Srinagar, July 21: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh on Friday dismissed a contempt plea pertaining to recruitment of the posts of Assistant Information Officer (AIOs) Grade-II which were advertised in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Dismissing the plea, a division bench of Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Javed Iqbal Wani said the recruiting agency, JKSSB, cannot be said to be have done willful dis-obedience of its order in view of the policy decision by the Administrative Council in 2022.
“The policy decision taken by the Administration, vide Decision No.1/1/2022 dated 29.01.2022 is to the effect that all posts referred to JKPSC/ JKSSB prior to 31.10.2019 for which selections have not been finalized till date, as also the posts in which there are litigations and the cases are pending in the Courts, shall be deemed to have been withdrawn with immediate effect,” the court said.
The Court underscored that in the present case, though the direction of the Court was to finalize the process of selection, the fact remained that selection was not finalized when the said policy decision was taken by the Administration on 29.01.2022.
“Therefore, in the present case, even if, by virtue of the order dated 10.05.2013 passed by the Division Bench, the selection authority is under legal obligation to finalize the process of selection, yet since the finalization could not be accomplished before 29.01.2022 and even if the petitioners have a vested right to claim that process of selection be finalized in terms of the direction of the Division Bench dated 10.05.2013, they could not claim more than that,” it said.
The bench observed that since court cases were still pending, the bar imposed by the Administrative Council vide its decision on 29 January 2022 would come into operation.
The court said that selection and appointment are two different and distinct parts of a recruitment process which do not necessarily have to go together.
“There is no inevitability of appointment merely because a person has been selected for appointment by being included in the select list,” the court said, “Since, in the present case, there was no direction of the Division Bench to appoint the selected candidates, it cannot be said that petitioners have a vested right of appointment.”
The court also addressed another issue raised by the petitioners that the authorities could not have taken any executive decision which would come in the way of implementation of the judicial order and such an executive act could amount to violation of the judicial order.
“If the administrative decision was taken specifically to nullify the effect of a judicial order in a particular case, certainly it will amount to violation of the court order,” the court said, adding, “However, in the present case, what is worth considering is that the administrative decision taken on 29.01.2022 was not with regard to a particular case or with specific reference to the order dated 10.05.2013 but was of a general nature which was applicable to all those cases….Thus, we are of the view that said policy decision taken was certainly not keeping in mind specifically the present case and, as such, we are of the view that it was not done intentionally or deliberately to nullify the effect of the order of the court.”
While the High Court in 2013 had directed the Service Selection Board (SSB) to go for a fresh selection of the AIOs, the order was upheld by the Supreme Court later.
The high court had directed the selection agency to proceed with the selection process afresh in conformity with the rules.
The board had issued three different notifications in 2006, 2008 and 2010, inviting applications for the posts of Assistant Information Officer Grade-II.