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Bharati Rathore v. Union of India & Anr.

Bharati Rathore v. Union of India

IMPORTANT ISSUE

I. Whether the degree in Nano bio info cognitive neuroscience held by the Petitioner was equivalent to the Bachelor’s degree in biotechnology advertised by the Respondent as a minimum requirement for applicants to the post of Examiner of Patents.
II. Whether the Court can intervene in matters regarding minimum requirements set for the recruitment proces, it being a [policy decision.

FACTUAL MATRIX

  • The Union of India in August, 2018 had advertised 220 vacancies for the post of Examiner of Patents including 4 in the specific area of Biomedicine.
  • The eligibility criterion for the biotechnology post was a bachelor’s or master’s degree in biotechnology.
  • The Petitioner holds a 5 year dual degree (B.Tech/M.Tech) in Nano bio info cognitive neurosciences from the University of Rajasthan. She applied for the post.
  • The Petitioner scored the highest marks in the written examination and also cleared the interview with a score of 108/300 (=36%) which placed her above the passing marks of 33 percent.
  • On 12/02/2019 the Respondent released the list of successful candidates and the said list did not contain the Petitioner’s name.
  • The Petitioner wrote to the Secretary of the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade on three separate occasions- 05/03/2019, 19/03/2019, and 23/04/2019 but received no reply.
  • Aggrieved, the Petitioner approached the Delhi High Court.

Submissions by the Petitioner

  • The Petitioner submitted that a committee had been appointed by the National Productivity Council (NPC) which scrutinised all applications to declare equivalent degrees, and the Petitioner’s degree was not found to be equivalent to the published requirement.
  • The Petitioner argued that this decision of the NPC appointed Committee was arbitrary and hence, with the consent of both parties, the Court appointed a 3 member expert Committee who found that the Petitioner’s degree was in fact equivalent to the required degree.
  • The Petitioner argued that she had scored the highest marks in the written examination and was also the only candidate to have passed the 33percent mark. She performed better than the candidates selected, and yet was not recruited for the post.

Submission by Respondent

  • The Respondent submitted that they had followed the procedure mentioned in the information Bulletin and had been meticulous in doing so.
  • The Respondent rejected the report submitted by the Expert Committee stating that the report had been formulated after considering the curriculum of the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) who had discontinued their biotechnology program and hence, the report would be invalid.
  • The Respondent also submitted that determination of minimum requirements in recruitment processes, of equivalence of degrees of education was a matter of policy making and therefore, beyond the scope of intervention by the Court.

Held

  1. The determination of equivalence of degrees is a matter of policy making and hence, beyond the scope of Court intervention. However, procedural fairness in the process of such determination is susceptible to judicial scrutiny. Therefore, whenever the question of arbitrariness arises, the Court is well within its right and duty to intervene.
  2. The Court found that VIT had not discontinued their biotechnology program but had only placed it under the Electronics program as a specialisation of its own. Hence, the Respondents were found to have filed a false affidavit that Expert Committee Report was invalid.
  3. Validity of an order is to be proved on the basis of reasons found within the order. Additional or supplementary material cannot be used to justify it, as “orders are not like old wine, becoming better as they grow older.”
  4. The Court therefore allowed the writ petition. The Petitioner’s degree wwas found to be an equivalent, the Petitioner entitled to appointment as an Examiner of Patents (biomedical).

Citation: 2021 SCC OnLIne Del 2601
Copy of Judgement

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