The High Court on Thursday while quashing the government order directed Commissioner/Secretary to the government to reconsider the case of the junior engineers with regard to fixation of their seniority in the seniority list of Degree holders.
The Court quashed the government order dated 27 January 2017 wherein the Degrees awarded by the Universities, whether situated within or outside the State, through Distance Mode in the subjects falling in the Science Stream, where practicals are part of the curriculum, are not held as equivalent to the corresponding Degrees awarded through regular mode by the State Universities.
The Court of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey directed Commissioner/Secretary to the government to re-consider the case of petitioners in furtherance of publication dated 06 August 2012 for fixation of their seniority in the seniority list of Degree holders.
Justice Magrey remarked that the impugned order cannot withstand the scrutiny of law, being a product of the non application of mind, and being violative of the Recruitment Rules and hit by the mandate of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. “It, therefore, deserves to be quashed,” Magrey said.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by Junior Engineers, Tanveer Ayub and another through counsels, R.A Jan, and Shuaib Farooq Bandey seeking fixation of their seniority in the seniority list of Degree holder Junior Engineers.
The petition states that the respondents, Commissioner/Secretary to government, Public Health Engineering (PHE), Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) department, J&K, are in a denial mode to treat the petitioners degrees of Bachelor of Technology in Civil (Construction Management), awarded to them by Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) in pursuit of their Distance Mode Education, as recognised Degrees under the Jammu and Kashmir (Subordinate) Service Recruitment Rules (JKSRR), 1997, and consequently, the rejection of the petitioners claim for their inclusion in the seniority list of Degree holder Junior Engineers.
It says that the petitioners being Diploma holders in Civil Engineering at the relevant time were appointed as Junior Engineers (Civil) Grade-II in the PHE, I&FC department, J&K on 29 August 2007 after completion of Bachelor of Technology (Civil) Course in Engineering Department of IGNOU in May 2011 and September 2011, respectively.
According to the petitioners, at the time of their appointment, they had completed part of the theory and practical course undertaken at National Institute of Technology, Srinagar (NIT) with which IGNOU is stated to have an affiliation.
The petition further says that in 2011, the government had constituted a Committee to examine and make recommendations as to the validity of Degrees obtained through Distance Education Mode.
The Committee made its recommendations which were approved by the government in the Higher Education Department on 30 May 2012 pursuant to Cabinet Decision on 16 May 2012 which states that the degree awarded through Distance Education Mode by the Central Universities, established under the Act of Parliament and having jurisdiction to extend their activities in the entire country shall also be recognised.
“In clause a (vi) of the said government order on 30 May 2012, the degrees awarded by the Universities in Science Stream, where practical’s are part of the curriculum, shall not be considered as equivalent to the corresponding degrees awarded through regular mode by the State Universities. However, degrees in such of the Distance Education Council approved science subjects where practicals are part of the curriculum and are conducted from within the respective campuses of the University Grants Commission recognized Universities, established by an Act of the Parliament or the State Legislature, shall also be recognized,” the petition reads.
The respondents in their objections have stated that the petitioners claim was not considered as the degree in the science subject obtained through Distance Mode even awarded by any recognized institution are not treated valid and equivalent to the degrees obtained through regular mode or AMIE Section A&B as per the provision of the J&K Engineering (Subordinate) Service Recruitment Rules, 1997 issued vide SRO 180 dated 26.05.1997
Court after perusing the records remarked that degree certificates are duly recognised under the Rules and that there was no legally tenable reason or justification for Commissioner/Secretary to the government to have refused to honor these certificates and rejected the claim of the petitioners.
“Therefore, the Commissioner/Secretary to government is bound to reconsider the case of the petitioners strictly in light of the Recruitment Rules read with government order dated 30 May 2012, keeping also in mind that similarly situated persons in the Works Department have been granted such benefit and that no discrimination can be meted out to the petitioners in this regard on any count,” Court said.