Rejection of candidature only on ground of delay in submitting OBC certificate violative of Articles 14, 16: Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court on Monday ruled that rejection of candidature of a person from Other Backward Class (OBC) category only on the ground of delayed submission of Other Backward Class-Non Creamy Layer (OBC-NCL) certificate will be violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Vs. Dr. Smitha VS).
The Court, therefore, issued directions to the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) to reconsider the candidature of a person who had applied for the post of Technical Assistant, Chemistry in the OBC category.
The judgment was passed by a Division Bench of Justices Alexander Thomas and K Babu on petition filed by IISER challenging an earlier order by a single-judge Bench.
The single-judge had rejected the contentions of the appellant-institute and directed them to accept the respondent’s certificate and treat her as eligible and include her in the select list under the OBC-NCL resevation within two weeks.
Advocate Sumathy Dandapani, appearing for the appellant institute, submitted that as per condition No.10 in the selection notification, a candidate, who fails to produced a non-creamy layer certificate for the relevant financial year at the time of submitting application, would not be eligible to be considered under the OBC category. Dandapani also contended that Dr. Smitha had failed to state any reason for not submitting the certificate at the time of application.
The Court opined that from a reading of the government norms with regard to the relevant topic pursuant to the decision of the Supreme Court in Union of India v. Abdul Rasheed, it was clear that non production of OBC-NCL certificate along with the application before the last date, cannot be a ground to summarily reject the application, at the threshold, where the candidate had claimed reservation benefit in the application.
The Division Bench, therefore, ruled that the order and directions rendered by the single-judge Bench need not be interfered with and rejected the appeal.

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