In Civil Appeal No. 7871 of 2023 -SC- Supreme Court reverses Uttarakhand High Court ruling: 18-month diploma by National Institute of Open Schooling not equivalent to 2-year regular diploma for primary teacher recruitment
Justice B.R. Gavai & Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra [28-11-2023]


Read Order: Jaiveer Singh and Others V. The State of Uttarakhand and Others


Chahat Varma


New Delhi, November 29, 2023: In a significant decision, the Supreme Court has ruled that the 18-month Diploma in Elementary Education (D.El.Ed.) conducted through the Open and Distance Learning (ODL) mode by the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) is not a valid qualification for applying against the regular posts of Assistant Teachers (Primary) in the State of Uttarakhand.


The judgment comes in response to a series of appeals challenging an order of the Uttarakhand High Court, which had ruled that the 18-month D.El.Ed. was equivalent to the 2-year regular D.El.Ed. and was therefore a valid qualification for the posts of Assistant Teachers (Primary).


The division bench of Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice Prashant Kumar Mishra however, disagreed with the High Court's ruling. The Court held that the 18-month D.El.Ed. was introduced as a one-time window for in-service teachers to acquire the minimum qualifications between the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Act, 2017 and the outer limit of 1st April 2019.


The bench further remarked that the government cannot amend or override statutory rules through administrative instructions. However, if the rules are silent on a specific matter, the government has the authority to fill in the gaps and supplement the rules by issuing instructions, provided these instructions are not inconsistent with the existing rules


The bench held that even if the 18 months D.El.Ed. Diploma by NIOS through ODL mode was assumed to be equivalent to the 2 years Diploma in Elementary Education, the State cannot be prohibited from prescribing minimum qualifications that are higher than that. This was supported by the decision in the case of S. Satyapal Reddy and Others v. Govt. of A.P. and Others [LQ/SC/1994/506], where the court had emphasized the power of the Governor under proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution to make rules regulating recruitment, including the prescription of qualifications for appointment to an office or post under the State.


In light of this, the bench found that the High Court had erred in directing the State Government to consider the candidates who did not qualify as per the Uttarakhand Government Elementary Education (Teacher) Service Rules 2012 and as per the advertisement based on the Service Rules, especially when the 2012 Service Rules and the advertisements were not under challenge. It was held that the High Court could not have issued such a mandamus contrary to such Service Rules.


The bench also referred to the case of Devender Bhaskar and Others v. State of Haryana and observed that prescribed eligibility qualification for admission to a course or for recruitment to or promotion in service are matters to be considered by the appropriate authority. It emphasized that it is not for courts to decide whether a particular educational qualification should or should not be accepted as equivalent to the qualification prescribed by the authority.


The Court found that the High Court erred in holding that the 18-month Diploma conducted by NIOS through the ODL mode was equivalent to the 2 years regular Diploma. It was emphasized that there was no material placed on record to support such a conclusion, particularly in regard to the recommendation of such a qualification by the Expert Body NCTE. Additionally, the communication dated 6th September 2019 of NCTE, the directives of MHRD, and the recognition order dated 22nd September 2017 all indicated that the 18-month Diploma was provided as a one-time window for in-service teachers to acquire the minimum qualifications between the 2017 Amendment Act and the outer limit of 1st April 2019.


Consequently, the Court allowed the appeals, the impugned judgment and order dated 14th September 2022 passed by the Uttarakhand High Court were quashed and set aside, and the writ petitions filed by the original writ petitioners were dismissed.


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