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Rejection of application over illegible document: HC grants relief to aspirant for KMF job

The high court has directed the Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) to consider the application of one P R Devaraj to the post of Account Assistant – Grade-I considering that he has submitted the original caste certificate. The KMF had rejected his candidature citing that the category-1 caste certificate uploaded by him was illegible. 

The KMF had considered the application of the petitioner Devaraj in the General Merit (GM) category on the ground that the caste certificate uploaded by him was illegible. On March 14, 2023, a single bench dismissed his petition on the ground that the information uploaded by him was incomplete and illegible. He moved an appeal challenging the order of the single bench.

It was argued on behalf of the petitioner that the action of the KMF is bereft of elements of justice. It was further submitted that the KMF ought to have given him an opportunity to rectify the error by uploading a legible copy of his Social Status Certificate and not doing the same is unfair and unreasonable.

On the other hand, the KMF contended that the recruitment notification, more particularly the condition (xi), provides for rejection of the online application on the ground of unclear/vague documents. It was further contended that when thousands of candidates stake their claim, no individual opportunity is feasible to be given to the non-compliant candidates.

The division bench comprising Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit noted that the action of the KMF in shunting the appellant Devaraj to the General Merit category merely was absolutely unfair, to say the least. “A simple intimation to the candidate of the so-called defect would have made the impugned action compliant with the principles of natural justice. No explanation is offered for not undertaking such an innocuous exercise. This falls militantly short of the fairness standards, as rightly argued by the counsel for the appellant,” the bench said.

Insofar as the instructions contained in the recruitment notification, the division bench said that they cannot be construed to exclude the principles of natural justice which are at times treated as part of Article 14 of the Constitution.

“It is not the case of respondent – KMF that the subject Certificate of Social Status is spurious or otherwise inadmissible. What is contended is that the same was not legible when web-hosted. But, what we fail to understand is, what heavens would have fallen down had the Federation asked the appellant to web-host a legible Certificate,” the bench said, directing the KMF to accept the original Caste Certificate/Social Status Certificate and consider the candidature for selection under the reserved category by creating a supernumerary post.

(Published 13 November 2023, 22:05 IST)

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