Candidates holding dual degree cannot be arbitrarily rejected on the grounds of having dual degree while making appointments to Public Office: High Court of Orissa.

In the case of Bhuban Mohan Behera V. State of Odisha and Anr. in the High Court of Orissa at Cuttack, W.P.(C) No.3617 of 2022, Bhuban Mohan Behera’s(petitioner) candidature was rejected on the basis of him having a dual degree that too without giving any clarifications. It was held in the present case that, as there was lack of provisions regarding the candidature or conditions regarding dual degree holders, the petitioner should have been provided with a hearing to clarify his standpoint regarding the segregation of marks.

Facts: Bhuban Mohan Behra filed an application challenging the legality and propriety of order passed by O.P. No.2 vide No.533/PSC, dated 17.01.2022, in which his candidature was rejected on unreasonable grounds, he had applied for the post of Assistant Professor, Geology in University. He clearly mentioned his educational qualifications and stated that he has M.Sc. and Ph.D. dual degree passed out from IIT, Bombay in the application for the job concerned. Following which he was called for document verification, he had dual degree (M.Sc. & PhD) and one certificate issued by the institute without segregating marks of M.Sc. and PhD, so he uploaded the same. Same was accepted and he was called for interview, but at the time of verification his candidature was rejected without giving him an opportunity to clarify his standpoint in respect of his educational qualification and was not allowed for the interview even after his approach to clear things out, following which he filed the petition.

Judgement: The court held that in the matters of appointment, the rules provided by the appointing committee has to be strictly followed but in the present matter OPSC has not provided any instructions for candidates holding dual degrees hence it is arbitrary and unjustified to outrightly reject the candidature of the petitioner. While looking at the doctrine of natural justice. In the present case, considering the lack of provisions regarding the candidature or individuals holding dual degrees, the petitioner should have been provided a hearing to clarify his standpoint regarding the segregation of marks.

There is no going back on the candidature of the petitioner as the selection process is already over. However, the court said that the OPSC should have mentioned the criteria more specifically and clearly so that many meritorious candidates who are similarly placed with the present petitioners should not be deprived of the opportunity of participating in the selection of process.

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