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Courts cannot lay down conditions of eligibility in respect of employment rules of Supreme Court - (03 May 2019)


The Supreme Court in its recent Judgment has expressed that, the essential qualifications for appointment to a post are for the employer to decide and the court cannot lay down the conditions of eligibility. The issue of interpretation of terms of advertisement came up before the Supreme Court in a case preferred by Maharashtra Public Service Commission Versus Sandeep Shriram Warade in Civil Appeal alongwith other connected Appeals. The Appellant has challenged orders of the High Court holding that, candidates possessing the requisite years of experience in research and development of drugs and testing of the same, are also eligible to be considered for appointment to the post of Assistant Commissioner (Drugs) and Drug Inspectors under separate advertisements.

The case of the Appellant was that academic qualifications coupled with the requisite years of practical experience in the manufacturing and testing of drugs were essential qualifications for appointment. Research experience in a research and development laboratory was a desirable qualification which may have entitled such a person to a preference only. The latter experience could not be equated with and considered to be at par with the essential eligibility to be considered for appointment. The High Court erred in misreading the advertisement to redefine the desirable qualification as an essential qualification by itself.

While reversing the judgment rendered by the High Court, the Division Bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Navin Sinha categorically held that, it is the employer who is best suited to decide the requirements a candidate must possess according to the needs of the employer and the nature of work. The essential qualifications for appointment to a post are for the employer to decide. The employer may prescribe additional or desirable qualifications, including any grant of preference.

The Court cannot lay down the conditions of eligibility, much less can it delve into the issue with regard to desirable qualifications being at par with the essential eligibility by an interpretive re­writing of the advertisement. Even the Questions of equivalence will also fall outside the domain of judicial review.

Supreme Court in its Judgment also made clear that, if the language of the advertisement and the rules are clear, the Court cannot sit in judgment over the same and if there is an ambiguity in the advertisement or it is contrary to any rules or law, the matter has to go back to the appointing authority after appropriate orders, to proceed in accordance with law.

The Supreme Court in its thumping verdict also observed that, the Court, in the garb of judicial review, cannot sit in the chair of the appointing authority to decide what is best for the employer and interpret the conditions of the advertisement contrary to the plain language of the same. Thus, the verdict given by supreme court is landmark in the cases pertaining to service law wherein major issues relates to interpretation of terms of eligibility as prescribed in advertisements.


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