Today in the latest Judgment of the Supreme Court, a bench of three Judges comprising Hon’ble Justice S.K.Kaul, Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Krishna Murari has decided the equivalence of M.A. (Education) and M.Ed for recruitment to the post of Assistant Professor.
Supreme Court held that the court cannot sit over the decision of the Expert/Equivalence Committee
An advertisement was issued by the Uttar Pradesh Higher Education Service Selection Commission. Applications were invited for the post of Assistant Professors in various subjects, including ‘Education’.
The candidature of appellant No. 2 was rejected on the ground that he did not fulfill the minimum criteria set out by the University Grants Commission (for short `UGC’). Though the Respondent No. 4, had an M.Ed. Degree.
Feeling aggrieved the Appellant No.2 approached the Allahabad High Court by filing a Writ-A No. 61 of 2015. During the pendency of appeal, another advertisement No. 47 of 2016 was issued. The posts of Assistant Professor in various subjects, including 100 in ‘Education’ in Government aided non-Government universities were advertised.
The eligibility criteria of both the advertisement was same i.e. minimum 55% marks in relevant Postgraduate Subject and must have cleared National Eligibility Test.
A Committee was constituted under the headship of Prof. Bhoodev Singh Professor and Dean of the Department of Education, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi. The committee unanimously reported that both M.A. (Education) and M.Ed are equivalent and should be accepted for the post of Assistant Professor, as the syllabus and other parameters are same.
Considering the report of the committee a corrigendum was issued, which was assailed before the High Court by respondent No. 3, who was an applicant under both the advertisements, in Writ-A No. 16127 of 2017.
Grounds of Challenge by Respondent No.3 before the Allahabad High Court:
- In a previous consideration in Dr. Prit Singh v. S.K. Mangal & Ors.,1 this Court had opined that an M.Ed. degree would not be at par with an M.A. (Education) degree;
- A similar view as aforesaid was taken by the Himachal Pradesh High Court in Praveen Kumar v. State of Himachal Pradesh & Ors.2 which held that an M.Ed. degree is not a master’s degree, but is only a training qualification;
- Advertisement No. 46 of 2014 only prescribed a minimum qualification of M.A. (Education) for the post of Assistant Professor in Education, and an Expert Committee constituted pursuant to this advertisement also opined that M.A. (Education) and M.Ed. are two different courses and cannot be equated with each other;
- Advertisement No. 47 of 2016, as initially issued, did not make M.Ed. candidates eligible for appointment as Assistant Professors in Education and it was only few days before the last date for submission of application forms that the corrigendum dated 11.7.2016 was issued; and
- NCTE/respondent No. 5 in their reply dated 4.10.2016 to the respondent No. 3 (not on record) had stated that M.A. (Education) is not a teacher’s education programme, while M.Ed. is so.
Decision of Allahabad High Court
The Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court, vide its order dated 14.5.2018, held that after looking at the judgment in the Dr. Prit Singh case, as followed in the Praveen Kumar case, the issue is no more res integra. That is, while M.A. (Education) is a master’s degree in the subject concerned, M.Ed. is not so, as it is only a training qualification.
Therefore in view of the Judgment of the Allahabad High Court an M.Ed. qualified person cannot be appointed to the post of Assistant Professor in Education and consequently the corrigendum dated 11.7.2016 was quashed.
In Compliance of the Order of the Allahabad High Court, the commission changed the qualification, specifically providing for M.A. (Education) only.
The candidates who possessed M.Ed qualification felt aggrieved and approached the Supreme Court by filing SLP.
Issues before the Supreme Court:
- Would an M.Ed. Degree be treated as an equivalent degree to M.A. (Education) for the purposes of appointment to the post of Assistant Professor?,
- Even if it was treated as an equivalent, could it be said that an M.Ed. is a post-graduation in the relevant subject?
Supreme Court took note of the fact that as far back as 1.12.1958, the UGC had issued a list of degrees for the purposes of Section 22 of the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 , wherein it was specified that the Master’s Degree would, inter alia, include an M.A. and M.Ed.
UGC unequivocally stated that both M.A. (Education) and M.Ed. degrees are specified as master’s level degrees. It was stated that M.A. (Education) is a regular programme, while M.Ed. is a professional programme.
National Council For Teacher Education (NCTE) submitted before the Supreme Court that M.Ed. is a master’s degree recognised by apex bodies like UGC and NCTE for appointment as an Assistant Professor in Education and persons with such a degree are also eligible for NET/SLET/JRF, while M.A. (Education) is also a master’s degree but is not a professional master’s degree and, therefore, a comparison of M.A. (Education) with M.Ed. is not tenable.
Supreme Court after hearing the parties observed that the employer ultimately is the best judge of who should be appointed. In the present case, the employer constituted a committee, which unequivocally opined that both the Degrees are the same.
It was further added that matters of education must be left to educationists, subject to being governed by the relevant statutes and regulations. It is not the function of this Court to sit as an expert body over the decision of the experts, especially when the experts are all eminent people as apparent from the names as set out.
Therefore, in view of the above, the Judgment of the Allahabad High Court was set aside and the challenge to the corrigendum dated 11.7.2016 was repelled
Title: Anand Yadav vs State of UP
Case No.- Civil Appeal No. 2850 of 2020
Coram: Justice S.K.Kaul, Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Krishna Murari
Date of Judgment: 12.10.2020