Delhi HC rejects PIL against CLAT PG score requirement for induction as JAG in army

The petition said bringing CLAT PG as a requisite mandate infringed upon the rights of the candidates who did not register themselves for the LLM entrance.

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Delhi HC said prescribing educational qualifications was not within the domain of the court. (Image: Delhi High Court official website)Delhi HC said prescribing educational qualifications was not within the domain of the court. (Image: Delhi High Court official website)

Press Trust of India | November 28, 2023 | 07:04 PM IST

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday rejected a PIL against an Indian Army advertisement mandating CLAT-PG 2023 score as an eligibility qualification for induction of law graduates into the Judge Advocate General Branch (JAG) branch.

A bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Manmohan observed that prescribing educational qualifications was not within the domain of the court and it cannot interfere with the requirement of CLAT-PG score when this was present even in earlier advertisements.

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The court further said that the issue was not fit to be agitated in the form of a public interest litigation and the aggrieved persons were free to approach it in case of any grievance. "They made it an essential eligibility criteria. This is an army matter. Public interest is not meant for this. This is not a fit case for PIL," said the bench, also comprising Justice Mini Pushkarna. "Dismissed please," it said.

Counsel for the petitioner argued that there was basis to justify the requirement of CLAT-PG score, which governs admission to LLM courses in National Law Universities, even when it plays no role in the selection procedure. Petitioner Shubham Chopra argued in his petition that the advertised notification for induction of army officers under JAG Cadre through "JAG ENTRY SCHEME 33rd COURSE (Oct 2024)" was arbitrary, unjustified, unconstitutional and violative of provisions of the Constitution of India.

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JAG selection process

The petition said bringing CLAT PG 2023 as a requisite mandate infringed upon the rights of the candidates who did not register themselves for the LLM entrance and are now ineligible in spite of holding a valid graduate degree in law. "The Respondent vide the Impugned Notification has made CLAT PG 2023 score a mandatory Eligibility Qualification under Provision 2(c), retrospectively, however, the Impugned Notification was published on 30.10.2023.

"That, CLAT PG 2023 applications were closed on 18.11.2022, around 345 days prior to the Impugned Notification published by the Respondent," the petition filed through lawyer Prashant Vaxish said. "It is pertinent to note that no candidate willing to apply for JAG 33 can go back 345 days in time to fill the application for CLAT PG 2023 to make himself eligible to apply for JAG 33.

Therefore, Provision 2(c) along with Note 2 and Provision 9 are arbitrary, unjustified, and unconstitutional and the same should be struck down for being ultra vires," it added.

The petition further said that authorities have categorically stated that the selection of the candidates for Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the SSB, in which the SSB interview marks would be the qualifying marks for the merit list, shall be at the discretion of the deputed officer at integrated HQ of MoD (Army).

"The CLAT PG 2023 score holds no merit in the selection procedure, neither at the stage of selecting the candidates for SSB nor at the time of preparation of the merit list after the SSB interview for appointments. "Therefore, the CLAT PG 2023 is an entirely unnecessary and unwarranted hurdle being cast by the Respondent merely in a mechanical manner without bringing any reasonableness to it," the plea contended.

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