In a significant judgement delivered on Thursday, the High Court of Allahabad has ruled that OBC candidates applying for government jobs are “not exempt from the rigours of a cut-off or last date” given in the recruitment notices.
A full Bench of the Court comprising Chief Justice D.B. Bhosle, Justice Dilip Gupta and Justice Yashwant Varma was constituted to decide on several questions that had arisen after two Division Benches of the Court gave conflicting views in the matter.
The Batch of Petitions and Appeals had been filed by OBC candidates, whose candidature had been turned down by the UP Police Recruitment and Promotion Board, following their failure to submit their caste certificates by the cut-off date mentioned in the advertisement for the jobs they had applied for.
The candidates had now contended that the prescription of a cut-off date for the production of caste certificates is “wholly superfluous and of no significance whatsoever”. It was further submitted that the caste certificate was not a document conferring a particular status, and hence, it could not have been refused even if it was submitted after the last date prescribed in the advertisement.
The State, on the other hand, submitted that the advertisement prescribed not just the time limits within which the caste certificate had to be submitted in the prescribed formats, but also the consequences of not submitting the same on time.
Accepting such contentions, at the outset, the Court commented on the significance of the prescription of a last date in an advertisement and observed, “A last date comes to be prescribed in an advertisement or recruitment notice to seek certain well established objectives. It firstly puts all prospective candidates on notice with regard to the eligibility qualifications that the employer desires a particular candidate to hold. The prescription of the last date also acts as information to the prospective candidates to test and ascertain whether they are eligible to participate in the selection process. There are therefore, upon the prescription of such a last date in the advertisement no shifting timelines or uncertainty. The prescription of such a condition in the advertisement also eschews any arbitrary action and denudes the authority from wielding a discretion which may be abused.”
It then referred to Section 8 of the U.P. Public Services (Reservation for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes) Act, 1994, which empowers the State to prescribe concessions and relaxations for candidates belonging to OBC and such categories. The Court thereafter noted that the provision does not envisage exempting OBCs from the rigours of a cut-off date prescribed under the advertisement.
It also refused to accept the contention that such concession or exemption flows from Articles 14 or 16 of the Constitution of India, observing, “As noted above the prescription of a cut-off date in an advertisement serves more than one salutary purpose. By requiring all applicants to adhere to this date, the State is not practicing any discrimination nor can it be said to be acting unfairly.”
Read the Judgment here.