SKIMS selections: HC directs completion of process, dismisses appeal

The J&K High Court has imposed Rs 5000 fine on Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS) for delay in finalization of the list of Assistant Professor in three disciplines at the institute,

A division bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey and Justice D S Thakur imposed the fine while dismissing an appeal against its single bench order.

The bench termed as ‘unfounded’ the contention of the SKIMS authorities that the finding of the single judge vis-à-vis the cutoff date for obtaining degree for the posts in question was erroneous.

In a judgment, the single judge had directed the Director SKIMS on 10 October 2017 to declare the result of candidates who had applied for the posts of Assistant Professor in the departments of Neurology, Plastic Surgery and Neurosurgery, the Super Specialty disciplines.

After it found that five petitioner candidates eligible for the posts, the court had directed the SKIMS to declare their result and finalize the selection process.

Pursuant to interim direction on 23 November 2016, the petitioners were admitted by the court to selection process.

In terms of advertisement Notice (No 7 of 2016 issued on May 5, 2016), the SKIMS had specified 25 September 2016 as the last date for submission of applications along with certificates while the effective date up to which the requisite experience was to be completed was 30 June 2016.

In the advertisement notice the SKIMS had mentioned that the candidates (Super Specialty disciplines) who have three year MCh or DM degrees do not require experience.

The petitioners were however informed by the SKIMS administration that the screening committee constituted by the government had declared them ineligible for the posts due to completion of requisite qualification/degree after cutoff date.

The aggrieved candidates filed writ petition before the single bench. While disposing of the petition, the single judge held that the five petitioners had done their DM/MCh well before the cut of date of 25 September 2016.

“The communications as sent to the petitioners by the Senior Administrative Officer (Member Secretary Screening Committee) that they lack the eligibility is totally misplaced and without any basis running totally contrary to the condition of the advertisement notice,” the court had said. 

However the SKIMS filed an appeal before the division bench and contended that the view taken by the single judge was erroneous as the cutoff date for obtaining the degree could not have been taken to be the last date of submission of forms (25 September2016). 

“The effective date up to which the requisite experience had to be completed was 30 July 2016,” the SKIMS said.  

However the division bench observed that the cutoff date was always the last date of submission of forms and the effective date, prescribed in the advertisement notice, was only with respect to the experience.

“Therefore, the writ court, in our considered view, has appreciated the matter in its right perspective,” the bench said.

Since petitioners before the single bench were admittedly holding their DM/MCh degrees, the court held there was no requirement of experience and they were very much eligible for the post.

The matter, the court said, has been prolonged unnecessarily by the SKIMS- firstly by issuing communications to the aggrieved candidates about their ineligibility and subsequently by filing the appeal.

“The issue involved has been stretched too far to survive for three long years of litigation,” it said.  

Pulling up the SKIMS authorities the court said: “It does not require one to be a rocket scientist to determine the issue involved as the plain reading of the advertisement notice makes it lucidly clear that the aspiring candidates had to have the requisite experience by 30 June 2016, and the last date fixed was 25 September 2016”.

The court said it was also clear that the candidates with DM/MCh did not require any experience. “The issue has obviously been blown out of proportion for no good reasons, therefore, not only the LPA is required to be dismissed, but the appellant institute is required to be burdened with costs also for the unnecessary litigation,” the court said. 

While dismissing the appeal the court imposed the fine on the SKIMS to be deposited in the Lawyers Welfare Fund.

While upholding the single bench judgment, the court directed the SKIMS to proceed in the matter in terms of the directions contained in the judgment.

The aggrieved doctors were represented by senior advocate Jahangir Iqbal Ganai.