RAMESHWAR DASS MEHLA Vs. OM PRAKASH SAINI
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
RAMESHWAR DASS MEHIA
OM PRAKASH SAINI
Click here to view full judgement.
S.RAJENDRA BABU -
(2.)AN advertisement was issued by Kurukshetra University (hereinafter referred to as the 'university') inviting applications for appointment to several posts, including that of a university librarian. The prescribed qualification thereto reads as follows:
"Librarian, university library
(i) Master's degree in library science/information science/ documentation with atleast fifty five percent (55%) marks or its equivalent grade and a consistently good academic record.
(ii) One year specialization in an area of information technology/archives and manuscript keeping, master's degree in an area of thrust in the institution.
(iii) At least ten years as a deputy librarian in a university library or fifteen years experience as a college librarian.
(iv) Evidence of innovative library service and organisation of published work.
DESIRABLE: M. Phil/Ph.D degree in library science/information science/documentation/ archives and manuscript keeping.
Appellant and the first respondent in each of these two appeals along with others, filed their applications and after the selection committee interviewed the candidates in question, the appellant's name was recommended and he was appointed to the post by an order made on 4.11.1997. The respondents filed two writ petitions challenging the appointment of the appellant on various grounds. The High Court examined the same and found that the appellant had obtained 54.8 marks in the master's degree which is not the same as 55 per cent of the marks fixed in the requisite qualification, as indicated by the advertisement and, therefore, he could not have been appointed as he did not possess the necessary qualification. The High Court incidentally noticed that in assessing whether any of the candidates have consistently, good academic record did not round off 49.7 per cent marks in B.A. to 50%, obtained by one of the candidates while such exercise had been done in case of the appellant. Although the High Court has noticed that the two respondents did not possess the necessary experience and the respondents were ineligible to be appointed, still the matter has to be examined whether any illegality had been committed by the university.
In challenging this order made by the High Court on behalf of the appellant, it is submitted that-
(1) a court could examine the legality or otherwise of a matter only at an instance of a person who is qualified and eligible and has a locus standi and not the one who has no eligibility and drew our attention to the decisions of this Court in S.C. Bajaj v. Kamal Singh Singhmar [1998 (6) Scale (SP) 3], A.P. Public Service Commission v. G. Sankar and Ors. [1999 SCC (L and S) 993], Jit Singh and Ors. v. State of Punjab and Ors. [1979(1)SLR604];
(2) that, appropriate approach to the case should have been by examining the qualification prescribed in the advertisement itself and if the prescription thereto is carefully read as a whole, the appellant had fulfilled the necessary qualification and when in view of the selection authority he had fulfilled such qualification, it is not open to the court to interfere with the same as such matters fall within the realm of academic matters and this Court in University of Mysore v. C.D. Govinda Rao [1964 (4) SCR 575], Chancellory. Dr. Bijayananda Kar [1994 (1) SCC 169] and Tariq Islam v. Aligarh Muslim University [JT 2000 (8) SC 459] has consistently taken the view that on such questions, pertaining to qualifications which is an academic matter should be left to the wisdom of university authorities;
(3) that certain notifications had been issued by the University Grants Commission explaining that insistence upon 55 per cent marks in the case of the appellant, was not necessary at all in view of the fact that he was already in the service of the university and such relaxation had been given in case of readers earlier and that was the practice followed by the university throughout;
(4) that once the High Court has come to the conclusion that the writ petitioners were not eligible for the post, the High Court could not have gone further to examine the matter and at the most, could have treated the matter as one for a writ of quo warranto, although it could not be issued in a matter of this nature;
(5) the learned counsel for the appellant also raised certain pleas on the basis of certain equities arising in the case.
(3.)IN reply, learned counsel for the respondents contended that:
(1) when the university had prescribed the qualification in a particular manner and when there is no scope for the relaxation, the same could not be relaxed and the view taken by the High Court strictly applying the qualification prescribed therein, is perfectly justified;
(2) that the finding of the High Court, insofar as the respondents are concerned, that they did not possess the necessary eligibility, is not correct and at their instance the matter could have been examined;
(3) it is further submitted that when the appellant did not possess the necessary qualification, necessarily, the view taken by the High Court is correct and no interference is called for.
In order to appreciate the contentions put forth on behalf of either side, first we will analyse as to what is the meaning of the qualification prescribed in the advertisement. The advertisement provided that a candidate must possess master's degree with at least 55 per cent marks or its equivalent grade and consistently a good academic record. Such questions have often come up before this Court for consideration as to find out the meaning to be attributed to the expressions used in fixing the qualification by the university. This Court in Govind Rao's case (supra) has dealt with the question as to whether a high second class master's degree from a university is equivalent to a qualification of a foreign university and when such qualification could be stated to be equivalent. It is also pointed out that the equivalence of the two qualifications is a question which pertains purely to an academic matter and courts would hesitate to express a definite opinion, particularly, when it appears to the experts that a candidate fulfils the qualification. If this test is adopted in the present case, the meaning to be attributed to the qualification has to take in both aspects of 55 per cent marks or its equivalent grade.
Copyright © Regent Computronics Pvt.Ltd.