Employers can’t deny appointment without valid reason: J&K HC

Employers must provide valid reasons for not hiring qualified candidates as required by Article 14 of the Constitution, considering the time, effort, and money invested by applicants. The court emphasised the rule of law and rejected arbitrariness


In a recent ruling, the J & K High Court declared that employers cannot deny appointments to deserving candidates without valid reasons. The court specifically directed the concerned department to offer the position to the eligible candidate.

The petitioner, Ravinder Singh, had applied for a driver’s position in the department of youth services and sports (YSS) back in 2014. After performing well in the selection process, he became suspicious when the selection process remained unresolved. To clarify the outcome, he requested information from the department.

The information provided revealed that Singh had scored higher marks than all other candidates. However, despite his higher merit, a less deserving candidate had been appointed on May 23, 2014. Furthermore, it was discovered that the selected candidate was ineligible due to exceeding the specified age limit mentioned in the advertisement notice.

In response, the department acknowledged that the selected candidate had obtained 7 points, while Ravinder Singh had secured 8 points. Nevertheless, the department failed to provide a justifiable reason for appointing a less meritorious candidate.

Justice Javed Iqbal Wani, while deliberating on the rights of candidates in a selection process, questioned whether an employer, particularly a ‘State’ entity under Article 12 of the Constitution, could make appointments without considering merit.

The court concluded that selection alone does not confer the right to appointment, and employers have the prerogative to terminate the selection process. However, the court firmly asserted that employers cannot act arbitrarily without reasonable cause and appoint less deserving candidates while disregarding more meritorious ones.

The court emphasised that our country operates under the rule of law, and arbitrariness goes against its principles. When employers advertise vacancies, numerous unemployed individuals invest time, effort, and money into the application and selection process. Consequently, employers, particularly State entities, are obligated to provide valid and non-arbitrary reasons for not offering appointments to qualified candidates, in accordance with the mandate of Article 14 of the Constitution.

The court declared that employers cannot decline to fill positions without lawful justification, which should be reasonable and free from arbitrariness, capriciousness, and whimsicalness. The court deemed the respondent council’s inaction as arbitrary, capricious, whimsical, and an abuse of power.

Based on these findings, the court granted Singh’s plea and directed the YSS department to offer him the position of a driver, along with all associated benefits he is entitled to.

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