Whether Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering is equivalent to Degree in Science cannot be decided by the court as it is not an expert. : Karnataka High Court

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The Karnataka High Court recently comprising of a Division Bench of Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Vishwajith Shetty observed that, Courts are not expert bodies to decide whether or not Bachelor’s degree in Engineering is equivalent to a Degree in science.

“The Courts are not the expert bodies who can give a finding that Bachelor’s degree in Engineering has to be treated equivalent to a degree in Science. It is for the expert bodies like the University Grant Commission to arrive at such a finding and therefore, as the qualification required for the post in question was graduation in science, the appeal preferred by the employer deserves to be allowed and is, accordingly allowed. The Judgment dated 3.09.2020 passed by the learned Single Judge is hereby set-aside.” -  ordered the bench.

The facts of the case reveal that the present appellant, Bangalore Water Supply Seweage Board (BWSSB) has issued a notification on 24.08.2018 for Non Hyderabad-Karnataka area and Notification of even dated 24.08.2018 for Hyderabad-Karnataka area inviting applications to various posts. The present appellant invited candidature for the post of 'Assistant' and the qualification prescribed under the notification is reflected as "Should possess a decree in Arts/Commerce/Science of a recognised University. One year duration Course in Computer Basics”. The respondents (Petitioners) are undisputedly engineers possessing Bachelors degree in Engineering from recognised University and they came up before this Court by filing a writ petition praying for the following reliefs:

"a) Issue a writ of mandamus directing the Respondent BWSSB that the Petitioners who are BE graduates have to be considered as holder a Degree equivalent any degree, be it arts science or commerce or any other graduate and that the petitioner is entitled to be appointed to the post of vide ANNEXURE-B –Assistants Recruitment Notification dated 24/08/2018 bearing No.bwssb/ak/maa-k/scy/23-32-2017/2019/2018-19 for Non-Hyderabad Karnataka Region and ANNEXURE B - 1 Recruitment Notification dated 24/08/2018 bearing No.BWSSB/AK/MAA-K/SCY/23-32-2017/2019/2018-19 for Hyderabad-Karnataka Region.

b) Grant such other direction, writ or order as this Hon'ble Court deems fit and proper under the facts and circumstances of this case, in the interest of justice and equity."

The single-judge held that since the term ‘science’ had not been defined anywhere, it cannot be limited to include only a bachelor degree in pure science. Therefore, the BWSSB challenged the single-judge order before Division Bench.

The learned counsel for the appellant argued that by no stretch of imagination can a degree in Engineering be treated as a graduation in science as they are two different disciplines. Also, that the single bench did not correctly interpret the judgment given in Zahoor Ahmad and Others VS. Sheikh Imtiyaz Ahmad and Others, 2019.

On the other hand, learned counsel appearing for the respondents argued that degree in Engineering is certainly a degree in Science as Engineering also forms part of Science stream. Therefore, learned Single Judge was justified in holding that the respondents are entitled to participate in the process of selection.

Taking into account the factual matrix of the present case the bench looked into decision in the Zahoor Ahmed case, which stated that as a public employer, the State has to take into account the social perspectives that require creation of job opportunities across the societal structure.

“The Appointing Authority keeping in view the Recruitment Rules invites an application for a post and it is a purely the domain of the employer to frame the Recruitment Rules and the prescription of qualification for a post is a matter of recruitment policy. The Hon'ble Supreme Court has held that the State, as a public employer, has to take into account social perspectives that require creation of job opportunities across the societal structure.”

The Court thus allowed the appeal and set aside the order of the single-judge.

(Case title: Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board v. Ambarish Kumar S)