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Courts Should Be "Extremely Reluctant" To Impose Their Own Views In Academic Appointments: Orissa High Court Reiterates

Jyoti Prakash Dutta
5 Aug 2022 4:36 AM GMT
Courts Should Be Extremely Reluctant To Impose Their Own Views In Academic Appointments: Orissa High Court Reiterates

The Orissa High Court has reiterated that Courts should be extremely reluctant in imposing their own views disregarding the statutes or rules governing appointment in the field of academics. While declining to interfere in a petition, which sough intervention of the Court against denial of candidature for the want of 'chance certificate', a Single Judge Bench of Dr. Justice Sanjeeb Kumar Panigrahi observed,

"In the present case, the requirement for chance certificate was let known very categorically in the advertisement issued vide notice no. 225/Director, VIMSAR, Burla dated 19.04.2022 as well as vide a reminder website notice released on 20.05.2022 i.e. five days before the date of original document verification. Hence, this shows the callous attitude of the petitioners. Moreover, chance certificate cannot be considered as an irrelevant document considering that the negative marking attached to it. Therefore, irrespective of its effect on one individual's marks, it has to be considered as a necessary document which must be verified for securing the candidature."

Factual Background:

The Respondent-University, on 19.4.2022, issued an advertisement for the post of Asst. Professor on contractual/ deputation basis for different discipline. In the Department of Anaesthesiology, 2 nos. of vacancies were advertised. In the said notice, the qualification criteria was MD or equivalent Degree but for the purpose of merit assessment weightage was only given to mark secured in the Matriculation, Intermediate and MBBS examinations. One of the documents required to be submitted was a 'Chance Certificate' of MBBS /MD /MDS /DNB /MSc (Medical) Examination.

The petitioners had applied against the said advertisement and were called for document verification. During the document verification, the respondent did not point out any deficiency. On 22.6.2022, a provisional selection list was published in which the petitioners were shown as holding the 3rd (Anaesthesiology) and 8th (pathology) ranks in terms of merit, but were rejected on the ground of non-submission of MD Chance Certificate. Being aggrieved by the same, the petitioners have filed this writ petition.

Contentions of the Petitioners:

Ms. Pami Rath, counsel for the petitioners submitted that a 'Chance Certificate' only indicates the number of attempts a person had made to clear an examination. It is required for the purpose of negative marking i.e. deduction of 1 mark for each chance taken for clearing the said exam. Since the petitioners had cleared the exam in their first attempt, they did not require any chance certificate. Moreover, she contended, the pass certificate of the petitioners also stated that they had completed the exam in 2018 as regular candidate. Thus, the information which the Chance Certificate would have given was inherently on record in the form of the 'pass certificate'. Further, it was submitted that the petitioners' non-submission of Chance Certificate pertaining to MD examination does not affect their merit assessment. Therefore, she pressed, they should not have been excluded from the selection.

Contentions of the Respondents:

Mr. D. Mund, Additional Government Advocate appearing for the opposite parties, submitted that as per Clause 6.2 of the advertisement, one mark will be deducted from the total career mark for each extra attempt taken to pass the examinations including MD/MS/DNB/MSc (medical) examination. Similarly, Clause 8 of the advertisement provided a list of documents required to be submitted and one of the required documents as per Clause 8(vii) is 'Chance Certificate' of MBBS/MD/MS/MDS/DNB/ MSc (Medical) Examination.

He further submitted that the petitioners did not take care to obtain their original MD chance certificates in the long period of more than a month from the date of publication of the advertisement on 19.04.2022 till the date of original document verification on 25.05.2022 despite of two reminders in the website one on 13.05.2022 and another on 20.05.2022. He argued that the petitioners had deliberately suppressed the fact to the Court that they had been given a reminder notice vide on 20.05.2022 to present all the required original documents on 25.05.2022 to hide their act of carelessness, which has resulted in the current enmeshment.

Court's Observations:

The Court noted, there has been a consistent view of the High Court that in the matter of appointment in academic institutions and Universities that are governed by statutes, the procedural requirements are considered to be mandatory. In the present case, Clause 8 of the advertisement provided a list of documents required to be submitted and one of the required documents as per Clause 8(vii) is Chance Certificate of MBBS/MD/MS/MDS/DNB/ MSc (medical) Examination. Hence, it was a necessary document to be submitted at the time of submission of form as well as at the time of verification of the documents.

It further highlighted that the said medical college had also given opportunity to show document (if any) at the time of verification, which the candidates might not have submitted along with the application form. Even after such relaxation, the petitioners did not bother to bring the chance certificate at the time of verification.

The Court then relied on Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education & Anr. v. Paritosh Bhupesh Kumar Sheth & Ors., wherein it was held,

"…the Court should be extremely reluctant to substitute its own views as to what is wise, prudent and proper in relation to academic matters in preference to those formulated by professional men possessing technical expertise and rich experience of actual day-to-day working of educational institutions and the departments controlling them. It will be wholly wrong for the Court to make a pedantic and purely idealistic approach to the problems of this nature, isolated from the actual realities and grass-root problems involved in the working of the system and unmindful of the consequences which would emanate if a purely idealistic view as opposed to a pragmatic one were to be propounded."

Further, it relied on University Grants Commission v. Neha Anil Bobde, wherein it was held that in academic matters, unless there is a clear violation of statutory provisions, the regulations or the notification issued, the Courts shall keep their hands off.

Accordingly, the Court declined to interfere in the matter and dismissed the petition.

Case Title: Dr. Satya Narayan Bhujabala & Anr. v. Veer Surendra Sai Institute of Medical Science and Research, Burla and Ors.

Case No.: W.P.(C) No. 16290 of 2022 & connected matters

Judgment Dated: 2nd August 2022

Coram: Dr. S.K. Panigrahi, J.

Counsel for the Petitioners: Ms. Pami Rath, Advocate

Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. D. Mund, Additional Government Advocate

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ori) 118

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment

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