The Punjab and Haryana High Court while dealing with an appeal filed by a candidate holding a Master's in Public Administration against the order passed by the Single Judge of the High Court that set aside the appointment of the appellant held that the Master's Degree in public administration is inter-changeable with master's degree in political science.

The Division Bench comprising Justice G.S.Sandhawalia and Justice Jagmohan Bansal decided in favor of the appellant and held –

"In view of judgment of Hon'ble Supreme Court in Rajbir Singh Dalal (supra) and clarifications issued by UGC as well different Universities, we have no option except to hold that Master's Degree in Public Administration is inter-changeable with Master's Degree in Political Science. It is prerogative of the University to consider degree of Public Administration for the appointment of Lecturer in Political Science."

The Single Bench had earlier set aside the appointment of the appellant and directed the authorities to consider the names of the petitioners for the post.

The Bench further held that "In the case in hand, in the advertisement, it was not clarified whether a candidate having Master's Degree in Public Administration and having cleared NET may apply for the post of Lecturer in Political Science. Thus, there are all possibilities that many candidates possessing requisite qualification may have not applied under the impression that only those candidates who are possessing degree in Political Science can apply."

Senior Advocate R.K. Malik appeared for the appellant while Advocate J.S. Dahiya represented the respondent.

In this case, in the year 2012, Kurukshetra University through an advertisement had invited applications for different posts of teaching and non-teaching staff on regular basis. Assistant Professor in political science was one of the posts of the teaching staff. The appellant was not having a Master's Degree in Political Science but was having the same in Public Administration. He had also cleared National Eligibility Test (NET) conducted by UGC. 15 candidates applied for the post of lecturer in political science. The Selection Committee in its proceedings recommended three candidates including the appellant. The appointment letter was sent to the appellant and other candidates. The respondent and other candidates being aggrieved from the appointment of the appellant as Lecturer in political science even after not holding a degree in political science approached the Court.

The counsel for the appellant contended that the Single Judge had wrongly relied upon UGC communication wherein UGC has clarified that Master's Degree courses are offered separately in Political Science and Public Administration by Indian Universities, hence, candidates having Master's Degree in Political Science were advised to appear in NET in the subject of Political Science.

The counsel for the respondent supporting the findings of the Single Judge pointed out that the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Rajbir Singh Dalal vs. Chaudhari Devi Lal University, Sirsa, and another (2008) 9 SCC 284 is founded upon fraud committed by petitioners therein.

The High Court noted that "The setting aside of appointment of appellant would not make respondent eligible for appointment because if we hold that advertisement was ambiguous, we would have to set aside the advertisement. We cannot direct University to appoint the respondent as has been directed by learned Single Judge."

The Court further noted that it was well within the domain of appointing authority to appoint the appellant as a lecturer in political science, though he was holding a Master's Degree in public administration.

The Court, therefore, concluded and observed –

"Having regard to length of service and judgments of different High Courts which are based upon judgment of Hon'ble Supreme Court in Rajbir Singh Dalal (supra), we do not deem it appropriate to set aside appointment of appellant at least at this belated stage. Accordingly, question is answered in negative and claim of appellant is upheld. In view of our above findings, we are of the considered opinion that judgment of learned Single Judge cannot be sustained."

Accordingly, the Court set aside the judgment passed by the Single Judge and allowed the appeal.

Cause Title – Yudhvir v. Reena and Others

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