In a rare Sunday hearing, the Bombay High Court declined relief to 10 employees of an ammunition factory who had missed an application deadline to appear in a recruitment exam scheduled on October 5.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni conducted the Sunday hearing through video-conference to hear two petitions filed by 10 persons, including Mahesh Bhalke and Abhijit Pawar, who sought urgent reliefs after the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) refused them relief in the matter.
Through advocate Vicky Nagrani, the petitioners sought limited relief to permit them to appear for exams as they are held once every four years.
The petitioners informed the court that they were working in an ammunition factory and pursuing diploma courses for chargeman in various institutes affiliated to the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE). The petitioners submitted that the final exams of the diploma course were to be held in April or May this year, but was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The petitioners said they were willing to appear in the recruitment exam for the post of chargeman announced by the Ordnance Factory Board in May this year, however, as the final exams of their diploma course were pending, they were declared ineligible. They told the court that they had approached the CAT seeking to waive the eligibility criteria but the tribunal had declined.
After hearing the submissions, the bench said, “We are fully sympathetic to your case as you have said in the petition that the said job opportunity comes only once in four years. However, a Supreme Court judgment stares us in our face.”
CJ Datta added that the apex court judgment prescribed that if a candidate was ineligible on the last date of application, an employer could not be held liable to allow him or her. The last date for applying for the recruitment exams was June 15.
The HC said since the recruitment notification and eligibility criteria stipulating that a candidate should have passed a diploma course was not contested in the plea, it would not intervene and dismissed the pleas.
Thereafter, Justice Kulkarni recalled a hearing held by a division bench of Justices S J Vazifdar and K R Shriram on a Sunday in 2013 and said:
“The bench had gone to the court and sat on the dais and conducted hearing for the entire day. I was making arguments across the bar then.”
Advocate Rui Rodrigues, appearing for one of the respondent authorities, said in 2013 the court was hearing on Sunday petitions filed by students who had sought permission to appear in exams that were to be held on the next day.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh said, “After a long time the High Court is sitting on Sunday.” To this, CJ Datta said the HC was open 24 hours a day for anyone seeking justice. “We are there 24 by 7, if the matter requires,” CJ said.
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