Candidates Clearing Prescribed Qualification After Cut-Off Date Can't Be Considered Qualified: SC [Read Judgment]

Candidates Clearing Prescribed Qualification After Cut-Off Date Can

“We are not for a moment doubting the correctness of the reasoning of the Division Bench in this case, that eligibility of the candidates must be decided with reference to the qualification possessed as on the cut-off date and the qualification acquired later in point of time cannot make a candidate eligible.”

The Supreme Court has observed that eligibility of the candidates must be decided with reference to the qualification possessed as on the cut-off date and the qualification acquired later in point of time cannot make a candidate eligible.

The bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice KM Joseph, however, granted relief to two such employees (who were appointed in spite of the fact that they acquired requisite qualification after the cut-off date) who continued in employment for about two decades.

The division bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had set aside the selection and appointment of Rakesh Bakshi and Parvinder Singh as Junior Engineers on the ground that they had cleared the prescribed qualification after the cut-off date and thus could not be considered qualified for appointment.

Rakesh and Parvinder had cleared the requisite qualification after the last date for receipt of applications, but before holding of the interview. Rakesh was called for interview; Parvinder was removed from the list. Parvinder approached the high court, which took the view that if the board has interpreted the eligibility clause in a particular manner in the case of Rakesh who had cleared examination along with Parvinder, there is no justification to give different interpretation. As directed by the high court, an interview was conducted and both were appointed in the year 1997. A writ petition challenging their appointment was dismissed by the single bench. Though the said order was set aside by the division bench, the apex court had restored it.

Later, another person Harvinder Singh filed a writ petition in 2008 challenging these appointments. In the year 2014, the division bench allowed the writ petition reasoning that the result of the examination of the appellants was declared only after the last date of receipt of applications. This judgment of the division bench was assailed before the apex court by Rakesh and Parvinder.

Before the apex court, it was contended that, having regard to the efflux of time and having regard to the equities, their services should not be dispensed with. The court also noted that for about two decades, they are continuing to work and Harvinder Singh remaining unselected.

The bench observed: "We are inclined to grant relief to the appellants against their being ousted after serving for nearly two decades. We are not for a moment doubting the correctness of the reasoning of the Division Bench in this case, that eligibility of the candidates must be decided with reference to the qualification possessed as on the cut-off date and the qualification acquired later in point of time cannot make a candidate eligible."

Allowing the appeals, the bench further added: "However, having regard to the facts obtaining in this case, which we have set out and also the manner in which this Court has decided the matter culminating in 1997 (4) SCC 18 the interests of justice would require the interference with the judgment of the Division bench. We particularly note that as far as the writ petitioner is concerned more than the efflux of time, the fact is that he cannot possibly secure selection."

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