Indian Institute of Science Education and Research v. Dr. Smitha VS WA. NO. 2029 of 2018 -The Kerala High Court in the present case observed that rejection of Candidature only on ground of delay in submitting OBA Certificate violative of Article 14, 16 of the Constitution.
DATE OF JUDGMENT:
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Alexander Thomas and Hon’ble Mr. JusticeK. Babu
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (Petitioner)
Dr. Smitha VS(Respondent)
In the present case, the Division Bench, found that the respondent's candidature for the OBC category was rejected solely because the appropriate OBC-NCL certificate was submitted late, which was a violation of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution.
The candidate, a postgraduate with a Ph.D. in Chemistry who works as a Research Associate for the CSIR, applied for positions advertised by the Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER).
She applied for a position allocated for OBCs in the non-creamy layer category. Her application was rejected because she did not submit a non-creamy layer certificate for the appropriate financial year during the online application process.
The single bench granted her writ petition and asked IISER to accept the certificate and treat her as an eligible OBC-NCL candidate.
IISER argued before the Division Bench that the candidate failed to submit the required OBC-NCL certificate for the current fiscal year along with the application, and that she failed to state any reason for not submitting the OBC-NCL certificate for the relevant period during the online application submission.
The candidate, on the other hand, argued that the OBC-NCL certificate was not required at the time of application submission and could be provided later.
The important point before the Court was whether the selection notification dated required the candidates in question to submit an OBC-NCL certificate at the time of application submission. Under the heading "How to apply," Clause 26 of the selection announcement plainly stated four procedures. Step 4 was extremely important and pertinent in this situation, and it read as follows:
“Step 4 – Take a printout of the completed application form, attach proof of payment, and send it to the Registrar by registered/speed post only in a sealed cover superscribing ‘application for the post of..........., postcode......' on or before November 30, 2017.”
After reading Clause 26 and step 4 therein, as well as Clause 11, the Bench came to the conclusion that what was required to be added to the hard copy of the application were certificates proving educational qualification, experience, and community. As a result, the OBC-NCL certificate was omitted. As a result, there was no requirement that a copy of the OBC-NCL certificate for the current year be submitted with the paper copy of the application by the deadline of November 30, 2017.
Clause 10 stated unequivocally that the regulations announced by the Government of India on August 17, 2017 to relax the previous stringent restrictions will apply in this instance. According to the said norms and the Supreme Court's order in Union of India v. Abdul Rasheed (S.L.P.(C) No.3116/2017), the Staff Selection Commission considered the matter of extending the time limit for producing OBC certificates within the cut-off period, based on the approval of the Union Government in the Department of Personnel & Training as well as the Department of Economic Affairs.
Accordingly, candidates were required to claim reservation benefits such as OBC-NCL in the application form that was to be submitted before the prescribed last date, and those candidates who had not produced the reservation eligibility certificates such as OBC-NCL certificate before the selection authorities within a reasonable time would have to produce it before the selection authorities. As a result, the OBC-NCL certificate is not required to be submitted with the application before the deadline, but the candidate must submit the certificate to the selection body within a reasonable time.
As a result, failing to give a candidate reasonable time to produce an OBC-NCL certificate would be a violation of Clause 26 and Clause 10 read with Government norms, and any interpretation to the contrary would undermine the fundamental principles of affirmative action, equity, and justice/reasonableness and fairness enshrined in Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.
Rejecting the appellants' argument that the government norms and rulings in Abdul Rasheed's case would only apply to the problem of granting more time for the production of an OBC certificate and not to the issue of granting more time for the submission of an NCL certificate.
In this case, the respondent had submitted her application before the statutory deadline, and she had also supplied a certificate dated 12-04-2016 validating her OBC status, which also validated her NCL eligibility. Only the income variation for the 2017-18 fiscal year was at issue.
The Bench held that the learned Single Judge's considered findings in the impugned judgement in favour of the respondent interdicting the appellants' impugned decision that resulted in her candidature for the post of Technical Assistant (Chemistry) reserved for OBC-NCL being rejected could not be said to be illegal, wrong, or perverse.
In the facts and circumstances of this case, rejecting the respondent's OBC category candidature on the basis of late submission of the required OBC-NCL certificate will only result in the virtual elimination of a qualified candidate with substantial research experience. This will only result in a situation in which the respondent's rights and opportunities under Articles 14 and 16 of the Indian Constitution are flagrantly infringed.
The Kerala High Court decided that denying an OBC candidate's candidature only due to a delayed Other Backward Class-Non-Creamy Layer certificate is a violation of Articles 16 and 14 of the Indian Constitution.As a result, the Court directed the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research to consider a candidate for the position of Technical Assistant in the OBC category who had applied.
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