SRINAGAR, June 29: High Court has allowed the Jammu and Kashmir Bank to open the link and proceed with the selection process for 350 posts of Probationary Officers and 1500 Banking Associates. However, it has made it clear that final select list of candidates shall not be drawn, issued or published unless orders are sought from the court.
The order was passed by Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey while hearing a petition of candidates aspiring for their consideration in the selection process commenced by the Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited pursuant to Notification No.HR-Rectt-2018-1564 dated 06.10.2018 for filling up the posts of Probationary Officers and Banking Associates.
They challenged the notice dated 15.04.2020 issued by the Bank whereby it has notified that the selection process conducted for the posts stands cancelled and the fresh Recruitment Notice No.JKB/HR-Rectt-2020-27 & 28 dated 01.06.2020 issued by the Bank inviting applications.
The J&K Bank also filed objections to the writ petition as well as application for vacation of the direction dated 15.06.2020 whereby bank was asked to postpone the availability of the internet link for registration of candidature by the prospective candidates for the posts of Probationary Officers and Banking Associates.
When the case was taken up for consideration, Advocate General DC Raina submitted that the issue whether the Jammu and Kashmir Bank Limited is a State within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution does not arise because the bank has been declared as a public authority in terms of the erstwhile State Administrative Council (SAC) Decision No.148/20/2018 dated 22.11.2018.
He further submitted that pursuant to the SAC decision, the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009 and CVC guidelines stand applied to the bank and it was also made accountable to the State Legislature. Sunil Sethi, Senior Advocate, representing respondents did not contest this position.
The Advocate General simultaneously argued that now that the Central Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 is applicable to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and the bank having been declared as a public authority, the court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain this writ petition.
After hearing both the sides, Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey observed, “having regard to the plea of the writ petitioners that the bank was a State within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution, amenable to the writ jurisdiction of this court, and the facts brought to the notice of the court by the Advocate General, admitting the plea of the writ petitioners, nothing more needs to be done on the issue”.
“So far as the second issue raised by the Advocate General on the previous date of hearing, that since the CAT Act is applicable to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, and the Bank having been declared as a Public Authority, this Court does not have the jurisdiction to entertain this writ petition”, Justice Magrey said, adding, “this court heard the arguments in this regard in some detail and the orders in this regard are reserved. However, prima facie, I may observe here that the argument raised on behalf of the learned Advocate General does not seem to be supported by Section 14 of the CAT Act. The issue would be dealt with in detail in the order”.
“In the application filed by respondents it is, inter alia, stated that the functioning of the bank is suffering for non-availability of sufficient staff on the advertised positions. It is further stated therein that in absence of such staff, the bank is not able to provide adequate banking service to its customers, and that, resultantly, loss would be caused to the customer confidence and business of the bank”, Justice Magrey said, adding “interests of the bank are of paramount importance and that delay in registration of candidature by the prospective candidates may prolong the selection process which may be injurious to the interests of the bank”.
“This court would not wish the bank to be put to any loss or injury by operation of any order. At the same time, the court has to ensure that the writ petitioners are not non-suited”, Justice Magrey further said, adding “there is no denying the fact that the petitioners have only participated in the selection process. The law being that mere participation in the recruitment process does not confer any right of appointment on a candidate, the court is of the opinion that even if candidature of prospective candidates pursuant to the fresh notification dated 01.06.2020 is registered and the selection process is allowed to be completed up to a certain stage, it would not confer any right of appointment on such candidates”.
“Whether the ultimate selection process should be completed pursuant to the earlier advertisement notification or the subsequent notification would naturally be dependent on the final decision in the writ petition”, the High Court said, adding “it would be appropriate to allow the bank to open the link and proceed with the selection process”.
“However, the final select list of candidates shall not be drawn, issued or published by the bank/respondents unless orders in that regard are sought from the court if the matter is not finally decided till then and remains subjudice”, Justice Magrey made it clear.