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M.A(Education)& M.Ed are Postgraduate degrees:matters of education must be left to educationists- SC

Anand Yadav and Ors v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2850 OF 2020, October 12, 2020

The case was argued before Hon’ble Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Hon’ble Justice Aniruddha Bose and Hon’ble Justice Krishna Murari. The facts of the present case are that there was conflict between the candidates who has M.A degree and M.Ed degree for appointment in the post of Assistant Professor. The origination of the dispute is Advertisement No. 46, which was issued by respondent No. 2, the Uttar Pradesh Higher Education Service Selection Commission in March, 2014 for appointing Assistant Professors of various subjects including Education. There were certain issues regarding qualifications and a four member expert panel was set up by respondent 2 to deal with the issue of would an M.Ed. degree be treated as an equivalent degree to M.A. (Education) for the purposes of appointment to the post of Assistant Professor, and even if it was treated as an equivalent, could it be said that an M.Ed. is a post-graduation in the relevant subject. After a series of events a petition was filed before the Division Bench of Allahabad.

The Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court reached the conclusion that M.A. (Education) is a master’s degree in the subject concerned, M.Ed. is only a training qualification. The conclusion reached was that a M.Ed. qualified person could not be appointed to the post of Assistant Professor in Education. Thus the persons aggrieved by this conclusion has filed a Special Leave Petition in Supreme Court.

The learned council for the appellant argued that the candidates possessing M.Ed. qualification are eligible for appointment and whether M.A. (Education) and M.Ed. are equivalent is irrelevant for this case and UGC has issued notification stating that that equivalence of degrees is decided by the employing organization and in the present case, respondent No. 2 being the employing organization, sought the opinion of the expert panel, and thereafter took a decision, which was impugned in the writ petition, permitting M.Ed. degree as an eligible qualification for appointment. Thus, the correctness of such a decision, based on the view of experts, ought not to be questioned or gone into in judicial review.

The candidates with either a M.Ed. or an M.A. (Education) qualification had to take a common test for the purposes of obtaining the NET certificate and the successful candidates are not distinguished on the basis of their degree. Since the passing of NET or equivalent is mandatory, all candidates who have passed NET are eligible for appointment. The learned council also argued that the judicial review has no place to determine the ambit and equivalence of qualification and, thus, even assuming that an M.Ed. degree is not equivalent to M.A. (Education) degree, that is something to be left to the experts and the employing authority. The learned council relied on Zahoor Ahmad Rather & Ors. v. Sheikh Imtiyaz Ahmad & Ors. (2019) 2 SCC 404.

The learned council for the respondents argued that there have been judicial pronouncements of various High Courts to the effect that M.A. (Education) and M.Ed. are different courses. An earlier observation of the Allahabad High Court in Writ-A No.65853/2015 decided on 14.3.2016 was referred to where Section 27 of the Uttar Pradesh State Universities Act, 1973 was discussed. This required each faculty to comprise such subjects of teaching as may be prescribed. The Section emphasized how each faculty is a different cadre in itself and there cannot be an interchange of any faculty member from one faculty to another.

NCTE in an RTI reply stated that M.A. (Education) is a post graduate degree to teach at the college level whereas M.Ed. is only a professional degree for teaching in school. The learned councils also argued that the advertisement No. 47 of 2016 was in respect of 100 seats in Education (Arts Faculty) and in these vacancies, there were no seats for B.Ed. (Teacher Training Faculty). Further, in terms of Section 22 of the UGC Act, the post graduate degree for B.A. is M.A. and for B.Ed. is M.Ed., since both degrees are distinct, thus the appellants are not qualified for the post in question.

The Court reasoned that the employer ultimately being the best judge of who should be appointed. The choice was of respondent No. 2. who sought the assistance of an expert committee in view of the representation of some of the appellants.. That committee, after examination, opined in favor of the stand taken by the appellants, and respondent No. 2 as employer decided to concur with the same and accepted the committee’s opinion and to add to that it is not our view that an employer like respondent No. 2 can do as they please - they are guided and bound by the terms of the UGC Act and the regulations there under. Court also reasoned that the main reason for confusion is that in the previous writ petitions UGC and NCTE were not made party and they are very vital with regards to this case.

The Court held that,

Without looking into the real ratio decidendi, a judgment is followed as a precedent. This is what appears to have happened in the impugned order. There are even some other judgments of the High Courts, which in turn were then sought to be relied upon to canvas a proposition that there is a widespread acceptance of M.Ed. not being equivalent to M.A. (Education). That they are two different degrees is obvious; this is even recognized by the NCTE while emphasizing the subtle distinction between the two degrees as one being a master’s degree but not a professional degree, while the other being a professional degree. The issue of equivalence only arises when there are two different degrees and what is to be decided whether for certain purposes they can be treated as equivalent. This is exactly what has happened as a result of the respective expert committees set up by respondent Nos. 2 & 5. The employer, i.e., respondent No. 2, had accepted the recommendation of the expert committee. The UGC has also taken a stand that insofar as the two degrees are concerned, both are post graduate degrees, and the equivalence authority being respondent No.5 has also opined on the basis of an expert committee, that the two can be treated as equivalent for the post of Assistant Professor in Education. “(Para 36)

“The impugned judgment is not sustainable and has to be set aside, and the challenge to the corrigendum dated 11.7.2016 is repelled. The result having already been computed and awaiting declaration should now be declared forthwith so that persons looking for employment, as per the requisite eligibility criteria, can be employed”(Para 37)

The appeal is accordingly allowed.




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