A Fundamental Rights application by 228 petitioners from the Northern Province was taken up in the Supreme Court today (January 30, 2014). The petitioners have stated in their petition that they hold a Higher National Diploma, which is a qualification that the state has consistently recognized as equivalent to a university degree for the purpose of entering the public service. However, according to their petition, these diploma holders have been prevented from applying for the post of graduate trainee in the public service. The petitioners have also alleged in their petition that similarly placed diploma holders from other provinces have been recruited into the public service as graduate trainees. The petition names the Minister of Public Administration & Home Affairs and the members of the Public Service Commission, amongst others, as respondents.
The case was fixed for hearing on December 20, 2013 before the Supreme Court. On that occasion, the Attorney General’s Department filed a motion stating that the relevant Minister had submitted a Cabinet Memorandum that proposed to grant relief to the diploma holders. It was claimed that this Memorandum may have an impact on the petitioners as well. On that basis, the Senior State Counsel asked the Court to postpone the case, as there was a possibility of a settlement. However, no copy of this Memorandum was submitted to Court. The matter was taken off the argument list and fixed before Court on January 30, 2014.
On January 30, 2014 (today), State Counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents informed the Court, presided by Justice K. Sripavan, that the Cabinet Memorandum did not apply to the petitioners, and that it only applied to diploma holders from other provinces. Once again, the Cabinet Memorandum was not submitted to Court. Counsel appearing for the petitioners thereafter made an application to Court requesting an order compelling the respondents to produce the Memorandum. However, this application was refused. The matter is now re-fixed for hearing on September 29, 2014. An application to have the matter heard sooner was also refused. The petition was originally filed on July 31, 2012.
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