Delay in issuance of Degree Certificate would not invalidate the candidature of UPSC aspirant: Delhi High Court

The Issue is whether delay in issuance of degree certificate due to COVID-19 pandemic, after the aspirant had passed the UPSC would invalidate his/her candidature. This was decided in the case of Tejaswini Khajuria v. Union of India, on December 9, 2021, by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Prateek Jalan in W.P. (C) No.  13790/2021 & CM APPL. 43514/2021.

The brief facts of this case are that the petitioner applied for the Combined Defense Services Examination in the Short Service Commission Women (Non- Technical) course pursuant to an advertisement dated 05.08.2020 issued by the “UPSC”. The petitioner participated in the selection examination which was held on 24.08.2020, and secured the first rank for the course. In order to satisfy the eligibility conditions, she submitted a communication from the University dated 12.07.2021, which stated that she had passed her BDS fourth year examinations in January, 2021, and is currently undergoing 12 months of compulsory rotating paid internship. The petitioner recently came to know that joining letters dated 24.11.2021 have been issued to other candidates, and thereafter received a communication dated 26.11.2021 from the Union cancelling her candidature on the ground that she would not have completed her BDS degree until March, 2022.

The counsel for respondent contended that the decision of issuing degree certificate, has to be taken by the concerned university and not by the DCI. If a university considers it appropriate on the basis of the facts and circumstances prevailing in a particular case, a candidate can be issued a degree certificate without completing the one-year internship. Further, it is submitted that this is a matter for the concerned dental college and the university to decide. Furthermore, the petitioner has not yet been awarded the BDS degree, and on the basis of the University’s communication dated 12.07.2021 to the effect that the degree would be awarded only in March, 2022. He further states that there were 17 vacancies for the course, for which 17 other candidates have since been called and are scheduled to join on 12.12.2021.

The Counsel for the Petitioner contends that the award of the petitioner’s degree has been delayed due to circumstances arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic. He refers to notifications of the University whereby the examinations scheduled for August, 2020 were postponed until February-March, 2021, which led to a delay in the commencement of her internship. Further, a reference was made to the DCI’s guidelines dated 16.04.2020, which contemplate a relaxation in the tenure of internship in order to permit passing out candidates to pursue career opportunities without loss of time. The best that can be done for the petitioner is to permit her to approach the University in terms of the DCI’s guidelines, and in the event the University accepts her request, then the Union may consider her candidature in the event any of the selected candidates do not join. The rights of selected candidates, whose selection has already been confirmed, cannot be disturbed on this account.

After contemplating the arguments put forth by both the parties, the court had decided that since the petitioner has secured the very first rank in the competitive examination. As such, there can be no impediment to consider her candidature if there is a vacancy, and she otherwise meets the eligibility conditions. Such consideration would not trump the superior right of any other candidate whose candidature has been rejected on the same basis. Therefore, the writ petition, along with the pending application, is disposed of.

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Reviewed by Revanth

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