Employer has the right to determine qualification for employment in accordance with recruitment policy: Allahabad High Court

The Allahabad High Court rejected the Civil Service Commission’s request to include engineering degree holders in the Regional Inspector (Technical) Recruitment Practice Examination 2014 and ruled that the employer has the right to determine qualification, the qualification requirement for a position is recruitment policy and Article 14 of the Constitution does not contemplate negative equality.

Single bench Saurabh Shyam Shamshery passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Abhishek Sharma and 3 others.

The remedies requested by written request are as follows:

“(a) a writ, order or direction of an appropriate nature directing the respondents to permit the applicants to participate in the practical examination for the position of Regional Inspector (Technical) to be held between 25.4.18 and 28.4. 18 in accordance with Opinion No. A-5/E-1/2014 of 30.12.14 considering the applicants as fully eligible for the said post;

(b) a writ, order or direction of an appropriate nature directing the defendants to treat the plaintiffs as fully eligible for the position of Regional Inspector (Technical) on the basis of a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering/mechanical engineering and automation possessed by the petitioners under section 213(4) of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 read with notification dated 12.6.1989 issued by Central Government.

(c) a writ, order or direction of an appropriate nature directing the respondents to permit the applicants to participate in each stage of selection for the position of Regional Inspector (Technical) pursuant to Announcement No. A-5/E -1/2014 of 30.12.14 treating petitioners as fully eligible for the same. »

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Ashok Khare, lead counsel assisted by Shantanu Khare, counsel for the petitioners, argued that the UP Civil Service Commission issued an announcement dated 30.12.2014 for the Regional Inspector (Technical)-2014 Examination in which applications were invited for 77 vacant Regional Inspector (Technical) positions (Unreserved 42, Scheduled Caste 18, Scheduled Tribe 02 and Other Backward Class 15).

Lead Counsel further submitted that the Claimants are prejudiced by Clause 11 of the said announcement in which the essential educational qualifications are mentioned, whereby Claimants who are more qualified and have a four-year Bachelor of Technology degree, are not still not eligible to sit for the aforementioned exam as the prescribed school qualification is only a degree in automotive or mechanical engineering.

The lead solicitor argued that section 213 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 provides for the appointment of motor vehicle officers and subsection (4) thereof provides as follows:

“(4) The Central Government may, having regard to the objects of the law, by notice in the Official Gazette, prescribe the minimum qualifications which the said officers or any of their classes must possess in order to be appointed as such.”

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Lead Counsel argued that the Act of 1988 being a central statute would have an overriding effect over state law, namely the UP Transport (Subordinate) Technical Department Rules of 1980 which govern recruitment to the post regional inspector (technical).

However, the said qualifications are not prescribed as being the minimum qualifications provided for by the aforementioned notification issued under section 213(4) of the 1988 Act and therefore the applicants, who possessed the higher qualification of bachelor’s degree in technology, are excluded from participating in the aforementioned examination.

It is further argued that if the qualifications mentioned in the state law are qualified as minimum qualifications as mentioned in the central law, applicants who possess a higher qualification would be eligible to take the exam.

In support of the above submissions, lead counsel relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in S. Satyapal Reddy and others v Government of Andhra Pradesh and others (1994) 4 SCC 391 in which it has been found that the state government may accept the qualification or prescribe higher qualification, but in no case a lower qualification than the qualification prescribed by the central government under sub-clause (4) of section 213 of the 1988 Act. The Supreme Court has further held that obtaining a degree in mechanical engineering is one of the higher qualifications than a degree.

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On the other hand, counsel appearing on behalf of Private Defendants, Intervenors and State Defendants, vehemently objected to the above submissions and relied on judgments rendered by the Court in a body of cases leading to Deepak Singh and others v State of UP and others, 2019(7) ADJ 453.

The lawyers also argued that the claimants were well aware of the essential qualifications as amended in the 1980 rules, but they never challenged said rules even before the advertisement was also published in the claims in brief. Therefore, the argument that the amended 1980 rules do not comply with the Central Act is likely to fail.

The Court stated that, in the context of the above facts and observations on law, this Court must decide whether the word “minimum” as used in the Central Act would also include all higher education qualifications, although the minimum qualification is only a degree course and qualifications mentioned in state rules where the word “minimum” is not used, the higher qualification may be considered an “essential qualification” (terms used in state rules) for the exam in question.

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The Court held that,

One of the main arguments of the petitioners is that mechanical and automation engineering is a higher qualification in line with the automotive and mechanical engineering degree. However, a different view was taken by Full Bench in Deepak Singh (supra). The legislator, in his wisdom, did not include the higher qualification as an exam eligible qualification for the position of Regional Inspector (Technical). It prescribed that the essential qualification be a degree in automotive engineering or a degree in mechanical engineering only and did not include the higher qualification, i.e. a bachelor’s degree in technology. Even the word ‘minimum’ used in the central act itself cannot be interpreted inasmuch as even without mentioning any higher qualification in the notification, the higher qualification should have been considered to be included. To that end, there will be an amendment to that effect. However, there is no change in this respect in the central law. Therefore, counsel for the petitioners’ argument that the essential qualification prescribed under central law is inconsistent with the qualification prescribed in the state rules appears factually incorrect.

This question can also be considered from a different angle. The qualifications mentioned under the central law were prescribed in 1989, that is to say more than three decades ago. However, to date, the central government has not amended the said notification by expressly including the higher qualification as well. Therefore, in my opinion, the rules of the state and the school qualification prescribed by notification by the central law are similar and there is no reluctance.

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“In view of the above discussion of the facts as well as the law, the prayers made in all these petitioners are liable to be rejected, firstly on the ground that there is no repugnance between the qualification prescribed by the notice issued under the 1988 Act and the 1980 Rules, as amended in respect of the selection for the post of Regional Inspector (Technical); second, the cases are squarely covered by the judgment given by the Full Panel of the Court in Deepak Singh (supra) in which it was held that the degree in engineering and the degree in engineering are separate qualifications and that the decree in the field in question cannot be consulted as a higher qualification without comparison with a diploma in this field; thirdly, considering the aforementioned judgments of the Supreme Court, that in the absence of any legal rule, it would not be permissible to take interference according to which e a higher qualification necessarily presupposes the acquisition of another lower qualification, fourthly, this requirement of qualification for a post concerns the recruitment policy and finally article 14 of the Constitution does not provide for negative equality”

– the Court observed while dismissing the motions in brief.