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Degree and Diploma holders on par for promotions: Supreme Court

There is nothing unconstitutional if the government treats degree and diploma engineers on par for the purpose of promotion to a higher cadre, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Supreme Court A bench of justices R V Raveendran and Markandeya Katju rejected the argument of the degree holders that such a treatment amounts to violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. The degree holders argued that the Article is violated not only by treating "equals as unequals", but also by treating "unequals as equals."

"It is entirely for the authorities to decide whether the degree holders and diploma holders should be treated at par or not for the purpose of promotion from the post of junior engineer to the post of Assistant Engineer," the bench observed while dismissing the special leave petition(SLP) filed by Dilip Kumar Garg and others.

Garg and the other degree holders had challenged the validity of Rule 5 (ii) of the UP Public Works Department Group-B Civil Engineering Rules 2004. Under the said rule, the State Government dispensed with the earlier provision for diploma engineers to either acquire the requisite technical qualification or pass a qualifying examination for promotion as Assistant Engineers.

The Allahabad High Court upheld the validity of the rule, following which the degree holders appealed in the apex court. In the apex court, Garg and his colleagues took the plea that Article 14 is violated not only by treating "equals as unequals", but also by treating "unequals as equals."

Their argument was that as degree holders they were better qualified for the post of Assistant Engineers than the diploma holders. And by treating the degree and diploma holders on par, the State had violated Article 14. However, the apex court rejected the argument and observed, "In our opinion, merely because in the past they have been treated differently does not mean that they cannot be treated identically subsequently.

"In our opinion Article 14 should not be stretched too far, otherwise it will make the functioning of the administration impossible." According to the bench, it is for the administrators to decide the qualifying conditions for promoting an employee.

"The administrative authorities are in the best position to decide the requisite qualification for promotion from junior engineer to assistant engineer, and it is not for this court to sit over their decision like a court of appeal. "The administrative authorities have experience in administration, and the court must respect this and should not interfere readily with administrative decisions," the bench said.

The bench said courts should not ordinarily interfere in policy decisions unless there is clear violation of some Constitutional provision of the statute. "We find no such violation in this case," the court observed. Zee News

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