JAMMU, Oct 22: In a major development, Division Bench of State High Court comprising First Puisne Judge Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rashid Ali Dar today quashed the selection process for the post of Secretary Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages (JKAACL) with the direction for laying down qualification and criteria.
The order has been passed in an appeal filed by Dr Arvinder Singh Amn, Additional Secretary JKAACL challenging the judgment passed by the writ court.
While quashing the advertisement dated March 1, 2019 for selection to the post of Secretary JKAACL, DB directed, “in case the process of selection is to be initiated, the qualifications, experience and other terms and conditions of service besides the process to be followed for the selection be prescribed before advertisement is issued”.
After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed appearing for the appellant whereas Senior AAG H A Siddiqui appearing for General Administration Department/ Culture Department and Government Advocate Bhanu Jasrotia appearing for JKAACL, the Division Bench observed, “if the facts of the present case are examined in the light of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in case titled State of Punjab and Anr V/s Brijeshwar Singh Chahal & Ors the only possible conclusion is that the process adopted does not inspire confidence”.
“Issuing advertisement without even laying down eligibility conditions and then asking for further information after receipt of applications is unknown to law and such a process cannot sustain in the eyes of law”, DB said.
Earlier, Advocate S S Ahmed vociferously highlighted that there is no qualification/criteria prescribed for the post of Secretary JKAACL and the Search Committees constituted from time to time were picking up the persons in a manner unknown to law. He referred Office Memorandum dated July 30, 2007 issued by DoPT, Govt of India regarding setting up of Search Committee/Search-cum-Selection Committee to submit that the procedure prescribed therein should be followed as guidance though it may not be strictly binding.
Reference was also made to the advertisement issued by Northern Zone and Cultural Centre Patiala inviting applications for the post of Director thereof wherein complete details regarding eligibility criteria has been prescribed.
“Recruitment Rules of 2006 do not lay down any qualification, experience for recruitment to the post of Secretary of the Academy. Even before the constitution of the Search Committee, the appointing authority had not laid down any such conditions and the criteria to be followed for the purpose of short-listing of the candidates”, Advocate Ahmed said, adding “in the absence thereof, the process will not inspire confidence”.
On the other hand, Senior AAG H A Siddiqui appearing for the State Government submitted that the Academy is an institute of excellence in the State of J&K and the post of Secretary was to fall vacant on 31-03-2019 and to ensure that the same does not remain vacant even for a day, the committee was constituted on 29-01-2019, so that the process of selection could be concluded well in advance.
He further submitted that no prejudice has been caused to the appellant as his candidature has been considered and fundamental right is only for consideration and not for seeking appointment.