KFRI Scientist Selection 2015 | Kerala High Court Says No Age Relaxation For Candidate Who Applied In 2012
The Kerala High Court recently held that a candidate who had initially applied for the post of Scientist E-1 in the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) in 2012, but did not apply again after a third notification was issued for the same posts in 2015, cannot be granted benefit of exemption from applying afresh as the same was only for those candidates who had submitted applications in response to a second notification in 2013.
In this case, the first notification for the vacancies was issued in 2012. However, the selection process was cancelled. A notification issued in 2013 for the same posts met with the same fate. In 2015, when the notification was again issued, there was a change this time - a clause in the advertisement said that those who had applied earlier need not apply afresh. The question before the court was whether the 'earlier' meant even those who had applied in 2012 stand exempted from applying afresh.
Upholding a single bench order, the division bench of Justice A. K. Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Mohammed Nias C.P. observed that the second notification did not contain a clause which exempted persons who had applied in response to the first notification from applying afresh.
"This would mean that the appellant who had responded to Ext.P23 notification (first notification), lost his opportunity for consideration to the post in question with the cancellation of the said notification and the re-notification through Ext.P24 notification (second notification)".
The court further added that while the third notification regarding the vacancies exempted those candidates who had responded to earlier notification from applying afresh for the purposes of the said notification, the clause did not grant any age relaxation to such candidates who were exempted from applying afresh.
"This, according to us, is a significant factor since, admittedly, even if the appellant could be treated as one who had been exempted from the requirement of preferring a fresh application for the purposes of Ext.P25 notification (third notification), he could not have satisfied the age criteria for consideration to the post in terms of Ext.P25 notification (third notification)," the Court observed.
Brief Factual Matrix
The appellant had applied to one of the five vacancies notified for the post of Scientist E-1 in the KFRI, an institution under the control of the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment, pursuant to a notification dated 15.03.2012. The said notification had also prescribed certain educational qualifications as well as an age limit up to 40 years, as on 10.04.2012, which the appellant, whose date of birth was on 25.05.1972, was found to have satisfied. However, this selection process did not proceed and was cancelled.
Subsequently, five vacancies to the said post were again notified vide a fresh notification dated 01.02.2013. The appellant however, did not apply for the same since the said second notification had stipulated that candidates had to satisfy the age criteria of not more than 40 years as on the last date of preferring applications under the said notification. The selection proceedings under the said notification also did not make any headway, and stood cancelled.
Thereafter, yet another fresh notification was issued on 11.09.2015, and the age limit was once again prescribed as 40 years as on 15.10.2015. However, an additional clause to the same was that those who had applied previously need not apply afresh.
Taking recourse to this clause, the appellant herein, who had applied to the first notification but not to the second, applied for the same post pursuant to this fresh notification.
However, as he was not called for the interview, he in 2016 approached the Single Judge, who permitted the appellant to appear for the interview pursuant to an interim order.
The Selection Committee found that although the appellant had satisfied the requisite qualifications for the post, he could not be considered for the same since he did not satisfy the age criterion in the third notification.
The Single Judge thus had to ascertain whether the appellant had a right to seek consideration of his candidature pursuant to the application that he had preferred in response to the third notification, considering that the said notification had dispensed with the requirement of a fresh application for those candidates who had responded to an earlier notification.
The Single Judge found that the expression "earlier" in the third notification was only a concession that was given to those who had submitted applications based on the second notification dated 01.02.2013. It was also found that the candidates who were within the age limit as on the last date fixed for the receipt of the application based on the second notification alone were exempted from preferring fresh applications in response to the third notification. Thus, the contention of the appellant was rejected and his Writ Petition was dismissed by the Single Judge.
Before the Division Bench
It was contended by Advocates Elvin Peter P.J., K.R. Ganesh, N.R. Reesha, and T.S. Likhitha, that the Single Judge erred in confining the benefit of the concession granted in the third notification to only those candidates who had responded to the second notification, and excluding those who responded to the first, including the appellant. It was contended that when the third notification clearly mandated that those who had applied earlier need not apply afresh, the concession had to be seen as extended to all candidates who had responded to earlier notifications inviting applications from candidates to the posts notified.
On the other hand, Government Pleader Bijoy Cherian, Standing Counsels C.K. Prasad and P.C. Sasidharan, and Advocates Kaleeswaram Raj, and G. Ambili, appearing on behalf of the respondents countered that the findings of the Single Judge required no interference.
The Division Bench did not find merit in the submissions made by the appellant, and found that the appellant's candidature could not be considered, since even if he could be treated as one who had been exempted under the third notification, which itself is not the case at hand, he could still not have satisfied the age criterion.
Accordingly, the instant appeals were dismissed.
Case Title: Dr. Nicky K. Xavier v. State of Kerala & Ors. and Dr. Nicky K. Xavier v. Dr. P. Balakrishnan & Ors
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 547