Tag Archives: service law

Exercise of Discretion by Selection Committee – In Matter of Recruitment

Law is settled that exercise of discretion by the selection committee, in the matter of recruitment, is not required to be interfered with by the Courts, unless it is found contrary to the rules or is otherwise arbitrary or suffers from malafide. The Hon’ble Apex Court in Union Public Service Commission v. M. Sathiya Priya, (2018) 15 SCC 796, has observed as under:

“This Court has repeatedly observed and concluded that the recommendations of the Selection Committee cannot be challenged except on the ground of mala fides or serious violation of the statutory rules. The Courts cannot sit as an appellate authority or an umpire to examine the recommendations of the Selection Committee like a Court of Appeal. This discretion has been given to the Selection Committee only, and the Courts rarely sits as a Court of Appeal to examine the selection of a candidate; nor is it the business of the Court to examine each candidate and record its opinion. Since the Selection Committee constituted by the UPSC is manned by experts in the field, we have to trust their assessment unless it is actuated with malice or bristles with mala fides or arbitrariness.” Lokendra Kumar Tiwari v. Union of India, 2019 (2) ESC 712.

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Back Wages – Conduct of Concerned Workman

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Novartis India Ltd. v. State of West Bengal, reported in (2009) 3 SCC 124, has held that merely because the dismissal from service has been held to be illegal would not result in automatic payment of back wages and the conduct of the concerned workman would also have to be examined. It was held as under:

            “There can, however, be no doubt whatsoever that there has been a shift in the approach of the Court in regard to payment of back wages. Back wages cannot be granted almost automatically upon setting aside an order of termination inter alia on the premises that the burden to show that the workman was gainfully employed during interregnum period was on the employer. The burden of proof that he remained unemployed would be on the workman keeping in view the provisions contained in Section 106 of the Evidence Act, 1872. The Hon’ble Court in the matter of grant of back wages has laid down certain guidelines stating that therefor several factors are required to be considered including the nature of appointment; the mode of recruitment; the length of service; and whether the appointment was in consonance with Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India in cases of public employment etc.

            It is also trite that for the purpose of grant of back wages, conduct of the concerned workman also plays a vital role. Each decision, as regards grant of back wages or the quantum thereof, would, therefore, depend on the fact of each case. Back wages are ordinarily to be granted, keeping in view the principles of grant of damages in mind. It cannot be claimed as a matter of right. M/s Rathi Udyog Ltd. v. Presiding Officer, (2019) 2 UPLBEC 1093.

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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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Compulsory Retirement — Subjective Satisfaction

The Hon’ble Apex Court in re: S. Ramachandra Raju v. State of Orissa, 1994 Supp (3) SCC 424, has held that the subjective satisfaction must be based on adverse material of the incumbent. It was held as under:

“In Baikuntha Nath Das v. Chief District Medical Officer, (1992) 2 SCC 299, a bench of three Judges of the Hon’ble Apex Court was to consider whether uncommunicated adverse remarks would be conisered to order compulsory retirement. The Court considering the scope of Fundamental Rule 56(j) on the anvil of administrative law, held that the order of compulsory retirement has to be passed on forming the opinion that it is in the public interest to retire a Government Servant compulsorily though the order is passed on the subjective satisfaction of the Government, the Government or the Review Committee shall have to consider the entire record of service before taking a decision in the matter, of course, attaching more importance to record of and performance during the later years. The record so considered would naturally include the entries in the confidential records, character rolls, both favourable and adverse. The order of compulsory retirement is not liable to be quashed on mere showing that while passing it, uncommunicated adverse remarks were taken into consideration. Further, this does not mean that judicial scrutiny is excluded altogether. Though the court would not examine the matter as an appellate court, they may interfere if they are satisfied that the order if mala fide or passed on no evidence or that is arbitrary, in the sense that no reasonable person would form the requisite opinion or the given material, in short, if it is found to be a perverse order, the remedy under Article 226 is an important safeguard, since the remedy is an effective check against arbitrary, mala fide or perverse actions.”  Mukhtar Ahmad v. State of U.P., 2018 (3) ESC 1432.

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Appointment Obtained – Fraudulently

Fraudulently obtained order of appointment or approval can be recalled by the authority concerned. In such cases, merely because the employee continued in service for a number of years, on the basis of fraudulently obtained order, cannot get any equity in his favour or any estoppels against the employer/authority. When appointment or approval has been obtained by a person on the basis of forged documents, it would amount to misrepresentation and fraud on the employer. It would create no equity in his favour or any estoppel against the employer to cancel such appointment or approval since “Fraud and justice never dwell together.” Committee of Management v. State of U.P., (2018) 1 UPLBEC 610.

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Delay in Payment of Retirement Dues – Penal Interest

Interest on delayed payment on retiral dues has been upheld time and again in a catena of decisions. In Shamal Chand Tiwari v. State of U.P.¸(W.P. No. 34804 of 2004) decided on 06.12.2005 it was held: “Now the question comes about entitlement of the petitioner for interest on delayed payment of retiral benefits. Since the date of retirement is known to the respondents well in advance, there is no reason for them not to make arrangement for payment of retiral benefits to the petitioner well in advance so that as soon as the employee retires, his retiral benefits are paid on the date of retirement or within reasonable time thereafter. Inaction and inordinate delay in payment of retiral benefits is nothing but culpable delay warranting liability of interest on such dues. In the case of State of Kerala v. M. Padnaban Nair, 1985 (1) SLR 750, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as under:
“Since the date of retirement of every Government Servant is very much known in advance we fail to appreciate why the process collecting the requisite information and issuance of these two documents should not be completed at least a week before the date of retirement so that the payment of gratuity amount could be made to the Government Servant on the date he retires or on the following day and pension at the expiry of the following months. The necessity for prompt payment of the retirement dues to a Government Servant immediately after his retirement cannot be overemphasized and it would not be unreasonable to direct that the liability to pay penal interest on these dues at the current market rate should commence at the expiry of two months from the date of retirement.” Dr. Chandrakant Sharma v. Vice Chancellor, 2017 (1) ESC 128.

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Eligibility for Selection – Possession of Prescribed Qualification

The principle enunciated by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in State of U.P. v. Vijay Kumar Mishra, (2017) 11 SCC 521 are as under:
“The position is fairly well settled that when a set of eligibility qualifications are prescribed under the rules and an applicant who does not possess the prescribed qualification for the post at the time of submission of application or by the cut-off date, if any, prescribed under the rules or stated in the advertisement, is not eligible to be considered for such post. It is relevant to note here that in the rules or in the advertisement no power was vested in any authority to make any relaxation relating to the prescribe qualifications for the post. Therefore, the case of a candidate who did not come within the zone of consideration for the post could not be compared with a candidate who possessed the prescribed qualifications and was considered and appointed to the post. Ramesh Chand v. State of Haryana, (2017) 11 SCC 516.

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