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Ami Lal Bhat (DR.) Versus State of Rajasthan

1997 (7) TMI 674 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

C.A. 2691 of 1991 - Dated:- 8-7-1997 - Manohar Sujata V., Khare, V.N., JJ. JUDGMENT MRS. Sujata V. Manohar, J. Leave granted. In all these appeals the common question which arises for consideration is whether a Rule-making Authority can fix a cut off date with reference to the calender year for determining the maximum age of a candidate who is to be considered for direct recruitment to a service under the State. The petitions and appeals before us deal with different Rules of service in the Stat .....

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ent will be the 1st day of January following the date of application. The affected candidates who are before us contend that such a cut off date which is uniformly fixed under all the Service Rules of the State of Rajasthan, is arbitrary or unreasonable and must be struck down. For the sake of convenience we are citing Rule 11(1) of the Rajasthan Medical Services (Collegiate Branch) Rules, 1962 which came up for consideration in a writ petition filed by Dr. Rajeev Mathur before the Rajasthan Hig .....

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rect recruitment to a junior post enumerated in Part C of the Schedule must not have attained the age of 35 years on the first day of January following the last date fixed for receipt of applications. Provided: (1) That the upper age limit mentioned in sub-rule (1) and (2) above, may be relaxed by 5 years in exceptional cases by Government in consultation with the Commission." The High Court held that the words "the first day of January following" in Rule 11(1) must be deleted. Is .....

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struck down. This contention, in our view, is not sustainable. In the first place the fixing of a cut off date for determining the maximum of minimum of minimum age prescribed for a post of not, per se, arbitrary. Basically, the fixing of a cut off date for determining the maximum or minimum age required for a post, is in the discretion of the Rule-making Authority or the employer as the case may be. One must accept that such a cut off date cannot be fixed with an mathematical precision and in .....

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S.C. 2349) and has been reiterated in subsequent cases. In the cases of A.P. Public Service Commission, Hyderabad and another v. . Sharat Chandra and Ors. (1990 2 SCC 669) the relevant service rule stipulated that the candidate should not have completed the age of 26 years on the 1st day of July of the year in which the selection is made. Such a cut off date was challenged. This Court considered the various steps required in the process of selection and said, "when such are the different s .....

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for candidates to appl and for the recruiting agency to scrutinise the applications". This Court, therefore, held that in order to avoid uncertainly in respect of minimum or maximum age of a candidate. Which may arise if such an age is linked to the process of selection which may taken an uncertain time, it is desirable that such a cut off date should be with reference to a fixed date. Therefore, fixing in independent cut off date, far from being arbitrary, makes for certainty in determini .....

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the cut off date had become arbitrary. Negativing this view of the Tribunal and allowing the appeal. This Court Cited with approval the decision of this Court in Parmeshwar Match Works case (supra) and said that fixing of the cut off date can be considered as arbitrary only if it can be looked upon as so capricious or whimsical as to invite judicial interference. Unless the date is grossly unreasonable, the court wold be reluctant to strike down such a cut off date. In the present case, the cut .....

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is to make for certainty. Such a uniform date prescribed under all service Rules and Regulations makes it easier for the prospective candidates to understand their eligibility for applying for the post in question. Such a date is not so wide off the mark as to be construed as grossly unreasonable or arbitrary. The time gap between the advertisement and the cut off date is less than a year. It takes into account the fact that after the advertisement, time has to be allowed for receipt of applica .....

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h a date is liable to question in given circumstances. In the first place, making a cut off date dependent on the last date for receiving applications, makes it more subject to vagaries of the department concerned, making it dependant on the date when each department issues an advertisement, and the date which each department concerned fixes as the last date for receiving applications. A person who may fail on the wrong side of such a cut off date may well contend that the cut off date is unfair .....

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t off date can be the last date for receiving applications, appears to be without any basis. In our view the cut off date which is fixed in the present case with reference to the beginning of the Calendar year following the date of application, cannot be considered as capricious or unreasonable. On the contrary, it is less prone to vagaries and is less uncertain. Learned advocate for Dr. Rajeev Mathur in Civil Appeal NO. 2691/91 drew our attention to Rule 8(A) of the Rajasthan Medical (Collegiat .....

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l year. He contended that in the light of this rule all vacancies must be advertised soon after they are determined. In the case in question, the vacancy had occurred in September, 1987. It was, however, advertised only in January, 1988. Dr. Rajeev Mathur became over aged on 1st of January of the following year. It was submitted that had the vacancy been advertised in 1987, the cut off date would have been the 1st of January 1988, and Dr. Rajeev Mathur would have been eligible. In the first plac .....

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ring during the financial year. It does not cast any obligation on the appointing authority to issue an advertisement within any specific time for recruitment to such a vacancy. so long as such an advertisement is issued within a reasonable time, and there is no mala fide delay, the action of the appointing authority in issuing the advertisement cannot be challenged simply because the maximum age qualification is fixed with reference to a fixed date. It is next contended on behalf of the appella .....

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ct to age or experience of any person and this can be done with the concurrence of the Department of Personnel and Administrative Reforms and in consultation with the Rajasthan Public Service Commission. It is urged that in the case of all those persons who are adversely affected because the advertisement for recruitment is issued later than the occurrence of the vacancy. Corresponding age relaxation should be given to all candidates. In other words, what is contended is that if on the date when .....

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if the advertisement is issued not n April of that year but say February of the following year. All the candidates will get age relaxation of one year. In our view this kind of an interpretation cannot be given to a rule for relaxation of age. The power of relaxation is required to be exercised in public interest in a given case; as for example, if other suitable candidates are not available for the post, and the only candidate who is suitable has crossed the maximum age limit; or to mitigate h .....

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nty in determining the maximum age of a candidate. It might be unfair to be large number of candidates who might be similarly situated, but who may not apply, thinking that they are age barred. We fail to see how the power of relaxation can be exercised in the manner contended. In the premises we do not see any reason to set aside the cut off date fixed by the relevant rules. The judgments of the Division Benches of the Rajasthan High Court in so far as they strike down 1st of January of the fol .....

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n High Court overruled the earlier judgments of the two Division Benches of the Rajasthan High Court and upheld the relevant service Rules. We agree with the reasoning and conclusion of the Full Bench of the Rajasthan High Court. It was, however, pointed out to us by the third respondent (Dr. Rajeev Mathur) in C.A. No. 2691/1991 that from the decision of the Division Bench of the Rajasthan High Court in his own case (Dr. Rajeev Mathur v. The State of Rajasthan) the Rajasthan Public Service Commi .....

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he Division Bench of the Rajasthan High Court in the case of Dr. Rajeev Mathur v. The State of Rajasthan has become final and cannot be set aside. Hence the appointment of Dr. Rajeev Mathur cannot now be challenged. Dr. Rajeev Mathur was over age on the 1st of January of the year following the dated of application. And his application was rejected by the Rajasthan Public Service Commission on the ground that he was over age. Immediately he preferred a writ petition before the Rajasthan High Cour .....

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is position was 1st in the merit list. The High Court has directed that he should be appointed. Does the dismissal of special leave petition filed by the Rajasthan Public Service Commission against this decision make this decision final as far as Dr. Mathur is concerned ? In order dismissing the special leave petition this Court has left the question of law open. But what is more relevant, the candidate who was second in the merit list in that case also thereafter filed a special leave petition .....

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