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Illegal Appointment Will Not Get Legitimised By Efflux Of Time: Kerala High Court Annuls Appointment Of Kochi Metro General Manager

Hannah M Varghese
24 April 2022 2:06 PM GMT
Illegal Appointment Will Not Get Legitimised By Efflux Of Time: Kerala High Court Annuls Appointment Of Kochi Metro General Manager
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The Kerala High Court has annulled the appointment of Nireesh C, the General Manager of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), (marketing, alternative revenue and corporate communications) upon finding that he fell short of the minimum age limit fixed for the post when he was appointed. Justice V.G. Arun annulled the appointment holding that an illegal appointment will not get legitimised by...

The Kerala High Court has annulled the appointment of Nireesh C, the General Manager of Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), (marketing, alternative revenue and corporate communications) upon finding that he fell short of the minimum age limit fixed for the post when he was appointed. 

Justice V.G. Arun annulled the appointment holding that an illegal appointment will not get legitimised by the passage of time and that the Court cannot evade its duty merely because there was a delay in pointing out the illegality. 

"Having found the appointment of the 6th respondent (Nireesh C) to be illegal, this Court cannot shirk away from its responsibility by reason of delay in challenging the appointment. An illegal appointment will not get legitimised or sanctified by efflux of time."

The court was adjudicating upon a petition moved by the person who came second in the interview conducted for the post of General Manager. In the plea, it was stated that KMRL had invited applications for the post in September 2020, where the age specified for eligibility was between 45 to 55 years.

Since the petitioner had the requisite qualification, experience and satisfied the age criterion, he was issued with a call letter for attending the interview. Accordingly, he appeared for the interview to find that only four candidates had been shortlisted for the same.

According to the petitioner, although he performed exceptionally well in the interview, he sensed something amiss from the bearing and demeanour of some of the members of the Interview Committee. 

Meanwhile, the appointment of another General Manager (HR) was found to be illegal by this Court for lack of the mandated educational qualifications. The news about the irregularity in the selection process and interference by this Court, strengthened the petitioner's suspicion of foul play in the selection conducted for the post of General Manager (Marketing, Alternate Revenue and Corporate Communications).

Acting upon this suspicion, the petitioner gathered details of the 6th respondent under the RTI Act, which revealed that he had not attained the age of 45 as of September 1, 2020.

Advocate John Nellimala Sarai appearing for the petitioner contended that the decision to interview the person who fell short of the specified age was illegal and also reeked of malafides, evidenced by the huge difference in marks awarded to him and the other candidates. He contended that KMRL being a public authority, its officers could not dole out favours to persons of their choice.

Senior Advocate K.Jaju Babu appearing for respondents argued that the petitioner incurred delay in filing the petition and that he had failed to secure the requisite marks. He further argued that he had crossed the prescribed minimum age on the date of notification, date of submission of application, and the last date to apply.

Advocate K.A.Abdul Salam appeared for the 6th respondent and submitted that his client had outperformed the other candidates and the Committee found him to be the best-suited person with relevant experience and required skill set.

The Court noted that indubitably, the 6th respondent did not satisfy the minimum age criteria. The Scrutiny and Interview Committees had no authority to deviate from the notified qualification with respect to the minimum age of a candidate, whether it be for nineteen days or one day. 

Having found the appointment of the respondent to be illegal, the court opined that it cannot shirk away from its responsibility by reason of delay in challenging the appointment

Therefore, the contention that the petitioner has no legal right to challenge the appointment was found liable to be rejected, in view of the admitted position that the petitioner had participated in the selection process and secured the second rank. Accordingly, the Judge directed KMRL to take necessary consequential action within one month.

It may be noted that this is the second GM appointment to be annulled by the court in the past year. 

Case Title: Suresh George v. Kochi Metro Rail Ltd & Ors. 

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 191

Click Here To Read/Download The Order 

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