Sunday, November 27, 2022
154,225FansLike
654,155FollowersFollow
0SubscribersSubscribe

Kerala High Court says no room for PIL when statutory remedy available in law colleges principals case

Want create site? Find Free WordPress Themes and plugins.

The Kerala High Court has opined that when an aggrieved person is left with a statutory remedy there is no scope for a public interest litigant to intervene and seek a writ of quo warranto.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly dismissed a PIL filed by a NGO seeking the following reliefs:-

a) Issue a writ of quo warranto or any other appropriate writ, order or direction calling upon 3rd, 4th and 5th respondents (Principals of Government Law colleges) to explain under what authority they are holding the post of Principal, Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Thrissur respectively;

b) Issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ order or direction directing the 1st respondent (State of Kerala) to take steps to appoint duly qualified Principals in the Government Law Colleges in the State in accordance with the minimum qualifications prescribed by UGC regulations;

c) Declare that the 3rd and 4th respondents are ineligible to hold the post of Principal of Government Law College, Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam respectively as they have not participated in the Selection process conducted by the 1st respondent to the post of principals in Government Law Colleges in the state and that their continuance in the post is illegal and without authority;

d) Declare that the 5th respondent is ineligible to hold the post of Principal, Government law College, Thrissur, as the Selection Committee has not recommended him to the Post and that his continuation in office amounts to usurpation of a “public Office”;

e) Issue a writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction directing the 1st respondent to take expeditious steps to obtain approval of the LLB Courses (Five Year and Three year) so as to protect the interests of the students of the Government Law Colleges in the State.

The petitioner is espousing the cause of the law students in the four Government Law Colleges in the State which has a direct impact on the affiliation and approval of the course by the Bar Council of India, the regulatory body. It is submitted that the Bar Council of India Legal Education Rules mandates the minimum infrastructure in the Law Colleges for continued affiliation and approval which inter alia includes that the faculty of the colleges should be qualified as per the UGC Regulations and that the college is to have a full-time Principal who is qualified as per the UGC norms governing the field.

The paramount contention advanced by the petitioner is that as per list of Law Colleges having approval of affiliation of the Bar Council of India, three Government Law Colleges in the State namely, Kozhikode, Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram, do not have valid approval as on date. Government Law College, Ernakulam faced approval issues on account of teaching a course not concurred by the Bar Council of India and had to pay a fine of Rs 10,000,000 for approval and recognition. The approval and recognition lapsed in academic year 2019-2020 and the same is due for renewal.

That apart, it is contended that Government had conducted a selection process of the faculty of the College as per the UGC norms in 2019 and many in the entry cadre of Assistant Professors were not promoted on account of failure to comply with UGC norms. However, in the matter of Principals, though a selection as per the UGC norms was conducted, 5th respondent, who is now officiating as Principal, Government Law College, Thrissur, has not been recommended due to lack of qualifications as prescribed under UGC Regulations. Respondents 3 and 4, respectively, did not participate in the selection process and as such, they do not have the right to officiate as Principal as their appointment is without subjecting to the selection process itself. It is further contended that continuation of unqualified hands as Principal would affect the affiliation and approval of the colleges by the Bar Council of India. It is in the above background this writ petition is filed inter alia seeking a writ of quo warranto calling upon respondents 3 to 5 to explain under what authority they are officiating the post of Principal in the various law colleges of the State.

In view of this stand taken by the Bar Council of India and in the interest of the student community, the Government has decided not to continue with B.A. Criminology LL.B. course in the Government Law College, Ernakulam from 2016-2017 and substituted the course with Five Year Integrated B.Com LL.B. Honours Course as per G.O. dated 18.07.2016.

The question emerging for consideration by the Court is whether respondents 3 to 5 are mere usurpers of the post of Principal in the three different Government Law Colleges in Kerala.

The Court noted that the appointments were affected either on the basis of the judgment rendered by the High Court as per the saving clause contained in the order of the Apex Court extracted above. In the considered opinion of the High Court, the interpretation given by the counsel for the petitioner that the order of the Supreme Court has only protected those Principals who were appointed prior to 23.02.2016, i.e. the date of the judgment of the Full Bench, cannot be sustained at all for the basic reason that; it is clearly specified by the Apex Court that in the interest of justice and for doing complete justice between the parties, “to declare that the judgment dated 23.02.2016 will be applicable only from the date of the of the Full Bench judgment, except in the case of individual parties before the High Court”; which in the considered view of the High Court , to mean, if and when there are directions issued by the High Court in individual cases, that is protected as per the order of the Apex Court and it cannot be said as otherwise, because if it is interpreted in the manner in which counsel for the petitioner has interpreted, it would be an unreasonable classification among the same class of people who were holding the post of Principal. It is an admitted fact that the party respondents were holding the post of Principal in accordance with the existing special rules and relevant University statutes.

Further, the Court observed that the party respondents have a case that they were appointed subject to the finalization of the cases pending before the Apex Court which was finally disposed of affirming the decision of the Full Bench, however with a saving clause as deliberated above. There is no dispute with respect to the fact that all the party respondents were officiating the post of Principal prior to the date of the order of the Apex Court. Though the 3rd respondent was not a part in the proceedings before the Apex Court, the 3rd respondent was also appointed by the Government in accordance with the statutory provisions and the rules and regulations for the appointment of teachers / Principal in law colleges and the basis of the judgment of the Division Bench of this court in Ravindran’s supra.

So also even going by the UGC Regulations 2010, the party respondents are having the requisite educational qualifications; and therefore the mode of appointment is the qualification, and the selection is a procedure, which if at all violated, can only be said to be an illegality, or rather cannot be termed to be an usurpation of a post when the party respondents are appointed by the State Government exercising the powers conferred under the relevant statutes of the State and the Rules of the Bar Council of India, the Court held.

It is observed by the Court that a process of selection through a selection committee can only be said to be to evaluate the comparative merits of the parties and if not done, cannot be said to be an usurpation of a post to maintain a public interest writ petition seeking a writ of quo warranto. This question was considered by the Apex Court in R. K. Jain v. Union of India [(1993) 4 SCC 119] wherein the Apex Court held that the evaluation of the comparative merits of the candidates could not be gone into in a public interest litigation and it can only be a challenge in a proceeding initiated by an aggrieved person.

“To put it otherwise, if the issue raised by the petitioner is properly analyzed, the petitioner is attributing an illegality in the process of selection which is not a ground available to the petitioner to file a writ of quo warranto contending that the party respondents are usurpers to the post. We are also informed that various litigations are pending before the administrative tribunal as well as this Court in respect of the selection, initiated by the aggrieved persons. It can also be seen that interim arrangements were made by the State Government when the posts of Principal became vacant, and pending selection and appointment in accordance with the statutory provisions all of them were given charge in the post of Principal which can never be said to be against any public policy,” the order reads.

Did you find apk for android? You can find new Free Android Games and apps.
spot_img

News Update