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CLAT Clearance Mandate For NTPC Law Officer Appointment Prima Facie Discriminatory : Kerala High Court

Hannah M Varghese
6 Jan 2022 4:41 AM GMT
CLAT Clearance Mandate For NTPC Law Officer Appointment Prima Facie Discriminatory : Kerala High Court
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The Kerala High Court on Wednesday found merits in the contentions raised by the petitioner who had sought to quash the condition mandating applicants to clear CLAT to apply to the post of Assistant Law Officer in National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC).Finding the condition prima facie discriminatory, Justice V.G. Arun observed that there was no rationale for precluding candidates...

The Kerala High Court on Wednesday found merits in the contentions raised by the petitioner who had sought to quash the condition mandating applicants to clear CLAT to apply to the post of Assistant Law Officer in National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC).

Finding the condition prima facie discriminatory, Justice V.G. Arun observed that there was no rationale for precluding candidates like the petitioner from the post: 

"The question arising for consideration is whether, after having prescribed LLB degree from any recognised Indian University with 60% marks as qualification, the eligibility criteria can be restricted to candidates who have appeared for CLAT-2021 Post Graduation Programme and CLAT score made the basis for selection.

I am of the prima facie opinion that the condition is discriminatory. The ancillary question is whether persons having requisite qualifications can be compelled to appear for the CLAT Post Graduation Programme as a condition precedent for accepting their applications.

Even if the CLAT exam conducted by the Consortium of National Law Universities is capable of selecting the brightest students, that is no justification for thwarting the career prospects of law graduates like the petitioner."

The respondents were thereby directed to accept the application to be submitted by the petitioner, subject to the final outcome of the writ petition. 

Appearing for the petitioner, Advocate Maitreyi S. Hegde submitted that being a public sector undertaking falling within the definition of Article 12 of the Constitution, the NTPC cannot shut out the chances of persons like the petitioner, merely for the reason that she is pursuing her Post Graduation programme in a University that is not part of the consortium of National Law Universities.

It was further argued that there is no nexus between the objective sought to be achieved by imposing such a condition, since CLAT exam is meant for assessing academic brilliance of students, whereas the NTPC is seeking to select the best among legal professionals.

On the other hand, ASGI S. Manu submitted that fixing the eligibility criteria for appointment to a particular post is the absolute prerogative of the employer. The NTPC is on the look out for Executives (Law Officers) with certain specific set of skills, who are able to understand the nuances of the power sector.

He added that CLAT is a national level examination conducted by the Consortium of National Universities for filtering and selecting the brightest students. Being convinced of the standard of law graduates selected through CLAT PG programmes, not only the NTPC, but various other PSUs are following the same process.  

Recording all the said contentions, the Judge ruled that while the petitioner's application may be accepted for the time being, applications should be submitted online and the system may not accept the applications which are not in conformity with the notification.

For the present, the petitioner was permitted to submit her application by logging on to the website mentioned in the notification. If the application is not accepted by the system, that can be brought to the notice of this Court, read the Order.

Case Title: Aishwarya Mohan v. Union of India & Ors

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 47

Click Here To Read/Download The Interim Order

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