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Thursday, November 10, 2016

relaxation of 5% marks to the reserved category candidates in the State Teachers Eligibility Test (hereinafter referred to as the TET) approved by the State Government, which is allegedly in contravention of the norms to that effect embodied in the notification dated 23.08.2010 issued by the NCTE.= The Madras High Court rightly rejected the challenge to G.O.(Ms.) No.25 dated 06.02.2014 and G.O.(Ms.)No. 71 dated 30.05.2014, holding that as per the NCTE Guidelines, the State Government has the power to grant relaxation on the marks obtained in the TET for the candidates belonging to reserved category and the same is affirmed. The Madurai Bench did not keep in view the NCTE Guidelines and the power of the State Government to grant relaxation in terms of their extant reservation policy and erred in quashing G.O.(Ms.) No.25 dated 06.02.2014 and hence the same is liable to be set aside.= 2016 Nov..http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=44295 -V. LAVANYA & ORS. Vs. THE STATE OF TAMIL NADU & ORS. SHIVA KIRTI SINGH, R. BANUMATHI

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.   10700   OF  2016
                   (Arising out of SLP (C) NO. 29245/2014)

V. LAVANYA & ORS.                                      APPELLANTS
                                   Versus
STATE OF TAMIL NADU
REPRESENTED BY ITS PRINCIPAL SECRETARY & ORS.
                                             RESPONDENTS

                                    WITH

                CIVIL APPEAL NOS.    10715-10716    OF   2016
              (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS. 29353-29354 OF 2014)

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.   10720   OF 2016
                   (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO. 29634/2014)

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.   10726    OF 2016
                 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO. 29715 OF 2014)

                  CIVIL APPEAL NOS.    10731-32     OF 2016
               (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.32238-32239 OF 2014)

                   CIVIL APPEAL NO.     10737     OF 2016
                  (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.32240 OF 2014)

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.   10736   OF 2016
                 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO. 32241 OF 2014)

                  CIVIL APPEAL NO.     10735       OF 2016
                  (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO.34978 OF 2014)

                    CIVIL APPEAL NO.    10734     OF 2016
                 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO. 32160 OF 2014)

                  CIVIL APPEAL NO.       10733     OF 2016
                 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO. 34568 OF 2014)

              CIVIL APPEAL NOS.        10727-10730     OF 2016
              (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS. 33127-33128 OF 2014)


                CIVIL APPEAL NO.      10725           OF 2016
                  (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO. 6543 OF 2015)

            CIVIL APPEAL NOS.           10721-10723      OF 2016
              (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS. 26461-26463 OF 2015)

                   CIVIL APPEAL NO.     10719      OF 2016
                 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NO. 26464 OF 2015)

                 CIVIL APPEAL NOS.    10701-10714    OF 2016
              (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS. 31629-31642 OF 2014)
    [PETITIONS BY WAY OF SPECIAL LEAVE ARISING OUT JUDGMENTS DELIVERED BY
                                MADRAS BENCH]

                                     AND
                    CIVIL APPEAL NOS.10717-10718 OF 2016
                (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) NOS. 26256-26257/2015)
  [PETITION BY WAY OF SPECIAL LEAVE @ JUDGMENT DELIVERED BY MADURAI BENCH]

STATE OF TAMIL NADU
REPRESENTED BY ITS SECRETARY TO GOVT.,
 SCHOOL EDUCATION (TRB) DEPARTMENT AND ORS.
                                                                  APPELLANTS
                                     V.

S. VINCENT AND ORS.                                            RESPONDENTS


                               J U D G M E N T



R. BANUMATHI J.

Leave granted.

2.    The present batch of appeals raise  identical  questions  of  law  and
fact concerning appointment of Secondary Grade Teachers and B.T.  Assistants
in the State of Tamil Nadu as per  the  Guidelines  prescribed  by  National
Council for Teacher Education (hereinafter referred to as the NCTE) in  this
regard.  These appeals impugn  the  conflicting  judgments  passed  by  both
Madras and Madurai Bench of the High Court of Madras in W.A.  No.  1031/2014
&  Others.  dated  22.09.2014;  and  W.P.  No.  4558/2014  dated  25.09.2014
respectively.  The dispute revolves around the relaxation  of  5%  marks  to
the reserved category candidates in  the  State  Teachers  Eligibility  Test
(hereinafter referred to as the  TET)  approved  by  the  State  Government,
which is allegedly in contravention of the norms to that effect embodied  in
the notification dated 23.08.2010 issued by the NCTE.

3.    Pursuant to the mandate of Right of Children to  Free  and  Compulsory
Education  Act,  2009 ("the  RTE  Act"),  the   NCTE   laid   down   minimum
qualifications for a person to be eligible  for  appointment  as  a  Teacher
through a Notification dated 11.02.2011.   As  per  the  said  Notification:
“…to be eligible for  appointment  as  a  teacher  if  any  of  the  schools
referred to in clause (n) of section 2 of the RTE Act is that he/she  should
pass the teacher eligibility test (TET)  which  will  be  conducted  by  the
appropriate Government in accordance  with  the  Guidelines  framed  by  the
NCTE”.  NCTE Guidelines prescribed 60% marks to be declared as pass in  TET.
The said Guidelines enabled the State  Government  to  grant  concession  to
persons belonging  to  Scheduled  Castes/Scheduled  Tribes,  other  Backward
Classes, differently-abled persons etc.

4.    In pursuance of the  provisions  of  the  Act,  the  State  Government
enacted the Tamil Nadu Right of Children to Free  and  Compulsory  Education
Act,  2011.  State  Government  issued   Order   No.   G.O.Ms.No.181   dated
15.11.2011, prescribing 60% marks as pass marks for TET under the said  G.O.
 The Teacher Recruitment  Board  was  appointed  as  the  Nodal  Agency  for
conducting the TET and recruitment  of  teachers.  Subsequently,  the  State
Government vide G.O.(Ms.)  No.252  School  Education  (Q)  Department  dated
05.10.2012 issued the Procedure/Guidelines for State  Teachers’  Eligibility
Test. The said Guidelines earmarked 60% marks  for  State  eligibility  test
and the remaining 40% for academic performance of the candidates.   The  40%
performance-based marks were divided into 10 marks and  15  marks  each  for
the  Higher  Secondary  Examination/Degree  Examination  and  D.T.Ed/B.  Ed.
examination respectively.

5.    The  Teachers  Recruitment  Board  conducted  the  first  TET-Paper  I
(Secondary Grade Teacher) and Paper  II  (Graduate  Teacher)  on  12.07.2012
throughout the State in which 7,14,526 candidates  appeared  and  2448(0.3%)
were successful.  The details of number of the candidates who  appeared  and
who passed are as under:-
|Exam        |No. of candidates|No. of candidates |% of pass     |
|            |who appeared     |who passed        |              |
|Paper I     |3,05,405         |1,735             |0.57%         |
|Paper II    |4,09,121         |713               |0.17%         |
|Total       |7,14,526         |2,448             |0.34%         |

A supplementary TET was also conducted on 14.10.2012 for Paper I  and  Paper
II in which all the candidates who had appeared  in  the  first  examination
and had not secured 60% marks were allowed to appear without any  additional
examination fee. Around six lakh candidates appeared in the said  exam,  out
of which 19,261 (around 3%) only  cleared  the  TET.   The  details  are  as
under:-
|Exam        |No. of          |No. of          |% of pass       |
|            |candidates who  |candidates who  |                |
|            |appeared        |passed          |                |
|Paper I     |2,78,725        |10,397          |3.7%            |
|Paper II    |3,64,370        |8,864           |2.4%            |
|Total       |6,43,095        |19,261          |2.9%            |

6.    The third TET which is the subject matter  of  the  present  challenge
was conducted by the Teacher Recruitment Board in two papers viz.,  Paper  I
and Paper  II  on  17.08.2013  and  18.08.2013  respectively.  The  TET  was
conducted  pursuant  to  Notification  dated  22.05.2013  by  which   10,672
vacancies of BT Assistants was advertised.  As per the Notification, TET  is
only a pre-requisite eligibility test for those who are seeking  appointment
as a teacher; a TET certificate issued will be valid for  seven  years  from
the date of its issuance and  recruitment  of  teachers  will  be  conducted
separately as and when there is a need, following the Guidelines  issued  by
the State Government.  Around 16,000  candidates  qualified  TET  with  more
than 60% marks.  In January, 2014, candidates who had obtained 60%  or  more
were  called  for   Certificate   Verification   (CV).     Verification   of
certificates was done as per the G.O. (Ms.) No. 252   dated  05.10.2012  and
weightage marks were also awarded.  However,  recruitment  of  teachers  and
appointment thereof was not done.
7.    In the meanwhile, the Hon’ble Chief Minister announced  on  the  floor
of the Assembly,  relaxation of 5% marks in the passing  marks  of  60%  and
thus prescribed the passing marks as 55% for  the  candidates  belonging  to
Scheduled  Caste,  Schedule  Tribes,  Backward  Classes,  Backward   Classes
(Muslim), Most Backward Classes, De-notified Communities  and  Persons  with
Disability (PWD). In  tune  with  the  announcement,  the  State  Government
issued orders  in  G.O.Ms.No.25  School  Education  (TRB)  Department  dated
06.02.2014 in which relaxation of 5% of marks was given  to  the  candidates
belonging to SC, ST, BC, BC(M),  MBC,  DNC  and  PWD  candidates.   However,
minimum qualifying marks with regard to general candidates was  retained  as
60% or 90% marks in both the papers.  Relevant  portion  of  the  said  G.O.
(Ms.) No.25 dated 06.02.2014, reads as under:-
“In continuation of the announcement made by  the  Hon’ble  Chief  Minister,
the Government orders as follows:

Relaxing 5% marks from the present pass marks of 60% and fix the  pass  mark
at 55% for  candidates  belonging  to  Scheduled  Caste,  Scheduled  Tribes,
Backward Classes, Backward Classes  (Muslim),  Most  Backward  Classes,  De-
notified Communities and Persons with Disability (PWD) as given below.   The
candidates are required to obtain the following minimum  marks  in  Paper  I
for Secondary Grade Teachers and Paper II for Graduate Assistants:-

|Category      |Maximum   |Minimum Marks (%) to be obtained |
|              |Marks     |in TNTET                         |
|              |          |Paper I        |Paper II        |
|General       |150       |60% or 90 marks|60% or 90 marks |
|SC, ST, BC,   |150       |55% or 82.5    |55% or 82.5     |
|BC(M), MBC,   |          |marks rounded  |marks rounded   |
|DNC and       |          |off to 82 marks|off to 82 marks |
|Persons with  |          |               |                |
|Disability    |          |               |                |
|(PWD)         |          |               |                |


b)    Relaxing 5% marks from the 60% marks prescribed for  clearing  of  the
Tamil Nadu Teacher Eligibility Test, 2013 held on 17.08.2013 and  18.08.2013
for Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Backward  Classes,  Backward  Classes
(Muslims), Most Backward Classes, De-notified Communities and  Persons  with
Disability (PWD) and fixed at 55% or 82 marks.
C)    For all future Teacher Eligibility Tests, to  fix  the  minimum  marks
for candidates belonging to General Category at 90 marks (60%  of  150)  and
for candidates belonging to  Scheduled  Caste,  Scheduled  Tribes,  Backward
Classes, Backward Classes  (Muslims),  Most  Backward  Classes,  De-notified
Communities, and Persons with Disability (PWD) at 82 marks (55% of 150).”

The said relaxation  of  5%  marks  was  held  applicable  to  TET  held  on
17.08.2013 and 18.08.2013 and all future  TETs  for  the  reserved  category
candidates.
8.    Vide G.O.Ms. No. 29 School Education (Q) Department dated  14.02.2014,
corresponding amendments were made in criteria for selection  of  candidates
who have cleared the TET for appointment to  the  post  of  Secondary  Grade
Teachers and Graduate Assistants prescribed in G.O. dated  05.10.2012.   The
said order laid down the weightage of marks  under  TET  head  as  ‘36’  for
those candidates who obtain 55% and above but below 60% marks  in  TET.  The
order  also  specified  that  the  amended  selection  criteria   would   be
applicable to TET held on 17.08.2013 and 18.08.2013.   Relevant  portion  of
the said G.O. reads as under:
“Tamil Nadu Teacher  Eligibility  Test  for  Secondary  Grade  Teachers  and
Graduate Assistants:-
|Examination|Weightage |90%   |80%   |70% and|60% and  |55% and |
|passed     |of marks  |and   |and   |above  |above but|above   |
|           |          |above |above |but    |below 70%|but     |
|           |          |      |but   |below  |         |below   |
|           |          |      |below |80%    |         |60%     |
|           |          |      |90%   |       |         |        |
|TNTET      |60        |60    |54    |48     |42       |36      |


4. The Chairman, Teachers Recruitment Board is  directed  to  take  note  of
this Government order for  finalizing  selection  list  of  the  Tamil  Nadu
Teacher Eligibility Test 2013 held on 17.08.2013 and 18.08.2013 and for  all
future Tamil Nadu  Teacher  Eligibility  Test  with  respect  to  candidates
belonging to Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes, Backward  Classes,  Backward
Classes  (Muslims),  Most  Backward  Classes,  De-notified  Communities  and
Persons with Disability (PWD).”

9.    Resultantly, a number of writ petitions were  filed  before  the  High
Court challenging the  Government  Orders  passed  in  G.O.Ms.No.252  School
Education(Q) Department, dated  05.10.2012,  G.O.Ms.No.25  School  Education
(TRB) Department dated 06.02.2014 and G.O.Ms.No.29, School  Education  (TRB)
Department dated 14.02.2014 on different grounds. The  Writ  Court  disposed
of these  petitions  by  upholding  the  validity  of  G.O.Ms.No.25,  School
Education (TRB) Department dated 06.02.2014.  However,  the  learned  Single
Judge set aside the grading system adopted by the  Government  in  G.O.  Ms.
No. 252 dated 05.10.2012 observing that it lacks rationality as it places  a
candidate with the difference of 1 to 9 marks in the same basket.

10.   Pursuant to the order  passed  by  the  learned  Single  Judge,  while
continuing with the weightage of marks fixed earlier as per  the  Government
Order  passed  in  G.O.Ms.No.252  School  Education  (Q)  Department,  dated
05.10.2012 with reference  to  the  basic  qualification  marks,  the  State
Government passed a subsequent order in  G.O.(Ms.)  No.71  School  Education
(TRB) Department dated 30.05.2014 in tune with the suggestion  made  by  the
learned Single Judge. Relevant portion of the  said  G.O.(Ms.)  No.71  dated
30.05.2014,  is as under:
“7. The Government now issue revised orders for  fixing  the  weightage  and
for distributing the weightage marks fixed in the light of  the  High  Court
orders as mentioned  in  para  5  above  for  selection  of  candidates  for
appointment to the post of Secondary Grade Teachers and Graduate  Assistants
in Government Schools from among  those  candidates  who  have  cleared  the
Tamil Nadu  Teacher  Eligibility  Test.  The  weightage  of  marks  and  the
distribution of weightage of marks be fixed as follows:-

A)    Tamil Nadu Teacher Eligibility  Test  Weightage  for  Secondary  Grade
Teachers
(a) There shall be 100 marks in total

(b) The computation of 100 marks will be in the following manner
(i) Higher Secondary Exam    : 15 marks
(ii) D.T.Ed.,/D.E.Ed., Exam  :  25 marks
(iii) Teacher Eligibility Test    :  60 marks

The weightage so assigned as indicated in (b) above to be distributed  based
on the  actual  percentage  of  marks  obtained  by  the  candidate  in  the
qualifying examinations as shown below:-



B)     Tamil  Nadu  Teacher  Eligibility   Test   Weightage   for   Graduate
Assistants:

(a) There shall be 100 marks in total
(b) The computation of 100 marks will be in the following manner
(i) Higher Secondary Exam    : 10 marks
(ii) Degree Exam             : 15 marks
(iii) B.Ed., Exam            : 15 marks
(iv) Teacher Eligibility Test     : 60 marks

The weightage so assigned as indicated in (b) above to be distributed  based
on the  actual  percentage  of  marks  obtained  by  the  candidate  in  the
qualifying examinations as shown below:-


|Qualifying|Weightage |Percentage of marks |Marks assigned |
|Examinatio|of marks  |obtained in the     |               |
|n         |          |qualifying          |               |
|          |          |examination         |               |
|H.Sc.     |10        |P%                  |P x 10         |
|          |          |                    |100            |
|Degree    |15        |Q%                  |Q x 15         |
|          |          |                    |100            |
|B.Ed.     |15        |R%                  |R x 15         |
|          |          |                    |100            |
|TET       |60        |S%                  |S x 60         |
|          |          |                    |100            |
|Total     |100       |                    |xxx            |


The Government Order  passed  in  G.O.(Ms.)  No.71  School  Education  (TRP)
Department dated 30.05.2014 was challenged both on the ground  of  weightage
having been awarded for the marks obtained in three qualifications and  also
the method of gradation.

11.   The High Court of Judicature at Madras heard  various  writ  petitions
and writ appeals filed before it challenging the concerned G.Os and  by  the
orders impugned herein disposed of the same. The High  Court  dismissed  the
writ appeals as well as the writ petitions holding  that  the  challenge  to
the policy decision of the Government can sustain only if  it  suffers  from
arbitrariness and unreasonableness which did not  surface  in  these  cases.
It was held that the writ  petitioners/writ  appellants  are  non-suited  to
challenge the procedure adopted in granting weightage to the marks  obtained
in the basic qualification required.

12.   As opposed to the view taken by the Madras Bench of  the  High  Court,
in a batch of writ petitions, the Madurai Bench has quashed  the  relaxation
given to the reserved category candidates. The Madurai Bench also heard  the
challenge to Government Orders passed in G.O.Ms.No.252 School Education  (Q)
Department,  dated   05.10.2012,   G.O.Ms.No.25   School   Education   (TRB)
Department  dated  06.02.2014  and  G.O.Ms.No.29,  School  Education   (TRB)
Department dated 14.02.2014 and held that in the absence of  any  statistics
to prove that the prescription of 60% marks  resulted  in  fewer  number  of
candidates belonging to reserved categories getting  appointed,  it  is  not
possible to uphold the Government Order.  The Court  further  observed  that
the argument that relaxation was necessary to  advance  social  justice,  is
nothing but a myth and is devoid of any factual data and analysis.

13.   These petitions by way of special leave have  been  filed  challenging
the two contradicting decisions of the Madras Bench  and  Madurai  Bench  of
the Madras High Court.   For  the  sake  of  convenience,  unless  otherwise
expressly mentioned, the term appellant  has  been  used  to  refer  to  the
private parties or original writ petitioners. Contention of  the  appellants
is that after the Select List was finalized on the basis of G.O.Ms. No.  252
dated  05.10.2012,  marks  were  awarded  to  all  the  candidates  as   per
Government  Order  and  all  the  candidates  were  awaiting  the  order  of
appointment and thereafter, Government  issued  orders  in  G.O.Ms.  No.  25
School Education Department relaxing 5% marks  with  respect  to  candidates
belonging to Scheduled Castes,  Scheduled  Tribes,  Backward  Classes,  Most
Backward Classes, Backward Classes  (Muslims)  De-notified  communities  and
differently-abled persons by which the pass marks was reduced  to  55%  from
60% and  G.O.Ms.  School  Education  No.  29  dated  14.02.2014  was  issued
amending  the  criteria  for  selection  prescribed  in  G.O.Ms.  252  dated
05.10.2012.  It was submitted that the Government has  reduced  the  passing
percentage for qualifying in the TET and changed the criteria for  selection
after the  commencement  of  the  selection  process,  which  is  arbitrary,
illegal and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.   In  this
regard, reliance was placed upon K. Manjushree v. State  of  Andhra  Pradesh
and Anr. (2008) 3 SCC 512 and Hemani Malhotra v. High Court of Delhi  (2008)
7 SCC 11 to contend  that  it  is  impermissible  to  change  the  rules  of
selection once the selection process has started.

14. Per contra, learned counsel  appearing  for  the  State  submitted  that
relaxation has been extended by the State Government only  to  the  reserved
category candidates. It was submitted that Clause 9 of the  NCTE  Guidelines
for   conducting   TET   empowers   the    State    Government    to    give
concessions/relaxations to candidates belonging to reserved  categories  and
the State Government in exercise of its power under Clause  9  of  the  NCTE
Guidelines granted relaxation and the same  cannot  be  challenged.   It  is
submitted that the TET examination is a  qualifying  examination  and  after
writing  the  examination  and  after  accepting  the  rules  and  terms  of
selection  in  the  first  place,   the  appellants  cannot  challenge   the
procedure adopted by the respondent-State and  challenge  the  weightage  of
marks. It was submitted that the Madras Bench has rightly upheld G.O.  (Ms.)
No. 25 dated 06.02.2014, G.O.Ms. No. 29 dated 14.02.2014 and G.O.Ms. No.  71
dated 30.05.2014 and the  contrary  view  taken  by  the  Madurai  Bench  is
unsustainable.

15.   Upon consideration  of  the  rival  submissions  and  perusal  of  the
impugned judgments, the following issues arise for consideration:-
(i)   Whether the State Government has the competence to give relaxation  of
5% marks in Teacher Eligibility  Test  (TET)  and  whether  such  relaxation
provided by the State Government by  G.O.(Ms.)  No.25  dated  06.02.2014  is
legally justified?
(ii)  Having regard to the stand of the Government in the earlier  round  of
Writ Petitions in Writ Petition No.30426 of 2012 and 22407 of 2013,  not  to
relax the qualifying marks  for  Teacher  Eligibility  Test  (TET),  whether
Government is estopped from granting relaxation?
(iii) Whether providing relaxation of 5% marks in Teacher  Eligibility  Test
(TET) by G.O.(Ms.) No.25 dated 06.02.2014 amounts to change in the  criteria
of selection of teachers after the selection process commenced?
(iv)   Whether  prescribing  40%  marks  as  weightage  for   the   academic
performance is arbitrary and does  not  take  into  consideration  different
streams of education and subjects of study?



Point No. 1:  Whether the  State  Government  has  the  competence  to  give
relaxation of 5% marks in Teacher Eligibility Test (TET)  and  whether  such
relaxation provided  by  the  State  Government  by  G.O.(Ms.)  No.25  dated
06.02.2014 is legally justified?

16.   In exercise of the power conferred under Section 23 (1)  of  Right  of
Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 35  of  2009,  a  Notification
was issued by NCTE prescribing the minimum qualification for a person to  be
eligible for appointment as a teacher  in  Class  I  to  VIII  in  a  school
referred to in clause (n) of Section 2 of  Act  35  of  2009.   Notification
dated 23.08.2010 was followed by Guidelines dated 11.02.2011 issued  by  the
NCTE  for  conducting  TET  under  the  Act.   Guideline  No.9  deals   with
qualifying marks, which reads as under:-
            “Qualifying marks.-
9. A person who scores 60% or more in the TET exam  will  be  considered  as
TET pass.  School managements (Government, local  bodies,  government  aided
and unaided)

(a) may consider giving concessions to  persons  belonging  to  SC/ST,  OBC,
differently  abled  persons,  etc.,  in   accordance   with   their   extant
reservation policy;

(b) should give weightage to the TET  scores  in  the  recruitment  process;
however, qualifying the TET would not confer  a  right  on  any  person  for
recruitment/employment as it is only one of  the  eligibility  criteria  for
appointment.”

While prescribing 60% marks as minimum qualifying marks for TET,   Clause  9
enables concerned government/authorities to grant concessions/relaxation  to
persons  belonging  to  SC/ST,  OBC,  differently-abled  persons,  etc.,  in
accordance with their extant reservation policy.

17.   As noticed earlier, the Government of Tamil Nadu in  G.O.(Ms.)  No.252
School Education (Q) Department dated  05.10.2012  fixed  the  criteria  for
selection of candidates who have cleared the  TET  for  appointment  to  the
post of Secondary Grade Teachers and  B.T.  Assistants.   As  per  the  said
Government Order, out of the 100 marks, 40 marks  have  been  earmarked  for
academic performance.  Remaining 60 marks out of 100 has been fixed for  the
TET.  A Notification  was  issued  by  the  Teachers  Recruitment  Board  on
22.05.2013 for the conduct of TET,  followed  by  recruitment  of  teachers.
Clause 6 of the Notification, which deals with “General Information”,  makes
it clear that the TET is only a pre-requisite  eligibility  test  for  those
who are seeking appointment as a teacher and that a TET  certificate  issued
will be valid for seven years from the date of  its  issuance.   Recruitment
of teachers is conducted separately as and when there is a  need,  following
the Guidelines issued by the Government of Tamil Nadu.  Accordingly, it  was
notified to the  candidates  that  TET  is  only  an  eligibility  test  and
conducting of the same is distinct from the recruitment of  teachers,  which
is a subsequent event.

18.   Section  23  of  the  RTE  Act  empowers  the  Central  Government  to
authorize the academic authority to prescribe minimum  qualification  to  be
eligible for appointment of teachers.  Once  the  academic  authority  fixes
the minimum qualification,  then  the  relaxation  is  possible  only  under
Section 23(2). Sub-section (2) enables the State  to  approach  the  Central
Government to relax the minimum qualification required  for  appointment  of
teachers, where  a  State  does  not  have  adequate  institutions  offering
courses or training in teacher education,  or  teachers  possessing  minimum
qualification as laid down  under  sub-section  (1)  are  not  available  in
sufficient numbers. On such request,  the  Central  Government  may,  if  it
deems necessary, by Notification, relax the minimum  qualification  required
for appointment as a teacher, for such period, not exceeding five years,  as
may be specified in that Notification. In terms of Section 23 (2)  power  to
relax  such  minimum  qualification  has  been  reserved  with  the  Central
Government.

19.   Contention of the appellants is that Section 23 (2)  of  the  RTE  Act
requires the State/Union Territories to request the Central  Government  for
relaxation  of  prescribed  minimum  qualification  to   be   eligible   for
appointment of teachers and the power to relax the minimum qualification  is
exclusively within the domain of the Central Government and  the  same  does
not rest with the State Government or NCTE.  It is  further  submitted  that
the High Court without properly appreciating the import  of  Section  23  of
the Act, and Rules 17 and 18 of the Rules, erroneously held that Clause  No.
9 of NCTE Guidelines dated 11.02.2011  empowered  the  State  to  make  such
relaxation. It was submitted that the Guidelines of NCTE cannot be  contrary
to the provisions of the Act and the Rules.

20.   Per contra, the respondent-State has maintained  that  the  Government
was well within its powers to take a policy decision of granting  relaxation
to the reserved category candidates. In this regard, the  State  has  placed
reliance on Clause No.9 of NCTE Guidelines which empowers the Government  or
local  bodies  to  grant  concessions/relaxation  as  per  their  respective
reservation policies.

21.   As noted earlier, Clause No.9 NCTE Guideline  vests  a  discretion  in
the School Managements (State Government,  Local  Bodies,  Government  aided
and un-aided)  to  grant  relaxation/concessions  to  persons  belonging  to
SC/ST, OBC, differently-abled persons etc. in accordance with  their  extant
reservation  policy.  Clause   No.   9(a)   clearly   empowers   the   State
Government/School  Managements/Local  Bodies  to  grant   such   relaxation.
Candidates had also contended before the courts that no  reservation  policy
was in-effect at the relevant point of time.

22.   Article 14 of the Constitution enshrines  the  principle  of  equality
before  law.   Article  15  prohibits  discrimination  against  citizens  on
grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth or any  of  them.
As per Article 16, there shall be equality of opportunity for  all  citizens
in matters relating to employment, or appointment to any  office  under  the
State. However, at the same time,  the  framers  of  the  Constitution  were
conscious of the backwardness of large sections of the population.   It  was
also apparent that because of their  backwardness,  these  sections  of  the
population would not be in a position to compete with  advanced  section  of
the community. Article 16 (4) of the Constitution enables the State to  make
provision for  reservation  of  appointments  or  posts  in  favour  of  any
backward class of  citizens  which,  in  its  opinion,  is  not,  adequately
represented in the services under the State.  Article 16(4) has to  be  read
with Article 335 which deals with claims of Scheduled Castes  and  Scheduled
Tribes to services and posts and lays down that “the claims of  the  members
of  the  Scheduled  Castes  and  Scheduled  Tribes  shall  be   taken   into
consideration,  consistently  with  the   maintenance   of   efficiency   of
administration, in the making of  appointments  to  services  and  posts  in
connection with the affairs of the Union or of a State”.

23.    Constitution  of  India  has  made   adequate   enabling   provisions
empowering the State to promote reservation/concessions: Special  provisions
are made for advancement of the socially and economically backward  classes.
 These provisions will bring out the contents  of  equality  of  opportunity
guaranteed under Articles 14, 15 (1), 16 (1) of the  Constitution  of  India
by creating equal level-playing field.  In M. Nagaraj and  Others  v.  Union
of India and Others (2006) 8 SCC 212, Constitution Bench of this Court  held
as follows:-
“47. Equality of  opportunity  has  two  different  and  distinct  concepts.
There is a conceptual distinction  between  a  non-discrimination  principle
and affirmative action under which the State is obliged to provide a  level-
playing field to the oppressed classes.  Affirmative  action  in  the  above
sense seeks  to  move  beyond  the  concept  of  non-discrimination  towards
equalizing results with respect to various  groups.   Both  the  conceptions
constitute “equality of opportunity”.”


24.   Preferential treatment  or  concessions  granted  to  SC/ST,  backward
classes, physically handicapped and denotified  communities  is  within  the
concept  of  equality.   Grant  of  relaxation  is  for  the  upliftment  of
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and  other  backward  communities  and
the same has been eloquently stated in State of Madhya Pradesh and  Anr.  v.
Kumari Nivedita Jain and Others (1981) 4 SCC 296 as under:-

“26. It cannot be disputed that the State must do  everything  possible  for
the upliftment of the  Scheduled  Castes  and  Scheduled  Tribes  and  other
backward communities and the State is  entitled  to  make  reservations  for
them  in  the  matter  of  admission  to   medical   and   other   technical
institutions. In the absence of any law to the contrary,  it  must  also  be
open to  the  Government  to  impose  such  conditions  as  would  make  the
reservation effective and would benefit the candidates  belonging  to  these
categories for whose benefit and welfare the reservations  have  been  made.
In any particular situation, taking into  consideration  the  realities  and
circumstances prevailing in the State it will be open to the State  to  vary
and modify  the  conditions  regarding  selection  for  admission,  if  such
modification or variation becomes necessary for achieving  the  purpose  for
which reservation has been made and if there be  no  law  to  the  contrary.
Note (ii) of Rule 20  of  the  Rules  for  admission  framed  by  the  State
Government specifically empowers the Government to grant such relaxation  in
the minimum  qualifying  marks  to  the  extent  considered  necessary…..The
relaxation made by the State Government in the rule regarding  selection  of
candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for  admission
into Medical Colleges cannot  be  said  to  be  unreasonable  and  the  said
relaxation constitutes  no  violation  of  Article  15(1)  and  (2)  of  the
Constitution. The said relaxation also does not offend  Article  14  of  the
Constitution. It has to be noticed  that  there  is  no  relaxation  of  the
condition regarding eligibility for admission  into  Medical  Colleges.  The
relaxation is only in the rule regarding selection of  candidates  belonging
to Scheduled Castes and  Scheduled  Tribes  categories  who  were  otherwise
qualified and eligible to seek  admission  into  Medical  Colleges  only  in
relation to seats reserved for them….”

25.   The idea behind laying down NCTE Guidelines for conducting TET was  to
bring about uniformity  and  certainty  in  the  standards  and  quality  of
education being imparted to the students across  the  nation.   However,  at
the same time the framers of the guidelines took note  of  the  huge  socio-
economic disparity existing in the nation  and  accordingly,  by  virtue  of
Clause  No.  9  enabled  the  respective  state  governments/authorities  to
provide  relaxation  to  the  candidates  belonging  to  socially   backward
classes. As discussed  earlier,  such  a  provision  is  in  line  with  the
principles  enshrined  in  the  Constitution.  State  Government  cannot  be
faulted for discharging  its  constitutional  obligation  of  upliftment  of
socially and economically backward Communities by  providing  5%  relaxation
to candidates  belonging  to  Scheduled  Caste,  Schedule  Tribes,  Backward
Classes, Backward  Classes  (Muslim),  Most  Backward  Classes,  De-notified
Communities and Persons with Disability (PWD).

26.   State of Rajasthan by its Notification dated  29.07.2011  has  granted
similar relaxation of 5% marks in the  qualifying  marks  relatable  to  TET
exams conducted in the State of Rajasthan.  The Rajasthan High Court  struck
down the relaxation granted by the State of Rajasthan  on  the  ground  that
such relaxation was in excess  of  extant  reservation  policy.   In   Vikas
Sankhala and Ors. v. Vikas Kumar Agarwal and Ors. Etc. (2016) 10 SCALE  163,
this Court reversed the judgment of the Rajasthan High  Court  holding  that
State has a legitimate right in granting such relaxation to SC/ST, OBC  etc.
 After referring to Nivedita Jain and M. Nagaraj case, this Court  in  paras
(51), (54) and (55) held as under:-
“51.  Examined in the aforesaid context,  when  our  Constitution  envisages
equal respect and concern  for  each  individual  in  the  society  and  the
attainment of the goal requires special attention to be paid to  some,  that
ought to be done.  Giving of desired concessions to  the  reserved  category
persons, thus, ensures equality as a levelling process.  At  jurisprudential
level,  whether  reservation   policies   are   defended   on   compensatory
principles, utilitarian principles or  on  the  principles  of  distributive
justice, fact remains that the very ethos of such policies is to  bring  out
equality, by  taking  affirmative  action.   Indian  Constitution  has  made
adequate  enabling  provisions  empowering  the  State   to   provide   such
concessions.
……..

54. It hardly needs to be emphasized that the State  has  a  legitimate  and
substantial interest in ameliorating  or  eliminating  where  feasible,  the
disabling effects of identified discrimination.  It is a duty cast upon  the
State,  by  the  Constitution,  to   remedy   the   effects   of   “societal
discrimination”.  Provision for relaxation in  TET  pass  marks  has  to  be
looked into from this  angle  which  is  in  tune  with  the  constitutional
philosophy.  After all it only ensures that  such  candidates  belonging  to
reserved category become eligible for appointment as primary  teachers.   On
the other hand, when it comes to selection process  such  reserved  category
candidates have to compete with  general  category  candidates  wherein  due
regard for merit is given.  Therefore, only those  candidates  belonging  to
reserved category who are found  meritorious  in  selection  are  ultimately
appointed.   We  are  of  the  opinion  that  in   this   manner   the   two
constitutional goals, that of rendering quality education on  the  one  hand
and providing “equality of opportunity’ to the  unprivileged  class  on  the
other hand, are adequately met and rightly balanced.


55. We, thus, do not agree with the interpretation  that  is  given  by  the
High Court and answer Question No.1 holding that  relaxation  prescribed  in
letter dated March 23, 2011 in pass marks in TET examination  for  different
reserved categories mentioned therein is legal and valid in law.”

We are entirely in agreement with  the  above  judgment  in  Vikas  Sankhala
case.
27.   Granting relaxation to SC/ST,  OBC,  physically  handicapped  and  de-
notified communities is in furtherance of the constitutional  obligation  of
the State to the under-privileged and create an equal  level-playing  field.
After referring to clause 9 of the NCTE Guidelines, the  Madras  High  Court
rightly held that the Government of Tamil Nadu has acted in exercise of  the
powers conferred under clause 9  of  the  Guidelines  issued  by  the  NCTE.
Madurai Bench was not right in quashing G.O.(Ms.) No.25 dated 06.02.2014  on
the ground that such relaxation “based upon the theory of social justice  is
actually destructive of the very fabric of  the  social  justice”.   In  our
considered view, the judgment of the Madurai Bench has not kept in view  the
constitutional obligation of the State to provide equal level-playing  field
to the  under privileged.  In  consonance  with  the  M.  Nagaraj  case,  an
affirmative action taken by State Government  granting  relaxation  for  TET
would not amount to dilution of standards and hence the view  taken  by  the
Madurai Bench is not sustainable and is liable to be set aside.

Point No.  2:  Whether  the  State  Government  is  estopped  from  granting
relaxation?

28.   In the earlier round of litigation (in  Writ  Petition  No.  30425  of
2012 and Writ Petition No.22407 of 2013), Government of Tamil  Nadu  took  a
categorical stand that they would not  compromise  on  the  quality  of  the
teachers.   After referring to the said stand of  the  State  Government  in
its counter affidavit before the Division Bench, in paras (38)  to  (40)  of
the judgment, Madurai Bench  observed  that  the  State  Government  is  not
justified in retracting from its earlier stand.  The Madurai  Bench  further
observed  that  the  impugned  Government  Order  G.O.(Ms.)  No.  25   dated
06.02.2014  is  not  based  upon  any  statistics  and  therefore   granting
relaxation to advance social justice “…. is nothing but a myth  and  is  not
based on facts and figures”.  On behalf of the appellants much reliance  was
placed upon the earlier stand of the Government to  contend  that  when  the
Government had earlier taken the stand that it would  not  grant  relaxation
of marks for TET pass and dilute the standards of education, the  Government
cannot approbate and reprobate at the same time by changing its  stand.   It
was further submitted that the teachers are  responsible  for  moulding  the
younger minds and any dilution of standards of TET would be  detrimental  to
the standards of education.
29.   We are unable to persuade ourselves to  accept  the  view  of  Madurai
Bench quashing the impugned G.O. on the ground  of  alleged  change  in  the
stand  of  the  Government.  Considering  the  representation  from  various
quarters,  it was a policy decision taken by the Government to  relax  marks
for TET pass for  specified  and  under-privileged  communities.   It  is  a
matter of State policy to frame and prescribe selection  norms  with  regard
to services and posts connected with the affairs of the State.  It is  well-
settled that courts cannot interfere with the policy decisions of the  State
especially when the policy decision is taken in public interest  to  further
the advancement of reserved categories.  A  policy  decision  taken  by  the
State in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 162 of the  Constitution
of  India  is  subservient  only  to  the  mandate  of  the   constitutional
provisions and the recruitment rules framed by the State itself,  either  in
terms of a legislative act or an executive order.  The  relaxation  provided
by the State Government and criteria of selection laid  down  vide  impugned
government orders are in exercise of the powers provided under  the  proviso
to Article 309 of the Constitution of India and being a policy  decision  in
terms of its extant reservation policy cannot be  impeached  on  the  ground
that  the  relaxation  has  been  given  to  suit  some  specific  class  of
individuals.

30.   It is now well settled by a catena of decisions that there can  be  no
question of  estoppels  against  the  Government  in  the  exercise  of  its
legislative, sovereign or executive powers (vide Excise  Commissioner  U.P.,
Allahabad v. Ram Kumar (1976) 3 SCC 540 and M. Ramanatha Pillai v. State  of
Kerala and Anr. (1973) 2 SCC 650).  The  view  taken  by  Madurai  Bench  as
regards the stand  of  the  Government  to  relax  the  norms  allegedly  in
contradiction to its earlier stand is not sustainable in law.

Point No. 3: Whether providing relaxation of 5%  marks  in  TET  amounts  to
change in the criteria of selection of teachers after the selection  process
commenced?

31.    The  appellants  have  contended  that  the  provisionally   selected
candidates were called to attend certificate verification on 23.01.2014  and
24.01.2014 and weightage marks were also awarded as per  the  then  existing
Government Order.   While  so,  by  issuing  impugned  G.O.Ms.  No.25  dated
06.02.2014 and G.O.Ms. No. 29 dated 14.02.2014  the  criteria  of  selection
was altered by relaxing passing marks by 5% in TET from 60% to 55%,  thereby
allowing  large  number  of  candidates  who  scored  lesser  marks  to   be
considered for selection.  As per  the  appellants,  this  has  resulted  in
altering the criteria of  selection  after  the  commencement  of  selection
process.  Reliance is placed upon K. Manjushree v. State of  Andhra  Pradesh
and Anr. (2008) 3 SCC 512 and Hemani Malhotra v. High Court of Delhi  (2008)
7 SCC 11 to contend that the rules of selection cannot be changed after  the
selection process commenced.

32.   Per contra, State has contended that granting relaxation of  marks  to
SCs/STs/OBCs and others will not amount  to  change  in  the  rules  of  the
games.  By  relaxation  of  marks  more  candidates  belonging  to  reserved
category are allowed to compete. The appellants cannot  contend  that  their
rights have been taken away; no prejudice has been caused  to  them  as  the
selection criteria has not been altered with respect to them.

33.    Appellants  appeared  in  the  TET  conducted   on   17.08.2013   and
18.08.2013.  Respondents were to select the  suitable  candidates.   As  per
the selection criteria laid down in G.O. Ms. No.  252  laid  down  that  the
candidates have to secure minimum 60% in TET  so  as  to  qualify  the  said
exam.  The weightage of the marks  secured  in  TET  was  60%  and  that  of
academic qualification was 40%.  It is true that the candidates  who  passed
TET were  called  to  attend  certificate  verification  on  23.01.2014  and
24.01.2014; but the selection process has not  been  completed.   Later  on,
G.O.Ms. No.25 dated 06.02.2014 was issued granting relaxation  of  5%  marks
to  SC,  ST,   backward   classes,   physically   handicapped,   de-notified
communities  etc.  The  purpose  of   relaxation   was   to   increase   the
participation of candidates belonging to backward classes  in  State’s  pool
of teachers.  The State Government merely widened the ambit of TET so as  to
reach out to those candidates belonging  to  the  deprived  section  of  the
society who were not able to compete, inspite of  possessing  good  academic
records and qualifications.  The  change  brought  about  in  the  selection
criteria is Government’s prerogative.  In terms of their extant  reservation
policy, the State Government is free to take actions suitable to the  socio-
economic conditions prevalent  in  the  State,  especially  with  regard  to
selection of candidates belonging to reserved category  to  be  employed  in
State Service.  Merely, because the Government  has  widened  the  ambit  of
selection, so as to enable more and more candidates  to  take  part  in  the
selection process, the right of candidates who were already in  the  process
cannot be said to have been adversely affected.  It is in  the  interest  of
reserved category of candidates  that  more  candidates  take  part  in  the
selection process and best and most efficient of  them  get  selected.  This
will not amount to change in the criteria for selection after the  selection
process commenced.

34.   As  discussed  earlier,  by  virtue  of  NCTE  Guidelines  No.9  dated
11.02.2011, the State Government was already empowered to  grant  relaxation
to  under-privileged  candidates  and  only  in  exercise  of  that   power,
G.O.Ms.No.25 was issued to create a level-playing field.  Further  as  noted
earlier, in TET-I conducted in 2012, 7,14,526 candidates  had  appeared  and
only 2448 (0.3%) had qualified.  In  the  subsequent  TET,  around  6  lakhs
candidates had appeared and only 20,000 i.e. 3% candidates could  clear  the
test.  Even in third TET with which we are concerned only 16,392  candidates
had qualified. In that scenario to provide a level-playing field to  persons
belonging to SC/ST/OBC, denotified  communities,  differently-abled  persons
etc., State Government relaxed 5% marks  to  enable  them  to  compete  with
others.  It was the  prerogative  of  the  State  Government  to  relax  the
passing marks with respect to reserved  category  candidates  so  that  more
qualified  candidates  could  come  up  and  participate  in  the  selection
process. In fact, even after grant of relaxation of 5% marks, many posts  of
reserved categories are remaining unfilled.  State has  placed  the  figures
before us to show that even after granting  relaxation  of  5%  marks,  many
posts of SCs/STs and other  backward  categories  in  various  subjects  are
remaining unfilled.

35.   The Government has not changed the rules of selection so  far  as  the
present appellants are concerned.  Weightage of marks  obtained  in  TET  as
well as that of academic  qualification  is  still  the  same.   The  entire
selection process conforms to the  equitable  standards  laid  down  by  the
State Government in line with the principles enshrined in  the  Constitution
and the extant reservation policy of the State.  It is not  the  case  where
basic eligibility criteria has been altered in the midst  of  the  selection
process.   Conducting  TET  and   calling   for   certificate   verification
thereafter is an exercise which the State Government is obliged  to  conduct
every year as per the Guidelines issued by NCTE.  By calling  for  CV  along
with certificates of other requisite academic qualifications, a  candidate’s
overall eligibility is ascertained and then he/she  is  recruited.  Such  an
exercise by which  qualified  teachers  in  the  State  are  segregated  and
correspondingly certified to that effect cannot be equated  to  finalization
of select list which comes at a much later stage.   No  prejudice  has  been
caused to the appellants, since the marks obtained by the appellants in  TET
are to remain valid for a period of seven years, based  on  which  they  can
compete for the future vacancies.  Merely  because  appellants  were  called
for certificate  verification,   it  cannot  be  contended  that  they  have
acquired a legal right to the post.  Impugned G.O.  Ms.No.25  did  not  take
away the rights of the appellants from being considered on their own  merits
as pointed out by the Madras Bench. We entirely agree with the  views  taken
by the Madras Bench that “by merely allowing more persons  to  compete,  the
petitioners cannot contend that their accrued right has been taken away”.

36.   Appearing in  TET  is  synonymous  to  obtaining  an  eligibility.  By
obtaining pass marks in TET a candidate is not said to have been  recruited.
Marks obtained in TET accounts only for 60% in the final selection and  rest
40% is covered by academic performance.  By granting relaxation of 5%  marks
in TET for reserved categories only,  the eligibility  criteria  is  neither
altered nor any prejudice is caused to the  appellants.  The  contention  of
the appellants that the State Government cannot legally alter the  selection
criteria after conducting the exam does not find force in the light of  view
taken by a three Judge Bench of this Court in Tej Prakash  Pathak  and  Ors.
v. Rajasthan High Court and Ors. (2013) 4 SCC 540. In this  case,  the  then
Chief  Justice  of  the  concerned  High  Court  ordered  that   examination
conducted  for  the  posts  of  ‘Translators’  be  treated  as   competitive
examination and only those candidates who secured a minimum of 75% marks  be
selected to fill up the posts in questions. In view of the decision  of  the
Chief Justice, only three candidates were found  suitable  for  appointment.
This triggered the litigation.  It was observed  that  there  is  difference
between altering the basic eligibility criteria in the mid  of  the  process
of selection and altering the mere procedure of selection.

37.   The State Government cannot be  faulted  for  altering  the  selection
criteria by relaxing 5% marks in favour of reserved category candidates.  In
Tej  Prakash  (supra)  the  alteration  in  procedure  in  effect   led   to
elimination of selected candidates, still the Court refrained  from  finding
fault with such an alteration, as it was done in  public  interest.  In  the
present case, the relaxation afforded to the  reserved  category  candidates
has in no way eliminated the appellants from the selection  process;  rather
a  fair  opportunity  has  been  provided  to  other  candidates   who   can
legitimately compete with the appellants herein.
Point No.4: Challenge to G.O. Ms. No.71 dated 30.05.2014?
38.   The appellants have also challenged G.O.Ms. 71, which  was  issued  by
the respondents pursuant to the decision of the Single  Judge  of  the  High
Court. As already  noted  before,  the  Single  Judge  while  declining  the
challenge to G.O.Ms. No. 252 and G.O.Ms. No. 25 had set  aside  the  grading
system adopted by the Government vide G.O.Ms.  No.  252.  The  Single  Judge
observed  that  the  grading  system  adopted  in  G.O.Ms.  No.  252   lacks
rationality  as  it  places  candidates  with  the  difference  of  1  to  9
percentage  in  the  same  basket.  Accordingly,  vide  G.O.Ms.No.  71   the
Government came up with the grading methodology as indicated supra  in  para
No 10.    The appellants have not only challenged  the  new  grading  system
introduced by G.O. No. 71;  but they have also challenged the  weightage  of
marks of 40% earmarked for academic  performance.  It  is  their  contention
that the Government has blindly accepted the recommendation of Single  Judge
without application of mind.
39.   As it is evident from the records, distribution of marks for  academic
performance and TET fixed by the respondents vide G.O. No. 252 continues  to
be the same even after issuing of G.O. No. 71. That  is,  for  the  post  of
secondary grade teachers weightage of marks obtained in  H.Sc.  examination,
D.T.Ed./D.E.Ed and TET was 15 marks, 25 marks and 60 marks respectively  and
it  continues  to  be  the  same.   Similarly,  for  the  post  of  Graduate
Assistants  weightage  of  marks  obtained  in  H.Sc.  examination,   Degree
Examination, B.Ed and TET was 10 marks, 15 marks, 15 marks and 60 marks  and
it also continued to be the same. In such circumstances, we  hold  that  the
Madras High Court has correctly held that it is not open to  the  appellants
to challenge the weightage of marks. The TET  conducted  on  17.08.2013  and
18.08.2013  was  pursuant  to  the  issuing  of  G.O.Ms.No.252  fixing   the
weightage for the marks in the  basic  qualification  itself  in  which  the
appellants have participated. Thus, it is not  open  to  the  appellants  to
challenge the said procedure adopted by the respondents  after  writing  the
examination.

40.   The second aspect of challenge relates to the grading  system  adopted
by the respondents. The respondents have acted as per the directions of  the
Single Judge of the High Court. The  Single  Judge  in  his  judgment  dated
29.04.2014  while  declaring  the  slab  system  irrational,   suggested   a
scientific rational method for award of weightage marks  with  reference  to
actual marks secured by each candidate in H.Sc./D.T.Ed./D.E.Ed/B.Ed/TET  for
Secondary Grade Teachers/  Graduate  Assistants  as  the  case  may  be  and
accordingly make  selections.   This  was  accepted  by  the  government  in
G.O.(Ms.) No.71 dated 30.05.2014 and the respondents have thus come up  with
the present awarding of weightage  marks  with  reference  to  actual  marks
secured by each candidate which is more scientific and  appropriate  and  as
compared to the previous grading system contained in G.O. No. 252 which  had
put candidates obtaining 1-9% marks on the same footing.

41.   The appellants have maintained that while prescribing  the  marks  for
performance in Higher Secondary Examination, the respondents have failed  to
take into account different  Education  Boards  (CBSE,  ICSE,  State  Boards
etc.) conducting Higher Secondary Examination and difference in their  marks
awarding patterns. As also, the appellants  have  alleged  that  respondents
failed to consider different streams  of  education  while  formulating  the
grading pattern.  It is submitted that  unless  and  until  the  respondents
take note of difference in marking scheme of Education boards, as  also  the
marking scheme of different streams such  as  Arts,  Science  etc.  a  valid
grading   system   cannot   be   formulated.    Equivalence   of    academic
qualifications is a matter for experts and courts normally do not  interfere
with the decisions of the Government based on  the  recommendations  of  the
experts (vide University of Mysore v. CD Govinda Rao (1964) 4  SCR  575  and
Mohd. Sujat Ali v. Union of India (1975) 3 SCC 76).  We hold that it is  the
prerogative of State-Authorities to formulate  a  system  whereby  weightage
marks is decided with reference to actual marks secured by  each  candidate.
In the present case, as no arbitrariness  is  proved  on  the  part  of  the
respondents, in formulating the grading system we cannot interfere with  the
same. We cannot be expected  to  go  into  every  minute  technicalities  of
decision taken by the experts and perform the job of  the  respondent-State.
Moreover, the High Court has also noted that submission of learned  Advocate
General that almost all the appellants have completed their  High  Secondary
examination from the State Boards.

42.   The contention that different Boards  of  Examination  have  different
standards and the examiners who evaluate the  scripts  are  in  some  places
more  liberal  than  others   and   that   the   candidates   who   acquired
qualifications decades back had to suffer strict evaluation as  compared  to
the candidates  who  have  qualified  in  the  recent  past  facing  liberal
evaluation criteria,  are all hypothetical arguments  without  any  pleading
and supporting material disclosed in the Writ Petitions. As  noted  earlier,
weightage of marks for academic performance and  TET  fixed  vide  G.O.(Ms.)
No.252 dated  05.10.2012  continues  to  be  the  same  even  after  issuing
G.O.(Ms.)No.71 dated 30.05.2014.  Having taken up  the  examination  as  per
G.O.(Ms.) No.252,  the appellants cannot challenge the  award  of  weightage
for the distribution of marks for academic  performance  with  reference  to
actual marks secured by each candidate. The appellants  are  not   justified
in challenging every rational decision taken by the respondents to make  the
selection process more fair and reasonable merely because the  outcome  does
not favour the limited individual interests of the appellants.

43.   The Madras High Court rightly  rejected  the  challenge  to  G.O.(Ms.)
No.25 dated  06.02.2014 and G.O.(Ms.)No. 71 dated 30.05.2014,  holding  that
as per the NCTE Guidelines, the State Government  has  the  power  to  grant
relaxation on the marks obtained in the TET for the candidates belonging  to
reserved category and the same is affirmed.  The Madurai Bench did not  keep
in view the NCTE Guidelines and the power of the State Government  to  grant
relaxation in  terms  of  their  extant  reservation  policy  and  erred  in
quashing G.O.(Ms.) No.25 dated 06.02.2014 and hence the same  is  liable  to
be set aside.

44.   The appeals filed by the State Government  are,  accordingly,  allowed
and the impugned judgment of the Madurai Bench is set aside.   The  impugned
judgment of the Madras Bench of the High  Court  is  affirmed  and  all  the
appeals preferred by the unsuccessful candidates are dismissed.



                                                             ...……………………….J.
                             [SHIVA KIRTI SINGH]


                                                              .………………………..J.
    [R. BANUMATHI]
New Delhi;
November 9, 2016


-----------------------
|Qualifyin|Weightage  |Percentage of marks|Marks assigned|
|g        |of marks   |obtained in the    |              |
|Examinati|           |qualifying         |              |
|on       |           |examination        |              |
|H. Sc.   |15         |P%                 |P x 15        |
|         |           |                   |100           |
|D.T.Ed.,/|25         |Q%                 |Q x 25        |
|D.E.Ed., |           |                   |100           |
|TET      |60         |R%                 |R x 60        |
|         |           |                   |100           |
|Total    |100        |                   |xxxxx         |








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