Jammu and Kashmir High Court has ruled that qualification of Bachelor of Pharmacy (B Pharmacy) is neither the higher degree for Diploma in Pharmacy nor is Diploma in Pharmacy the lower course prerequisite for B Pharmacy.
Underlying that the two courses are entirely different and distinct from each other, a division bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey and Justice Rajnesh Oswal set aside its single bench judgment which had directed the Service Selection Board to reframe a list vis-à-vis the candidates who were possessing B Pharmacy degree as "higher qualification" . "They could not be treated as ineligible," the court had said.
The SSB in 2013 had notified 07 posts of Junior Pharmacist, which included 04 Open Merit posts, in District Cadre Kulgam. The required qualification for the post was prescribed as 10+2 with Diploma in Pharmacy from a recognized Institute or State Medical Faculty or any Institute recognized by Government.
Some candidates possessing B Pharmacy degree also participated in the written test and were shortlisted. They were provisionally allowed to participate in the interview subject to B Pharmacy being the Degree relevant to the eligibility criteria.
Meanwhile the Secretary SSB addressed a communication to the Secretary Health and Medical Education Department, seeking clarification whether the candidates with B. Pharmacy degree could be considered for the post of Junior Pharmacist.
In response to the communication, the Board was eventually informed that the Degree of B Pharmacy was not included in the recruitment rules for appointment as Medical Assistant (now Pharmacist). Consequently, the Board selected four candidates as junior pharmacists.
The two candidates possessing B Pharmacy who figured in the merit list petitioned court seeking quashing of the Select List. The single Bench while allowing the writ petition declared the petitioners eligible for the post and directed the SSB to reframe list vis-à-vis four posts of Junior Pharmacist under Open Merit.
Against the single bench order, the SSB and the selected candidates filed separate appeals and contested the writ petition, principally on the ground that B Pharmacy was not the qualification prescribed by the rules for the post of Junior Pharmacist.
Citing some Supreme Court judgments, the court said, "The State as employer is entitled to prescribe qualifications as a condition of eligibility after taking into consideration nature of job, aptitudes required for efficient discharge of duties, functionality of qualifications, course content leading up to acquisition of qualification".
Pointing out that the qualification for the post as prescribed by Rules framed by the Government was 10+2 with Diploma in Pharmacy, the court said: "Neither of the writ petitioners possessed the diploma in Pharmacy"
These Rules, the court said, do not contain any provision stating that B. Pharmacy was equivalent to Diploma in Pharmacy or that B. Pharmacy presupposes acquisition of Diploma in Pharmacy.
"In these circumstances, we are of the view that this Court does not have the power to substitute the Government's policy or decision in this regard by its own opinion or view or to add to the Rules what is not contained therein, the court said.
The court held that participation of the writ petitioners in the written test and interview or the fact that their names had figured in merit list would not alter the situation and make them eligible for the post.