20 Sep 2023 8:30 AM GMT
The Delhi High Court has granted relief to an applicant whose candidature in the Indian Coast Guard was rejected due to the mismatch of surname in the caste certificate issued to him. The mismatch prevailed in the name of the candidate and his father in the SC Certificate, due to the omission and addition of their surnames, respectively, with the names submitted in the application...
The Delhi High Court has granted relief to an applicant whose candidature in the Indian Coast Guard was rejected due to the mismatch of surname in the caste certificate issued to him.
The mismatch prevailed in the name of the candidate and his father in the SC Certificate, due to the omission and addition of their surnames, respectively, with the names submitted in the application form.
Holding the approach of the Indian Coast Guard as "hyper-technical" in nature, the Court quashed the decision declaring the petitioner as failed in the document verification stage of recruitment, due to the alleged mismatch of information in the application form and the caste certificate.
“We need not reiterate that the purpose of document verification is to ensure that there is no impersonation, misleading or incorrect documents furnished to seek enlistment. The aforesaid alleged mismatch cannot be, by any stretch of imagination, labelled as discrepancy or furnishing of any false information. Mere inadvertent mentioning or non-mentioning of surname in caste certificate issued by the Competent Authority would not mean and indicate that it is a case of impersonation or furnishing of false information.
Court said the details had been filled up as per the contents of the certificates available with the petitioner. Moreover, the alleged mismatch was not such an error which could have led to rejection of the candidature of the petitioner, particularly, in view of the fact that there was nothing which would even remotely indicate that the documents are forged.
Noting that the induction of officers who had passed was already completed, the court directed that the petitioner be allowed to join the next batch after clearing the subsequent stages of the recruitment process and on completing all requisite formalities.
The petitioner had applied for the post of Navik (General Duty) in the Indian Coast Guard, under the Scheduled Caste (SC) category. Thereafter, the petitioner had qualified the Stage-I (written examination) and passed in the Physical Fitness Test of Stage-II as well. However, in the document verification stage of Stage-II, the petitioner was declared as failed on the ground of not being a bonafide candidate due to mismatch of information in his application form and his caste certificate.
It was the case of the Indian Coast Guard that the advertisement for recruitment made it amply clear that in case of any mismatch of information provided in the application form with the documents uploaded online or produced during physical verification, the candidature of applicants would be cancelled. It claimed that since there was a false declaration in the online application filed by the petitioner, and since there was no other mechanism to crosscheck the credibility and authenticity of the documents, it had no option but to reject the candidature.
The court observed that, admittedly, all the requisite documents were duly uploaded by the petitioner at the relevant stages of the recruitment process. Further, the petitioner had also obtained a ‘certificate of validity’ of its ‘caste certificate’, in which it was certified that the said caste claim was correct, though in such ‘certificate of validity’ his name contained his surname, which was missing in the ‘caste certificate’ issued by the concerned authority, the court said.
The court was further informed that the Sub-Divisional Magistrate had further verified the correctness of the said certificate in 2023, certifying that such caste certificate was issued to the petitioner.
The court remarked that the caste certificate ought to have been read in conjunction with other documents, and that a holistic view of the matter would not suggest that the petitioner is not a bonafide candidate.
“In view of the above, the decision of the respondents in declaring the petitioner as failed in stage – II cannot be sustained and is accordingly quashed,” the court said.
The court was informed that the induction of the officers who have already passed was completed on 26.05.2023 and the physical training, which had commenced in the first week of June, was nearly over.
The court observed that the Coordinate Bench of the Delhi High Court, in similar circumstances, had permitted the petitioners to be allowed to join the induction course in the next batch subject to completion of all necessary formalities as per the procedure. The Coordinate Bench had further directed that their seniority shall be treated with their batchmates, with all consequential benefits except salary.
“In view of the above, we direct that subject to the petitioner completing all the other requisite formalities and clearing subsequent stages, including initial medical examination, the petitioner be allowed to join induction course with the next batch. His seniority shall be reckoned with his batchmates with all consequential benefits, except that he shall not be paid any salary for the said period,” the court said.
Counsel For the Petitioner: Mr. Abhinay Sharma, Mr. P. C. Roy and Ms. Deeksha Prakash
Counsel For the Respondents: Ms. Uma Prasuna Bachu, Senior Panel Counsel for UOI with Mr. Ratan Negi, Deputy Commandant, ICG.
Title: AHIRE AJINKYA SHANKAR v. INDIAN COAST GUARD & ORS.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Del) 859