Govt. jobs can be denied to ‘overqualified’ candidates: HC

Applicable where maximum qualification is prescribed

July 12, 2019 12:39 am | Updated 08:34 am IST - CHENNAI

Chennai, 11/4/2008:  Madras High Court  in Chennai on Friday.  Photo: V. Ganesan.

Chennai, 11/4/2008: Madras High Court in Chennai on Friday. Photo: V. Ganesan.

The Madras High Court on Thursday held that applications of “overqualified” candidates can be rejected for public recruitment if the appointing authority had prescribed the maximum educational qualification expected of the applicants in view of the nature of the job for which they were to be recruited.

Justice S. Vaidyanathan held so while dismissing a writ petition filed by an engineering graduate challenging the rejection of her candidature for the job of Train Operator/Station Controller by Chennai Metro Rail Ltd. (CMRL) since the qualification expected was only a diploma and nothing beyond that.

“It is not denied that there is an existence of unemployment problem but when there is a clear prescription barring over-qualified candidates from applying, the candidature can be rejected,” the judge said.

He pointed out that candidates, better qualified than the petitioner, might not have applied for the job due to such prescription.

On the same day, Justice S.M. Subramaniam of the High Court delivered a separate judgment in a different case reiterating his view that appointment of educationally overqualified individuals was one of the reasons for the growing trend of indiscipline and insubordination in government service. The judge had first taken the view in a verdict delivered by him on March 26 this year.

Remaining steadfast on it, the judge on Thursday directed the State government to henceforth prescribe not just minimum qualification but also maximum qualification while making recruitment especially to Group III and IV services.

Articles 14 and 16

He was of the view that in the constitutional perspective, appointment of overqualified persons should be construed as a violation of Articles 14 (right to equality) and 16 (equality in matters of public employment) of the Constitution.

“Equality among equals is the constitutional mandate. Unequals cannot be treated equally,” the judge had observed in his verdict.

“If the concept of treating unequals as equals is developed, then we are breaching the fundamental rights... Making unequal persons sit for a common examination will cause discrimination and naturally the overqualified person can easily secure more marks,” the judge said.

While overqualified persons get many opportunities to participate in different recruitment processes, those with lesser educational qualification do not enjoy such a privilege. “Therefore, the educational qualifications must be commensurate with the nature of the posts notified under the recruitment notification,” he said.


He said it was unfair to allow those holding engineering and business administration degrees to compete with those who had just passed Class X for a constable’s job in the police force. The judge also pointed out that the High Court itself was feeling the pinch by having appointed postgraduate degree holders to the posts of sweepers and sanitary workers.

“After joining the public service, they are refusing/neglecting to perform certain menial jobs which are all duties and responsibilities prescribed in the service rules. Conflicting situations are arising. Higher officials are unable to function effectively and efficiently for want of adequate support from these employees,” the judge lamented.


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