Setting aside an order of the Haryana Police Housing Corporation (HPHC) which promoted an employee to the post of executive engineer who had obtained the degree of civil engineering through distance education mode, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has said, “A person who has not physically attended the classes/course and has not undertaken practical training cannot be said to be an engineer.”
The bench of Justice Anupinder Singh Grewal said, “It is difficult to accept that an engineering degree through distance mode of education would be at par with a course undertaken through physical mode. In the study of engineering, theoretical concepts are taught which are then put in practice through practical training. A person who has not physically attended the classes/course and has not undertaken practical training cannot be said to be an engineer. If we accept such degrees obtained through distant learning, the day is not far when there will be MBBS courses being conducted through distant mode of learning which would have disastrous consequences.”
“I shudder to think whether any patient would like to be treated by a doctor who has obtained MBBS degree through distant learning. The functions of engineers are of significant importance as they are involved in building the nation’s infrastructure, and any laxity/incompetence due to lack of knowledge would not only endanger the precious lives of citizens but also cost the state exchequer dearly.” The bench was hearing the petition filed by Naresh Kumar and another seeking to set aside the order dated November 18, 2019, whereby Vinod Rawal was promoted to the post of executive engineer (civil).
The petitioners, through counsel Anurag Goyal, argued that Rawal was promoted as executive engineer in violation of Section 6(a) (proviso) of Haryana Service of Engineers, Group-A, Public Works (Building and Roads) Department Act, 2010, wherein it is stipulated that a person, who has obtained a degree of civil engineering through distance
education mode will not be eligible for promotion.
Rawal had obtained the degree in engineering through distance education from JRN Rajasthan Vidyapeeth University, which is not recognised by UGC and AICTE, the petitioner’s counsel contended. The counsel for Rawal, however, in reply contended that Rawal had qualified in the AICTE examination which was conducted in pursuance to the directions of the Supreme Court in Orissa Lift Irrigation Corporation versus Rabi Sankar Patro and others (2018) and therefore, the degree was valid. Also, Rawal in the course of these proceedings has now retired and therefore, the benefits which had already been granted to him by way of promotion to the post of executive engineer (civil) should not be taken away at this stage. Justice Grewal – after perusing Sections 6 and 9 of the 2010 Act and citing judgments of the Supreme Court – held, “Respondent No. 3 (Rawal) is not qualified for entry into Group A service or promotion to the post of executive engineer as it has been specified in Section 6 of the 2010 Act that no degree obtained through distance learning would be acceptable for appointment to the Group A service. The 2010 Act is stated to be under challenge but it has not been set aside. There is no interim order staying the operation of the Act. The Act is in force as on date and Respondent No. 3 does not possess the requisite qualification for promotion to the post of executive engineer.”