HPSEB was directed to process the candidature of all applicants, including the degree holders who participated, and depending on the relative merits, proceed to issue the final selection list of all successful candidates. This honorable judgement was passed by The Supreme Court of India in the case of Puneet Sharma & Ors. Etc v. Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Ltd. Anr. Etc. [CIVIL APPEAL NO (S). 1318-1322 OF 2021] by The Hon’ble Mr. justice Ashok Bhushan and The Hon’ble Mr. Justice S. Ravindra Bhat.
The appeal was filled by appellant arising out of a common judgment of the Himachal Pradesh High Court. Whether a degree in Electrical Engineering/Electrical and Electronics Engineering was technically a higher qualification than a diploma in that discipline and, whether degree holders were eligible for appointment to the post of Junior Engineer under the relevant recruitment rules, was the issue that falls for decision in these appeals. As was evident, this issue was not novel and has an almost endemic tendency requiring judicial attention, albeit in myriad and diverse contexts. The Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection commission, acting on the requisition sent by the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Ltd., advertised 222 posts of Junior Engineer. Degree-holders in the concerned discipline applied for the post; after qualifying the written examination, they were called for verification of documents but the final result was not declared. They approached the High Court in writ proceedings, they would not be denied consideration. The diploma holders opposed this claim, and argued that that the qualifications possessed by degree holders was neither higher nor can be considered in teeth of the recruitment rules as also on the basis of the advertisement issued by the Himachal Pradesh Staff Selection Commission. The HPSEB adopted a neutral position; however, it highlighted that per the applicable regulations, the minimum essential qualification provided for recruitment to the post of Junior Engineer was “matriculation with Diploma in Electronics and Communication/ Computer Science from the recognized Institution duly recognized by the Central or State Government”. HPSEB further stated that the HPSSC would not traverse beyond the regulations, and was bound to make recruitments in accordance with them.
The court opinioned that, “Yet, of material significance is the fact that the higher post of Assistant Engineer has nearly 2/3rds (64%) promotional quota. Amongst these individuals, those who held degrees before appointment as a Junior Engineers are entitled for consideration in a separate and distinct sub-quota, provided they function as a Junior Engineer continuously for a prescribed period. This salient aspect cannot be overlooked; it only shows the intent of the rule makers not to exclude degree holders from consideration for the lower post of Junior Engineers”
The appeal was allowed by the court stating that, “This amendment was brought in to clear all doubts and controversies and, in that sense, the amending provisions should be deemed to have been inserted from inception. These batches of appeals by the degree holders have to succeed. The respondent HPSEB is directed to process the candidature of all applicants, including the degree holders who participated, and depending on the relative merits, proceed to issue the final selection list of all successful candidates, after holding interviews, etc.”