New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld an order of the Punjab National Bank terminating the service of a peon, who suppressed the fact that he was a graduate and applied for a post having qualification 12th class or its equivalent.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan and comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah set aside two order of the Orissa High Court which asked the bank to allow the peon to continue in service. The bench said: “Very cleverly he suppressed the material fact and declared his qualification as H.S.C. (12th pass), whereas as a matter of fact, he was holding a degree in the Bachelor in Arts. Had it been known to the bank that he was a graduate, he would not have at all been considered for selection as a Peon in the bank.”
The bench noted that Amit Kumar Das was in fact overqualified and therefore ineligible to apply for the job. “In fact, by such conduct on the part of the respondent -original writ petitioner, one another righteous candidate has suffered for his mischievous act”, said the top court, allowing the appeal filed by the bank.
The bench noted that the High Court has erred in directing the bank to allow Das to discharge his duties as peon as per the appointment order dated October 3, 2016.
The bench said Das deliberately, wilfully and intentionally suppressed the fact that he was a graduate. “suppression of material information and making a false statement has a clear bearing on the character and antecedents of the employee in relation to his continuance in service. A candidate having suppressed the material information and/or giving false information cannot claim right to continuance in service”, added the bench.
Das, citing a top court verdict, said that a higher qualification cannot lead to his disqualification from the job, and the Orissa High Court observations in the matter was correct. The bench noted that the bank’s advertisement clearly stated that candidate applying for the job should not be a graduate as on January 1, 2016.
The top court refrained from imposing a cost on Das, but emphasised considering the fact that “because of the mischievous act on the part of the original writ petitioner, one candidate could not get the job.”
The bench noted that qualifications are prescribed keeping in view the need and interest of an institution or an industry or an establishment as the case may be. “The Courts are not fit instruments to assess expediency or advisability or utility of such prescription of qualifications”, noted the top court. However, the bench said that at the same time, the employer cannot act arbitrarily or fancifully in prescribing qualifications for the posts.