Sunday, February 5, 2023

Allahabad High Court sets aside government order cancelling candidature of Assistant Teachers appointed on the basis of wrong information

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The Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court has rejected the order of the state government cancelling the candidature appointed to the posts of Assistant Teacher due to wrong information given in the online application form.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice Om Prakash Shukla passed this order while hearing a petition filed by Vijay Gupta and another.

The bunch of the writ petitions has been filed by petitioners, whose candidature for the post of Assistant Teachers in primary school in pursuance of the advertisement issued by the State of Uttar Pradesh in 2019 was either not found proper due to inaccuracy and/or discrepancy between the online application and the actual status of the said candidate, or, even if the candidature of these petitioners was considered and these petitioners found their way to the final selection list, however subsequently, the department, finding disparity in the declaration made in the online application and the actual status of the said candidate, cancelled their recruitment and directed for consequent recovery by the respondent.

The state of Uttar Pradesh issued a notification to fill up 69000 posts of Assistant Teachers in Primary Schools in various districts of the state, pursuant to which an Assistant Teacher Recruitment Examination, 2019 was conducted by the Examination Regulatory Authority, Prayagraj.

As per the recruitment process, candidates were to apply online, who were allotted registration number and assigned roll number for appearing in the examination, for which the results were declared on 12.05.2020. After declaration of result, the UP Basic Shiksha Parishad invited online applications from successful candidates for counselling and appointment.

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Pertinently, the aforesaid ambitious recruitment scheme of the state of Uttar Pradesh was mired with litigations having been filed before this Court as well as the Supreme Court, which led to issuance of Government order dated 4th of December, 2020 in clarification and another letter dated 05.03.2021 issued by the Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh, relating to the appointment of Assistant Teachers.

A harmonious reading of both the Government orders lead one to an impeccable conclusion that both these orders have been issued with a purpose, which inter-alia state that no candidate should be permitted to rectify any mistake committed by him/her while filling up online application form so as to have an impact on the smooth conducting of the selection process and to avoid any alteration or change in the inter se merit of the candidates which would eventually lead to a change in the final merit/select list.

The Court noted that,

Although various judgments of the Court have been cited by both the parties, the Court found that apparently there are two judgments of the Apex Court, which holds the ground as on today.

The communication dated 05.02.2021 was a subject matter of interpretation before the Apex Court in the case of Jyoti Yadav & Anr V/s The State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors decided along with 8 other writ petitions.

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Thus, the Apex Court held that wherever a candidate had put himself at a disadvantageous position, his candidature is not to be cancelled but if the candidate had been placed at an advantageous position which is beyond his right to claim, his candidature is to be cancelled.

To the same effect is the judgment dated 29th of June, 2021 passed by the Apex Court in the case of Rahul Kumar vs State of Uttar Pradesh and others.

The Court further noted that the controversy in these writ petitions is concerning some discrepancies/error mentioned in the application form relating to “Shiksha Mitra”, wherein in some petitions, the weightage marks for working as Shiksha Mitra had not been given appropriately, whereas in some cases, the petitioners have been erroneously considered as Shiksha Mitra and were although initially given appointment, however, subsequently their appointments were cancelled and consequential recovery orders were issued against them.

These discrepancies/errors have crept either due to non-mentioning or clicking the wrong key/code, leading to erroneous weightage given for working as Shiksha Mitra or erroneously opting for BTC through regular channel or BTC through correspondence.

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The Court further found that the issue relating to any kind of rectification of error in the application form by any candidate of Assistant Teacher Recruitment Examination, 2019, stands settled by the judgments of the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court has clearly interpreted the Government orders and drawn a Lakshman Rekha for considering any kind of error, by holding that the rigour of the GO and the Circular made it clear that;

(a) wherever undue advantage can be ensured to the candidate if the discrepancy were to go unnoticed, regardless whether the percentage of advantage was greater or lesser, the candidature of such candidate must stand cancelled.

(b) However, wherever the candidate was not claiming any advantage and as a matter of fact, had put himself in a disadvantaged position, his candidature will not stand cancelled but the candidate will have to remain satisfied with what was quoted or projected in the application form.

“From the facts of the bunch of writ petitions, as has been rightly pointed out by some of the counsels, it is evident that the issue has not been examined by the competent authority in terms of the observations made by the Supreme Court in the aforesaid two judgments which relate to the selection process in question.

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In view of the authoritative decision passed by the Division Bench, the Court does not find any reasons as to why the benefit extended by the Division Bench to the petitioners in that matter, should not be extended to the petitioners of the bunch of matters”, the Court observed.

In view of the above, the Court disposed of the bunch of matters with the following directions:

(i) The issue relating to Shiksha Mitra be reexamined by the competent authority in the light of the observations made by the Supreme Court in the aforesaid judgments;

(ii) All impugned orders rejecting the candidature of the candidates on account of the error committed by them relating to Shiksha Mitra are set-aside;

(iii) It is made clear that candidates, whose names do not find place in the select list dated 12.5.2020, will not get any benefit with the change of marks as their merit position will not be changed for the reason that in case this is allowed to happen at this stage, it will open the entire selection process which is not the spirit of the order passed by this Court;

(iv) These cases are remitted to the authority of the district concerned for re-examination thereof considering the aforesaid judgment of the Supreme Court and to take a final decision thereon.

(v) The entire process shall be completed by the competent authority within a period of eight weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order, considering the respective writ petition as representation of the candidate concerned;

(vi) It is further directed that in case any candidate is found entitled for appointment and is offered appointment on review of his/her case in terms of the aforesaid directions, he/she shall get all the benefits from the date he/she joins the service.

(vii) Any recovery proceedings, initiated by the concerned authority, shall be kept in abeyance and be subject to the decision/outcome of competent authority of the district concerned.

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