Sanjeev Kaushik, Member (J).
1. Challenge in this Original Application is to a decision dated 17.01.2011 (Annexure A-21) of the Governing Body whereby the request of the applicants for condoning delay of 25 days in eligibility for promotion under the Assessment Promotion Scheme, has been rejected. Further a direction to the respondents has also been sought to condone the delay of 25 days in issuance of appointment letters as Assistant Professors on regular basis solely on account of non-convening of the meeting of the Governing Body for ratification of the recommendations dated 21.04.2011 of the Standing Selection Committee.
2. The facts are not in dispute, therefore brief description thereof will be sufficient for adjudication of the matter. A conjunctive perusal of the pleadings makes it clear that the applicants were appointed as Associate Professors on ad hoc basis, pursuant to a selection conducted by a duly constituted Selection Committee. They were issued appointment letters as Associate Professors on ad hoc basis. Another advertisement was issued inviting applications for appointment as Assistant Professors on regular basis on 20.10.2000. As per clause 3 of the general conditions, candidates already in employment of Government/Semi Government/Corporate Body were required to sent their applications through their employer. The applicants being fully eligible, applied for the posts and accordingly they were subjected to interviews which were conducted between 16.04.2001 to 21.04.2001. The Standing Selection Committee of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (for brevity, PGIMER) forwarded their recommendations to the Governing Body for ratification so that appointment letters could be issued to the selected candidates, which were approved by the Governing Body on 25.07.2001 and accordingly appointment letters came to be issued on 26.07.2001. The next promotion is to the post of Associate Professor. As per the decision of the Government of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare dated 24.12.1991, an Assistant Professor with 04 years service is treated as eligible for the post of Associate Professor under the Assessment Promotion Scheme. A circular was issued by the PGIMER on 20.04.2007 inviting applications under the said Scheme. It is the case of the applicant that before issuance of the above circular the applicants had already made a representation to the respondent-department for counting their ad-hoc service towards eligibility for promotion to the post of Associate Professor. A grievance was also raised that since they were not issued appointment letters immediately after their being selected which was not their fault and as such they cannot be penalized for the inordinate delay in conducting the meeting of the Governing Body for reviving the recommendations of the Selection Committee for their appointments. They submitted a request in this behalf, which was turned down by the impugned order. The applicants have also alleged discrimination vis--vis the decision taken by the respondents at earlier point of time in respect of other colleagues of applicants who have been granted similar benefits as claimed in this O.A. Hence the Original Application.
3. Pursuant to the notice, the respondents resisted the claim of the applicants by filing a written statement wherein they supported the impugned order firstly on the ground that there is no provision under the rules which empowers the Governing Body to condone the delay of 25 days. On merits, it is submitted that the averments made by the applicants in the OA are totally false. The applicants were interviewed between 16.04.2011 to 21.04.2001, immediately thereafter the minutes of the Standing Selection Committee were forwarded to the Governing Body which approved it on 25.07.2001 and accordingly appointment letters were issued, therefore, there is no delay on their part and as such same does not give the applicants a right to allege discrimination or suggest in any way that the Governing Body having met as per the Regulation-13 of the PGIMER Regulations, 1967. It is also submitted that when the applicants completed the eligibility service, they were promoted as Associate Professors w.e.f. 1.7.2006.
4. The applicants have also filed replication wherein they contradicted the averments made by the respondents in the written statement.
5. We have heard Shri O.P. Sharda, learned counsel for the applicants and Shri D.R. Sharma, learned counsel for PGIMER.
6. Shri O.P. Sharda, vehemently argued that the impugned decision taken by the Governing Body is totally illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. He submitted that the decision shows non-application of mind because it will not affect the seniority of others and as such there was no hinderence in granting relevant benefit to them. Once similar benefit had already been granted to the similarly situated persons, the same cannot be denied to the applicants as it would violate articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. He also submitted that non-convening of the meeting of the Governing Body for ratification of the recommendations of the Standing Selection Committee for appointments of the applicants within a period of three months is contrary to Regulation-13 of the PGIMER Regulations, 1967 and thus by condoning the delay of 25 days in issuing the appointment letters the applicants be compensated. He also submitted that the respondents were duty bound to compensate the applicants as if the Governing Body did not meet within the interval of three months then they will have to resort to Regulation-18, where a power has been given for circulation of papers. Therefore, he submitted that the action of the respondents in not condoning the delay of 25 days not only affect the applicants at the first stage but also it will be a recurring cause as it will affect their promotion at every stage in future.
7. Per contra, Shri D.R. Sharma, vehemently opposed the prayer of the applicants by submitting that immediately after completion of the interviews on 21.04.2001 the Governing Body approved the recommendations of the Standing Selection Committee on 25.07.2001. Therefore, he submitted that there is no delay in convening the meeting and on the available dates all the members of the Governing Body met and approved the selection and accordingly letters were issued on 27.07.2001 and meeting was over within four days only. If strictly taken from the last date of interview, which cannot be, because the Standing Selection Committee thereafter has to compile the record and forward its recommendations. Therefore, there is no delay and the argument raised by the applicants is to be negated. On the ground of discrimination he submitted that the case of those officers to whom benefit has been given by the Governing Body cannot be taken as a precedent, particularly for the simple reason that during that period when they were appointed on ad hoc basis there was a complete ban on recruitment between 1995-1999 when they were appointed on ad hoc basis on recruitment on regular basis and, therefore, they continued on ad hoc basis from 1995-1999 and considering the ban the Governing Body in their wisdom decided to grant the benefit of ad hoc service while calculating eligibility for promotion to the post of Associate Professor.
8. We have given our thoughtful consideration to the entire matter and have perused the pleadings available on record.
9. A great emphasis has been given on Regulations 13 and 18 of the PGIMER Regulations, 1967. A perusal of both regulations make it clear that the Governing Body shall meet once at least in three months and if it cannot meet then they can even circulate the papers. In this case, admittedly the applicants were interviewed between 16.04.2001 to 21.04.2001. The recommendations of the Standing Selection Committee were approved by the Governing Body on 25.07.2001 and the offers of appointments were issued on the same very day and the applicants joined on 26.07.2001. As per Regulation-13 the Governing Body is to meet at least within a period of three months. Here, if we go strictly by the last date of interview, then it is slightly 04 days above three months, i.e., the Governing Body meeting took place on 94th day. Therefore the averment of the applicants that there is an inordinate delay in convening the meeting of the Governing Body cannot be accepted and it is summarily rejected. It is also not denied by the applicants that the four years service is mandatory for promotion to the post of Associate Professor under the Assessment Promotion Scheme, which they were lacking on that date. The Executive in this case is the Governing Body, who is the sole judge and can take a decision for the welfare of their employees. We are, therefore, not inclined to interfere with the decision taken by the Governing Body, which is the highest body in the PGIMER.
10. Now, dealing with the argument of discrimination, perusal of the decision dated 27.06.2005 with regard to those who were working on ad hoc basis between the period from 1995-1999, it is abundantly clear that because of a ban on regular recruitment the applicants continued for a long period and considering that in mind the Governing Body decided to condone the eligibility conditions by giving them the benefit of their ad hoc service. Therefore, the facts of that case are not similar to that in the present case and there is no merit in the plea raised on behalf of the applicants which has to be rejected and is rejected accordingly.
11. Even otherwise it is a policy decisions which has to be taken by the Executive keeping in view various considerations and there is hardly any scope for interference by a court of law unless it is proved that the decisions is arbitrary or so illogical that it cannot be justified from any angle at all. Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the case of Union of India and Another Vs. International Trading Co and Another (2003 (5) SCC 437), has held that the administrative policy, except where the same is inconsistent with the express or implied provisions of a statute, which creates the power to which the policy relates or where a decision made in purported exercise of power is such that a repository of the power acti
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ng reasonably and in good faith could not have been made, cannot be interfered. It has been held that 'The Courts as observed in G.B. Mahajan v. Jalgaon Municipal Council (AIR 1991 SC 1153) are kept out of lush field of administrative policy except where policy is inconsistent with the express or implied provision of a statute which creates the power to which the policy relates or where a decision made in purported exercise of power is such that a repository of the power acting reasonably and in good faith could not have made it. But there has to be a word of caution. Something overwhelming must appear before the Court will intervene. That is and ought to be a difficult onus for an applicant to discharge. The courts are not very good at formulating or evaluating policy. Sometimes when the Courts have intervened on policy grounds the Court's view of the range of policies open under the statute or of what is unreasonable policy has not got public acceptance'. 12. In the result, for the foregoing reasons, we are left with no option but to dismiss the present OA being devoid of any merit, leaving the parties to bear their own costs.