6 Jan 2023 9:07 AM GMT
The Kerala Administrative Tribunal at Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday set aside the appointments of three Government Law College Principals for being contrary to UGC Regulations. It thereby directed the constitution of a selection committee for conducting the selection for appointment of Principals in the Government Law Colleges in accordance with the UGC Regulations, 2010 as against all...
The Kerala Administrative Tribunal at Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday set aside the appointments of three Government Law College Principals for being contrary to UGC Regulations.
It thereby directed the constitution of a selection committee for conducting the selection for appointment of Principals in the Government Law Colleges in accordance with the UGC Regulations, 2010 as against all the vacancies of Principals as on 29.3.2017 for which a select list was published on 30.08.2018.
The Bench comprising Justice P.V. Asha and Mr. P.K. Kesavan passed the order setting aside the appointments of the Principals of the Government Law Colleges of Thiruvananthapuram, Thrissur, and Ernakulam.
"When there was a direction by the Full Bench of the Hon'ble High Court that appointments of principals shall be made in accordance with the UGC Regulations, 2010, the action of the respondents in not conducting the selection in tune with the same cannot be accepted. It is seen from the select list dated 30.8.2018 that the same was prepared and published as against vacancies as on 29.3.2017. As the said select list is seen drawn, contrary to the provisions contained in the UGC Regulations, 2010 as well as the directions contained in the judgment of the Full Bench in Radhakrishna Pillai's case, it is only appropriate that fresh selection is made as against all those vacancies for which that select list was drawn in accordance with the UGC Regulations 2010 and thereafter all other vacancies which arose subsequently in accordance with the UGC Regulations 2018", the Tribunal observed.
The applications herein sought a direction to the respondent State authorities to make the appointments to the post of Principal in Government Law Colleges in the State in accordance with the UGC Regulations, 2010.
The applicants relied upon the Apex Court decisions in Gambirdhan K. Gadvi v. State of Gujarat & Ors. [2022 LiveLaw (SC) 242], and Prof. (Dr.) Sreejith P.S. v. Rajasree M.S. & Ors. [2022 LiveLaw (SC) 871] to contend that in case of any conflict between State Legislation and Central Legislation, the Central Legislation shall prevail as per the Doctrine of Repugnancy enshrined in Article 254 of the Constitution. It was thereby contended by the applicants that even if the state Government did not adopt the UGC Regulations, nor amend the State Legislation in tune with the Regulations, what is to be looked into is whether the appointments are to be made in accordance the Regulations. It was pointed out that the UGC Regulations only stipulates appointments by direct recruitment, and that the said appointments ought to be for a period of 5 years. The direct recruitment is thus to be made only after issuing a circular inviting applications, which is publicized all over India.
On the other hand, it was averred by the existing Government Law College Principals that the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court had, vide its Judgment dated 22nd August 2022, dismissed the prayer for issuance of quo warranto against them, on finding that the petitioner therein had not "made out a case of usurpers against respondents in the post of Principal".
The Tribunal noted that the High Court in the said case had found that Dr. Bijukurnar, Dr. Bindu M.Nambiar and Dr.V.R.layadevan had the requisite educational qualifications as prescribed by the UGC Regulations and sufficient qualifying service in the post of Lecturer in Law/Associate Professor/Professor at Government Law Colleges, and to occupy the post of Principal. It had also been directed that one of the applicants herein, Dr. Bindu M. Nambiar, be appointed since she was qualified. The Division Bench had further observed that the contention that the Hon'ble Apex Court protected only those Principals who were appointed prior to 23.2.2016, was also unsustainable.
The Tribunal noted that in Radhakrishnan Pillai v. Travancore Devaswom Board (2016), the Full Bench of the Kerala High Court had categorically laid down that, "...irrespective of whether the University Acts enacted under Entry 25 of list III or the Statutes framed thereunder are amended , in line with the UGC Regulations or not, in view of its adoption by the State of Kerala, with effect from 18/09/2010 as per Government Order dated 10/12/2020, the Universities and affiliated colleges in Kerala State are bound to comply with the UGC Regulations, 2010". The Full Bench had also issued certain directions in the individual petitions before it. When Special Leave Petitions were preferred before the Apex Court by the State, the same also came to be dismissed by the Court on noting that the "law has been settled by the High Court finally by the judgment of the Full Bench of the High Court of Kerala dated 23.02.2016 regarding the application of U.G.C. Regulations". The Full Bench had also specifically considered the issue of appointment of Principals of the Law Colleges, and directed that appointments ought to be made as per the UGC Regulations, 2010.
The Tribunal compared the qualifications as revised by the Government vide its Order dated March 19, 2017, in amendment of the Special Rules, with Clause 4.2.0 of the UGC Regulations, 2010, and discerned that the requirement of evidence of published work( and research guidance along with Ph.D or requirement of API score were absent in the order issued by Government and instead of 15 years teaching experience, it required 15 years' teaching service in the Collegiate Education Department.
The Tribunal further noted that the UGC Regulations mandated that the selection had to be done by a Selection Committee after an assessment made in accordance with the UGC Regulations, after constitution of a selection committee as provided in Cl.5.1.6. The Tribunal thus noted that in the present case, no selection had been made by the Government as per the UGC Regulations, 2010.
The Tribunal further went on to state that the UGC Regulations do not provide that the post of Principal is a selection post or that it is to be made by promotion. It ascertained that in view of the decision in Rajasree's case, it was "necessary to follow all the provisions contained in the Regulations relating to qualifications as well as selection process".
"As pointed out by the applicants, it is relevant to note that the UGC Regulations provide for a series of formalities to be observed for selection. Thereafter whether a further process of consideration after convening a Departmental Promotion Committee is necessary or not has to be looked into by Government seriously. Though the provisions in the Special Rules to the extent those are not in conflict with those in UGC Regulations can be adhered to, Government would be free to adopt a procedure in tune with the UGC Regulations which would not be further cumbersome".
The Tribunal therefore discerned that in the instant case, the select list as well as the promotion granted to those included in that select list were unsustainable, for noncompliance of the provisions relating to qualifications in Clause 4.2.0 and the constitution of selection committee in terms of CI.5.1.6 of the UGC Regulations and also the process of selection being contrary to the provisions contained in Cl. 6.09 of 2010 Regulations.
It is in this circumstance that the order of the Government dated March 19, 2017, to the extent it relates to the qualifications for the post of Principals, the select Iist dated 30.08.2018, and the promotion ordered to the existing three Principals were set aside.
The Tribunal further directed the Committee to be constituted for conducting the selection for appointment of Principals to also consider all those who were eligible at the relevant time irrespective of the retirements, and to make the appointments based on the said results. The Tribunal has further directed that in the event selection of those who retired from service has been made, they shall be granted appointments notionally, and all consequential benefits by way of fixation of pay and pension in the post of Principal shall also be provided.
"The official respondents shall thereafter make appointments against all other vacancies after conducting selection in accordance with the provisions contained in UGC Regulations 2018", it was added.
Case Title: Dr. Giri Sankar S.S. v. State of Kerala represented by Principal Secretary Department of Higher Education & Ors.