Supreme Court uses rare power to help man fighting for postal job for 28 years

The man had been denied a postal job by the department despite his name figuring high on merit list

Updated - October 24, 2023 10:59 pm IST

Published - October 24, 2023 09:09 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File

A view of the Supreme Court of India in New Delhi. File | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The Supreme Court has used its extraordinary constitutional power to do complete justice for a 50-year-old man who fought for nearly three decades against the postal department’s refusal to give him a job despite his name figuring high on the merit list.

Ankur Gupta had everything going right in his endeavour to become postal assistant in 1995 until the department grounded his hopes. He had even completed a 15-day induction training when the department dropped his name on the ground that he had completed his Class 12 in the vocational stream. The department said the rules had been amended to consider only candidates from the regular stream.

A Bench of Justices Bela Trivedi and Dipankar Datta, in a recent judgment exercising its rarely-resorted powers under Article 142 of the Constitution, ordered the postal department to appoint Mr. Gupta as a postal assistant on a probationary basis. He would have 10 years of service.

The court held that while no one had any legal right to claim public employment, once the name of a person is in the merit list, he has limited right to be accorded fair and non-discriminatory treatment. The court said Mr. Gupta had been discriminated against and “arbitrarily deprived of the fruit of selection”.

“Neither in the letter requisitioning names of eligible candidates from the Employment Exchange nor in the advertisement inviting applications from eligible candidates was it mentioned that the candidates clearing the requisite examination conducted by a recognised University or Board through vocational stream would stand excluded,” the apex court reasoned.

“Once a candidate is declared ineligible to participate in the selection process at the threshold and if he still wishes to participate in the process perceiving that his candidature has been arbitrarily rejected, it is for him to work out his remedy in accordance with law. However, if the candidature is not rejected at the threshold and the candidate is allowed to participate in the selection process and ultimately his name figures in the merit list - though such candidate has no indefeasible right to claim appointment - he does have a limited right of being accorded fair and nondiscriminatory treatment,” the Supreme Court noted.

It held that a public employer, which is a ‘state’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution, would have no authority to act in an arbitrary manner and throw a candidate out from the range of appointment, as distinguished from the zone of consideration, without rhyme or reason.

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