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Classification on basis of educational qualification for promotion permissible under law : HC

Post by on Thursday, July 7, 2022

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Srinagar, July, 06: The. High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh Wednesday ruled that the classification on the basis of educational qualification for promotion is permissible in law.
The court further said that it does not offend Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.
Dismissing two petitions filed by the Staff Nurses serving in the Sheri-Kashmir Institute of Medical (SKIMS), the court recorded that the Staff Nurse possessing qualification of three years Diploma in General Nursing and Staff Nurses possessing qualification of B.Sc Nursing, cannot be at par and therefore, are "unequal" because of their qualification.
"It would, therefore, not be obligatory for respondents to treat these two unequal as equals," the court said.
The court was hearing pleas moved by the Staff Nurses, who claim to have rendered their services for the last 27 years, challenging the government order issued on October 24, 2014, by virtue of which in partial modification to government orders issued from time to time, sanction was accorded to the modification of recruitment rules for various categories of staff working in the Institute.
The petitioners, who at the time of their appointment, were matriculates and possess three years of diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery, have questioned the order on the ground that the classification made by the respondents between a Staff Nurse possessing three years of Diploma in General Nursing and Midwifery and a Staff Nurse possessing the qualification of B.Sc Nursing for the purpose of making promotion to the post of Senior Staff Nurse, falls foul of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution and therefore, the same is not permissible.
The court of Justice Sanjeev Kumar noted that it is well settled that Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution does not permit the State to treat un-equals as equals, for that is not the spirit of the principle of equality envisaged under Article 14 & 16 of the Constitution.
"What Article 14 prohibits is class legislation and not the reasonable classification," the bench said.
The court observed, "To pass the test of Article 14, classification needs to meet only two requirements: one that there is intelligible differentia between those grouped together and others who are kept out of the group; second that there exists a rational nexus between the intelligible differentia and object of the classification sought to be achieved."
Though permissible, the court said, the classification must not be arbitrary and irrational.
"It must be only based on some quality and characteristics which are found in all the persons grouped together in contra-distinction of those who are left out but such quality and characteristics should bear reasonable nexus with the object sought to be achieved by such classification," it recorded.
Relying on various judgments of the Supreme Court including the one decided by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in the case of State of Jammu & Kashmir Vs. Triloki Nath Khosa the court recorded that it was held that the Rules which provide that the graduate engineer alone shall be eligible for higher promotion to the exclusion of diploma holders does not violate articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.
The court underscored that the prescription of higher qualification like in the instant case, the qualification of B.SC Nursing/M.Sc Nursing for promotion to the post of Senior Staff Nurse from the post of Staff Nurse is essential for the efficient discharge of duties of the higher post.
"Therefore, nothing prevents respondents from prescribing higher technical qualifications for the purpose of promotion to the next higher post," the court said.
Dismissing the pleas, the court said that the argument of petitioner counsel that classification made by the respondents in the instant case does not have any rational nexus with the object sought to be achieved, cannot be accepted on the face of settled legal position, and also having regard to the nature of duties a Senior Staff Nurse or higher Technical posts in the Health Sector, are required to perform.

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