Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The 3-judge bench of L. Nageswara Rao*, Hemant Gupta and S. Ravindra Bhat has issued extensive directions in relating to selection, appointment, tenure, conditions of service, etc. relating to various tribunals, 19 in number, thereby calling for certain modifications to the Tribunal, Appellate Tribunal and other Authorities [Qualification, Experience and Other Conditions of Service of Members] Rules, 2020.

While the bench has upheld the validity of Tribunal Rules, 2020, here are the modifications and directions issued by the Court:

(i) The Union of India shall constitute a National Tribunals Commission which shall act as an independent body to supervise the appointments and functioning of Tribunals, as well as to conduct disciplinary proceedings against members of Tribunals and to take care of administrative and infrastructural needs of the Tribunals, in an appropriate manner.

Till the National Tribunals Commission is constituted, a separate wing in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India shall be established to cater to the requirements of the Tribunals.

(ii) Instead of the four-member Search-cum-Selection Committees comprising of the Chief Justice of India or his nominee, outgoing or sitting Chairman or Chairperson or President of the Tribunal and two Secretaries to the Government of India, the Search-cum-Selection Committees should comprise of the following members:

(a) The Chief Justice of India or his nominee—Chairperson (with a casting vote).

(b) The outgoing Chairman or Chairperson or President of the Tribunal in case of appointment of the Chairman or Chairperson or President of the Tribunal (or) the sitting Chairman or Chairperson or President of the Tribunal in case of appointment of other members of the Tribunal (or) a retired Judge of the Supreme Court of India or a retired Chief Justice of a High Court in case the Chairman or Chairperson or President of the Tribunal is not a Judicial member or if the Chairman or Chairperson or President of the Tribunal is seeking re-appointment—member;

(c) Secretary to the Ministry of Law and Justice, Government of India—member;

(d) Secretary to the Government of India from a department other than the parent or sponsoring department, nominated by the Cabinet Secretary—member;

(e) Secretary to the sponsoring or parent Ministry or Department—Member Secretary/Convener (without a vote).

Till amendments are carried out, the 2020 Rules shall be read in the manner indicated.

(iii) Rule 4(2) of the 2020 Rules shall be amended to provide that the Search-cum-Selection Committee shall recommend the name of one person for appointment to each post instead of a panel of two or three persons for appointment to each post. Another name may be recommended to be included in the waiting list.

(iv) The Chairpersons, Vice-Chairpersons and the members of the Tribunal shall hold office for a term of five years and shall be eligible for reappointment. Rule 9(2) of the 2020 Rules shall be amended to provide that the Vice-Chairman, Vice-Chairperson and Vice President and other members shall hold office till they attain the age of sixty-seven years.

(v) The Union of India shall make serious efforts to provide suitable housing to the Chairman or Chairperson or President and other members of the Tribunals. If providing housing is not possible, the Chairman or Chairperson or President and Vice-Chairman, Vice-Chairperson, Vice President of the Tribunals shall be paid Rs. 1,50,000/- per month as house rent allowance and Rs. 1,25,000/- per month for other members of the Tribunals from 01.01.2021.

(vi) Advocates with an experience of at least 10 years should be eligible for appointment as judicial members in the Tribunals. The experience of the Advocate at the bar and their specialization in the relevant branches of law is to be considered. They shall be entitled for reappointment for at least one term by giving preference to the service rendered by them for the Tribunals.

(vii) The members of the Indian Legal Service shall be eligible for appointment as judicial members in the Tribunals, provided that they fulfil the criteria applicable to advocates subject to suitability to be assessed by the Search-cum-Selection Committee on the basis of their experience and knowledge in the specialized branch of law.

(viii) Rule 8 of the 2020 Rules shall be amended to reflect that the recommendations of the Search-cum-Selection Committee in matters of disciplinary actions shall be final and shall be implemented by the Central Government.

(ix) The Union of India shall make appointments to Tribunals within three months from the date on which the Search-cum-Selection Committee completes the selection process and makes its recommendations.

(x) The 2020 Rules shall have prospective effect and will be applicable from 12.02.2020, as per Rule 1(2) of the 2020 Rules.

(xi) Appointments made prior to the 2017 Rules are governed by the parent Acts and Rules which established the concerned Tribunals. Any appointments that were made after the 2020 Rules came into force i.e. on or after 12.02.2020 shall be governed by the 2020 Rules subject to the modifications as directed in this judgment.

(xii) Appointments made under the 2020 Rules till the date of this judgment, shall not be considered invalid, insofar as they conformed to the recommendations of the Search-cum-Selection Committees in terms of the 2020 Rules, as they stood before the modifications directed in this judgment. They are, in other words, saved and shall not be questioned.

(xiii) In case the Search-cum-Selection Committees have made recommendations after conducting selections in accordance with the 2020 Rules, appointments shall be made within three months from today and shall not be subject matter of challenge on the ground that they are not in accord with this judgment.

(xiv) The terms and conditions relating to salary, benefits, allowances, house rent allowance etc. shall be in accordance with the terms indicated in and directed by this judgment.

(xv) The Chairpersons, Vice Chairpersons and members of the Tribunals appointed prior to 12.02.2020 shall be governed by the parent statutes and Rules as per which they were appointed. The 2020 Rules shall be applicable with the modifications as directed to those who were appointed after 12.02.2020.

The Court has clarified that all appointments made prior to the 2020 Rules which came into force on 12.02.2020 shall be governed by the parent Acts and Rules. Any appointment made after the 2020 Rules have come into force shall be in accordance with the 2020 Rules subject to the modifications as directed.

In the petition that was filed by Madras Bar Association, the Court directed the Government to strictly adhere to the directions given above and not force the Petitioner-Madras Bar Association, which has been relentless in its efforts to ensure judicial independence of the Tribunals, to knock the doors of this Court again.

[Madras Bar Association v. Union of India, Writ Petition (C) No.804 of 2020, decided on 27.11.2020]


*Justice L. Nageswara Rao has penned this judgment 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case relating to Punjab Civil Services (Judicial) appointments*, where only 28 people have been recruited against a total of 75 posts, the bench of SK Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ has directed that as a sample, the papers in the two subjects i.e. Criminal Law and Punjabi, of the first 10 candidates, who did not clear the examination, be sent for re-checking.

The Court further directed that since the problem relates to these two subjects, the papers of the first 10 candidates who failed to obtain the minimum marks in those subjects, also be sent for re-checking. There may, however, be overlapping in this scenario.

It said,

“We propose to pass an order to satisfy our judicial conscious in the given scenario where only 28 people have been recruited in pursuance to an examination process where 75 vacancies existed.”

The Criminal Law papers be sent to Justice A.K. Sikri, former Supreme Court judge and Punjabi papers to Justice Surinder Singh Saron, former Acting Chief Justice, Punjab & Haryana High Court. The papers are to be sent within 2 weeks.

The Court said that the aforesaid process and the marks that will be assigned will give an impression of the broad trend whether the overall marking has been strict beyond expected levels or the assessment is fine and whether there is a requirement of re-marking of all papers once again in these two subjects excluding of course those people who already stand recruited. The Court will also consider whether in such a scenario any other appropriate action like grant of grace marks could meet the ends of justice.

The Court asked the Punjab and Haryana High Court to take necessary steps to send the requisite papers and compute the result and submit it to the Court along with previous marks.

The matter has been listed for further directions on 17.12.2020.

[Navneet Kaur Dhaliwal v. The Registrar General of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 902, order dated 03.11.2020]


*Ed. Note: The order does not specify the name of the examination but merely mentions “an examination process”. The inference that the matter deals with the Punjab Civil Services (Judicial) appointments has been drawn from the information available in the order.

Appointments & TransfersNews

President appoints Justices (1) Shriram Madhusudan Modak, (2) Jamadar Nijamoddin Jahiroddin, (3) Vinay Gajanan Joshi, and (4) Avachat Rajendra Govind, Additional Judges of the Bombay High Court, to be the Permanent Judges of the Bombay High Court.

Read the notification, here: NOTIFICATION


Ministry of Law and Justice

[Notification dt. 09-09-2020]

Appointments & TransfersNews

Appointment of Judges

President appoints Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay, Additional Judge of the Calcutta High Court, to be a Judge of the Calcutta High Court and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua, Additional Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, to be a Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court.

 


[Notification dt. 27-07-2020]

Ministry of Law and Justice

Appointments & TransfersNews

Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the the following:

  • Re-appointment of Tushar Mehta as Solicitor General of India w.e.f. 01-07-2020 for a 3 years period or until further orders, whichever is earlier
  • 5 Additional Solicitors General of India for Supreme Court — Re-appointed for a period of 3 years

— Shri Vikramjit Banerjee

— Shri Aman Lekhi

— Ms Madhavi Godaria Divan

— Shri K.M. Natraj

— Shri Sanjay Jain

  • 2 Additional Solicitors General of India for High Courts — Re-appointed for a period of 3 years

— Anil C. Singh as Additional Solicitor General of India — Bombay High Court

— Satya Pal Jain as Additional Solicitor General of India — P&H High Court

  • Appointment of 6 Senior Advocates as Additional Solicitor General of India for Supreme Court — Period of 3 years

— Shri Balbir Singh

–Shri Suryaprakash V. Raju

— Shri Rupinder Singh Suri

–Shri N. Venkataraman

–Shri Jayant K. Sud

–Ms Aishwarya Bhati

  • Appointment of 5 Senior Advocates/Advocates as Additional Solicitor General of India for High Courts — Period of 3 years 

— Shri Yezdezard Jehangir Dastoor, Senior Advocate — Additional Solicitor General of India for Calcutta High Court

— Shri Chetan Sharma, Senior Advocate — Additional Solicitor General of India for Delhi High Court

— Shri R. Sankarnarayanan, Senior Advocate — Additional Solicitor General of India for Madras High Court

— Dr Krishna Nandan Singh, Senior Advocate — Additional Solicitor General of India for Patna High Court

— Shri Devang Girish Vyas, Advocate — Additional Solicitor General of India for Gujarat High Court


Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions

[Notification dt. 29-06-2020]

Appointments & TransfersNews

President appoints Shri Anoop Chitkara, to be a Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court with effect from the date he
assumes charge of his office.

Jyotsna Rewal Dua, to be Additional Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, for a period of two years, with effect from the date she assumes charge of her office.


[Notification dt. 29-05-2019]

Ministry of Law and Justice

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, C.J. and R.C. Khulbe, J. entertained a writ petition against the AYUSH Education Department.

Petitioner contended that in 2013, she applied for the post of Manager State Pharmacy in AYUSH and was called for an interview by the said Department as she stood first in the written examination. It was alleged by the petitioner that she secured the third position in the final list and thereafter the respondent had issued an appointment order to the candidate in 2018. Petitioner was aggrieved by the act of the State as the post was not offered to her despite the fact that the candidates who secured first and a second position in the merit list never joined.

The Court inquired with P.K. Chauhan, learned counsel for the petitioner regarding the rule prescribing life of the panel. The learned counsel submitted that he was not aware of the rule framed by Public Service Commission or by Government regarding the period for which a panel of waitlisted candidates would remain in force. He further submitted that even if the life of the panel is presumed to be one year, from the date a letter of appointment was issued in favor of the candidate who stood first in the merit list, the offer of appointment was made to the said candidate in 2018, and consequently the life of the panel would continue to remain valid till 2019; and the petitioner’s claim for appointment to the post of Manager State Pharmacy in Department, had been considered within this period. Learned Counsel for the petitioner, argued that, the Principal Secretary should be directed to consider the petitioner’s representation in this regard and in accordance with the law, within a specified time frame.

As learned Counsel for the respondents had no objection for such an order to be passed, the writ petition was disposed of directing the Principal Secretary, AYUSH and AYUSH Education Department to consider the petitioner’s representation in accordance with law, to pass a reasoned order thereupon, and the State was directed to communicate their decision to the petitioner with utmost expedition within two months of the order.[Divya v. State of Uttrakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 368, decided on 15-05-2019]

Appointments & TransfersNews

President appoints Justice Bimlendu Bhushan Mangalmurti and Justice Anil Kumar Choudhary, Additional Judges of the Jharkhand High Court to be Judges of the Jharkhand High Court with effect from the date they assume charge of their respective offices.


[Notification dt. 23-04-2019]

Ministry of Law and Justice

Appointments & TransfersNews

President appoints the following two Judicial Officers to be the Judges of Rajasthan High Court while exercising the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 217 of Constitution of India :

  • Abhay Chaturvedi
  • Narendra Singh Dhaddha

The above mentioned, in order of their seniority, with effect from the date they assume charge of their respective offices.


[Order dt. 15-04-2019]

Ministry of Law and Justice

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Clarifying the order dated 03.07.2018, the bench of CJ Ranjan Gogoi and L. Nageswara Rao and Sanjiv Khanna, JJ said that the recommendation for appointment to the post of Director General of Police by the Union Public Service Commission and preparation of panel should be purely on the basis of merit from officers who have a minimum residual tenure of six months i.e. officers who have at least six months of service prior to the retirement.

To do away with the practice of States appointing the Director General of Police on the last date of   the normal tenure of an incumbent so as to ensure that such incumbents get extended term of two years in view of the directions of this Court contained in Prakash Singh v. Union of India, (2006) 8 SCC 1, the 3-judge bench of former CJI Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar and Dr. DY Chandrachud, JJ. gave the following directions inter alia:

“(e) An endeavour has to be made by all concerned to see that the person who was selected and appointed as the Director General of Police continues despite his date of superannuation. However, the extended term beyond the date of superannuation should be a reasonable period. We say so as it has been brought to our notice that some of the States have adopted a practice to appoint the Director General of Police on the last date of retirement as a consequence of which the person continues for two years after his date of superannuation. Such a practice will not be in conformity with the spirit of the direction.

(f) Our direction No.(c) should be considered by the Union Public Service Commission to mean that the persons are to be empanelled, as far as practicable, from amongst the people within the zone of consideration who have got clear two years of service. Merit and seniority should be given due weightage.”

Alleging that the aforementioned directions have resulted into confusion, the petitioner argued that:

“the Union Public Service Commission while empanelling officers for consideration for appointment   to the post of Director General of Police is considering the minimum residual tenure required to be taken into account as two years. In the process, according to the applicant, many suitable and eligible officers are being left out.”

On this Court clarified that it had not contemplated recommendation for appointment of officers who are on the verge of retirement or appointment of officers who have a minimum residual tenure of two years. The emphasis was to select the best and to ensure a minimum tenure of two years’ service of such officer who is to be selected and appointed. It, hence, issued the direction that:

“In the above conspectus the object in issuing the directions in Prakash Singh (supra), in our considered view, can best be achieved if the residual tenure of an officer i.e. remaining period of service till normal retirement, is fixed on a reasonable basis, which, in our considered view, should be a period of six months.”

The Court, however, said that the above direction, naturally, will hold the field until the validity of the Police Acts in force which provides to the contrary are examined and dealt with by the Court in the pending writ petition.

[Prakash Singh v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 371, decided on 13.03.2019]

Appointments & TransfersNews

On 01-01-2019 four Information Commissioners namely Shri Yashvardhan Kumar Sinha, Smt. Vanaja N Sarna, Shri Neeraj Kumar Gupta and Shri Suresh Chandra were administered the oath of office of the Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission (CIC) by the Chief Information Commissioner, Shri Sudhir Bhargava. With their induction, the total number of Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission including Chief Information Commissioner has gone upto 7.

 

 

Press Release

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), Mumbai: The whole-time Member of SEBI, Madhabi Puri Buch addressed the issue of whether there was any prima facie suspicion or evidence of financial misrepresentation and misuse of books of accounts by the company in question.

Parsvnath Developers Ltd. (PDL) mentioned themselves as one of the largest real estate development companies in Northern India involved in development and construction of real estate projects. SEBI, on the basis of a letter by Ministry of Corporate Affairs where list of shell companies were provided, viewed these shell companies as potentially involved in misrepresentation and misuse of books of account. PDL was also in that list.

The Board asked for various documents as an evidence of work taken up by the company and saw a possible violation of SEBI (Listing Obligation and Disclosure Requirements) Regulation, 2015. Board noted that PDL had failed to show commencement certificates for any work of contract and sub-contract carried by it which suggested that the revenue of the company has been overstated as no evidence to show completion of work was provided. Company also failed to provide evidence of execution of contracts undertaken by the company or given to other companies.

Therefore, the board was of the view that in the interest of investors, the company’s finances should be independently audited. Under Sections 11, 11(4), 11-A and 11-B read with Section 19 of the Securities and Exchange Board of India Act, 1992, the Board directed the exchange to appoint an independent forensic auditor. Board concluded that the company was on suspicion of misusing the books of accounts and misrepresentation of financials/business of the Company. [Parsvnath Developers Ltd. In Re, 2018 SCC OnLine SEBI 154, order dated 08-08-2018]

Appointments & TransfersNews

Lady Justice Arden DBE and Lord Justice Kitchin will join the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom as Justices on 1 October 2018, followed by Lord Justice Sales on 11 January 2019, as was announced on June 27, 2018.

Her Majesty The Queen made each of the appointments on the advice of the Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor, following the recommendations of an independent selection commission. The commission consulted across each of the Supreme Court’s three UK jurisdictions before making its recommendations.

These appointments follow the retirement of Lord Mance, former Deputy President of the Court, in June 2018. Lord Hughes and Lord Sumption are due to retire in August and December 2018 respectively.

[Source: UK Supreme Court News Release]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the issue relating to filling up of 4010 vacancies in the State of Uttar Pradesh, consisting of 3698 vacancies for Sub-Inspectors and 312 vacancies for Platoon Commanders, the 3-judge bench of Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta, JJ directed that the vacancies should be filled up by the State of Uttar Pradesh expeditiously on merits, if not already filled up.

The State had submitted before the Court that due to orders passed from time to time by this Court, perhaps more than 4010 posts have been filled up. The Court, hence, directed that the persons occupying posts in excess of 4010 shall not be disturbed until further orders from this Court.

Regarding the question as to whether the persons who have been appointed in excess of 4010 Posts are to continue or their services may be dispensed with, the Court said that it will pass the appropriate orders only after hearing the parties.

The Court also took note of it’s order dated 14.09.2017 in which it was noted that all those persons who are before this Court on the ground that they were before the High Court on or before 31st December, 2016 either as petitioners or intervenors may submit their particulars to learned Additional Advocate General who will verify the particulars and submit a report before 31st October, 2017. The Court, hence, made clear that following the order passed on 14.09.2017, all applications for intervention/impleadment, etc. or fresh matters instituted after the cut-off date of 31st December, 2016 stand disposed of. [Alok Kumar Singh v. State of U.P.,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 309, order dated 22.03.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: While deciding upon the present writ petition wherein the petitioner’s appointment in Group- D post was cancelled by the respondents (High Court of Tripura) on the ground of an FIR registered against him, the Division Bench of Ajay Rastogi, C.J., and S. Talapatra,J., held that the FIR once registered has been quashed by the Court under Section 482 of Cr.PC, no inference can be drawn to impute any adverse antecedents which in any manner may deprive an individual from seeking public employment.

As per the facts, the petitioner was duly selected in Group D post. However the petitioner’s selection was cancelled owing to the fact that an FIR was registered against him under Sections 3,4,5,6(2)(4) & 7 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956. Th petitioner challenged the FIR and it was subsequently quashed by this Court in exercise of its powers under Section 482 of CrPC. Yet even after the quashment, the respondents refused to consider the petitioner’s appointment on the ground that his conduct does not generate confidence for employment in the service of the High Court. The petitioner argued that there was no misrepresentation on his part and the FIR against him was a result of false implication; and once this Court has quashed the FIR, the petitioner had a clean record again. Therefore there was no ground upon which he could be denied employment. The petitioner via his counsel Raju Datta, contended that the act of the respondents in rejecting the petitioner’s employment, was arbitrary, therefore it demands judicial interference. Counsel for the respondents contended that mere selection and offer of appointment does not confer any vested right and the decision of the authority cannot be said to be per se arbitrary.

Upon perusal of the issue and facts, the Court observed that Rule 9 of High Court of Tripura Services (Appointment, Conditions of Service and Conduct) Rules, 2014 prescribe certain disqualifications for appointment and sub-rule (c) of Rule 9 clearly envisages that if one has been convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude could be a reason for disqualification for appointment. However in the present case, the FIR was found to be fabricated, hence quashed. Other than the quashed FIR, there is no criminal history of the petitioner which could render him disqualified for public employment. The Court thus directed the respondents to not to draw any adverse inference to implicate the petitioner, and consider his candidature for appointment in Group D post. [Tapas Chakraborty v. High Court of Tripura, 2018 SCC OnLine Tri 57, decided on 10-04-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the light of serious irregularities in the selection process of appointment of assistant teachers in government lower primary schools, the Bench of AK Goel and RF Nariman, JJ directed that for the purity of selection to the public posts, as far as possible the selection process conducted by the selection bodies, especially the State Public Service Commissions and the State Selection Boards, is videographed.

Directing the Registry to send a copy of the order to Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, for being forwarded to the concerned authorities for compliance, the Bench further directed:

“at examination centres as well as interview centres CCTV cameras should be installed to the extent viable. Footage thereof may be seen by an independent committee of three members and report of such committee may be placed on the website concerned.”

The Court gave the said order when the irregularities in the State of Meghalaya was brought to it’s notice. The Court noticed that such incidents were being reported in several cases as it had recently dealt with such a matter in Avinash C. v. State of Karnataka, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 330, decided on 4.4.2018. [State of Meghalaya v. Phikirba Khariah, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 336, order dated 06.04.2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court Of Uttaranchal: A Division Bench comprising of  U.C. Dhyani and  Sudhanshu Dhulia, JJ. dismissed a challenge against the appointment of State Chief Information Commissioner. The main challenge in the petition was that the office of the State Chief Information Commissioner has become the ‘dumping ground’ for retired bureaucrats, who are rewarded for their loyalty to the State Government.

The question posed in the writ petition is – whether the state government can defy the mandate of the Union legislature and the spirit of the RTI Act by appointing Chief Information Commissioner to favour certain officers, who have retired, or are due to retire in the near future?

The contention put up by the petitioner is that according to Section 15(1) of RTI Act, the requirement of the appointment of a retired bureaucrat is not a necessity, rather it prescribes the requirement is of a person shall be eminent in public life with wide knowledge and experience in particular field.

Further, it has been stated by the Hon’ble Court, that, Court cannot sit in judgment over the wisdom of the government in the choice of person to be appointed as long as the person satisfies all the eligibility criteria along with the process prescribed. Therefore, it has been observed by the court that the writ of quo Warranto cannot be issued unless there is a clear violation of law and here clearly the appointment has is not contrary to the statutory rules.

Concluding the judgment, the Hon’ble Court while agreeing to the submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner in the matter of appointments to higher echelons, fairness should be the hallmark of selection, it does not find any illegality or irregularity in the appointment of the State Chief Information Commissioner, it also hoped that in the future, the persons of eminence will be drawn from these walks of life also. [Chandra Shekhar Kargeti v. State Of Uttarakhand; 2018 SCC OnLine Utt 29, order dated 10-01-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Madan B lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ directed the Executive in all the States to frame appropriate guidelines or recruitment rules within six months, considering the institutional requirements of the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) and the law laid down in the Statutes, by this Court and as per the reports of various committees and authorities and ensure that suitable professionals and experts are appointed to the SPCBs.

The Court was hearing the appeal against the decision of the National Green Tribunal where it was held that the necessary expertise or qualifications to be members or chairpersons of such high powered and specialized statutory bodies and therefore did not deserve their appointment or nomination. The Court, agreeing with the reasoning of the Tribunal, set aside the order as the Tribunal had exceeded its jurisdiction in directing the State Governments to reconsider the appointments and in laying down guidelines for appointment to the SPCBs.

The Court referred to a number of recommendations of various committees, the laws laid down in various Statutes and Judgements and said:

“All these suggestions and recommendations are more than enough for making expert and professional appointments to the SPCBs being geared towards establishing a professional body with multifarious tasks intended to preserve and protect the environment and consisting of experts. Any contrary view or compromise in the appointments would render the exercise undertaken by all these committees completely irrelevant and redundant.”

The Court, noticing that notwithstanding all these suggestions, recommendations and guidelines the SPCBs continue to be manned by persons who do not necessarily have the necessary expertise or professional experience to address the issues for which the SPCBs were established by law, said that the concern is not one of a lack of professional expertise, but the lack of dedication and willingness to take advantage of the resources available. It further said:

“With this couldn’t-care-less attitude, the environment and public trust are the immediate casualties.”

The Court said that any damage to the environment could be permanent and irreversible or at least long-lasting and

“unless corrective measures are taken at the earliest, the State Governments should not be surprised if petitions are filed against the State for the issuance of a writ of quo warranto in respect of the appointment of the Chairperson and members of the SPCBs.”

The Court left it open to public spirited individuals to move the appropriate High Court for the issuance of a writ of quo warranto if any person who does not meet the statutory or constitutional requirements is appointed as a Chairperson or a member of any SPCB or is presently continuing as such. [Techi Tagi Tara v. Rajendra Singh Bhandari, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 1165 , decided on 22.09.2017]

 

Hot Off The PressNews

Supreme Court: Hearing the petition challenging the appointment of the incumbent CVC, K V Chaudhary, and vigilance commissioner (VC) T M Bhasin on ground that they did not have “clean record” and a non-transparent procedure was followed while appointing them, the bench of Arun Mishra and M M Shantanagoudar, JJ said that it would not go into the aspect of “political favouritism” but only examine whether a person appointed to the posts of central vigilance commissioner and vigilance commissioners met the criteria of having “impeccable integrity”.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner NGO Common Cause, alleged that despite several representations against KV Chaudhary, the government appointed him as the CVC as he was their “favoured candidate”. To this, the Court said that the question before it was of impeccable integrity and not political favouritism.

Attorney General K K Venugopal told the Court that the decision taken by the selection committee comprising the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Leader of Opposition was unanimous. On the allegations, he said that all these aspects were considered and discussed by the committee before arriving at a decision and the inquiries as alleged by the petitioner were “closed” after deliberation. He also placed before the court the files relating to the procedure and discussions by the committee on the issue of appointment of the CVC and VC.

The Court asked Attorney General to go through the files before arguing the matter has listed the matter for hearing on 07.09.2017.

Source: PTI

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with an important question as to whether the process of appointment of a principal in minority institution is open to judicial review, the bench of A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, JJ, held that while under the constitutional scheme, a “minority institution” is free to select and appoint a principal, without being bound by the principle of seniority alone, whether the appointment has been made fairly and reasonably and whether there is violation of right of an individual eligible candidate by the minority institution by not adopting fair procedure, is liable to be tested in exercise of power of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution.

In the present case, where a person junior to the appellant, who was appointed as Incharge-Principal, in the absence of regular principal, was appointed to the post of principal of a minority institution, the Court said that the minority institution may not be compelled to go by seniority alone but it must follow a criterion which is rational.

Stating that the grievance of a citizen that he was treated unfairly cannot be ignored on the ground that a minority institution has autonomy or right of choice, the Court said that the exercise of right of choice has to be fair, non-discriminatory and rational. The Autonomy of a minority institution does not dispense with the requirement to act fairly and in a transparent manner and the High Court in exercise of its power of judicial review is entitled to examine fairness of selection process. [Ivy C. da. Conceicao v. State of Goa, 2012 SCC OnLine Bom 1040 , decided on 31.01.2017]