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Supreme Court Urges Avoidance of Hyper-Technical Interpretation

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SUPREME COURT LAW INSIDER

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Published on: February 12, 2024 at 11:41 IST

In a recent development, the Supreme Court has emphasized the avoidance of hyper-technical interpretation, allowing a GST officer to be considered as a candidate under the ‘Reserved Female Category.’

The decision, reversing the High Court’s findings, was delivered by a bench comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Satish Chandra Sharma.

The crux of the matter revolved around an advertisement inviting applications for the recruitment of ‘Group A’ and ‘Group B’ officers under the Government of Maharashtra.

The advertisement outlined female reservation benefits, subject to certain prerequisites, including Maharashtra domicile and belonging to the Non-Creamy Layer (NCL).

The appellant, a female candidate from the NCL category, initially applied under the ‘Open General Category’ due to the unavailability of a valid NCL Certificate by the application deadline.

Despite being eligible for the ‘Reserved Female Category,’ the appellant, upon clearing preliminary and mains examinations, was selected as a Sales Tax Officer in the GST Department.

A subsequent corrigendum allowed the appellant to submit an NCL Certificate for the current financial year, altering the conditions specified in the initial advertisement.

However, the department rejected the appellant’s request to change her category, leading to dismissal by both the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal and the High Court. The High Court justified its decision, asserting that allowing such category changes would open a floodgate of litigation.

Challenging the High Court’s ruling, the appellant filed a civil appeal before the Supreme Court.

The Court scrutinized the advertisement and corrigendum, noting that the latter enabled the appellant to provide an NCL Certificate for the current financial year.

Disagreeing with the government’s contention that the appellant couldn’t function in the ‘female reserved category’ due to a failure to mark ‘Yes’ regarding possession of an NCL certificate, the Supreme Court deemed the appellant’s conduct bona fide.

The Court expressed dissatisfaction with the hyper-technical interpretation adopted by the High Court, asserting that it would nullify the corrigendum’s effect.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court, taking note of the peculiar facts and the appellant’s meritorious performance, directed the authorities to treat the appellant as a candidate under the ‘Reserved Female Category,’ setting aside the impugned order.

Case Details: PRIYANKA PRAKASH KULKARNI VERSUS MAHARASHTRA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION