The Supreme Court has reiterated that prescription of Higher education qualification as a qualification for promotion to a specific post is not violative of Articles 16 and 14 of the Indian Constitution.
The Bench made the observation described above while setting aside a judgement passed by J & K High Court, which quashed the administrative order of Chief Justice prescribing some qualification for promotion to Head Assistant’s post.
Hon’ble Court held that all persons working as Senior Assistant were part of a homogeneous group and therefore there cannot be differentiation among the group based on education qualification.
Before the Supreme Court, the aggrieved parties stated that classification based on educational qualification is permitted, even in a homogeneous group, to promote a higher post.
The Court referred to State of Mysore & Anr vs P Narasinga Rao where the Court held that Article 16(1) doesn’t bar reasonable employee classification or a practical test for the selection process. The Court also referred to Jammu and Kashmir vs Trilok Nath Khosa where it was held that Rule stating that for graduates to be eligible for promotion, exclusion of diploma holders, is not violative of Article 16 & 14.
While referring to T.R. Kothandaraman vs Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board, the Bench observed that the legal position on the subject is as follows:-
- Higher education qualification is a permissible basis for classification.
- Higher education qualification can also be used by and to restrict the scope of promotion.
- REstrictions cannot jeopardise the chances of promotion.
The Court further observed that as pointed out in TR Kothandaraman case, Courts shall be conscious about maintaining efficiency in service while judging the validity of classification and it is apparent from circumstances that non-graduates have the opportunities to qualify which they have done; therefore prescription of graduation as qualification cannot be held violative of Article 16 and 14 of Constitution.
Title: ASHOK KUMAR vs STATE OF JAMMU AND KASHMIR
Case No.:CIVIL APPEAL NOs.5189-5192 0F 2017
Date of Order: 18.01.2021
Coram: Hon’ble Justice SA Bobde, Hon’ble Justice AS Bopanna and Hon’ble Justice V Ramasubramanium