but while in service had been awarded degrees in Engineering by Deemed to be Universities in question through distance learning mode; and that this Court was not called upon to consider cases where such degrees themselves became the foundation for a subsequent employment or selection and further advancement in career. He, hence, submitted:

“an exception be made in favour of such candidates whose qualifications were independently considered by an authority such as UPSC and were selected through competitive selection process and in any case, even if the Judgment were to apply to such candidates, the suspension of their degrees and all advantages flowing therefrom till they pass the test as indicated in the judgment ought not to be insisted upon.”

Refusing to grant such exception, the Court said:

“The infirmity in their degrees is basic and fundamental and cannot be wished away.”

However, at the same time, the Court found some force in the submission that if the suspension of their degrees and all advantages were to apply as indicated in the judgment, the concerned candidates may lose their jobs and even if they were to successfully pass the test, restoration of their jobs and present position would pose some difficulty and hence, gave the aforementioned clarification.

The Court, hence, clarified that this facility is given as one-time exception so that those who have the ability and can pass the test in the first attempt itself, should not be put to inconvenience. If the candidates pass in such first attempt, they would be entitled to retain all the advantages. But if they fail or choose not to appear, the directions in the judgment shall apply, in that the degrees and all advantages shall stand suspended and withdrawn. It was further clarified:

“no more such chances or exceptions will be given or made. They will undoubtedly be entitled to appear on the second occasion in terms of the judgment but this exception shall not apply for such second attempt.”

The Court, hence, directed AICTE to conduct the test in May-June 2018 and declare the result well in time. AICTE shall however extend the time to exercise the option to appear at the test suitably. [Orissa Lift Irrigation Corp. Ltd. v. Rabi Sankar Patro, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 31, decided 22.01.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Court was deciding a writ petition by one Bhuvnesh Pachuri belonging to the category of “Dependents of Freedom Fighters” (General) who sought lowering of cut-off marks after failing to clear the written examination for the post of junior engineers in UP Jal Nigam.

Contention of the petitioner was that since the total seats advertised were 469, 2% of 469 coming to 9.38, hence 9 posts were required to be reserved for the said category, but only 5 candidates were invited for interview and all of them were selected. The petitioner apprised the Court of the fact that in the written examination, the cut off marks for qualifying for interview was fixed as 42, but the petitioner obtained only 34 marks and was thus, not called for the interview.

The respondent further stated that as per S. 3(5) of U.P. Public Services (Reservation for Physically Handicapped, Dependents of Freedom Fighters and Ex-Servicemen) Act 1997, when suitable candidates are not found the vacancies are carried over to the next recruitment. Petitioner on the other hand, contended that the cut-off marks of 42 was for the General Category and the same should have been lowered for the Reserved Category relying on various Apex Court judgments namely, Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation v. Union of India, (2014) 15 SCC 497 and All India Confederation of Blind v. Union of India, (2017)3 SCC 525, where relaxation of 5% in cut-off marks was provided by the University Grants Commission to the persons with visual disability for appearing in N.E.T. for Junior Research Fellowship and Lectureship.

Regarding these cases cited, the Court noted that it is not the case of petitioner that prior to his appearance in the competitive examination, there was some law/rule providing any relaxation in cut-off marks to candidates of any vertical or horizontal category and declined to grant any relief of lowering the cut off marks for his social category of reservation. [Bhuvnesh Pachauri v. State of U.P., Writ A No. 2736 of 2016, decided on 27.11.2016]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Refusing to interfere with the 10% concession granted by the State of Rajasthan to reserved category candidates in TET by the letter dated 23.03.2011 as on that basis, two recruitment tests have been conducted and candidates who have been selected are now teaching for last number of years, the Court said that the State should bring the relaxation within reasonable limits for future selections as very high percentage of relaxation may amount to compromising with quality which may not be conducive to maintaining standards of education. The Court noticed that except for the State of Andhra Pradesh, no other State has granted such wide range of concessions as the State of Rajasthan did in its letter dated 23.03.2011 and hence, said that in order to impart quality education, we need those teachers who are processed of essential aptitude and ability to meet the challenges of teaching at the primary and upper primary levels.

By guidelines dated 11.02.2011, it was specified that the minimum pass percentage of TET is 60, however, later by a communication dated 23.03.2011, relaxation to the reserved category candidates was granted in minimum pass marks in the TET. The candidates belonging to SC/ST, OBC, SBC and women belonging to General category were to be given 10% relaxation in pass marks in TET. Many candidates belonging to the General category filed writ petitions in the High Court of Rajasthan challenging their selection on the ground that minimum percentage for passing TET was 60% and, therefore, all those candidates belonging to the reserved categories who secured less than 60% in TET could not be declared as having passed TET and were, therefore, ineligible to participate in the selection process.

The Bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and R.K. Agrawal, JJ said that giving of desired concessions to the reserved category persons ensures equality as a levelling process, however, on the other hand, when it comes to selection process such reserved category candidates have to compete with general category candidates wherein due regard for merit is given. Therefore, only those candidates belonging to reserved category who are found meritorious in selection are ultimately appointed. The Court said that no concession becomes available to the reserved category candidate by giving relaxation in pass marks in TET insofar as recruitment process is concerned. It only enables them to compete with others by allowing them to participate in the selection process. Hence, the reserved category candidates who secured more marks than marks obtained by the last candidate selected in general category, would be entitled to be considered against unreserved category vacancies.

Having said so, the Court said that the effect of the order would be as follows:

  • Those reserved category candidates who secured pass marks on the application of relaxed standards as contained in the extant policy of the Government in its communication dated March 23, 2011 to be treated as having qualified TET examination and, thus, eligible to participate in the selection undertaken by the State Government.
  • Migration from reserved category to general category shall be admissible to those reserved category candidates who secured more marks obtained by the last unreserved category candidates who are selected, subject to the condition that such reserved category candidates did not avail any other special concession. It is clarified that concession of passing marks in TET would not be treated as concession falling in the aforesaid category.

[Vikas Sankhala v. Vikas Kumar Agarwal, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1154 , decided on 18.10.2016]