The Jharkhand High Court recently addressed a petition seeking the inclusion of sports quota benefits for Civil Judge recruitment, emphasizing that determining essential qualifications falls within the prerogative of the employer.

In the case of Mayank Singh Thakur @ Mayank Singh vs The State of Jharkhand and Others (W.P. (T) No. 160 of 2021), the petitioner sought directions, particularly urging the Chairman of the Jharkhand Public Service Commission (JPSC), to implement a horizontal quota in the sports category for the Civil Judge (Junior Division) examination conducted in December 2018. Additionally, the petitioner sought the issuance of a writ of mandamus directing the respondents to address his candidature for the aforementioned post in the said examination.

The petitioner argued that reservation benefits should be exclusively available to residents of Jharkhand concerning reservations. They emphasized the absence of explicit provisions in both the advertisement and the Sports Policy stating that reservation benefits under the Sports Quota are restricted to Jharkhand residents.

The respondent countered, highlighting that the petitioner’s use of a certificate from the 56th National School Games 2010 to claim reservation benefits was invalid. According to the respondent, this certificate was issued by the Directorate of Public Instructions, Government of Chhattisgarh, under the supervision of the School Games Federation of India, not an affiliate of the Indian Olympic Association, as required.

The Court, while dismissing the petition, reiterated the employer’s authority in determining essential qualifications for a job. It relied on the case of Maharashtra Public Service Commission vs. Sandeep Shriram Warade (2019), underscoring that it’s within the employer’s domain to prescribe additional or desirable qualifications, including preferences for candidates.

The Court emphasized that an employer is best placed to decide the necessary qualifications considering their needs and the nature of the work. It asserted that courts cannot dictate eligibility criteria, much less equate desirable qualifications with essential eligibility by interpreting or altering the advertisement’s terms.

Chief Justice Sanjaya Kumar Mishra and Justice RongonMukhopadhyay, delivering the ruling, referenced the judgment of a coordinate bench of the Court, stating that the petitioner’s case aligns with precedent, thus denying the relief sought.

The legal representatives involved in the case were Ms. ShivaniKapoor, Advocate for the Petitioner; Mr. Kumar Vaibhav, Advocate as Amicus Curiae; Mr. Harsh Preet Singh, A.C. to G.P.-V, representing the State; Mr. Sanjoy Piprawall, Mr. Rakesh Ranjan, and Mr. Prince Kumar, Advocates for JPSC; Mr. Sudarshan Srivastava, Advocate for JHC; and Ms. Sidhi Jalan, Advocate for the IOA.

The judgment, reported in 2023 LiveLaw (Jha) 141, reaffirms the employer’s discretion in determining qualifications for a job role and highlights that courts should refrain from intervening in an employer’s right to set job requirements.

The ruling establishes a significant precedent regarding the scope of employer authority in defining qualifications, emphasizing the importance of adhering to advertised eligibility criteria.

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