Vidya K. vs The State Of Karnataka on 22 February, 2024

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Supreme Court of India

Vidya K. vs The State Of Karnataka on 22 February, 2024

Author: Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha

Bench: Aravind Kumar, Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha

2024 INSC 137                                                          REPORTABLE

                                   IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                    CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                               CIVIL APPEAL Nos. 2899-2907 OF 2024
                            Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 19633-19641/2013

     SMT. VIDYA K. & ORS.                                            ...APPELLANT(S)
                                                VERSUS
     STATE OF KARNATAKA & ORS.                                     …RESPONDENT(S)
                                                  WITH
                               CIVIL APPEAL Nos. 2936-2954 OF 2024
                            Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 34297-34315/2013
                                                 WITH
                               CIVIL APPEAL Nos. 2908-2916 OF 2024
                            Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 19942-19950/2013
                                                 WITH
                               CIVIL APPEAL Nos. 2917-2935 OF 2024
                            Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 31253-31271/2013
                                                 WITH
                               CIVIL APPEAL Nos. 2955-2963 OF 2024
                            Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 34730-34738/2013


                                            JUDGMENT

PAMIDIGHANTAM SRI NARASIMHA, J.

1. Leave Granted.

2. The short question arising for our consideration is whether a

notification for filling up 18 posts of lecturers of Home Science in First
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Indu Marwah
Date: 2024.02.22
17:47:02 IST

Grade College run by State of Karnataka is liable to be quashed for not
Reason:

providing the breakup of the ‘subjects’ within Home Science. The
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Karnataka Administrative Tribunal quashed the notification on the

ground that specifying the subject categories is necessary for

advertising the vacant posts 1. Writ Petitions2 filed by the Karnataka

Public Service Commission as well as the successful candidates were

dismissed by the High Court confirming the order of the Tribunal.

Thus, the present appeal.

3. Having examined the rules and regulations which govern the

process of recruitment, we found no difficulty in arriving at the

conclusion that the requirement, as assumed by the Tribunal and the

High Court, is not a mandate of the recruitment Rules. Even otherwise,

the Tribunal and the High Court have erroneously based their

conclusions on policy considerations relating to how such a breakup

would be beneficial to the candidates. For the reasons to follow, we

have allowed the appeals, set-aside the judgments and upheld the

recruitment process. Consequently, appointments made on the basis

of the advertisement are affirmed.

4. The short facts leading to the present appeal are as follows. The

Karnataka Public Service Commission (hereinafter ‘KPSC’) issued a

notification on 24.12.2007 for filling up approximately 2500 posts of

1
Order dated 12.06.2009 passed in Applica�on No. 1002/2008 and Applica�on No. 2794/2008 by the Karnataka
Administra�ve Tribunal, Bangalore.

2

Judgment dated 28.03.2013 passed in W.P. Nos. 19495-503/2009 and W.P. Nos. 20289-20297/2009 connected with
W.P. No. 21474/2009 (S-KAT).

2

lecturers in the Government First Grade Colleges. Of the said posts, we

are concerned with the recruitment to 18 posts in the department of

Home Science. Following the advertisement, the appellants in the lead

matter and two other connected matters, having the required

qualification, were selected to the post of Home Science lecturer on

23.09.2008. In the meanwhile, respondent no. 8 approached the

Tribunal seeking quashing of the notification by filing an Application

on the ground that the breakup of the specialised subjects within Home

Science are not specified in the notification. There was no interim order

passed by the Tribunal, but the recruitment was made subject to the

outcome of the Application.

5. The Application was finally taken up for hearing and the Tribunal

by its order dated 12.06.2009 allowed the same and quashed the

advertisement dated 24.12.2007. The Tribunal held that – (i) Home

Science is not a subject, but a course which comprises of different

subjects; (ii) in the past, KPSC had released notifications specifying

vacancies against each specialisation, and appointments were also

made after notifying vacancies against each specialisation; and (iii) if

posts are not filled up subject-wise, and a lecturer possessing degree

in Home Science in a particular subject is made to teach students in

another subject, the education of the students would suffer.

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6. Questioning the legality and validity of the Tribunal’s decision, the

appellants, who were successfully appointed candidates and KPSC filed

Writ Petitions before the High Court. By the order impugned herein, the

High Court dismissed the said Petitions. The reasoning of the High

Court is that – (i) though the notification dated 24.12.2007 specifies

subjects within the field of Arts and Science, for Home Science, no

subjects or specialisations were mentioned; (ii) the Karnataka

Education Department Service (Department of Collegiate Education)

(Special Recruitment) Rules, 1993, require that the vacancy must be

specified subject wise which was not done for Home Science; and (iii) if

any student wants to take up specialised subjects in his masters’

degree, he is required to have studied that subject, and therefore

providing the breakup of subjects within Home Science is necessary.

7. The appeals before us are by the appointed candidates, the State

of Karnataka and the KPSC. We have heard all the counsels for the

appellants and the respondents.

8. The issue as to whether the notification calling for applications for

recruitment to the 18 posts of lecturers in the department of Home

Science is illegal for not providing the subject wise specified categories,

would depend upon the Rules governing the recruitment process,

which are the Karnataka Education Department Service (Department

4
of Collegiate Education) (Recruitment) Rules, 1964, and the Karnataka

Education Department Service (Department of Collegiate Education)

(Special Recruitment) Rules, 1993. Rules 3 and 4 of the 1993 Rules

provide as follows: –

“3. Qualification and Age – No person shall be
eligible for recruitment under these rules unless
he, has –

(a) (i) Obtained a Master’s Degree in the
relevant subject with at least 55 per cent
marks or its equivalent grade;

(ii) been, declared successful in the
National Education Test”, provided
further that candidates possessing
Ph.D/M. Phil. are exempted from
appearing for NET.

(b)…

4. Notification of vacancies – Appointing Authority
shall notify the vacancies under each subject to the
Karnataka Public Service Commission which shall
make the selection in accordance with these
rules.”

9. The advertisement dated 24.12.2007 refers to the relevant Rules,

and in fact, specifies all the requirements such as eligibility criteria,

selection methods, educational qualifications, age limit etc. Under the

educational qualification, the notification, which is in consonance with

Rule 3 stated above, specifies as under: –

“1. Must be a holder of a Master’s Degree in the
concerned subject with minimum of fifty five percent
of marks. Provided that in the respect of Scheduled

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Caste and Scheduled Tribes candidates the
minimum marks shall be fifty percent.

2. Must have passed National Eligibility test
conducted by the U.G.C. or C.S.I.R of SLET
conducted by the State Government or any
authority accredited by the U.G.C.”

10. There is no dispute about the fact that the recruitment inter alia

is to the post of a lecturer in an undergraduate program in Government

First Grade Colleges. That, it is a lecturer post, is also evident from the

pay scale of Rs. 8000-13500 that it carries. In fact, Rule 3 of the 1993

Rules provides qualifications which concerns appointment to the post

of lecturers in undergraduate programs. The reason for emphasising

the Rule position is to indicate that these lecturers, upon appointment,

would be teaching undergraduate students in the Home Science

department. The qualification is therefore, confined to, a post-

graduation degree in Home Science. As long as a candidate holds a

master’s degree in Home Science, he/she will be qualified for applying

to the post. It does not matter in which speciality within Home Science

the master’s degree is obtained.

11. We may conclude this issue by referring to a statement made by

the University Grants Commission (hereinafter ‘UGC’) in the affidavit

which is to the following effect: –

“12. That the present Special Leave Petition
pertains to the issue as to “whether the post of
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lecturer in Home Science is required to be classified
subject-wise or not”.

13. In this regard, it is already submitted on behalf
of UGC that there is no separate subject wise
provision for the post of lecturers Home Science.”

12. Service jurisprudence must begin and end with rules that govern

the process of qualification, recruitment, selection, appointment and

conditions of service. Appointments to these posts are in the nature of

‘status’, which means that the service and its conditions can be

unilaterally changed by the amendment of the Rules. The first duty of

the Tribunal is to verify and examine the claims made by a party in the

context of the Rule that governs the field. If the Rule does not prescribe

a subject-wise speciality, there is no justification for the Tribunal or the

High Court to examine the propriety, or for that matter, the beneficial

effect of the rule.

13. The reasoning adopted by the High Court is as follows:

“14. The material on record discloses that all persons
who have basic degree in Science is not eligible for
being admitted to M.Sc. in Home Science. If any
student wants to take up specialized subject, he also
should have studied that subject as a subject in the
basic degree. Under these circumstances, though the
Government had asked the KPSC to recruit 18
Lecturers in Home Science, the KPSC being
specialized Agency should have known that while
inviting applications, mentioning of mere Home
Science would not be sufficient. In fact, the Rules on
which reliance is placed categorically states that the
candidate should have obtained a Master Degree in
the ‘relevant subject’ with at least 55% marks or its
equivalent grade and the Amended Rule (4) makes it
7
very clear that the Appointing Authority shall notify
the vacancies under ‘each subject’ to the KPSC which
shall make selection in accordance with these Rules.
Home Science is not a subject. Home Science is a
stream or genesis. In that view of the matter, the
notification calling for applications in Home Science is
vague. Only the specialized subject has to be
mentioned as they have mentioned in the case of Arts,
Science and Commerce. The candidate possessing
M.Sc. in Home Science with specialized subject is in
disadvantageous position to apply as against the
said vacancies. In their anxiety, if the applicant had
applied for the post of Lecturer in Home Science, that
cannot be held against her. The State and the KPSC
should act in accordance with law.”

14. It does not require detailed reasoning to find the error in the

judgment of the High Court. The fact that an undergraduate student

would be required to choose a specialisation when he takes up a PG

program has no bearing on the qualification of the lecturer teaching the

undergraduate students. Further, the assumption of the High Court

that Home Science is not a subject, instead it is a stream, or a genesis

has no application to the recruitment of lecturers for an undergraduate

program. For under-graduation, Home Science in itself is the subject.

In fact, UGC also considers Home Science as a subject, with subject

code no. 12, as per the latest information bulletin issued by it towards

National Eligibility Test conducted in December, 2023. To teach

undergraduates, the qualification prescribed is simply a post-

graduation degree in the subject of Home Science. We repeat, it does

8
not matter in which subject of Home Science that the post-graduation

is obtained.

15. The other reasoning given by the High Court is that on an earlier

occasion, the KPSC, while recruiting for the post of probationary

officers in the Dept. of Woman & Child Welfare, had mentioned the

qualification as Master’s Degree in Social Works or Home Science with

a specialization in Child Development or Nutrition. Even this reasoning

is misplaced because this advertisement was for recruitment to an

executive post. While recruiting a person as a probationary officer in

the Dept. of Woman & Child Welfare, the employer is certainly entitled

to indicate the specialisation that is expected. This has nothing to do

with advertisement for recruitment for the post of a lecturer.

16. Till date, the lecturers of Home Science in undergraduate program

run by the Government First Grade Colleges have been treated as one

cadre and recruitment to the posts were advertised as such. If one has

to follow the logic adopted by the High Court, then the entire

notification will collapse as the subjects of History, Economics, Political

Science, Sociology etc. are also mentioned without the so-called

specialisations and they must be set aside by the same logic. For

example, History has its specialised subjects in post-graduation such

as Ancient History, Archaeology, Epigraphy, Modern Indian History,

9
World History, European History, South-east Asian History, West Asian

History etc. The simple answer is that for under graduation, History is

a subject in itself.

17. We conclude by holding that the High Court committed an error

in not focussing on what the Rule provides for and whether the

advertisement is in consonance with the Rule. If the High Court had

confined itself to the basic features of judicial review, it would have

avoided committing the error that it did.

18. For the reasons stated above, we allow the appeals and set aside

the judgement of the High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore in W.P.

Nos. 19495-19503/2009, W.P. Nos. 20289-20297/2009 connected

with W.P. No. 21474/2009 (S-KAT) dated 28.03.2013 and the order

dated 12.06.2009 passed in Application No. 1002/2008 and

Application No. 2794/2008 by the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal,

Bangalore. Pending applications, if any, stand disposed of.

19. No order as to costs.

……..……………………………….J.
[Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha]

.………….………………………….J.
[Aravind Kumar]
New Delhi;

February 22, 2024.

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