The Supreme Court has upheld the cancellation of the candidature of a candidate by Punjab National Bank on the ground that he was overqualified for the post of peon.
The bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah set aside the Orissa High Court judgment in which it observed that the candidate cannot be denied the appointment solely on the ground that he is possessing a higher qualification. The court also added that suppression of material information and making a false statement has a clear bearing on the character and antecedents of the employee in relation to his continuance in service.
In the job advertisement, the bank had mentioned that a candidate to the post of peon should not be a graduate, but should have passed 12th class or its equivalent with basic reading/writing knowledge of English. A candidate suppressed the fact that he is a graduate and got appointment as the peon. His candidature was cancelled as the bank found that he was a graduate and he was not allowed to join the bank in subordinate cadre. Aggrieved with this, he approached the High Court by filing a writ petition. The High Court directed the bank to allow him to work there as peon on the ground that a candidate cannot be denied the appointment solely on the ground that he is possessing a higher qualification.
In appeal filed by the bank, the Apex Court bench observed that prescribing the eligibility criteria/educational qualification that a graduate shall not be eligible to apply was a conscious decision taken by the Bank. The court observed:
"It is for the employer to determine and decide the relevancy and suitability of the qualifications for any post and it is not for the Courts to consider and assess. A greater latitude is permitted by the Courts for the employer to prescribe qualifications for any post. There is a rationale behind it. Qualifications are prescribed keeping in view the need and interest of an Institution or an Industry or an establishment as the case may be. The Courts are not fit instruments to assess expediency or advisability or utility of such prescription of qualifications. However, at the same time, the employer cannot act arbitrarily or fancifully in prescribing qualifications for posts."
The court noted, as per the eligibility criteria/educational qualification prescribed, the candidate not eligible as per the eligibility criteria/educational qualification mentioned in the advertisement. The bench also added that an employee is expected to give a correct information as to his qualification. While setting aside the High Court judgment, the bench said:
"Suppression of material information and making a false statement has a clear bearing on the character and antecedents of the employee in relation to his continuance in service. A candidate having suppressed the material information and/or giving false information cannot claim right to continuance in service."
Case: Chief Manager, Punjab National Bank vs. Anit Kumar Das [CIVIL APPEAL NO.3602 OF 2020]
Coram: Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah