The Delhi High Court has held that possessing a postgraduate degree in Hindi does not automatically fulfill the eligibility criteria for a teaching position if the candidate did not study the subject for three years during their undergraduate degree. The Court also recommended the formulation of updated guidelines for recruitment to teaching positions, considering evolving educational curricula. The writ petition challenged an order by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT). The order dismissed the Original Application filed by the petitioner, which sought to declare them eligible for the position of TGT (Hindi) in accordance with Recruitment Rules.

A Bench of Justice V. Kameswar Rao and Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta held, "It may be in consonance with the objective of National Education Policy to streamline and provide uniform/consistent eligibility conditions for the recruitment to the posts of Primary Teachers, TGTs and PGTs since the curriculum to be taught is generally similar across different educational boards including CBSE. The different eligibility conditions prescribed by different Institutions under the same Board are not comprehensible as it keeps out large number of eligible candidates ineligible."

Further, the Court held, “We are of the considered view that it cannot be treated as an absolute proposition of law that even if the concerned subject has been studied in a particular course in a University only for one year, the same has to be considered to meet the eligibility condition of having studied the subject for all the three years on the ground that the same is taught by the University only for one year in the concerned course. However, the same is subject to the caveat that if it is demonstrated that the curriculum for a period of three years of study is covered in a period of two years, the question for equivalence can still be considered.”

The petitioner had applied for the TGT (Hindi) position advertised by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghthan (KVS). Despite clearing the written examination, the petitioner was not allowed to attend the interview because they had not studied Hindi as a subject for all three years during their graduation. The petitioner had completed a B.A. (Programme) degree from Delhi University, where Hindi was only available as a subject for two years. The petitioner also held a postgraduate degree (M.A. Hindi).

The key issue before the Court was whether the petitioner's educational qualifications, including the postgraduate degree in Hindi, fulfill the essential qualifications set by the Recruitment Rules, despite not having studied Hindi for three years during their undergraduate degree.

Advocate Basab Sengupta appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Virender Pratap Singh Charak appeared for the Respondents.

The petitioner's counsel argued that the petitioner's disqualification was unjust, arbitrary, and violated Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. On the other hand, the respondents' counsel reiterated the arguments made before the Tribunal, emphasizing that the advertised qualifications were in line with the Recruitment Rules.

The Court noted that regarding the facts of the case, the issue aligned with previous cases where candidates had studied the relevant subject for two years at the graduation level, not three. The Court established that, “attaining a Post Graduation degree cannot be considered as meeting the eligibility criteria overlooking the Rules and advertisement unless the candidate has studied the concerned subject at relevant level.”

The Court clarified that if a subject is taught by a university for only one year in a specific course, it cannot be automatically considered equivalent to a subject studied for three years unless it can be demonstrated that the curriculum for three years is covered in two years. However, this is subject to the condition that if it can be demonstrated that the curriculum for three years of study is effectively covered in a period of two years, then equivalence can still be considered.

The Court discussed the case of Govt. of NCT of Delhi & Ors. vs. Sachin Gupta, (W.P.(C) 1520/2012) and noted that by the precedent and the equivalence established, the petitioner in the current case met the eligibility criteria for the appointment to the post of TGT (Hindi), considering it's a Modern Indian Language.

The Court concluded by highlighting the need for more flexible and updated recruitment rules, especially as educational curricula evolve. It suggested that guidelines should be provided for the recruitment of Primary Teachers, TGTs, and PGTs to ensure consistency across different educational boards. The Court added, “A copy of this order be forwarded to the Ministry of Higher Education, Govt. of India to look into the aforesaid aspect of prescribing of appropriate guidelines for inclusion/amendment of Recruitment Rules for the purpose of recruitment to the posts of Primary Teachers, TGTs and PGTs in view of introduction of new curriculum and degrees by the Universities and repeated litigations cropping up before the Courts, in this regard.”

As a result, the Tribunal's reasoning was not accepted, and its order was set aside. The respondents were directed to consider the petitioner eligible for the TGT (Hindi) interview, provided they met other eligibility conditions. The appointment was directed to be made within four weeks if the petitioner qualified the interview and ranked within the merit list. Notional seniority, pay fixation, and associated benefits were directed to be granted accordingly. However, no arrears of salary were awarded. The writ petition was allowed.

Cause Title: Naveen Sharma v. Union of India & Anr., [2023:DHC:6970-DB]

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