The High Court of Bombay passed a judgement on 26 May 2023. In the case of RAJU DHONDIRAM AKRUPE Vs STATE OF MAHA. THR. PRIN. SECRETARY (DRUGS) MEDICAL EDUCATION AND DRUGS DEPT. AND ORS IN WRIT PETITION NO. 6239 OF 2023 which was passed by a division bench comprising of HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE ABHAY AHUJA and HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE M. M. SATHAYE, the court deliberated on a petition seeking to quash an interim order passed by the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal (MAT). The petitioner, a government employee, had requested age relaxation to participate in the selection process for a higher post through nomination and appear in an upcoming examination. This blog will examine the key arguments presented, the court’s analysis, and the ultimate judgment rendered in this case.
The petitioner, employed as a Food Safety Officer, was 39 years old and aimed to appear for the Combined Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2023 conducted by the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC). Citing the Bombay Civil Services, Classification, and Recruitment Rules of 1939 (the “1939 Rules”), along with a government circular from 2003 and a previous court decision, the petitioner sought age relaxation as a government servant. The petitioner argued that the 1939 Rules, despite being formulated prior to India’s independence and the Constitution, were still valid and applicable.
The petitioner’s counsel argued that the 1939 Rules entitled government servants to upper age relaxation. Although the petitioner had crossed the general category’s age limit of 38 years, being 39 years old, the counsel contended that the 1939 Rules still held legal authority. They referred to Rule 7 of the 1939 Rules, which outlined the qualifications for candidates in terms of age and education for government service appointments. Specifically, Note 3B under Rule 7 allowed for an exception to the upper age limit for government servants. The counsel maintained that the government circular issued in 2003, limiting age relaxation for government servants, contravened the 1939 Rules, which had statutory force.
PETITIONER’S ORIGINAL APPLICATION
In the original application filed before the MAT, the petitioner sought complete age relaxation for selection through nomination based on the 1939 Rules, the 2003 government circular, and a prior court decision. Additionally, the petitioner requested a declaration that the exclusion of an upper age limit in the advertisement for in-service candidates was illegal and unconstitutional. They further sought a direction to the state government to adopt and amend the Recruitment Rules and a direction to the MPSC to incorporate the amendment as a qualification in the selection process for the advertised post.
MAT INTERIM ORDER AND SUBSEQUENT COURT ANALYSIS
The MAT rejected the petitioner’s interim application, stating that the 1939 Rules did not mention selection by nomination as it was introduced after independence. The MAT also noted that the Rules of 1986, which governed the upper age limit for recruitment by nomination, did not provide age relaxation for government servants. Based on the Recruitment Rules of 2013 and 2022 for the post of Assistant Commissioner (Food)-cum-Designated Officer (Group A), the MAT determined that the 1939 Rules were inapplicable. The MAT concluded that no case was made out by the petitioner and rejected the interim relief application.
In the subsequent court analysis, the court concurred with the MAT’s interpretation. The court observed that the 1939 Rules did not address selection by nomination. They referred to the Recruitment Rules of 1986 and subsequent Rules, which did not provide age relaxation for government servants. The court noted that the Recruitment Rules of 2022 were applicable, and as they did not permit age relaxation beyond 38 years, the petitioner’s argument for relaxation was untenable. The court emphasized that public employment law was primarily governed by statutory rules, and unless specific rules permitted age relaxation, it could not be granted.
In its analysis, the court cited the precedent set by the case of Anil Motilal Nimbhure vs. State of Maharashtra and Others (Writ Petition No.6179 of 2007, decided on 7th January 2008) where the court had held that the 1939 Rules were not applicable to selection by nomination. The court emphasized that this precedent was binding, and the petitioner’s reliance on the 1939 Rules was misplaced. As a result, the court concluded that the petitioner’s case lacked merit, and the interim relief was rightly rejected by the MAT.
Considering the arguments presented and the relevant legal provisions, the court held that the petitioner was not entitled to age relaxation for selection through nomination. The court affirmed the decision of the MAT, stating that the 1939 Rules did not apply to the present case and that the Recruitment Rules of 2022 governed the selection process. Consequently, the court dismissed the petition seeking to quash the MAT’s interim order.
This judgment underscores the significance of statutory rules in public employment cases and reiterates that age relaxation can only be granted if explicitly provided for by the applicable rules. The court’s analysis demonstrates the importance of legal precedent and the binding nature of earlier court decisions. This judgment serves as a reminder that thorough understanding and interpretation of the relevant laws and rules are vital for petitioners seeking relief in public employment matters.
“PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.”