Chennai: Stating that the appointment of over-qualified candidates in entry-level cadres like Grade-II constables and jail warders, firemen, and head constables, was contributing to growing indiscipline and insubordination, the Madras High Court has directed the State Home Secretary and the DGP to prescribe the maximum educational qualification for the jobs within eight weeks.
Justice S. M. Subramaniam gave the directive while dismissing a petition filed by the police inspector P. Muthu against an order of the Commandant, TSP VII Bn, Pochampalli, Krishnagiri district, that treated him as a deserter after he was absent for over 21 days.
The judge said that the growing indiscipline within the police force was visible to the public. Negligence, lapses, and dereliction of duty were common. Police personnel on duty were indiscriminately using smartphones to play games, chat, and watch movies. Adequate checks and measures were not undertaken to control the misconduct by the department.
"The causes for indiscipline have to be analyzed in the interest of public safety and for an orderly society," Justice Subramaniam added. The judge said that if postgraduates or those with professional degrees were appointed in entry-level cadres, then it would become very difficult for senior officials to control them. "Educational qualifications and eligibility criteria for a particular post/cadre were normally commensurate with the job profile. Prescription of such criteria and qualifications had a certain purpose and object. In the event of appointing over-qualified candidates, these get defeated," the judge added.
He said that from the constitutional perspective, the appointment of over-qualified persons is to be construed as a violation of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution. The equality clause is enunciated in the Constitution and interpreted by Constitutional courts. Equality amongst equals was the Constitutional mandate. Unequal cannot be treated equally. "If the concept of treating an unequal as an equal is developed, then we are breaching the fundamental rights", the judge said.
The judge said that once the minimum educational qualification was prescribed for a particular post/cadre, then appointing over-qualified persons would usurp the rights of those who were qualified in accordance with the recruitment notification. "The situation causes an infringement of the rights of candidates who meet the educational qualifications as prescribed for recruitment. The appointment of over-qualified persons is a clear violation of Article 14," Justice Subramaniam added.
The judge said that Article 16 guarantees equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment. Equality of opportunity can be achieved only if competition is among equally qualified persons. Having unequal persons sit in a common examination, for example, can lead to discrimination, because overqualified individuals can easily secure better scores.
The growing indiscipline among personnel and the growing number of personnel committing suicide were to be seen in this context. Higher officials cannot command discipline and respect from overqualified persons as their mindset would be different.
The judge said that even the administration in High Courts was facing these issues and consequences. "Post-graduates were being appointed as sweepers and office assistants. After joining public service, they refused to perform certain menial jobs which were prescribed in the service rules. If this continues, it can affect public administration and solemn functions. Thus, a review was warranted," Justice Subramaniam said....