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Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ and Alok Kumar Verma, JJ., entertained a writ petition where the issue was related to a prescription of the maximum age advertised by the Public Service Commission inviting application to fill up 46 posts of Assistant Conservator of Forest.

In the instant petition, the advertisement issued by PSC was challenged, the petitioner was 42 years of age and alleged that he was more than a year before the cut-off date prescribed in the advertisement. Bhagwat Mehra, counsel for the petitioner, submitted that since a requisition was issued by the State Government to fill up 46 posts and the inordinate delay in issuing the advertisement was solely on account of the lethargy exhibited by the Public Service Commission, the stipulation of the maximum age limit should be reckoned from the recruitment year in which the State Government had called upon the Public Service Commission to initiate the process of selection. Counsel relied on Sanjeev Kumar Sahay and others v. State of Jharkhand High Court, 2008 3 JCR 267. 

While it does appear that the initial requisition made by the State Government to the Public Service Commission was in 2014 and, if the Public Service Commission had issued the advertisement soon thereafter, the petitioner would have been eligible, the question which necessitates examination was not why the Public Service Commission had delayed initiating the process of recruitment, but whether it was permissible for the Public Service Commission to prescribe an anterior date, instead of  2019, for reckoning both the minimum and the maximum age limit.

The Court observed that Rule 10 of the Uttar Pradesh Forest Services Rule, 1993 was amended related to age. Thereunder, a candidate for direct recruitment must have attained the age of 21 years and must not have attained the age of more than 42 years on the first day of July of the calendar year in which vacancies for direct recruitment are advertised by the Commission. It was unnecessary for us to refer to the proviso, since the petitioner admittedly belonged to the General Category and not to any reserved category. The requirement of Rule 10 was to reckon the maximum age limit on the first day of July of the calendar year in which vacancies for direct recruitment are advertised by the Commission.

It was further noted that admittedly, the petitioner does not fulfill the requirement of being below 42 years age on 01-07-2019 since he had completed 42 years of age more than a year prior thereto on 09.05.2018 itself. Court didn’t rely on the judgment of Sanjeev Kumar, Court further held that “Rule 4(M) therein made those persons eligible, who were eligible in the recruitment year in which the process of recruitment was initiated by the appointing authority.”

Court also stated that in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India had not taken upon its task of prescribing a cut-off date other than what was stipulated in the Rules made under the proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution. Court observed that learned counsel for the petitioner relied on Rule 28 which conferred power on the State Government to relax the rigor of the Rules and any such request, for relaxation under Rule 28, can only be addressed to the State Government and not to the Court. Hence, the Court found that it was unnecessary to dwell on the issue since Rule 10 categorically stipulates that the cutoff dates for prescribing the minimum and maximum age limit were the 1st July of the calendar year in which the vacancies in the post were advertised. [Ashutosh Bhatt v. Uttarakhand PSC, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 897, decided on 23-08-2019]