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Bajrang vs. Ministry Of Social Justice And Empowerment and Anr. - (High Court of Delhi) (12 Dec 2022)

Mere discrepancy in filing the Income Tax Return instead of the Income Certificate cannot lead to a situation where an eligible meritorious candidate is deprived of the scholarship



The Petitioner joined Respondent No.2 - Rajiv Gandhi National University of Law ("University") in the five years law course. He belongs to the Scheduled Caste category and wishes to avail of the Central Sector Scholarship Scheme of Top Class Education for SC Students ("Scheme").

The case of the Petitioner is that, he had to upload certain documents to avail of the said scholarship and on 14th November, 2020, an application was filed by him along with his father's Income Tax Return to avail of the said scholarship. Upon verification, the Ministry rejected the application vide email dated 23rd September, 2021, on the ground that the Income Tax Return Certificate was invalid. The Petitioner then again applied for the scholarship in his next year, i.e., for his second year, and his candidature was found eligible. However, he has not been granted any scholarship. Hence, the present petition.

The purpose and intent of the Scheme is to empower the students of Scheduled Caste and Schedules Tribes to avail of top class education opportunities. The scholarship is awarded to meritorious students. The background of the Scheme and the eligibility requires that the total annual family income has to be up to Rs.8 lakhs. The eligibility of the present candidate i.e., the Petitioner is not in doubt as is evident from the recommendation of the University that has been placed on record, as also from the Income Tax Returns and the Income Certificate.

The Petitioner has been found meritorious by the University. Both in the first year and the second year he is on the merit list. Considering these facts and submissions, in the opinion of this Court, a mere discrepancy in filing the Income Tax Return instead of the Income Certificate, despite the two documents evidencing the same parameters of income requirements, cannot lead to a situation where an eligible meritorious candidate is deprived of the scholarship. The counter-affidavit does not raise any doubt as to the veracity of the documents submitted by the Petitioner or his eligibility. The University has also confirmed his merit position.

The Income Certificate is generated by the authorities where the Petitioner/his family resides. A perusal of the Income Tax Return along with Computation of Total Income also clearly shows that the eligibility is met by the Petitioner, and the income depicted in both documents is exactly the same. A hyper technical approach ought not to be taken in this matter. The Petitioner has also been diligent in replying, upon the discrepancies being pointed out by the Respondent. Thus, the Ministry ought to have considered the Petitioner's candidature and ought not to have rejected the Petitioner's application.

The Petitioner is otherwise eligible, the Ministry is directed to process the Petitioner's application for grant of scholarship under the impugned Scheme for the academic year 2020-21 and grant the scholarship to the Petitioner within eight weeks. Any other benefits that may accrue to the Petitioner upon the said grant shall also be extended. Petition disposed off.


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