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R. Muthuselvi Vs. The Secretary, Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission, Chennai - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
CourtChennai Madurai High Court
Decided On
Case NumberW.P.(MD)Nos. 21468, 21499, 20426, 20118, 21057, 21151, 21169, 22340, 22743, 23202, 23203, 23204, 23372 of 2015, 27, 28, 29, 30, 139, 140, 329, 406, 414, 425, 474 & 10614 of 2016
Judge
AppellantR. Muthuselvi
RespondentThe Secretary, Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission, Chennai
Excerpt:
(prayer: w.p.(md)no.21468 of 2015 is filed under article 226 of the constitution of india, praying for the issue of a writ of mandamus, directing the respondent to select and appoint the petitioner (register number 100412146) to the post of typist based on the marks and on merits as per overall rank 697 and communal rank 145 for the post of typist in mbc category based on the selection conducted as per notification no.401 of 2014 dated 14.10.2014 issued by the respondent.) 1. the tamil nadu public service commission issued notification no.18/2014 with advertisement no.401/2014 dated 14.10.2014 inviting applications only through on-line mode upto 12.11.2014 for appointment to the written examination for direct recruitment against the vacancies for several posts, namely, junior assistant,.....
Judgment:

(Prayer: W.P.(MD)No.21468 of 2015 is filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, praying for the issue of a Writ of Mandamus, directing the respondent to select and appoint the petitioner (Register Number 100412146) to the post of Typist based on the marks and on merits as per overall Rank 697 and Communal Rank 145 for the post of Typist in MBC Category based on the selection conducted as per Notification No.401 of 2014 dated 14.10.2014 issued by the respondent.)

1. The Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission issued Notification No.18/2014 with Advertisement No.401/2014 dated 14.10.2014 inviting applications only through on-line mode upto 12.11.2014 for appointment to the written examination for direct recruitment against the vacancies for several posts, namely, Junior Assistant, Bill Collector Grade-I, Typist, Steno-Typist Grade-III etc., making it clear that the last date for submission of applications was on 12.11.2014, the last date for payment of fee through bank or post office was on 14.11.2014 and the date and time of written examination was on 21.12.2014. Thereafter, while indicating the cut-off date for possessing the educational qualification for all the posts, the said notification mentioned 14.10.2014 as the cut-off date for B(i) educational qualification, which is the common qualification for all the posts. However, for possessing the B(ii) technical qualification for the post of Typist or Steno-typist Grade-III, no cut-off date was mentioned, giving rise to the present dispute in all these writ petitions.

2. Learned senior counsel for the petitioners, leading the arguments, submitted that in pursuance of the notification in Advertisement No.401/2014 dated 14.10.2014 calling for applications for recruitment to the post of Typist Group IV, all the petitioners applied for the same and all of them were issued with the hall tickets with individual register number. Thereafter, the written examination was conducted on 21.12.2014 and after taking part in the said examination, all the petitioners became successful in the written examination. Hence they were all issued with the individual call letters for certificate verification as per the rank position. On the dates of certificate verification notified on different dates from 13.7.2015 at the office of the respondent Commission in Chennai, the respondent raised a dispute over the acquisition of technical qualification by the petitioners in Senior Grade Typewriting both English and Tamil after the date of notification, namely, 14.10.2014. However, it was explained that the notification required the basic qualification of SSLC acquired prior to the date of notification and with regard to the technical qualification of Typewriting, it was indicated that the same should have been acquired prior to the date of certificate verification. Thereupon, after the verification of certificates, they were informed that they would be called for further counselling. Thereafter the respondent issued the impugned order containing the register numbers of the candidates called for counselling for recruitment to the post of Typist, in which the register numbers of the petitioners were missing, as a result one of the candidates, E.Ezhilarasi filed W.P.No.22934 of 2015 before the Principal Seat of this Court, in which an interim order was passed directing the respondent to permit the her to participate in the counselling.

3. While canvassing the claim of S.Priyanga, the petitioner in W.P.(MD) No.139 of 2016, the learned senior counsel contended that after passing SSLC during 2009, Higher Secondary Course during 2011 and again completed B.C.A. Degree during 2014, she completed the Senior Grade Tamil and English Typewriting during August, 2014. Since the last examination in respect of Senior Grade English and Tamil Typewriting was held on 31.8.2014 and the results thereof were published on 24.10.2014 and the notification for the present recruitment to the post of Typist came to be issued on 14.10.2014 fixing the last date for submission of applications on 12.11.2014, it cannot be put against the petitioner for the reason that even much prior to the last date for submitting the applications, namely, on 12.11.2014, she should be deemed to have acquired the Senior Grade Typewriting in English and Tamil on the date following the last date of examination, because on 31.8.2014, she wrote the examination in respect of Senior Grade Typewriting in English and Tamil. Therefore the petitioner is deemed to have acquired the qualification on 31.8.2014, as such there is no impediment to treat the petitioner as qualified.

4. Again arguing the case of Ms.J.Saranya, the petitioner in W.P.(MD) No.140 of 2016, the learned senior counsel submitted that after passing B.C.A. Degree during 2014, she has written the last examination for Senior Grade Typewriting in English and Tamil on 31.8.2014, for which the results were published on 24.10.2014. However, since the notification for the present recruitment to the post of Typist came to be issued on 14.10.2014 and the last date for submission of the applications was fixed on 12.11.2014, much prior to the last date for submission of application, the petitioner has passed the Senior Grade Typewriting in both English and Tamil, therefore, she should be deemed to have acquired the Senior Grade Typewriting in English and Tamil on the date following the last examination. On the contrary, the stand taken by the respondent that she failed to acquire the technical qualification, namely, Senior Grade Typewriting in English and Tamil at the time of notification and also at the time of submitting her application is wholly irrelevant. Moreover, at the time of certificate verification on 16.7.2015, she produced her original certificates of Senior Grade Typewriting in English and Tamil and the same have been duly verified by the respondent. While so, her name cannot be kept out of the list. Arguing further the learned senior counsel submitted that when the date of acquiring the basic qualification as per Serial No.3(B)(i) of the notification is 14.10.2014, the petitioner has acquired the basic qualification. However, when there was no cut-off date mentioned for acquiring the technical qualification in Serial No.3(B)(ii) of the notification, it shows that if a candidate is able to acquire the technical qualification prior to the date of certificate verification, such candidate should be deemed to have acquired both the basic and technical qualifications. Moreover, in the cases n hand, when the petitioners have written the examination for Senior Grade Typewriting in both English and Tamil much prior to the notification, the last date of examination alone should be taken into account, but not the date of publication of the results. Taking support from the note to the Ruling under Rule 26(a) of the Fundamental Rules, it has been heavily contended that when the passing of examination or test confers on a Government servant the title to any right or benefit or concession, such title should be deemed to have accrued on the day following the last date of the examination or test which he/she has passed. Even in cases where the test or examination could be passed in instalments, the title to the right or benefit will be deemed to have accrued on the day following the last day of the examination in the subject in which he/she has passed. Therefore, when all the petitioners have taken the examination for Senior Grade Typewriting in English and Tamil much prior to the date of notification i.e., 14.10.2014, since they have passed the examination prior to the certificate verification, the last date of examination alone should be taken into account. When all the petitioners have taken the examination much prior to the date of notification, the date on which the last examination was held i.e., on 31.8.2014 shall be taken to be the date on which the candidate has acquired the qualification irrespective of the declaration of the results. In support of his submissions that the crucial date as to the suitability and the eligibility is the last date for receipt of the applications that is specified in the notification, cited the following judgments of the Apex Court in Dr.M.V.Nair v. Union of India and others, 1993 (2) SCC 429; Bhupinder Singh and others v. State of Punjab and others, (2000) 5 SCC 262; Ashok Kumar Sonkar v. Union of India and others, (2007) 4 SCC 54; Alka Ojha v. Rajasthan Public Service Commission and another, (2011) 9 SCC 438, wherein the Apex Court has held that the suitability and eligibility have to be considered with reference to the last date for receiving the applications, unless the notification calling for applications itself specifies such a date.

5. Again contending further, the learned senior counsel submitted that since the relevant date for acquiring the technical qualification has not been mentioned in Serial No.3(B)(ii) of the notification, the ratio laid down by the Apex Court in Ashok Kumar Sonkar v. Union of India and others, (2007) 4 SCC 54 will have to be applied, wherein the Apex Court has held that the question as to what would be the cut-off date in the absence of any date specified in this behalf either in the advertisement or in the reference, is no longer res integra, because it would be the last date for filing the application as it appears from the discussions made thereunder. It was also contended that if there is no cut-off date specified in the advertisement or in the rules, then the last date for filing the application shall alone be taken as the cut-off date.

6. Similarly, advocating the cases of Mr.A.Solaimalai and others, the petitioners in W.P.(MD) No.20426 of 2015, Mr.S.Louis, learned counsel for the petitioners submitted that the required qualification as per the notification for recruitment to the post of Typist being SSLC or its equivalent with Senior Grade in Typewriting, both English and Tamil, all the petitioners therein have applied for the said post and they were also issued with the hall tickets with individual register number. When the written examination was held on 21.12.2014, all of them appeared and became successful. Therefore they were issued with the call letters for attending the certificate verification as per the rank position. Only during the certificate verification, the respondent raised a dispute about the acquisition of the technical qualification after the date of notification, namely, 14.10.2014. Immediately it was explained to the respondent that the notification required the basic qualification of SSLC prior to the date of notification and with regard to the technical qualification of Typewriting, it was indicated that the same should be acquired prior to the date of certificate verification. Since every year the technical education results would be published before the first week of October, only in 2014, there was a delay in publishing the results by the respondent, therefore the same cannot be attributed against the petitioners. Moreover, all the petitioners have possessed the requisite qualification as per the notification and on the date of certificate verification, they have also produced all the necessary certificates in original. Again continuing his arguments, it was stated that the notification in Serial No.3(B)(i) has specifically mentioned that the basic qualification should have been acquired as on 14.10.2014. But Serial No. 3(B)(ii) dealing with the technical qualification fails to give any cut-off date for acquiring the technical qualification. Therefore it goes to show that only for acquiring the basic qualification for the post of Typist, as per Serial No.3(B)(i) when all the petitioners have got the basic qualification prior to the date of notification i.e., 14.10.2014 and for the reason that there is no specific cut-off date mentioned for the technical qualification in Serial No.3(B)(ii), it should be construed that the acquisition of technical qualification prior to the date of certificate verification should be the cut-off date.

7. Heard the submissions of the learned counsel appearing for the respective petitioners in the other writ petitions also.

8. Refuting the above contentions, Mr.K.Chellapandian, learned senior counsel for the respondent-Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission submitted that none of the petitioners are eligible for the post of Typist, therefore, their writ petitions are liable to be dismissed. Adding further, the learned senior counsel submitted that the respondent issued the notification No.18/2014 dated 14.10.2014 inviting applications for the post of Typist and the notification has prescribed a particular date as the last date for filing the applications. Therefore the eligibility of the candidates shall have to be adjudged with reference to the last date i.e., 14.10.2014 and the applications of the candidates who acquired the prescribed qualification after the prescribed date cannot be considered at all. When the notification dated 14.10.2014 has clearly and unambiguously mentioned 14.10.2014 as the cut-off date in Serial No.3(B)(i), the said cut-off date for the common qualification for all posts is necessarily required to be applied to the technical qualification mentioned in Serial No.3(B)(ii) of the notification as well. But the petitioners, although admitted the case of the respondent that the notification has given the cut-off date, namely, as 14.10.2014 for acquiring the educational qualification in Serial No.3(B)(i), they cannot say that the same date has not been mentioned in Serial No.3(B)(ii) for technical qualification, thereby they could acquire it before the date of certificate verification. Again replying to the contention to the ruling under Rule 26(2) of the Fundamental Rules, it was heavily contended that the said rule cannot be made applicable to the case of the petitioners, for the reason that the note given under Rule 26(a) clearly shows that the Fundamental Rules shall govern a service only in the matter of leave, leave salary, pension and other such conditions of service as have not been provided for in the Service Rules and if any provision of the Fundamental Rules is repugnant to any provisions of the Service Rules, then the provisions of the Service Rules shall prevail and the provisions of the Fundamental Rules shall to the extent of repugnancy be void from the Fundamental Rules. Since the Rule 26(a) of the Fundamental Rules relates to the drawing of panel for promotion, the said rule cannot be applied to the recruitment at all. Again referring to Rule 12(b)(iv) of the Tamil Nadu State and Subordinate Service Rules, the learned senior counsel submitted that Rule 12(b)(iv) clearly shows that a candidate should also possess the qualifications including experience for a post on the date of notification. Therefore admittedly in the cases on hand, all the petitioners had acquired the technical qualification in Senior Grade Typewriting both English and Tamil only on 24.10.2014, which is subsequent to the date of notification, namely, 14.10.2014. Hence they cannot be considered for the first phase of counselling, as they have admittedly not possessed both the basic and technical qualifications as on 14.10.2014 and more particularly, when the technical qualification has been acquired by them only after 14.10.2014, they cannot encroach upon the right of other eligible candidates who possessed the qualification on the date of notification, therefore, their names were not included in the list of candidates who were called for counselling, as a result they came to this Court by way of these writ petitions. This Court, considering the fact that they have also applied and their applications were processed, had issued an interim direction permitting them to attend the counselling, however, their selection and appointment would be subject to the result of the writ petitions. Although the said order was challenged in Writ Appeal Nos.1396 to 1402 of 2015 before this Court, considering the fact that the direction was only an interim order, this Court dismissed the writ appeals directing the Court to decide the main writ petitions on merit. Now the question is whether the petitioners have possessed the requisite qualification, namely, educational qualification and technical qualification as per the date specified in the notification i.e., 14.10.2014. Finally it was submitted that the question whether the candidates must have possessed the educational and other qualifications as on the particular date specified in the advertisement is no longer res integra, in the light of the ratio laid down by the Apex Court in the case of Alka Ojha v. Rajasthan Public Service Commission and another, (2011) 9 SCC 438, wherein the Apex Court has held that the incumbents who do not possess the qualification, work experience and driving licence on the last date fixed for submission of applications are not eligible for the post. Even the fact that they possessed learner's licence before the cut-off date was not good enough. Distinguishing the judgment relied on by the petitioners in the case of Ashok Kumar Sonkar v. Union of India and others, (2007) 4 SCC 54, Mr.K.Chellapandian submitted that while determining the eligibility pertaining to the educational qualification, the Apex Court has held that if no cut-off date is given, what should be the criteria to be followed to process the applications. While making it clear the importance of fixing the cut-off date in order to avoid any unwanted hassle, fixing of cut-off date is a sine quo non, it was also made clear that in the absence of any cut-off date specified in the advertisement or in the rules, the last date for filing the application must be considered as the cutoff date. But in the cases on hand, admittedly, the impugned notification No. 18/2014 dated 14.10.2014 has specifically mentioned in Serial No.3(B)(i) the last date for acquiring the educational qualification i.e., the common qualification for all posts as 14.10.2014. Therefore the candidates who are bound to possess both the educational qualification and technical qualification for the post of Typist on the date of notification, merely possessing SSLC or its equivalent qualification, cannot say that they have acquired the technical qualification after 14.10.2014, but before the last date of examination or on the date of certificate verification, hence they should be made eligible for writing the examination. Since the notification has correctly and clearly mentioned 14.10.2014 as the last date for acquiring the educational qualification, it goes without saying that 14.10.2014 would be the date of acquiring of the qualification, namely, educational qualification and technical qualification. Explaining further it was submitted that when a specific cut-off date has been specified in the advertisement, namely, 14.10.2014, the arguments made on the side of the petitioners that when there is no specific date given for technical qualification, the last date for writing the examination should be deemed to be the date of acquiring the qualification, which is prior to the certificate verification, is wholly misconceived. Therefore they are not eligible for the post in question.

9. Taking support from the judgment of the learned single Judge of this Court in the case of D.Gayathri and others v. The State of Tamil Nadu rep.by its Principal Secretary to Government, Higher Education Department and others, 2016 (1) CWC 510, it was contended that this Court also in the said judgment has made it clear that the question whether the candidates must have the prescribed educational qualification and other qualification as on the particular date specified in the advertisement is no longer res integra. Answering the question that if the cut-off date by reference to which the eligibility requirement must be satisfied by the candidate seeking a public appointment is the date appointed by the relevant service rules and if there be no cut-off date appointed by the rules, then such date as may be appointed for the purpose in the advertisement calling for applications shall be taken to be the cut-off date. However, only if there is no such date fixed in the advertisement, then the eligibility criteria shall be taken with reference to the last date by which the applications have to be received by the competent authority. But in the cases on hand, as the notification No.14/2014 has specifically mentioned the last date for possessing the educational qualification as 14.10.2014, the arguments advanced on the side of the petitioners that no cut-off date has been mentioned in the notification for possessing the technical qualification, whereas for possessing the common qualification alone the last date has been mentioned, therefore the petitioners, having possessed the technical qualification after 14.10.2014 but prior to the last date of certificate verification should be made eligible, is wholly contrary to the law settled by the Court.

10. Heard the learned counsel for the parties.

11. The Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission, by issuing the

notification No.18/2014 dated 14.10.2014, has invited applications only through on-line mode upto 12.11.2014 for appointment to the written examination for direct recruitment to various posts of Junior Assistant, Typist, etc. The common educational qualification for all the posts shows a pass in the SSLC public examination or its equivalent with eligibility for admission to Higher Secondary Course or to College courses of studies. Secondly, for the post of Typist, a candidate must have passed the Government Technical Examination in Typewriting by Higher / Senior Grade in Tamil and English or by Higher / Senior Grade in Tamil and Lower / Junior Grade in English or by Higher / Senior Grade in English and Lower / Junior Grade in Tamil. To appreciate the controversy in question as to whether the Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission in their notification has given any cut-off date for educational qualification, it is pertinent to extract the relevant part of the notification as follows:-

3. Qualifications:

(B)(i) EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATION (Common Qualification for all Posts): (as on 14.10.2014) Candidates should possess the following or its equivalent qualification:

Must possess Minimum General Educational Qualification viz., Must have passed S.S.L.C.Public Examination or its equivalent with eligibility for admission to Higher Secondary Courses of Studies or to College Courses of studies.

Note:

1. The candidates who have not passed SSLC Examination or its equivalent are not eligible even if they possess a higher qualification.

2. Candidates claiming equivalence of qualification should upload evidence when called for.

(B)(iii) TECHNICAL QUALIFICATION:

(a) For TYPIST:

Must have passed the Government Technical Examination in Typewriting:-

(i) by Higher / Senior Grade in Tamil and English (or)

(ii) by Higher / Senior Grade in Tamil and Lower / Junior Grade in English (or)

(iii) by Higher / Senior Grade in English and Lower Junior Grade in Tamil.

(b) FOR STENO-TYPIST, GRADE III:

Must have passed the Government Technical Examination both in Typewriting and in Shorthand:-

(i) by Higher / Senior Grade in Tamil and English (or)

(ii) by Higher / Senior Grade in Tamil and Lower / Junior Grade in English (or)

(iii) by Higher / Senior Grade in English and Lower / Junior Grade in Tamil.

Note:

Candidates who possess intermediate grade shall choose Junior Grade column, as the intermediate grade is not treated as equivalent to Senior Grade. Candidates for both the posts i.e. Typist and Steno- Typist Grade III shall be selected in the following order:-

(a) Candidates with technical qualification referred to in item (i) above will be considered first for selection.

(b) In case candidates with technical qualification referred to in item (i) above are not available, candidates with technical qualification referred to in item (ii) above will be considered for selection.

(c) In case candidates with technical qualification referred to in item (i) and (ii) above are not available, candidates with technical qualification referred to in item (iii) above will be considered for selection.

12. A perusal of the above part of the notification in regard to the educational qualification would show that the notification itself has mentioned the cut-off date as 14.10.2014 for possessing the common educational qualification. However, the date 14.10.2014 mentioned in Serial No.3(B)(i) for educational qualification has not been shown in Serial No.3(B)(ii) for technical qualification. Therefore, it is the contention of the petitioners that although they possessed the educational qualification as on 14.10.2014, since the notification has not mentioned the said date 14.10.2014 as the cut-off date for acquiring the technical qualification, the last date for writing the examination in respect of Senior Grade Typewriting in Tamil and English on 31.8.2014 and the results thereof having been published on 24.10.2014, they are deemed to have acquired the Senior Grade Typewriting in English and Tamil on the date following the last date of examination. It is the admitted case of the petitioners that when the notification has given the cut-off date as 14.10.2014 for acquiring the common educational qualification, namely, SSLC, all the petitioners have acquired only the common qualification of SSLC long time back, however, the technical qualification has not been possessed by them prior to 14.10.2014. In other words, it is their contention that the cut-off date 14.10.2014 for possessing the common educational qualification in Serial No.3(B)(i) by the candidates for recruitment to the post in question has not been shown for acquiring the technical qualification in Serial No.3(B)(ii), therefore, it has to be construed that although the petitioners have not acquired the technical qualification as on 14.10.2014, as they have already written the examination on 31.8.2014 in respect of Senior Grade Typewriting both English and Tamil and the results thereof were also published on 24.10.2014, they are deemed to have acquired the Senior Grade Typewriting in English and Tamil on the date following the last date of examination, since there is no cut-off date given for acquiring the technical qualification. To find an answer to this issue, it is necessary to refer to the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Alka Ojha v. Rajasthan Public Service Commission and another, (2011) 9 SCC 438, wherein the Apex Court has held as follows:-

13. Paragraph 13 of the advertisement issued by the Commission, which is also relevant for deciding the issue raised by the petitioners reads thus:

"13. Educational Qualification:- (A) (1) Passed Secondary Examination from any recognized Board.

(2) Awarded by the State Technical Education Board - Diploma in Automobile Engineering (3 years' course) Or Diploma in Mechanical Engineering (3 years' course) Or Any qualification in either of the above disciplines declared equivalent by the Central Government or State Government; and

(3) Working experience of at least one year in a reputed Automobile Workshop which undertakes repairs of both light motor vehicles, heavy goods vehicles and heavy passenger motor fitted with petrol and diesel engines; and

(4) Must hold a driving licence authorizing him to drive Motor Cycle, heavy goods vehicles and heavy passenger vehicles.

But, such candidate who appeared in the final year of the course for such educational qualification sought for as per the Rules or is going to appear in such examination, will be eligible to submit application but he has to submit the certificate passing the specified qualification before the interview.

(5) Working knowledge of Hindi written in Devnagri script and the knowledge of the culture of Rajasthan." (emphasis supplied)

14. The use of word "shall" in Rule 11 makes it clear that the qualifications specified in the Schedule are mandatory and a candidate aspiring for appointment as Motor Vehicle Sub-Inspector by direct recruitment must possess those qualifications and must have working knowledge of Hindi written in Devnagri script and knowledge of Rajasthani culture. A conjoint reading of Rule 11, the relevant entries of the Schedule and paragraph 13 of the advertisement shows that a person who does not possess the prescribed educational and technical qualifications, working experience and a driving licence authorizing him to drive motor cycle, heavy goods vehicles and heavy passenger vehicles cannot compete for the post of Motor Vehicle Sub-Inspector.

15. The question whether the candidate must have the prescribed educational and other qualifications as on the particular date specified in the Rule or the advertisement is no longer res integra. In Bhupinderpal Singh v. State of Punjab (2000) 5 SCC 262, this Court referred to the earlier judgments in A.P. Public Service Commission v. B. Sarat Chandra (1990) 2 SCC 669, District Collector and Chairman, Vizianagaram Social Welfare Residential School Society v. M. Tripura Sundari Devi (1990) 3 SCC 655, M.V. Nair (Dr.) v. Union of India (1993) 2 SCC 429, Rekha Chaturvedi v. University of Rajasthan 1993 Supp. (3) SCC 168, U.P. Public Service Commission, U.P., Allahabad v. Alpana (supra) and Ashok Kumar Sharma v. Chander Shekhar (supra) and approved the following proposition laid down by the Punjab and Haryana High Court: (Bhupinderpal Singh case, SCC p.268 para 13)

"13..... (i) that the cut off date by reference to which the eligibility requirement must be satisfied by the candidate seeking a public employment is the date appointed by the relevant service rules and if there be no cut off date appointed by the rules then such date as may be appointed for the purpose in the advertisement calling for applications and that if there be no such date appointed then the eligibility criteria shall be applied by reference to the last date appointed by which the applications have to be received by the competent authority."

16. The same view was reiterated in M.A. Murthy v. State of Karnataka (2003) 7 SCC 517 and Ashok Kumar Sonkar v. Union of India (2007) 4 SCC 54. Therefore, the Full Bench of the High Court rightly held that a candidate who does not possess driving licence on the last date fixed for submission of the application is not eligible to be considered for selection. (emphasis supplied)

13. Paragraph-15 of the above judgment shows that when the advertisement shows that a person who does not possess the prescribed educational and technical qualification, work experience and a driving licence authorising him to drive a motor vehicle, heavy goods vehicle or heavy passenger vehicle, cannot compete for the post of Motor Vehicle Sub Inspector. It means that the educational qualification has to be read along with the technical qualification and also work experience and again the possession of driving licence authorising him to drive such motor cycle. When the above judgment shows that the qualification has to be understood not only to the prescribed educational qualification but also to the technical qualification, when the impugned notification dated 14.10.2014 has specifically mentioned 14.10.2014 in Serial No.3(B)(i) as the cut-off date for the educational qualification, it goes without saying that for possessing the technical qualification in Serial No.3(B)(ii) also the cut-off date is the same. Therefore, it is not open to the petitioners to say that the notification, having mentioned the cut-off date in Serial No.3(B)(i) for acquiring the educational qualification as 14.10.2014, in the second half in Serial No.3(B)(ii) regarding technical qualification, no date has been mentioned, and hence they are entitled to acquire the same after 14.10.2014. In other words, the last date for writing the examination, namely, 31.8.2014 and the subsequent publication of results on 24.10.2014 should be treated as the date on which the petitioners have acquired the Senior Grade Typewriting in English and Tamil, because this issue is no longer res integra as per the ruling in paragraph-15 of the aforesaid judgment. A careful reading of paragraph-15 of the judgment also further makes the position clear that if the cut-off date to which the eligibility requirement has been fixed for the candidate is governed by the relevant service rules, then the same should be taken as the cut-off date. If there is no cut-off date appointed by the rules, then such date as may be appointed for the purpose in the advertisement calling for applications should be taken as the cut-off date. Only if there be no cut-off date appointed, then the eligibility criteria shall be applied by reference to the last date appointed by which the applications have to be received by the appointing authority. But in the cases on hand, as the cut-off date 14.10.2014 has been specifically mentioned in Serial No.3(B)(i) for acquiring the common educational qualification, it cannot be argued that since the same date has not been given for acquiring the technical qualification in the other part of the notification in Serial No.3(B)(ii), the last date of writing the examination should be taken. When a particular qualification is prescribed by the advertisement for a candidate to become eligible for making the application for such post, there cannot be two cut-off dates, one for acquiring the educational qualification and another for acquiring the technical qualification. This can be authoritatively seen from the judgment of the Apex Court in the case of Ashok Kumar Sonkar v. Union of India and others, (2007) 4 SCC 54, wherein the Apex Court has held as follows:-

11. The question as to what should be the cut-off date in absence of any date specified in this behalf either in the advertisement or in the reference is no longer res integra. It would be last date for filing application as would appear from the discussions made hereinafter.

13. Sahai, J., however, gave a dissenting note, stating:

(SCC pp.619-20, para 19)

"The notification, therefore, provided not, only, the conditions which a candidate was required to possess when applying for the post mentioned in the notification but he was also required to support it with authenticated certificate and if he failed to do so then the application was not liable to be entertained. In legal terminology where something is required to be done and the consequences of failure to do so are also provided then it is known as mandatory. The mandatory character of possessing the requirements as provided in the first part of the notification stands further strengthened from the third and last part of the notification which prohibited the candidates from applying if they did not possess the requisite qualifications. In view of these clear and specific conditions laid down in the advertisement those candidates who were not possessed of the B.E. qualifications were not eligible for applying nor their applications were liable to be entertained nor could they be called for interview. Eligibility for the post mentioned in the notification depended on possessing the qualification noted against each post. The expression, shall be possessed of such qualifications, is indicative of both the mandatory character of the requirement and its operation in praesenti. That is a candidate must not only have been qualified but he should have been possessed of it on the date the application was made. The construction suggested by the learned counsel for the appellant that the relevant date for purposes of eligibility was the date of interview and not the date of application or July 15, 1982 the last date for submission of forms is not made out from the language of the notification. Acceptance of such construction would result in altering the first part of the advertisement prescribing eligibility on the date of applying for the post as being extended to the date of interview. If it is read in the manner suggested then the requirement that incomplete applications and those not accompanied by the requisite certificates shall not be entertained, shall become meaningless. Purpose of filing certificate along with application was to prove that the conditions required were satisfied. Non-filing of any of the certificates could have resulted in not entertaining the application as the requirements as specified would have been presumed to be non-existent. Fulfilment of conditions was mandatory and its proof could be directory. The former could not be waived or deferred whereas the defect in latter could be cured even subsequently. That is proof could be furnished till date of interview but not the eligibility to apply for the post. Any other construction would further be contrary to the last part of the notification."

14. A review application was filed which was admitted. The matter was again placed before a three-Judge Bench of this Court in Ashok Kumar Sharma and Others v. Chander Shekhar and Another [(1997) 4 SCC 18]. One of the issues which fell for consideration of the Bench being Issue No. 1 reads as under: (SCC p.21, para 5)

"(1) Whether the view taken by the majority (Honble Dr Thommen and V. Ramaswami, JJ.) that it is enough for a candidate to be qualified by the date of interview even if he was not qualified by the last date prescribed for receiving the applications, is correct in law and whether the majority was right in extending the principle of Rule 37 of the Public Service Commission Rules to the present case by analogy?"

15. It was held: (SCC pp.21-22, para 6)

"So far as the first issue referred to in our Order dated 1-9-1995 is concerned, we are of the respectful opinion that majority judgment (rendered by Dr T.K. Thommen and V. Ramaswami, JJ.) is unsustainable in law. The proposition that where applications are called for prescribing a particular date as the last date for filing the applications, the eligibility of the candidates shall have to be judged with reference to that date and that date alone, is a well-established one. A person who acquires the prescribed qualification subsequent to such prescribed date cannot be considered at all. An advertisement or notification issued/ published calling for applications constitutes a representation to the public and the authority issuing it is bound by such representation. It cannot act contrary to it. One reason behind this proposition is that if it were known that persons who obtained the qualifications after the prescribed date but before the date of interview would be allowed to appear for the interview, other similarly placed persons could also have applied. Just because some of the persons had applied notwithstanding that they had not acquired the prescribed qualifications by the prescribed date, they could not have been treated on a preferential basis. Their applications ought to have been rejected at the inception itself. This proposition is indisputable and in fact was not doubted or disputed in the majority judgment. This is also the proposition affirmed in Rekha Chaturvedi v. University of Rajasthan. The reasoning in the majority opinion that by allowing the 33 respondents to appear for the interview, the recruiting authority was able to get the best talent available and that such course was in furtherance of public interest is, with respect, an impermissible justification. It is, in our considered opinion, a clear error of law and an error apparent on the face of the record. In our opinion, R.M. Sahai, J. (and the Division Bench of the High Court) was right in holding that the 33 respondents could not have been allowed to appear for the interview.

The said decision is, therefore, an authority for the proposition that in absence of any cut-off date specified in the advertisement or in the rules, the last date for filing of an application shall be considered as such.

16. Indisputably, the appellant herein did not hold the requisite qualification as on the said cut-off date. He was, therefore, not eligible therefor.

17. In Bhupinderpal Singh and Others v. State of Punjab and Others [(2000) 5 SCC 262], this Court moreover disapproved the prevailing practice in the State of Punjab to determine the eligibility with reference to the date of interview, inter alia, stating: (SCC pp.267-68, para 13)

"13. Placing reliance on the decisions of this Court in Ashok Kumar Sharma v. Chander Shekhar, A.P. Public Service Commission v. B. Sarat Chandra, District Collector and Chairman, Vizianagaram Social Welfare Residential School Society v. M. Tripura Sundari Devi, Rekha Chaturvedi v. University of Rajasthan, M.V. Nair (Dr) v. Union of India and U.P. Public Service Commission U.P., Allahabad v. Alpana the High Court has held (i) that the cut-off date by reference to which the eligibility requirement must be satisfied by the candidate seeking a public employment is the date appointed by the relevant service rules and if there be no cut-off date appointed by the rules then such date as may be appointed for the purpose in the advertisement calling for applications; (ii) that if there be no such date appointed then the eligibility criteria shall be applied by reference to the last date appointed by which the applications have to be received by the competent authority. The view taken by the High Court is supported by several decisions of this Court and is therefore well settled and hence cannot be found fault with. However, there are certain special features of this case which need to be taken care of and justice be done by invoking the jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution vested in this Court so as to advance the cause of justice."

[See Jasbir Rani and Others v. State of Punjab and Another [JT 2001 (9) SC 351 : (2002) 1 SCC 124].

18. Yet again in Shankar K. Mandal and Others v. State of Bihar and Others [(2003) 9 SCC 519], this Court held that the following principles could be culled out from the aforementioned decisions: (SCC p.523, para 5)

"(1) The cut-off date by reference to which the eligibility requirement must be satisfied by the candidate seeking a public employment is the date appointed by the relevant service rules.

(2) If there is no cut-off date appointed by the rules then such date shall be as appointed for the purpose in the advertisement calling for applications.

(3) If there is no such date appointed then the eligibility criteria shall be applied by reference to the last date appointed by which the applications were to be received by the competent authority."

20. Possession of requisite educational qualification is mandatory. The same should not be uncertain. If an uncertainty is allowed to prevail, the employer would be flooded with applications of ineligible candidates. A cut-off date for the purpose of determining the eligibility of the candidates concerned must, therefore, be fixed... (emphasis supplied)

14. A close reading of the various judgments of the Apex Court has clearly ruled that only if there is no date appointed by the advertisement calling for applications, then only the eligibility criteria shall be applied by reference to the last date appointed by which the applications were to be received by the competent authority. This Court, after considering the fact that the notification has specifically mentioned the date as 14.10.2014 for possessing the common qualification including the technical qualification, as the petitioners have not possessed the technical qualification as on 14.10.2014, holds that the petitioners are not eligible and their applications ought to have been rejected at the inception itself. Hence the judgment of this Court relied upon by the petitioners in D.Gayathri and others v. The State of Tamil Nadu rep.by is Principal Secretary to Government, Higher Education Department and others, 2016 (1) CWC 510, with great respect to my learned Brother, cannot be made applicable to the petitioners, as the cut-off date for acquiring the common educational qualification has been specified as 14.10.2014 and that the petitioners have also admitted that they acquired the technical qualification only on 24.10.2014 after the date of notification.

15. Coming to the arguments advanced on the side of the petitioners that the cases of the petitioners are covered by the rulings under Rule 26(a) of the Fundamental Rules, but not under Rule 12(b)(iv) of the Tamil Nadu State and Subordinate Service Rules, it is pertinent to extract the said Ruling, as follows:-

Rulings under Rule 26(a)--Increment admissible to a probationer.

(1) Except where...

(2) In cases where the passing of an examination or test confers on a Government servant the title to any right, benefit or concession such title should be deemed to have accrued on the day following the last day of the examination or test which he passed. In cases where the examination or test can be passed in instalments, the title to the right, benefit of concession will be deemed to have accrued on the day following the last day of the examination in the subject or subjects in which he has passed.

Note-2..The Service Rules shall be taken to embody and indicate fully all the provisions governing the services concerned. As laid down in the Service Rules the Fundamental Rules shall govern a service, only in the matter of leave, leave salary, pension and other such conditions of service, as have not been provided for in the Service Rules. If any provision of the Fundamental Rules is repugnant to any provisions of the Service Rules, then the provisions of the Service Rules shall prevail and the provisions of the Fundamental Rules shall, to the extent of the repugnancy, be void from FR itself.

16. A cursory reading of note 2 under Ruling 26(a) of the Fundamental Rules would clearly show that the Fundamental Rules shall govern a service only in the matter of leave, leave salary, pension and other such conditions of service as have not been provided for in the Service Rules. As the petitioners are not in service, they cannot seek to refer to the ruling under Rule 26(a) of the Fundamental Rules, as their case is related to recruitment to the post of Typist Group IV. Therefore, in my considered opinion, only clause (iv) of Rule 12(b) of the Tamil Nadu State and Subordinate Service Rules, which is meant for recruitment alone can be relied upon, which reads as follows:-

(iv) that, notwithstanding anything contained in the Special Rules, such a person also possesses the qualifications including experience prescribed for a post, on the date of notification of the vacancy.

As per the said Rule, as the petitioners have not possessed the qualifications including the technical qualification for the post in question on the date of notification of the vacancies, they are not eligible to apply as, indisputably, on the date of notification on 14.10.2014, they have not acquired the technical qualification of Senior Grade Typewriting in English and Tamil and they have acquired the same only after the notification on 24.10.2014. Therefore, their applications cannot be entertained at all.

17. To sum up, on the date of notification viz., 14.10.2014, a candidate must not only have been qualified but he/she should have been possessed of the qualification on the date the application was made. Secondly, the notification has clearly mentioned the cut-off date for a candidate for possessing the educational qualification and also the technical qualification, merely for the reason that the cut-off date mentioned for common educational qualification being 14.10.2014 in Serial No.3(B)(i), the petitioners cannot say that the cut-off date has not been shown in Serial No.3(B)(ii) for possessing the technical qualification, for the reason that an incumbent is required to possess not only the educational qualification, but also the technical qualification, work experience on the last date fixed for submission of the application. In the present cases, the petitioners, having possessed only the educational qualification on 14.10.2014, had not acquired the technical qualification on 14.10.2014, since they acquired the same subsequently. Thirdly, the issue whether the candidate must have the prescribed educational and other qualification as on the particular date specified in the advertisement is no longer res integra, holding that if the cut-off date by reference to which the eligibility requirement must be satisfied by the candidate seeking a public appointment is the date appointed by the relevant service rules, if there is no cut-off date appointed by the rules then such date shall be as appointed for the purpose in the advertisement calling for application and only if there is no such date appointed then the eligibility criteria shall be applied by reference to the last date appointed by which the applications were to be received by the competent authority.

In the cases on hand, since the cut-off date 14.10.2014 has been mentioned for educational qualification in Serial No.3(B)(i), that is the cut-off date for technical qualification as well, for, a candidate applying for a post called for must not only have been qualified, but should have been possessed of the qualification on the date the application was made. As all the petitioners were not eligible on the date of sending applications, the interim orders passed are all recalled.

18. For all the aforementioned reasons, the contentions advanced onthe side of the petitioners cannot be accepted. Accordingly, the writ petitions failand they are dismissed. Consequently, all the connected miscellaneous petitionsare also dismissed. No costs.


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