SC: Higher qualification doesn’t pre-suppose acquisition of lower one

On 5th December 2018, in the matters of

  • Zahoor Ahmad Rather and Ors Etc v. Sheikh Imtiyaz Ahmad and Ors Etc
  • Javid Ahmad Dar and Ors. v. Naseer Ahmad Mir and Ors.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court pronounced that unless any rule expressing the contrary is present, a higher qualification necessarily does not pre-suppose the acquisition of a lower qualification. A stipulation hat the qualification prescribed is the bare minimum requirement of the job emphasises that it is an essential requirement, a threshold which cannot be dispensed with.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, among other things also observed:

Unless there is a specific statutory rule under which the holding of a higher qualification could pre- suppose the acquisition of a lower qualification, it would not be permissible to draw an inference that a higher qualification necessarily pre-supposes the acquisition of another, albeit lower, qualification. (Para 22)

The prescription of qualifications for a post is a matter of recruitment policy. The state as the employer is entitled to prescribe the qualifications as a condition of eligibility. It is no part of the role or function of judicial review to expand upon the ambit of the prescribed qualifications. Similarly, equivalence of a qualification is not a matter which can be determined in exercise of the power of judicial review. Whether a particular qualification should or should not be regarded as equivalent is a matter for the state, as the recruiting authority, to determine. (Para 22)

While prescribing the qualifications for a post, the State, as employer, may legitimately bear in mind several features including the nature of the job, the aptitudes requisite for the efficient discharge of duties, the functionality of a qualification and the content of the course of studies which leads up to the acquisition of a qualification. (Para 23)

The state is entrusted with the authority to assess the needs of its public services. Exigencies of administration, it is trite law, fall within the domain of administrative decision making. The state as a public employer may well take into account social perspectives that require the creation of job opportunities across the societal structure. All these are essentially matters of policy. Judicial review must tread warily. (Para 23)

The stipulation that the qualification prescribed is the bare minimum requirement of the job emphasises that it is an essential requirement, a threshold which cannot be dispensed with. (Para 25)

An enabling provision postulates a discretion which may or may not be exercised. A candidate has no vested right to assert that the Board must as a mandate assign an additional weightage to a higher qualification. (Para 25)

Copy of judgement: Judgement_05-Dec-2018

-Tushar Kaushik 

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