Govt cannot change eligibility criteria in appointment: SC

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New Delhi, Feb 24 (UNI) The Supreme Court has ruled that government cannot change the eligibility criteria for a post arbitrarily or to accomodate some blue-eyed boys from the backdoor.

A bench comprising Justices A K Mathur and Altamas Kabir, in their judgement, dated February 22, made it clear that government does not enjoy unfettered powers to relax the eligibility conditions at will as it will lead to encouragement to the policy of 'pick and choose' at the cost of meritorious candidates.

The apex court dismissed the appeal of two candidates, Madan Mohan Sharma and Dharmendra Kumar Sharma, who were appointed teachers by the Rajasthan government by relaxing the educational qualifications under Rule 296 of the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Rules.

The rule was struck down by both the single judge bench and the division bench of the Rajasthan High Court and the appointment of the appellants as teachers, Grade-III, was declared illegal.

The apex court, while dismissing the appeal of the appellants, however, directed the state government, ''However, these two appellants, who are already serving under the orders of this court, by this time they have become over-aged. In case, in future any selection for the post of teacher, Grade-III is undertaken, these appellants be allowed to apply for the same, despite the fact that they have become overaged.

''They are granted one more chance and the age bar will not come in their way to apply for the future vacancy.'' The apex court also held that the directions issued by the High Court in the impugned order, dated December 19, 2005, directing the state government to forthwith constitute a committee headed by the chief secretary to examine as to whether vacancies of teacher, Grade-III, persuant to advertisement No. 1/96 still exist, unwarranted.

The apex court ruled that since Rule 296 has already been declared unconstitutional, direction to appoint such a committee is an exercise in futility.

UNI AKS/SC SBC RK2008

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