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The Bombay High Court on Sunday declined relief to 10 persons employed with an ammunition factory in Maharashtra who missed the application deadline to appear in a recruitment exam scheduled on October 5.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice G S Kulkarni conducted a rare Sunday morning hearing since the petitioners expressed an urgency.

The bench, however, noted that since the petitioners did not meet the eligibility criteria, it could not help them.

The petitioners, Mahesh Balke and nine others, all skilled staff of an ammunition factory in the state, had applied for the post of chargeman (technical) issued by the Ordnance Factory Board in May this year.

As per the recruitment notice, the last date for submitting applications was June 15 this year, and applicants should have completed their diplomas in mechanical and civil engineering by the last date of applying.

The petitioners said they were all students of such diploma courses in various colleges affiliated with the AICTE.

Their final exams of the courses were to be held in AprilMay 2020 and their pass certificates were to be issued by June. However, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the final exams were deferred and are yet to be held.

They approached the Central Administrative Tribunal seeking that they be allowed to take the exams for recruitment as chargemen, pending their diploma course final exams.

The, tribunal, however, refused any relief last month.

Hence, they approached the HC, seeking that they be permitted to write the recruitment exams, since their diploma course exams had been deferred for no fault of theirs.

The high court, however, noted that the petitioners should have challenged the recruitment notification and its eligibility criteria.

Had they challenged the fact that final year students were not permitted to apply pending their pass certificates, the HC could have looked into the issue, the court said.

However, an SC judgement existed that said if a candidate did not meet the eligibility criteria on the last date of application, which in the present case was June 15, a prospective employer was not obliged to entertain the applicant, it said.

"We are fully sympathetic to your case as you have said in your petition that this job opportunity comes only once in four years. But an SC judgment stares us in our face," Chief Justice Datta said.

In conducting the hearing on Sunday, Chief Justice Datta said doors of the court were open 24 hours a day if an urgency arose.

Justice Kulkarni added that the last time the HC conducted a hearing on a Sunday was in 2013.

A bench of Justices S J Vazifdar and K R Sriram conducted a day-long hearing in an examination-related matter at that time.

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Free Press Journal