Job Experience As Assistant Company Secretary/Management Trainee Cannot Be Treated 'As' That Of Company Secretary: SC [Read Judgment]
"The word used “experience as Company Secretary” has to be given meaning that a candidate must have been appointed ‘as’ a Company Secretary and shall have actually worked ‘as’ a Company Secretary for five years."
The Supreme Court observed that Job Experience as Assistant Company Secretary or a Management Trainee cannot be treated 'as' that of a Company Secretary.
The issue before the bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice MR Shah was whether, the period during which a candidate worked as 'Management Trainee' and/or 'Assistant Company Secretary' be considered for treating him/her been appointed 'as' a Company Secretary, when the eligibility criteria mentioned in the advertisement stipulated experience of five years 'as' a Company Secretary and/or, can it be said that.
Ritu Bhatia was terminated from the company on the ground that she did not have the requisite five years' experience for the post of Company Secretary, as stipulated in the Advertisement inviting applications to the said post.
Before the Apex court, the contention was that she was working as Assistant Company Secretary for the period between June 2008 to May 2010 in Utkal Investments Limited and that she was working as Management Trainee in the Delhi Stock Exchange Association Limited for the period between April 2005 to June 2006, and as the Management Trainee in ONGC for the period between May 2003 to June 2004. She contended that the period during which she was working as a Management Trainee is required to be counted as the requisite experience for the post of Company Secretary.
The court observed that the author of the advertisement is the best person to consider what they meant by using the word 'as'. The court noted that their intention behind the advertisement was that the applicant must have been appointed 'as' a Company Secretary in PSU/Company of repute and functioned as such for five years to be eligible for appointment. The bench said:
"In the advertisement, it has been specifically and categorically stated that a candidate shall have post qualification experience of five years 'as' Company Secretary. The word used "experience as Company Secretary" has to be given meaning that a candidate must have been appointed 'as' a Company Secretary and shall have actually worked 'as' a Company Secretary for five years. Giving other meaning would be changing the eligibility criteria as mentioned in the advertisement."
Dismissing the appeal, the bench observed: The word 'as' and the words 'experience as Company Secretary' used in the advertisement are very clear and it means the candidate ought to be appointed and worked as such 'as' a Company Secretary.