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Inter Se Suitability

In English parlance, the word “suitable” is assigned the meaning as “appropriate, fitted for the purpose or acceptable”. Concise Oxford Dictionary defines the word “suitable” as “well fitted for the purpose; appropriate”. This ordinary meaning is to be given effect to as a general guide, unless this expression is given special meaning in a statute or rule in administrative instructions. In R. (Quintavalle) v. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, (2005) 2 AC 561 : (2005) 2 WLR 1061 : 2005 UKHL 28, the House of Lords remarked that “the word “suitability” is an empty vessel which is filled with meaning by context and background”.

In service jurisprudence, where the word “suitable” is normally examined from the point of view as to whether a particular person is suitable to hold a particular post, it is construed as “fit” to hold that post. It would mean that the job profile and job requirement of a particular post would be seen and then, going by the calibre, competence, attributes, skill and experience of the candidate, it would be ascertained as to whether such a person would be able to discharge the duties of the post i.e. whether he is suited to carry out the functions of the post, to the satisfaction of his employer.

The prefix “inter se” has also to be given some meaning as it cannot be rendered otiose. Therefore, whereas while assessing “suitability”, it has to be seen that a particular officer is not unfit for the post, when it comes to “inter se suitability”, it has reference to assessing the suitability of all eligible officers and thereafter finding who is more suitable to occupy such a post. Union of India v. Manomoy Ganguly, (2018) 9 SCC 65.

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