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Administrative Tribunal Can Decide Disputes Regarding Classification Of Candidate's Category During Recruitment Process: Karnataka High Court

Mustafa Plumber
2 Feb 2023 5:17 AM GMT
BJP,  Shivajinagar Assembly Constituency, Electoral roll, Election commission

The Karnataka High Court has clarified that the Administrative Tribunal constituted under the Administrative Tribunals Act 1985, has the jurisdiction to consider all matters 'concerning recruitment' which includes all decisions from the date of publication of notification inviting applications for the government job posts to the orders of appointment.

A single judge bench Justice Anant Ramanath Hegde sitting at Kalaburagi bench gave the clarification while disposing of a petition filed by one Ameena Afroj, who had questioned the jurisdiction of the Tribunal in adjudicating over the challenge made by her to the decision of the Deputy Director of Public Instructions, classifying the petitioner as a General Merit candidate instead of under the category 2-B/KA-HK for selection to the post of a government school teacher.

The petitioner’s counsel had submitted that the issue is pertaining to the petitioner’s caste and income and the same is outside the purview of the Administrative Tribunal and it should be considered only by this Court in the exercise of power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

Further, even assuming that the Tribunal has got the jurisdiction to deal with this matter under Section 15 of the Act, the alternative remedy by itself will not oust the jurisdiction of the High Court.

Finally it was said the present writ petition is to enforce the petitioner’s fundamental right under Article 14 of the Constitution of India as the persons who are similarly placed, are classified in the 2-B/KA-HK category.


The bench referred to Section 15 of the Act which deals with the jurisdiction of the Tribunal. Noting that the expression ‘recruitment’ and ‘matters concerning recruitment’ found in Section 15 (1) (a) are not defined in the Act, the Court said it has to apply the plain grammatical meaning attached to the above-said expressions. It said,

The plain dictionary meaning of the expression ‘recruitment’ itself uses the phrase ‘the process of finding new people’...Parliament itself has used the expression, ‘matters concerning recruitment’ in Section 15 (1) (a) of the Act. The said expression undoubtedly has a wider connotation than the expression ‘recruitment’...leads to only one conclusion that the decision taken in processing the application for the post is a decision relating to recruitment or the matters concerning to recruitment.

The Court said that while processing the applications for the posts, if a decision is taken to classify the applicant in a particular category, as happened in the case of the petitioner, ‘the decision taken’ is indeed a decision taken in the process of recruitment.

It added “The expressions ‘recruitment’ and 'matters concerning recruitment’ found in Section 15 (1) (a) of the Act, are wide enough to cover all the stages of recruitment, starting from the publication of notification inviting applications to the Civil services and Civil Posts, to the scrutiny of applications and the decisions thereon, conducting examinations, announcement of the results and issuance of orders of appointment. Such being the ambit of Section 15 (1)(a) of the Act, the impugned decision to classify the petitioner under the ‘General Merit’ category is a decision, the correctness of which can be reviewed by the Tribunal.

Further referring to Section 28 of the Act, which excludes the jurisdiction of all courts, in respect of matters over which, the Tribunal under the Act, exercises the jurisdiction, except the Supreme Court and the Labour Courts and other authorities under the Industrial Disputes Act, the bench said “Combined reading of Sections 15 and 28 of the Act, leads to an inevitable conclusion that the High Court cannot exercise the jurisdiction as a Court of first instance in respect of the matters over which the Tribunals under the Act are empowered to exercise the jurisdiction. The Act not only provides for the jurisdiction of the Tribunals under Section 15 but also provides for the exclusion of the jurisdiction of several Courts including the High Court.

The court also held that the petitioner has not made out a case to entertain the writ petition despite an alternative remedy being available. Also it junked the contention that the petitioner is seeking to enforce her fundamental right. It said “No such grounds are forthcoming in the writ petition.

Accordingly it dismissed the petition and held that “The Tribunal is the forum of first instance and not the High Court to adjudicate the disputes falling under Section 15 of the Act.

Case Title: Ameena Afroj And State of Karnataka & others

Case No: W.P.No.200032/2023

Citation; 2023 LiveLaw (Kar) 38

Date of Order: 12-01-2023

Appearance: Advocate K.M.Ghate for petitioner.

AGA Shivakumar R Tengli for R1, R3, R4, R5

Deputy Solicitor General of India Sudhirsingh R Vijapur for R3.

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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