The Supreme Court has issued an order for the appointment of a candidate into the Postal Department, 28 years after he applied for the job. According to reports, a candidate named Ankur Gupta had applied for the position of Postal Assistant in 1995 and he was selected for the pre-induction training, which marks the stage between an employee receiving a job offer and commencing the work. However, despite getting short-listed for training, Ankur’s name was conspicuously removed from the merit list of recruits. The Postal Department provided the rationale that Gupta was ineligible for the job as he completed his Class 12th from the vocational stream.
In light of this decision, Ankur, along with several other affected candidates, chose to challenge the verdict. They filed a petition against it in the Central Administrative Tribunal in 1999. The Central Administrative Tribunal ruled in favour of Ankur Gupta and the other candidates, deeming the appointments valid. Nevertheless, the Postal Department contested this decision, taking the matter to the Allahabad High Court in 2000. The High Court subsequently dismissed this petition in 2017, upholding the Central Administrative Tribunal’s initial order. In response, the Postal Department filed a fresh review petition in the High Court, which met with the same fate in 2021. Subsequently, the Department challenged the HC verdict in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court, in its final ruling, rejected the Department’s petition and reaffirmed its verdict in favour of the candidates.
A bench of justices Bela M. Trivedi and Dipankar Datta, held that a candidate cannot assert an absolute right to appointment. Instead, they clarified that once a candidate’s name is included in the merit list, they hold a limited right to fair and non-discriminatory treatment. The bench stated, “However, if the candidature is not rejected at the threshold and the candidate is allowed to participate in the selection process and ultimately his name figures in the merit list though such candidate has no indefeasible right to claim appointment, he does have a limited right of being accorded fair and non-discriminatory treatment.”
In delivering its judgment on the case, the court mandated that Ankur be appointed as a Postal Assistant within one month and be offered probation. Furthermore, the court underscored that if no vacancy currently exists, a new posting should be created to accommodate the candidate.