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Allahabad High Court directs UP government to appoint petitioner as VDO within 2 weeks

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The Allahabad High Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to issue appointment letter in favour of petitioner for the post of Village Development Officer/Gram Vikas Adhikari within a period of two weeks.

A Single Bench of Justice Saurabh Shyam Shamshery also imposed a cost of Rs 10,000, to be paid to the petitioner within two weeks by the State-Respondents.

The Bench, while hearing the petition filed by Khushaboo Kumari Gupta, observed that the government cannot turn down from its point of view as the government said in the court that CCC certificate is not an essential qualification for the post of Village Development Officer, then the selected candidate cannot be denied appointment on the ground that the petitioner does not possess the CCC qualification.

In this case, the petitioner participated in the recruitment process for the post of VDO in pursuance of Advertisement No 03/Exam2016. She qualified for written examination as well as physical examination, however, she was not permitted to participate in an interview in absence of CCC Certificate from DOAECC Society, though she had a certificate from one Shift Computer Centre, being registered from DOAECC.

Under the above circumstances, the petitioner approached the Court by means of the writ petition with the prayer to allow her to participate in the interview. The said writ petition was dismissed vide order dated 27.06.2018.

In the meantime, the Secretary, Uttar Pradesh Subordinate Selection Commission, by a letter dated July 19, 2019, communicated to the Commissioner, Village Development Department, UP, declaring the petitioner a selected candidate and requested an appointment letter. It was reiterated by another letter dated 06.09.2019.

Commissioner, Village Development Department by letter dated 26.09.2019 communicated to the Special Secretary, Village Development Department that petitioner does not possess the requisite qualification of CCC Certificate from NIELIT/ DOAECC.

During the above proceedings, the petitioner successfully passed the CCC Certificate from NIELIT and accordingly, a certificate dated 28.03.2018 was issued, which is placed on record also.

In between, a development took place that the Commissioner, Village Development Department by an office order dated December 2, 2020, rejected the representation of petitioner on the ground that she did not possess the requisite CCC Certificate before the date of advertisement and subsequent certificate could not be accepted.

The said order was not communicated to petitioner and for the first time, it was placed along with a counter affidavit filed by the State-Respondents and the petitioner, by way of an amendment application, has challenged the same also and for that, the Court has granted permission.

The petitioner-in-person has pleaded her case vehemently on facts, as well as on merit. She submitted that since the Secretary, UPSSC vide letters dated 19.07.2019 and 06.09.2019 has declared her to be a selected candidate and requested the Department to issue appointment letter, the State-Respondents have no other option, but to issue appointment letter in her favour.

They could not object or ignore the said letters on frivolous grounds that the petitioner was not qualified in absence of a CCC Certificate issued by NIELIT.

The State-Respondents have not approached this Court to quash the letters issued by Secretary, UPSSC and due to an illegal stand taken by them, she had to approach this Court by way of second round of litigation.

The petitioner relied on a categorical statement made on behalf of the state during the hearing of Special Appeal, which is mentioned in its order dated February 27, 2019, which said, “Service Rules no where prescribe CCC Certificate as a necessary qualification for the above post rather only Intermediate in Science or Agriculture of the Madhyamic Shiksha Parishad, UP, or equivalent thereto.”

The State-Respondents cannot sit over the specific statement made before Division Bench and it is nothing but unnecessary harassment of petitioner-in person.

Sudhanshu Srivastava, Additional Chief Standing Counsel appearing for State-Respondents, has opposed the above submissions tooth and nail.

He submitted that it was specifically mentioned in the advertisement that a candidate for the post of Village Development Officer shall possess before the date of advertisement two essential qualifications, i.e, (I) Intermediate in Science or Agriculture of Madhyamik Shiksha Parishad U.P or equivalent thereto; and, (ii) CCC Certificate. He also drew attention of this Court on prescribed proforma of the form to show that therein it was specifically mentioned that CCC Certificate has to be issued from DOAECC Society or equivalent thereto. Petitioner had participated in the recruitment process and there was no challenge to essential qualifications prescribed in the advertisement, therefore, the CCC Certificate possessed by petitioner which was not issued by DOAECC Society, was rightly rejected by State-Respondents.

Siddharth Singhal, Advocate appearing on behalf of Respondent UPSSC, has supported the letters written by Secretary, UPSSC and submitted that petitioner was found selected on merit and said letters were communicated in furtherance of the orders passed by the Court.

The Court observed that the service rules for the post of Village Development Officer are governed by the Uttar Pradesh Gram Panchayat Vikar Adhikari Niyamwali, 1999 wherein as per Rule 3 the minimum qualification required for the post is Intermediate or any other equivalent examination recognized by the State Government and CCC Certificate is not an essential qualification prescribed in the said Rules.

The Court noted, “The Counsel for State-Respondents has rightly made a statement before Division Bench in Special Appeal that CCC Certificate is not an essential qualification prescribed in Rules and it was mentioned only in the advertisement.

“However, the advertisement is not under challenge. It is also not in dispute that otherwise the petitioner has found place in merit list and she has been declared selected by UPSSC and accordingly letters dated 19.07.2019 and 06.09.2019 are communicated to the State.

“The Division Bench, after taking note of the categorical statement made on behalf of State that CCC Certificate is not an essential qualification, has passed an ad interim mandamus, directing the respondents to hold interview of appellant (petitioner herein) by order dated February 27, 2019 and in pursuance of the said interim mandamus, interview of petitioner was conducted and thereafter, the result was communicated.

The said order was not under challenge, therefore, has attained finality. An attempt to recall the said order was rejected with cost vide order dated 11.11.2019.

The petitioner in person has also approached the Contempt Court, wherein the Commissioner, Rural Development, UP, Lucknow has prima facie held guilty of contempt of Court vide order dated November 18, 2019. The said order was challenged before the Division Bench, wherein it was interfered to the extent that as the Division Bench (order under contempt) did not direct for appointment of petitioner, therefore, such direction could not have been given in contempt proceedings.

It is to note here that in contempt proceedings, the Additional Advocate General has admitted that State-Respondents are bound to issue appointment letters to petitioners also.

On the basis of rival submission and material on record, it would be appropriate to conclude that:

(I) It is a categorical stand of State-Respondents that CCC Certificate was not an essential qualification prescribed in service rules, which is not in dispute.

(II) The direction of Division Bench in special appeal filed by petitioner to allow the petitioner to participate in interview has attained finality as it was not challenged by State-Respondents.

(III) In pursuance of order passed by Division Bench, interview of petitioner was conducted and according to document issued by Secretary, UPSSC she found place in merit list.

(IV) It is a specific stand of UPSSC, corroborated from letters dated 19.07.2019 and 06.09.2019 that since the petitioner got place in merit list, therefore, she is entitled for appointment and absence of CCC Certificate from NIELIT could not be a ground not to comply request of UPSSC.

(V) The contrary stand taken by Stare-Respondents by way of subsequent letters and also by letter dated 02.12.2020 whereby the representation of petitioner was rejected, was only on the ground that petitioner does not possess requisite CCC Certificate before the last date of advertisement. It appears to be contrary to their stand taken before the Court.

(VI) State-Respondents have not approached the Court for any clarification or to challenge the communications of Secretary, UPSSC with regard to appointment of petitioner.

The judgments cited by the Additional Chief Standing Counsel have categorically supported the stand of State-Respondents. Admittedly, petitioner does not possess CCC Certificate as required to be issued by DOAECC Society or NIELIT, however, the factual position is different in the case.

The Division Bench in Special Appeal 2018 has proceeded on basis of a categorical statement made by counsel for State at Bar that CCC Certificate was not an essential qualification under the service rules, therefore, the argument that CCC Certificate has to be issued by NIELIT or DOAECC has no consequence in the facts and circumstances of the case. Any attempt on behalf of State-Respondents now to have a contradictory approach has to be rejected since they have not taken any step to get modification in the categorical statement made in special appeal.

The Court said that, it is also very strange that a recruitment body has declared the result that petitioner is qualified and got place in merit list and requested for her appointment but that has not been followed or accepted by State Respondents on the ground of non possession of requisite CCC Certificate which is not only contrary to their stand before the Court in the earlier round of litigation as well as there is no provision which supports the stand of State-Respondents to sit over the recommendation made by UPSSC.

“The outcome of above discussion is only that since State-Respondents have made a categorical statement in earlier round of litigation before Division Bench that CCC Certificate is not an essential qualification, which is clear from relevant rules also, and nothing has been placed on record contrary to that stand and, that, the said order has attained finality and in pursuance thereof petitioner was allowed to participate in interview and thereafter her result was declared, wherein she found place in merit list and in pursuance thereof Secretary, UPSSC has communicated State Respondents to appoint petitioner, therefore, at this stage, any contrary stand of State-Respondents is illegal and liable to be rejected”, the Court further observed while allowing the writ petition.

“The order dated December 2, 2020 is hereby set aside. A mandamus is issued to State-Respondents to issue an appointment letter in favour of petitioner for the post of Gram Vikas Adhikari within a period of two weeks from the date a certified copy of this order is placed before the concerned respondent authority.

“Due to the apathy of State-Respondents, the petitioner has been forced to approach the Court again by way of filing the writ petition. Therefore, a further direction is issued to pay a cost of Rs 10,000 to the petitioner within two weeks by State-Respondents,” the Court ordered.

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