The Delhi High Court recently recognised the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) as being the authority for declaring the equivalence of courses undertaken by candidates with the educational qualification prescribed by the eligibility criteria for appointment as teachers.
The order was passed by a Bench comprising Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice AK Chawla on a petition filed by one Rohitash Kumar Verma, challenging an order passed in November, 2016 by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi.
Mr. Verma was aggrieved by the non-issuance of appointment letter to him for the post of a primary teacher, even though he had been found eligible for participation in the selection process as per the prescribed rules.
He had been declared as selected by the Delhi Subordinate Service Selection Board (DSSSB), which sent his dossier to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) and Director of Education, SDMC, along with the dossiers of all other selected candidates. After verification, he was issued an appointment offer, to which he sent his acceptance.
However, at this stage, the respondent authorities raised objections regarding Mr. Verma’s qualifications. They asserted that the B.Ed Bal Vikas Integrated Course Degree obtained by him was not equivalent to the prescribed eligibility criteria of “two year’s Diploma/ Certificate Course in Elementary Teacher Education Course/ Junior Basic Training or equivalent or bachelor of elementary education from a recognised institution”.
Mr. Verma had contended that NCTE is the statutory authority empowered to lay down the norms with regard to the recognition of teacher training courses all over the country. Since the course undertaken by him has been recognized by NCTE, his qualification meets the eligibility criteria, he had submitted.
He had further pointed out that the respondent authorities had in fact sought NCTE’s opinion on the issue of his eligibility and that NCTE had responded by stating that his qualification is an equivalent qualification for the post.
The counsel for NCTE had also supported Mr. Verma’s case, pointing out that the NCTE Act is a central piece of legislation enacted by the Parliament empowered by Entry 66 of List I to Schedule VII to the Constitution of India which reads “co-ordination and determination of standards in institutions for higher education or research and scientific and technical institutions.”
He submitted that institutions imparting teacher education fall within the meaning Technical Institutions. He further asserted that since the field is occupied under the said Entry, the respondent authorities have no legislative or executive authority to take decisions regarding equivalence of qualification.
Accepting such submissions, the court rejected the respondent authorities’ contention that there are “better qualified” candidates available and, therefore, it is up to them to entertain Mr. Verma’s candidature.
“It is not for respondent Nos. 1 & 2 to make the said assumption, in the first place. That exercise is undertaken by the DSSSB. Secondly, the petitioner has actually been found to be meritorious and, therefore, was made the appointment offer in preference to many others who were not made a similar offer. Thirdly, to permit respondent nos. 1 and 2 to take such a stand, would amount to allowing them to pre-judge the merit of the candidate, and after arriving at such an erroneous assessment, declare the candidate to be unqualified,” it explained.
Highlighting NCTE’s authority to declare equivalence of courses for such appointments, the court further observed, “The fact that respondent nos. 1 and 2 themselves sought the response of the NCTE shows that even the said respondents recognise the fact that the ultimate authority in the matter of declaring equivalence of the course undertaken by the petitioner, with the educational qualification prescribed in the eligibility criteria, is the NCTE.”
The impugned order was therefore set aside, with a direction to the respondent authorities to issue the appointment letter to Mr. Verma.
The petitioner was represented by Advocate MK Bhardwaj. SDMC was represented by Advocates Rajeshwar Dagar and Swastik Singh Solanki, while NCTE was represented by Advocates Shivam Singh and Udian Sharma.