Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Vipin Sanghi, C.J. and Ramesh Chandra Khulbe, J. dismissed a petition wherein the petitioner had argued that National Geotechnical Facility (hereinafter “NGF”) issued the advertisement for the permanent post of Scientist ‘B’ for Project-NFG Phase-I and hence, he had the right to continue in the Phase-II project as Scientist ‘B’. The Court held that as the petitioner was appointed purely on temporary and co-terminus basis for Phase-I project, his termination from the said post cannot be held to be illegal.

The commencement of NGF in Survey of India, Dehradun was for five years from January 2010 to December 2015. On 19-12-2011, the Project Director of NGF issued advertisement for recruitment to various posts. On 12-09-2012, the petitioner was issued an appointment letter by the Project Director for the post of Scientist ‘B’ and accordingly, the petitioner assumed charge of the said post.

On 22-06-2017, the Department of Science and Technology issued an order for Project-NFG Phase-II from April 2017 to March 2020. It was clear from the order that the staff and scientists were to appointed afresh through Search-Cum-Committee and their services would be on contractual basis and co-terminus with the NGF Phase-II project. Thus, on 20-07-2017, the Department of Science and Technology communicated that the staff working in the erstwhile project would be informed about fresh recruitment and salary structure of NGF Phase-II project, and services of the erstwhile staff will stand terminated on 31-10-2017. Therefore, the petitioner was given the advance notice on 17-08-2017 about termination of her services w.e.f. 31-10-2017.

On 31-08-2017, the Project Director, NGF, Dehradun, issued an advertisement for recruitment of temporary posts for NGF Phase-II project. The petitioner was aggrieved by the above-mentioned orders, hence, filed an application before Central Administrative Tribunal to quash the same, but the said application was dismissed. Hence, this petition.

The Court observed that it was clear from the appointment letter dated 12-09-2012 that the petitioner was appointed purely on temporary and co-terminus basis with the Phase-I project and as per the advertisement dated 19-12-2011, it is also clear that the said project was sanctioned only for five years. Moreover, the petitioner did not challenge her appointment letter dated 12-09-2012. Therefore, the Court held that there is no illegality in the termination order as well as in the advertisement. The petitioner cannot be said to have any right to continue in the Phase-II project as Scientist ‘B’. Lastly, the Central Administrative Tribunal has rightly dismissed her claim on merits and there is no illegality in the said action.

[Dr. Ruchika Tandon v. Union of India, 2022 SCC OnLine Utt 1274, decided on 20-10-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case:

Petitioner-in-Person, for the Petitioner(s);

Ms Monka Pant, for the Respondent(s).

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