Supreme Court: Employer Can Reject Over-qualified Candidates For Jobs

An employer can reject applications of candidates considered overqualified for a job, the Supreme Court has held, overturning a verdict of the Odisha High Court that allowed a graduate to be employed as a peon in Punjab National Bank.

The bank had filed an appeal in the apex court against the High Court verdict on November 22, 2019, allowing an overqualified candidate to be appointed a peon.

A Supreme Court bench led by justice Ashok Bhushan said courts have limited judicial review over such decisions by employers. It said the discretion lies with the employer and that prescription of qualifications for a post is a matter of the employer’s recruitment policy, The Hindu reported.

“It is for the employer to determine and decide the relevancy and suitability of the qualifications for any post, and it is not for the courts to consider and assess,” Justice M.R. Shah said.

“There is a rationale behind it… Qualifications are prescribed keeping in view the need and interest of an institution or an industry or an establishment as the case may be. The courts are not fit instruments to assess expediency or advisability or utility of such prescription of qualifications,” the Supreme Court order said.

It said courts allow a “greater latitude” for employers to prescribe the necessary qualification for a post.

The Supreme Court observed that the candidate had not disclosed that he was a graduate on purpose. It was known only later. Also, the prescribed qualification for the job was Class 12 pass. The bank had a specific rule against appointing a graduate as peon.

“In the present case, prescribing the eligibility criteria/educational qualification that a graduate candidate shall not be eligible and the candidate must have passed 12th standard is justified. It was a conscious decision taken by the bank in force since 2008. Therefore, the High Court has clearly erred,” the Supreme Court observed.

It, however, noted that an employer cannot act arbitrarily in prescribing qualifications for posts.

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