New Delhi: After a long legal battle spanning nearly three decades, the Supreme Court of India has ordered the appointment of Ankur Gupta to a postal assistant position. The court’s decision comes after it acknowledged an error in deeming Gupta ineligible for the post due to his completion of intermediate education in the “vocational stream” back in 1995.
Gupta, along with other unsuccessful candidates, initially sought relief from the Central Administrative Tribunal in 1999, which ruled in their favour. However, the postal department contested this decision and approached the Allahabad High Court in 2000. It wasn’t until 2017 that the High Court upheld the CAT’s order. Subsequent attempts to challenge the ruling were also unsuccessful, leading the department to take the case to the Supreme Court in 2021.
The Supreme Court, in its judgment, emphasized that once a candidate is included in the merit list, they have a limited right to fair treatment during the selection process. It pointed out that a candidate cannot claim an indefeasible right to appointment but does have the right to be treated fairly and without discrimination. The court reminded the employer, especially if it is a state entity, of its obligation under Article 14 of the Constitution not to act arbitrarily but to provide justifiable reasons for its actions.
In Gupta’s case, the Supreme Court found that he was initially considered eligible, allowed to participate in various tests, interviewed, and placed high on the merit list. He was even sent for pre-induction training. However, the department later declared him ineligible, which the court deemed unfair and discriminatory.
Under its extraordinary jurisdiction as per Article 142 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court ordered Gupta’s appointment as a Postal Assistant, initially on probation. If no vacancy is available, a supernumerary post will be created for him. The court emphasized that Gupta had been discriminated against and arbitrarily deprived of the benefits of his selection.
The court also stipulated that Gupta would not be entitled to arrears of salary or seniority from the date of appointment of other candidates who participated in the 1995 recruitment process, given that he had not yet worked in the role.