JAMMU, Nov 3: High Court has quashed the promotions of 26 Assistant Secretaries in J&K Board of School Education.
This significant judgment has been passed in a petition filed by Ashok Kumar Gandotra and others seeking quashment of Order No.398-B of 2013 dated 23.07.2013 issued by J&K State Board of School Education to the extent it pertains to regularization and promotion of respondents 3 to 28 as Assistant Secretaries with retrospective effect.
Petitioners are also seeking a direction to the official respondents to regularize and promote them as Assistant Secretaries with effect from the date they were designated as such or when the grade of the post was released in their favour.
After hearing Advocate Abhinav Sharma appearing for the petitioners, Justice Tashi Rabstan observed, “a perusal of the objections filed by the Board itself reveals that while filling up the posts-in-question, the Departmental Promotion Committee did not take into consideration the consistently good service record of candidates nor they had taken their personal interviews in terms of Order No.12-B of 1994 dated 07.01.1994, based on Resolution Nos. 12 & 13 dated 16.07.1993”.
“Rather the Departmental Promotion Committee had changed the criteria on its own so as to favour the private respondents which is nothing but an arbitrary exercise of powers and against the very spirit of Articles 14 & 16 of the Constitution of India”, High Court said, adding “the Departmental Promotion Committee had no power/jurisdiction to change the criteria which was the prerogative of competent authority. Further, it is not the case of Board that any vigilance inquiry was pending against all the petitioners”.
“Further, the order impugned also revealed that even some of the candidates came to be promoted to the post of Assistant Secretaries in relaxation of qualification. However, it is hard to understand that how such candidates could be said to be having more merit, eligibility and better edge than the petitioners in absence of any explanation on the part of Board, either in the objections or during the course of arguments”, Justice Rabstan observed, adding “resolution dated 30.09.2005 regarding relaxation of norms for according promotion to the post of Assistant Secretary on case to case basis is nothing but an intentional loophole and colourable exercise of power for favouring non-deserving candidates by the Board as well as by the authorities sitting at the helm of affairs”.
Accordingly, High Court quashed Order No.398-B of 2013 dated 23.07.2013 issued by the J&K State Board of School Education to the extent it pertains to regularization and promotion of respondents 3 to 28 as Assistant Secretaries with retrospective effect.
The respondents were directed to consider the petitioners for their promotion to the post of Assistant Secretary from the date they completed seven years of satisfactory service as Section Officers and were designated as Incharge Assistant Secretaries, of course strictly in terms of the seniority lists of Assistant Secretaries and Section Officers.