Slamming the Punjab government for sponsoring xenophobia,the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday set aside its discriminatory rules,wherein it had allowed additional weightage to rural students for government jobs.
A Full Bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta,Ajay Tewari and R N Raina held the rules framed by Punjab as illegal,unconstitutional and beyond its legislative competence. State sponsored xenophobia is constitutional anathema and the principle of one India is the governing principle of public employment throughout the land, it stated.
In April,2011,the Parkash Singh Badal-led government had framed rules to grant five additional marks to candidates who have passed middle and matriculation examinations from schools situated in rural areas. As per the rules,a rural student was entitled to an additional mark for each year of unemployment. If a student had graduated in 2005 and if the state advertises posts in 2009,he was entitled to nine marks five for being rural students and four others (one additional mark for each year). The Full Bench on Wednesday held this against the Constitution.
Also,Punjab had introduced the concept of district wise selection. Terming this as foul,the high court held that there is no place for inter-district discrimination.
The directive was passed after a division bench headed by the then Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal,in 2010,had upheld the decision of the Punjab government. Initially,the state had extended the additional benefit to rural students only in education sector jobs. However,after the directive was upheld by the high court (2010),the state extended the same to all sectors.
Advertisements under the amended rules were issued,as a result of which,7,041 Elementary Teacher Training (ETT) teachers and over 600 staff nurses were shortlisted. Their selection was stayed after it was challenged in the high court. With the court scrapping the rules,the state will now have to issue fresh advertisements. Holding that the judgment passed by the division bench does not lay down the correct law,the full bench scrapped the rules framed by Punjab. It also observed that written examination and interview should be held for selection of teachers.
The directions were passed on a bunch of petitions filed by students. Arguing on behalf of the petitioners,Advocate Vikas Chatrath had contended that the power to frame such rules vests only with the Parliament and not with the state. He added that there should be a joint merit list,on the basis of which,students should be selected.
The court also took note of the argument that there is nothing to define a rural student. In absence of any quantifiable data available with the state,the grant of five additional marks to candidates who have passed Classes X and XII examinations from rural schools is ultra vires the Constitution, the order stated.
The qualifications laid down as per the amended service rules to the extent it restricts eligibility on the basis of domicile and residence within Punjab and Chandigarh have been declared unconstitutional and beyond the legislative competence of the state.