New Delhi: Socially backward candidates like Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes cannot be granted age relaxation in jobs if the statutory rules do not provide for such benefits, the Supreme Court has ruled.

A bench of justices J M Panchal and H L Gokhale said if rules do not allow age relaxation, courts are not empowered to give direction for relaxing it.

"If there is no age relaxation in the rules, the same cannot be brought in by any judicial interpretation. In the circumstances we do not find any error in the judgement of the Single Judge or that of the Division Bench," the apex court said.

The apex court passed the judgement while dismissing the appeal filed by Jamaluddin, an ad hoc Munsif in Jammu & Kashmir.

The bench, however, asked the high court to consider on the administrative side relaxing the rule since such an age relaxation is provided for in the State's higher judicial services.

He was appointed as an ad hoc Munsif in the Jammu & Kashmir Judicial Service on August 13, 2001. Subsequently, he applied for the post of Munsif in the ST category when a notification was issued by the J&K Public Service Commission on December 4, 2001 for regular appointments.

The notification required the person to be of not more than 35 years of age as on January one of the year in which the notification was issued.

Jamaluddin's application was rejected as he was over aged by 11 months.

A single judge of the J&K High Court upheld the Commission's decision and the Division Bench affirmed it, upon which he appealed in the apex court.

Jamaluddin's contention was that the age limit for entering into government service was upto 38 years for SC, STs, therefore his application should have been accepted. He also pointed out that similar age relaxation was granted for entry into the higher judicial service.

The State, however, defended the rule saying the age group for the higher judicial service from the general category was 35 to 45 years, but for SC, STs and OBCs a relaxation in age of two years was permissible as candidates from these categories were not easily available for the Higher Judicial Services.

"We quite appreciate the submission made on behalf of the appellant, and we quite see that there is some kind of anomaly in the sense that there is no age relaxation at the level of Munsifs, though it is so provided at the level of entry into the Higher Judicial Service," the bench said.

It, however, hastened to add that the high court should consider relaxing the rule for the Munsif posts too on the lines of the higher judicial service.

"Although, we are not inclined to interfere with the order passed by the high court on the judicial side, we do feel that the high court on its administrative side should examine the issue as to whether age relaxation should be provided to the candidates belonging to SC, ST and OBCs appearing for the Judicial Service Examination at the Munsif level as is provided to the candidates appearing for the Higher Judicial Service Examination.

 "We hope that this will be done without much delay," the bench said.

(Agencies)