10 April 2023 10:17 AM GMT
The Gujarat High Court has set aside a single judge bench's decision asking a person to vacate the post of Associate Professor (Management) in Gujarat Technological University (GTU) due to his alleged ineligibility for the said post. The division bench of Justice N. V. Anjaria and Justice Bhargav D. Karia observed: “In any view, writ of quo warranto is not an appeal over...
The Gujarat High Court has set aside a single judge bench's decision asking a person to vacate the post of Associate Professor (Management) in Gujarat Technological University (GTU) due to his alleged ineligibility for the said post.
The division bench of Justice N. V. Anjaria and Justice Bhargav D. Karia observed:
“In any view, writ of quo warranto is not an appeal over an academic decision. When more particularly, the decision in the instant case treating the Ph.D. in Commerce to be in 'relevant field' for the purpose of post of Associate Professor (Management), cannot be said to be founded on any irrational consideration.”
Kaushal Arvindkumar Bhatt, the appellant was appointed as the Associate Professor (Management) with Gujarat Technological University. His appointment was challenged on the ground that he did his Ph.D. in ‘Commerce’ where as the AICTE Regulation [Regulation 5.2 (c) (i)] mandates that in order to be eligible for the post of Associate Professor by way of direct recruitment, the candidate should have Ph.D. degree in the ‘relevant field’. It was the contention of the petitioner before the single judge bench that Bhatt did not possess the requisite educational qualification of Ph.D. in ‘Management’.
It was further contended by the petitioner that the consideration of Bhatt's qualification of the Degree of Ph.D. in ‘Commerce’ was contrary to AICTE Regulations and that the appointment was required to be set aside for which the petitioner prayed before the Court to issue the writ of quo warranto.
The petitioner further prayed before the Court to issue the writ of mandamus to direct the University to consider the case of the petitioner for appointment to the advertised post of Associate Professor (Management).
The respondent University (GTU) submitted before the single judge bench that the selected candidate held Ph.D. in ‘Commerce’ and that as per the AICTE Notification dated March 1, 2019, ‘Commerce’ was the discipline of Management, therefore he was eligible and found suitable for the post in question.
The single judge bench vide order dated March 25, 2022 set aside the impugned appointment on the ground that the incumbent to be selected must hold Ph.D. in ‘Management’ and directed the University to consider the petitioner for appointment to the post holding that she possessed the prescribed qualification.
Both Bhatt and GTU challenged the impugned judgment and order of the single judge bench in Letters Patent Appeal.
Senior Advocate, Gautam Joshi, appearing for Bhatt, submitted before the division bench that the post of Associate Professor (Management) could not be said to be a public office to maintain a writ of quo warranto.
He further submitted that the single judge bench failed to appreciate that the requirement in the advertisement was Ph.D. in Management or equivalent branch.
The Senior Counsel further submitted that the although the single judge bench observed that qualification mentioned in the advertisement has to be read in the context of AICTE notification, it failed to apply the same to hold that the relevant field would not include commerce.
It was further submitted by the appellant that commerce and management were not only relevant fields but were areas of interdisciplinary nature and the view taken by the single judge bench that Ph.D. in Management was sine qua non for appointment to the post was contrary to the Regulations framed by AICTE, was not liable to be sustained.
The division bench said the writ of quo warranto is a technical writ. The quo warranto is issued when the holder of the office which is of public nature lacks qualification necessary for such post, it added.
“The qualification accepted by the University has the dimension of equivalence and it was the decision in the expert academic field. The University, obtained the expert advice of Dr. Kulkarni before arriving at a decision that the Ph.D. Commerce could be accepted as one satisfying the eligibility criteria. The decision was ratified by the Board of Governors of the University. Thus, the decision on the point became an academic expert decision. Such decision of the University has to be accepted by the Court. It is trite that the Court does not sit in appeal over the academic decisions.”
The court relied upon Rajbir Singh Dalal v. Chaudhary Devilal University, Sirsa (2008) 9 SCC 284 in which the Supreme Court addressed the concept of ‘relevant subject’ and upheld the appointment of a ‘Reader’, who possessed M.A. and Ph.D. in political science, to the post of Reader in Public Administration.
Observing that writ of quo warranto is not an appeal over an academic decision, the court said:
"In view of the reasons supplied as above, which operate so as not to sustain the impugned judgment and order of the learned Single Judge, any other aspect including whether, the post in question was a public office or not, and whether learned Single Judge was justified in principle in directing the consideration of the case of the petitioner to be appointed on the post in question, simultaneously while issuing the writ of quo warranto, are not needed to be gone into."
Case Title: Kaushal Arvindkumar Bhatt v. The Gujarat Technological University Through The Registrar
Case Citation: 2023 Livelaw (Guj) 68
Coram: Justice N. V. Anjaria and Justice Bhargav D. Karia
Click Here to Read/Download The Order