How often do we confuse a ‘/’ to a ‘\’? .Both have different uses and can make a whole lot of difference in any sentence and especially in any advertisement. In a case recently decided by the Supreme Court (Ashish Kumar Vs. The State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors) a single sign ‘/’ changed the fate of the case. On 31st January 2018 the Supreme Court held that “When there is variance in advertisement and in statutory Rules, it is statutory Rules which take precedence”.
An advertisement was issued advertising various posts under Director, Social Welfare Department and other department of State. Advertisement also contained recruitment for post of Psychologist.
Ashish Kumar submitted the application for the post of ‘Psychologist’. He appeared in the written examination and was declared successful and included in the merit list. A letter was issued to him asking the him to appear along with original certificates for verification of documents. The Appellant (Ashish Kumar) appeared along with all the documents. When Appellant appeared, he was informed that, he is not eligible and his appointment for the post of ‘Psychologist’ cannot be made. Ashish having not been given appointment; hence, filed a writ petition. High Court accepted the case taken up by the Respondent that, Appellant is not qualified for the post since he does not have training qualification i.e. L.T./B.T.B. Ed. The Appellant filed special appeal which too was dismissed. Review application filed thereafter was also rejected.
The qualifications in the advertisement clearly indicated that stroke (/) was used regarding qualifications, in alternative, i.e., one or either. The use of stroke (/) between Graduate/L.T./B.T.B. Ed. were in the same line meaning thereby one or either. Before the aforesaid qualifications, the words “in Psychology subject” has been used as prefix, which clearly means that, all the alternative qualifications were required to have with Psychology subject i.e. Graduation with Psychology/L.T./B.T.B. Ed. in the subject of Psychology. Hence, all the three i.e. Graduation, L.T., B.T.B. Ed. has to be in Psychology subject. Those persons who have done L.T./B.T.B. Ed. with Psychology subject are eligible like person graduated with Psychology, which is the plain and simple meaning of the advertisement which has been missed by the State as well as the High Court. There is no question of there being different set of candidates. All candidates, who have Psychology as their subject of Graduation/L.T./B.T.B. Ed. were eligible for the post and they all form one class, i.e. those, who have studied Psychology.
Any part of the advertisement which is contrary to the statutory Rules has to give way to the statutory prescription. Thus, looking to the qualification prescribed in the statutory rules, Ashish was fulfilling the qualification and after being selected for the post denying appointment to him is arbitrary and illegal. It is well settled that, when there is variance in the advertisement and in the statutory rules, it is statutory Rules which take precedence.
It was also discovered that, although the post of Psychologist was declared as dead cadre by the Government Order dated 9th May, 2008, but the posts were subsequently revived by another Government Order dated 17th August, 2010.
Ashish Kumar after being selected for the post of Psychologist was illegally denied issuance of appointment letter on wrong interpretation of the advertisement and the rules. hence, he has made out a case for issuing a direction to appoint him on the post of Psychologist.
Therefore in the final judgement made by the Supreme Court on 31st January 2018 it was decided that, Respondents are directed to issue an appointment order to Ashish Kumar (the appellant) in pursuance of his selection against the advertisement on the post of Psychologist within a period of two months. The prior judgments of the High courts were set aside and justice was finally made.
Here I conclude with a legal maxim relating to this case “Ejusdem Generis”
The expression Ejusdem Generis means of the same kind. Normally, general words should be given their natural meaning like all other words unless the context requires otherwise. But when a general word follows specific words of a distinct category, the general word may be given a restricted meaning of the same category. The general expression takes it’s meaning from the preceding particular expressions because the legislature by using the particular words of a distinct genus has shown its intention to that effect. This principle is limited in its application to general word following less general word only. If the specific words do not belong to a distinct. Genus, this rule is inapplicable. Consequently, if a general word follows only one particular word, that single particular word does not constitute a distinct genus and, therefore, Ejusdem Generis rule cannot be applied in such a case.