The High Court of Karnataka has rapped the Karnataka Co-operative Milk Producers Federation (KMF) for shunting a reserved category candidate to general category just because the social status certificate he had uploaded online along with the job application was unclear. It held that the principle of natural justice mandated that the State agency should have asked the candidate to submit a more legible certificate.
AdvertisementIn their recent judgment, a division bench of Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit said, “What we fail to understand is, what heavens would have fallen down had the Federation asked the Appellant to web-host a legible certificate.” The KMF had rejected the certificate uploaded by Devaraj PR on the ground that it was not legible and consigned him to the General Category while he was seeking a job under the reserved category. He had approached a single judge bench which rejected his petition on February 14, 2023. He then filed an appeal which was allowed by the Division Bench.
The Bench said that KMF was a State entity as per Article 12 of the Constitution and should be fair in its dealings. “Any act of Article 12 Entity that is not animated with the elements of fairness runs the risk of invalidation at the hands of Writ Court, ours being a Welfare State as constitutionally Ordained. The action of the Federation in shunting the Appellant to the General Category merely because the Certificate of Social Status which he had uploaded was not clearly visible or that it was illegible, is absolutely unfair, to say the least,” the Bench said. The HC said that the principle of natural justice required KMF to intimate the candidate to upload a legible certificate. “A simple intimation to the candidate of the so called defect, would have been made the impugned action compliant with the principles of natural justice. No explanation is offered for not undertaking such an innocuous exercise,” it said. The Bench further said that when the recruiting agency is an instrumentality of the State under Article 12, “the persons in the fray have a fundamental right to have their candidature considered vide Article 16 of the Constitution.” Allowing the appeal and granting the KMF two weeks to consider Devaraj’s application along with the original Caste Certificate within two weeks, it noted, “If the error is attributable to such an agency, it cannot ordinarily be permitted to argue the difficulty of undertaking its rectification, the error being plainly curable. Otherwise, illegalities in the recruitment process despite challenges would go with impunity and the right thinking people in the society will not approve it.”