Emphasizing that there is no concept of serving personnel being deemed Ex-Servicemen, the Supreme Court ruled that the appellants cannot be deemed Ex- Servicemen from a prospective date, when being in actual service on the relevant date.

The Supreme Court held so while considering a petition challenging the judgment of the Allahabad High Court whereby the appellants’ claims for recruitment on the posts of Village Development Officers stood rejected.

A Two Judge Bench of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah observed that “It is well-settled that the basic question on eligibility has to be determined on the basis of the cut-off date/point of time which stands crystalized by the date of the advertisement itself, being the last date of submission of application forms, unless extended by the authority concerned”.

The Bench further observed that “none of the appellants can be said to have been Ex- Servicemen at the time of the advertisement in question, as, undisputedly, they were still in service”.

Advocate Santosh Kumar Pandey appeared for the Appellant, whereas Advocate Parmanand Pandey appeared for the Respondent.

The brief facts of the case are that when the appellants were serving in the Armed Forces, an advertisement was issued by the Uttar Pradesh Subordinate Service Selection Commission for recruitment to the post of Village Development Officer. Although the appellants applied in the category of Ex-Servicemen after obtaining No-Objection Certificates (NOC) from the employers, their result was withheld for various reasons but ultimately, they were issued appointment letters on temporary basis. Later, a Show-Cause Notice (SCN) was issued by the third respondent (District Development Officer) as to why the appointment of the appellants be not held to be a nullity as on the last date of submission of application form, they were employed with the Armed Forces and could not be treated as Ex-Servicemen and further that they did not possess the C.C.C. Certificate issued by the National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology (NIELIT). Subsequently, this SCN resulted in declaration of the appellants’ appointments as null and void.

After considering the submission, the Bench observed that even if a certification is given to a person indicating a prospective date till when he would be in employment, circumstances could intercede between the date of such certificate and the prospective date of retirement/resignation/relieving indicated therein.

However, “in the instant situation, such date is also prospective and much later to the date on which the applications were invited and even till the last date of submission of the application forms”, added the Bench.

Thus, on this count alone, the Bench concluded that the appellants’ claim of a right to consideration under the Ex-Servicemen category fails.

The Bench referred to the judgment of State of Bihar v. Madhu Kant Ranjan [2021 SCC OnLine SC 1262], to reiterate that a candidate/applicant has to comply with all the conditions/eligibility criteria as per the advertisement before the cut-off date mentioned therein unless extended by the recruiting authority.

The Bench also reiterated that the advertisement clearly specified the essential qualification was a C.C.C. Certificate, and the appellants despite opportunity to appear to show such equivalence, having failed to do so, nothing survives on this count.

Accordingly, the Apex Court dismissed the appeal, but made it clear that any payments made to the appellants for the period they have worked as Village Development Officers, shall not be recovered.

The Apex Court also clarified that if any such recoveries have already been effected, the same be returned to the appellants forthwith.

Cause Title: Sudhir Singh and Ors. v. State of U.P and Ors. [Neutral Citation: 2023 INSC 960]

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