During recruitment process, Administrative Tribunal can decide disputes regarding classification of Candidate’s category: Karnataka High Court
The Karnataka High Court under Justice Anant Ramanath Hegde in Ameena Afroj And State of Karnataka & others (Writ petition No. 200032 of 2023) has said that the Administrative Tribunal established under the Administrative Tribunals Act 1985 has the authority to hear all cases ‘concerning recruitment,’ including all decisions made between the date a notice inviting applicants for government job openings was published and the orders of appointment.
The issue, in this case, is pertaining to the petitioner’s caste and income and the same is outside the purview of the Administrative Tribunal (for short ‘Tribunal’). This issue has to be considered only by this Court in the exercise of power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Assuming that the Tribunal has got the jurisdiction to deal with this matter under Section 15 of the Act, the alternative remedy by itself will not oust the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. The present writ petition is to enforce the petitioner’s fundamental right under Article 14 of the Constitution of India as the persons who are similarly placed, are classified in the 2-B/KA-HK category. The petitioner is questioning the discrimination and infringement of her fundamental right under Article 14 of Constitution of India.
The court said “The expression ‘recruitment’ and ‘matters 10 concerning recruitment’ found in Section 15 (1) (a) are not defined in the Act. Thus, the Court has to apply the plain grammatical meaning attached to the above-said expressions, unless such exercise leads to absurdity” In addition to the expression ‘recruitment’ found in Section 15 (1) (a) in the Act, to remove any ambiguity or difficulty in interpreting the word ‘recruitment’ or to eliminate the scope for misinterpretation, the Parliament itself has used the expression, ‘matters concerning recruitment’ in Section 15 (1) (a) of the Act. Said expression undoubtedly has a wider connotation than the expression ‘recruitment’. When the word recruitment itself is wide enough to cover the act or the process involved in the recruitment, the expression, ‘matters concerning recruitment’ found in Section 15 (1) (a) of the Act, leads to only one conclusion that the decision taken in processing the application for the post is a decision relating to recruitment or the matters concerning to recruitment. In the present scheme of our Constitution, recruitment under the State is governed by the reservation policy of the State. The process involves reserving a certain specified percentage of seats based on reservation policy. Thus, the employer is under obligation to process the applications for recruitment based on criteria fixed under the reservation policy. While processing the applications for the posts, if a decision is taken to classify the applicant in a particular category, as happened in the case of the petitioner, ‘the decision taken’ is indeed a decision taken in the process of recruitment.
For the aforementioned reasons, the court dismissed the petition calling it as non-maintanable. The petitioner is at liberty to approach the Tribunal constituted under the Administrative Tribunals Act 1985. The Registry is directed to return the annexures to the writ petition, after retaining the xerox copy if requested by the petitioner.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY VAISHNAVI SINGH