High COURT 7 yrs after Haryana denied him job for being over age, ex-Armyman to get appointment benefits

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Haryana government to give benefits of appointment to an ex-soldier of the Army saying that rejection of his candidature smacks of discrimination.

The petitioner, Joginder Singh, had applied for the government job in 2014 when he was 48-year-old, and now he is 56 years old. His candidature for job was rejected on the ground of being over age by the Haryana government.

The petitioner, through his counsel Advocate Anurag Jain, had asserted that he has not been given benefit of a notification dated August 20, 2013, and his request to seek government job was wrongly rejected.

He also said that his application for appointment, originally submitted in January, 2014, was kept pending or he was never informed of the rejection thereof. It was only when information was sought under RTI by his co-villager, the reason of his rejection under new sports policy, 2018, was disclosed to him vide information dated May 9, 2019. The case of the petitioner was to be considered under the then applicable notification dated August 20, 2013.

It was submitted by Singh that he participated in Far East and South Pacific (FESPIC) Games (for the disabled), Kuala Lumpur in year 2006, in para-athletics, where he won Bronze a medal, representing India in the tournament, as a member of Haryana Team.

The petitioner had sought two-fold special benefit on account of being an ex-serviceman and his permanent 100 per cent disability (visually impaired) suffered while serving the nation during his Army service. He pleads that he joined Army on June 15, 1985 as a Bengal Sapper. During 22 years tenure with the Army, he was awarded commendation medals from the Army known as 9 years medal, Special Service Medal, and Operation Vijay Medal (Kargil War).

It was contended that while serving in Army, he was posted at border, where he suffered an injury in his eyes, resulting in permanent loss of vision, he was also medically examined at Command Base Hospital, Delhi on January 22, 2007, where he was found to be 100 per cent disabled on account of poor vision. On account of medical reasons, the petitioner was discharged from Army on February 2, 2007.

The Bench of Justice Arun Monga, after hearing the matter held that, the petitioner had submitted his candidature for the first time in the year 2014. But he seems to have been given a complete short shrift while rejecting his candidature which was considered only in the year 2018.

Justice Monga held, “A perusal of the RTI information reveals that the tournament of 2006 which was held at Kuala Lumpur, there was a specific endorsement that the said event is equivalent to Asian Games, coupled with the fact that one Rajesh Kumar who has also participated in the same tournament was granted employment in a Group C post way back in 2014. Therefore, rejecting the candidature of one and accepting the candidature of the other, for the persons who are equally placed, does smack of an element of redtapism, perhaps nepotism and most certainly discrimination.”

“As is apparent from the discharge book of the petitioner, his service career had been meritorious throughout, he was discharged on account of medical disablement and that too after rendering service of almost 22 years. In terms of this policy the petitioner is entitled for relaxation in age by giving him benefit of service of 21 years 07 months and seven days added by 3 years. Thus, the petitioner is entitled for relaxation of 24 years 7 months and 7 days, by taking into account the period of service rendered in Army. Calculated in this manner, after relaxation, the age of the petitioner comes to around 24 years, which certainly is within prescribed parameters. Thus, the petitioner was fully eligible and is entitled for appointment,” added Justice Monga in the order.

Setting aside the order of Haryana government wherein Singh’s candidature for job was rejected, Justice Monga ordered, “Petitioner is directed to be given the benefit of appointment as per notification dated August 20, 2013, commensurate with his achievements on parity with Rajesh Kumar, who has admittedly been given appointment, for participating in the equivalent tournament while on the other hand the petitioner has been denied the similar benefits. Needful will be done within a period of two months.”
The Bench said that petitioner shall be entitled to notional benefits with effect from the date Rajesh Kumar, the other sportsman was given the offer of appointment while the petitioner had to run around to get the same benefits. For the period he remained out of job, he shall not be entitled to get the salary on the principle of ‘no work, no pay’, the court ruled.

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