A group of Higher National Diploma holders from the Northern province who filed a fundamental rights petition seeking justice for being deprived of appointments as graduate trainees yesterday withdrew their petition after the Supreme Court recommended that all petitioners be accepted as graduate trainees, provided they fulfil other necessary requirements.
The petition was submitted by a group of 228 petitioners on July 31, 2012. Although they all held HNDs – a qualification that was consistently recognized as an equivalent to a university degree to enter the public service – they were prevented from applying for the post of graduate trainees, although similarly qualified individuals were recruited into the public service as graduate trainees.
When the case was taken up on September 29, 2014, the Senior state counsel representing the Attorney General’s Department informed the Court that a settlement was under consideration but that several would be ineligible to enter the public service as a result of a policy decision to accept applicants who were only below 35 years.
The same fact was mentioned once again before the Court yesterday in order to reach a settlement. The State counsel informed Court that only 213 petitioners have been accepted into the public service as graduate trainees due to the age restriction.
This argument was however countered by the Counsel representing the petitioners who referred to a circular issued by the Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Public administration and home affairs in May, 2013 that instructed all District Secretaries to accept applications of all those aged between 35 – 45 years for the graduate trainee positions.
Based on that fact the Counsel informed that the petitioners who currently remained ineligible were entitled to have their appointments and that all the petitioners were entitled to have their permanent appointments backdated to July 2013.