Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ.
1. Heard Mr. Pankaj Miglani, learned counsel for the petitioner, Mr. Rajendra Dobhal, learned Senior Counsel for respondents 1 and 2 and Mr. Subhash Upadhyay, learned counsel for the fourth respondent. Despite service of notice, the third respondent has neither chosen to appear in person, nor has she entered appearance through counsel.
2. The jurisdiction of this Court, under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, has been invoked by the petitioner herein seeking a writ of certiorari to quash the order passed by the second respondent dated 02.06.2017; and to quash the selection dated 06.10.2015 whereby respondents 3 and 4 had been selected for the post of Assistant Professor, Industrial and Production Engineering; and for a writ of mandamus directing the respondent-authorities to grant the petitioner appointment against the post listed at Serial No. 42 of the advertisement dated 05.06.2015.
3. Facts, to the limited extent necessary, are that an advertisement was issued by the first respondent-University on 05.06.2015 inviting applications for the vacant posts of Assistant Professors in Mechanical Engineering, and Industrial and Production Engineering. Serial No. 38 of the said advertisement related to the post of Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering, whereunder six posts were sought to be filled up. Of these six posts, one was reserved in favour of the Scheduled Castes, one in favour of the Other Backward Classes, and the remaining four un-reserved, of which two posts were horizontally reserved in favour of women. Serial No. 42, of the said advertisement, related to the post of Assistant Professor, Industrial and Production Engineering whereunder two posts were sought to be filled up. Of these two posts, one was reserved in favour of the Scheduled Castes, and the other un-reserved post was horizontally reserved in favour of women.
4. The petitioner belongs to the unreserved category. He relies on a policy decision of the Government of Uttarakhand in terms of which, in cases where eligible women candidates are not available for appointment, then such posts, horizontally reserved in favour of women, can be filled up by those belonging to the general category. It is his case that he was fully qualified to be appointed to either of these posts of Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Assistant Professor, Industrial and Production Engineering; both respondents 3 and 4 were ineligible to be considered for appointment to these posts; and, since respondents 3 and 4 were ineligible, the posts, horizontally reserved in favour of women, should have been filled up from among eligible male candidates belonging to the general category which, in the present case, would be the petitioner alone.
5. The petitioner is, admittedly, a graduate in Production Engineering, and a post-graduate in Mechanical Engineering with a Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering. He also claims that his articles were published in international journals. The third respondent, a graduate in Mechanical Engineering with a post-graduate degree in Design and Production Engineering, was, admittedly, pursuing her Ph.D. course when she submitted her application seeking appointment to the post of Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering. The fourth respondent is a graduate in Mechanical Engineering and a postgraduate in Production Engineering. Neither the petitioner, nor respondents 3 and 4, possess the qualification of having passed the NET examination.
6. Mr. Pankaj Miglani, learned counsel for the petitioner, would submit that the respondents had held the petitioner ineligible to be considered for appointment to the post of Assistant ProfessorMechanical Engineering since he had completed his graduation in Production Engineering; the certificates, issued by the Dean and the Professor of the respondent-University, itself show that a graduate degree, in Production Engineering, is equivalent to a degree in Mechanical Engineering; since the petitioner had already completed his Ph.D., it was unnecessary for him, even in terms of the conditions of the advertisement, to have passed the NET examination; respondents 3 and 4, on the other hand, do not possess a Ph.D. degree; it was necessary for them to have passed the NET examination; and, since respondents 3 and 4 were ineligible to be considered for appointment to the post of Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Assistant Professor, Industrial and Production Engineering, the petitioner should have been considered for being appointed to either of these two posts in terms of the policy of the State Government which enables these posts to be filled up from amongst male general category candidates, where no eligible women are available for appointment to these posts.
7. The petitioner had earlier invoked the jurisdiction of this Court by filing Writ Petition (S/B) No. 126 of 2016 and a Division Bench of this Court, in its order dated 01.04.2016, held that he had the remedy of approaching the Chancellor under Section 23 of the U.P. Agricultural Universities Act; and, if he approached the Chancellor, a decision should be taken thereupon after giving him an opportunity of being heard, as also to the selected candidates and the University.
8. Pursuant thereto, the petitioner submitted his representation which was considered by the Chancellor who, by his order dated 02.06.2017, upheld the action of the respondent-University in appointing respondents 3 and 4 as Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering and Assistant Professor, Industrial and Production Engineering.
9. In so far as the petitioner's claim to be considered for appointment to the post of Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering is concerned, the respondents contend that, while Production Engineering may form a component of Mechanical Engineering, the latter covers several other aspects apart from Production Engineering; and the petitioner's claim, that his B.Tech degree in Production Engineering be treated as a B.Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering, is not justified.
10. While the petitioner has, no doubt, relied on the two certificates issued by the Dean and the Professor of the respondentUniversity, the question of equivalence of educational qualification is, ordinarily, for the employer (in this case the respondent-University) to decide, and not for this Court to determine. Equivalence of two qualifications is a question which pertains purely to an academic matter, and the Courts would hesitate to express a definite opinion when it appears to experts that a candidate either fulfils or does not fulfil the qualification (Rameshwar Dass Mehla v. Om Prakash and others, 2010 15 SCC 790; Rajendra Prasad Mathur Ors. v. Karnataka University and Ors., 1986 AIR(SC) 1448; Tariq Islam v. Aligarh Muslim University, 2001 8 SCC 546 and University of Mysore v. C.D. Govinda Rao, 1965 AIR(SC) 491. It is for the respondent-University, which issued the advertisement, to decide the question of equivalence, and it would not be right for the Court to sit in judgment over the decision of the respondent-University because it is not a matter on which the Court possesses any expertise. (Rajendra Prasad Mathur Ors. v. Karnataka University and Ors., 1986 AIR(SC) 1448
11. Since the respondent-University has held that a B.Tech degree in Production Engineering, is not equivalent to that of a B.Tech degree in Mechanical Engineering, the petitioner is, evidently, ineligible to be considered for appointment to the post of Assistant Professor, Mechanical Engineering.
12. The only question, which then remains for consideration, is whether the fourth respondent, who was appointed as an Assistant Professor, Industrial and Production Engineering, was eligible to be considered for appointment to the said post, for it is only if she was not, would the petitioner then be entitled to claim the benefit of the policy of the State Government, in terms of which an un-reserved candidate can also be considered for appointment to a post in case no eligible candidate, entitled to the benefit of horizontal reservation in favour of women, is available for selection and appointment. The general essential qualifications for all posts, as stipulated in the advertisement dated 05.06.2015, read as under:
"For the candidates having Master's degree, NET (National Eligibility Test) shall remain compulsory along with one publication in NAAS (National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, New Delhi) rated referreed journal. Essentiality of NET is waived off for the candidates holding Ph.D. degree with course work along with at least two full length publications having a NAAS rating not less than 4, on the last date of submission of application. The candidates with Ph.D. degree without course work will not qualify for NET exemption. The NET/SLET will not be an essential qualification in the disciplines in which NET/SLET is not conducted."
13. While a Master's Degree with NET, along with one publication in the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, is the prescribed essential qualification, the essentiality of NET is waived for candidates having a Ph.D. degree. The petitioner is, therefore, justified in his submission that, since he possesses a Ph.D. degree, it was unnecessary for him to have passed the National Eligibility Test. The fourth respondent does not, admittedly, possess a Ph.D. degree. She has also not passed her NET examination. However, the aforesaid general essential qualifications, for all the posts, itself stipulates that NET will not be an essential qualification in a discipline in which the NET examination is not conducted.
14. The Chancellor of the respondent-University, in his order dated 02.06.2017, has held that on the last date of submission of the application form i.e. 15.07.2015, as per the advertisement, no NET examination was conducted by the UGC/CSIR for lectureship for the posts in Mechanical Engineering and Production Engineering; and it was only conducted for Junior Research Fellow. While the petitioner, no doubt, claims that he, himself, had appeared in the NET examination in the year 2015, it is not clear whether the application form submitted by him, to appear in the NET examination, was for being extended the benefits of a Junior Research Fellow, or whether he had appeared for the NET examination being conducted for lectureship in Mechanical Engineering and Production Engineering subjects.
15. In the absence of any such specific averment either in the affidavit filed in support of the Writ Petition, or in the rejoinder affidavit filed to the counter affidavit, we see no reason to disbelieve, or to take a view contrary to, what the Chancellor of the respondentUniversity has held in his order dated 02.06.2017 that no NET examination was conducted, by the UGC/CSI
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R, for lectureship for the post of Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering or Production Engineering. 16. Since no NET examination was conducted, the aforesaid general essential qualifications itself exempts the applicants from the requirement of having passed the NET examination. Consequently, the fourth respondent cannot also be held to be ineligible to be considered for appointment to the post of Assistant Professor, Industrial and Production Engineering. Since respondents 3 and 4 were appointed against posts reserved in favour of women, and it is clear that they were eligible to be considered for appointment to the said posts, the contention, urged on behalf of the petitioner, that, in view of the policy framed by the Government, he (a male candidate) should have been considered for appointment to the post of Assistant Professor, necessitates rejection. 17. Viewed from any angle, we see no reason to interfere with the decision taken by the respondents to appoint respondents 3 and 4 to the posts of Assistant Professor. The petitioner is not entitled to the relief sought for in the Writ Petition. 18. The Writ Petition fails and is, accordingly, dismissed. No costs.