- The Respondent in the case, Dr. Smitha was a post-graduate with Ph.D. in chemistry and was working as a Research Associate in the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.
- She had applied for the post of Technical Assistant in Chemistry at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in response to a notification issued by them. There was one vacancy in General Category, OBC Category, and Schedule Caste category each. She had applied for the position under the OBC Category and submitted a previous year's OBC-NCL Certificate along with her application.
- However, when the results were out, Dr. Smitha was listed 2nd in the General Category list and no one was listed under the OBC-NCL category. She requested the Institute to consider her under the OBC-NCL category and produced the required documents. She couldn’t produce the certificate of the current year at the time of application as she was pregnant during the time.
- The Single-Judge Bench who had heard the matter rejected the contentions of the Institute and had directed them to accept Dr. Smitha’s certificate and treat her eligible for the post under the OBC-NCL category with two weeks. Aggrieved by the order of the single-judge bench, the Insitute filed an appeal in the Kerala High Court
- The Counsel appearing for the Appellant Institute, Adv. Sumathy Dandapani argued that as per condition 10 in the selection notification which states any candidate who fails to produce a non-creamy layer certificate for the relevant year at the time of applying will not be considered eligible under the OBC category.
- Adv. Dandapani contended that Dr. Smitha failed to explain the reason for not submitting the certificate on time.
- These arguments were objected by the counsel appearing for the Respondent, Advocate Aravindakashan Pillay that the 4 steps under Clause 26 and Clause 10 of the selection notification read with the norms of the Union Government show that the OBC-NCL certificate is not required to be produced during the submission of the application and can be produced later on. He contended that the arguments of the Appellants are untenable in the facts of the present case.
- The Kerala High Court after hearing the contentions of the parties ruled that rejection of candidature of a person just on the ground that there was a delay in submission of the OBC-NCL Certificate is violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.
- The Division Bench of Hon’ble Justices Alexander Thomas and K. Babu observed that relevant clauses of the selection notification directed that what was supposed to be attached with the hardcopy of the application were certificates to prove educational qualification, experience, and community. OBC-NCL certificate was not necessary during the time of applying.
- The Court also noted that norms issued by the Government of India would be applicable in the present case.
- The Court referred to the Supreme Court case of Union of India v/s Abdul Rashid which made it clear that failure in producing the OBC-NCL certificate along with the application before the last date cannot be a primary ground to reject an application.
- The Court accordingly directed the Appellant-Institute to reconsider the candidature of Dr. Smitha and ruled that the order passed by the Single-Judge Bench need not be interfered with and rejected the appeal.
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