The Kerala High Court on Monday ruled that rejection of candidature of a person from Other Backward Class (OBC) category only on the ground of delayed submission of Other Backward Class-Non Creamy Layer (OBC-NCL) certificate will be violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution (Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Vs. Dr. Smitha VS)..The Court, therefore, issued directions to the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) to reconsider the candidature of a person who had applied for the post of Technical Assistant, Chemistry in the OBC category. “Rejection of the candidature of the respondent from the OBC category on the mere ground of belated submission of the relevant OBC-NCL certificate will only result in virtually throwing out a meritorious candidate with extensive research experience, in the facts and circumstances of this case. This will only lead to a situation where the rights and opportunities guaranteed to the respondent under Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India will be flagrantly violated,” the Court ruled..The judgment was passed by a Division Bench of Justices Alexander Thomas and K Babu on petition filed by IISER challenging an earlier order by a single-judge Bench. The single-judge had rejected the contentions of the appellant-institute and directed them to accept the respondent’s certificate and treat her as eligible and include her in the select list under the OBC-NCL resevation within two weeks..By way of background, the respondent, Dr. Smitha VS, a post graduate with Ph.D in Chemistry, was working as Research Associate in Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). She had applied for the post of Technical Assistant, Chemistry in response to the notification issued by the appellant, IISER. One vacancy each was notified in General category, OBC and Scheduled Caste category. At the time of submitting her application, she had included an OBC-NCL certificate from the previous year. When the results were published, Dr. Smitha was ranked second in the General category and no one was listed under the OBC-NCL category. She submitted a request to the IISER to consider her under the OBC-NCL category and produced the relevant certificates thereafter. She also submitted that she was unable to produce the certificate of the current year at the time of application since she was pregnant at the relevant time..Advocate Sumathy Dandapani, appearing for the appellant institute, submitted that as per condition No.10 in the selection notification, a candidate, who fails to produced a non-creamy layer certificate for the relevant financial year at the time of submitting application, would not be eligible to be considered under the OBC category. Dandapani also contended that Dr. Smitha had failed to state any reason for not submitting the certificate at the time of application. .Advocate Aravindakashan Pillay, appearing for Dr. Smitha, argued that the four steps covered by Clause 26 as well as Clause 10 of selection notification read with norms of the Union government clearly showed that OBC-NCL certificate need not be produced along with submission of the application and can be produced later and hence the present objections of the appellants are untenable in the facts of this case..The Division Bench observed after reading the relevant clauses of the selection notification that what was directed to be attached along with the hard copy of the application were certificates to prove educational qualification, experience and community. Therefore, it was not necessary to include OBC-NCL certificate at the time of submitting the application, the Court said. .The Court also noted that Clause 10 of the selection notification stipulated that the norms issued by the Government of India would be applicable in the instant case. The Court opined that from a reading of the government norms with regard to the relevant topic pursuant to the decision of the Supreme Court in Union of India v. Abdul Rasheed, it was clear that non production of OBC-NCL certificate along with the application before the last date, cannot be a ground to summarily reject the application, at the threshold, where the candidate had claimed reservation benefit in the application..The Division Bench, therefore, ruled that the order and directions rendered by the single-judge Bench need not be interfered with and rejected the appeal.