Srinagar: The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has put in abeyance J&K Public Service Commission (JKPSC)’s order cancelling appointment of a dental surgeon after 18 years as “withdrawn”.
The tribunal has also directed authorities to accommodate the dental surgeon, Dr Shwiti Gupta in view of the J&K High Court’s orders in this regard.
The plea before the CAT revealed that the commission had issued an advertisement notice on June 23, 2003, inviting applications from eligible candidates for the post of Dental Surgeon in the Health & Family Welfare Department.
A A Mughal being eligible applied for the post and after completing the selection process, the JKPSC issued a select list on September 29, 2005, wherein she also figured.
Subsequently she joined the post in 2005 itself and is working as a Dental Surgeon with the department for the last 18 years.
In the meantime, Dr Gupta questioned her non-selection as she was entitled for six more points, three each for experience and sports.
Finally, the authorities passed an order on November 25, 2020, whereby the claim of Dr Gupta was rejected.
She challenged the order before CAT Bench Jammu and her plea was allowed with a direction to the authorities to appoint her to the post of Dental Surgeon.
In an appeal, the authorities challenged the order before the High Court, which was dismissed by the Division Bench on December 15, 2021.
Subsequent to the dismissal of the appeal, the candidate was appointed to the post of Dental Surgeon and the appointment of Mughal was cancelled as withdrawn by the JKPSC on July 20 this year.
Aggrieved by the order, Mughal filed a petition before the CAT through her counsel Advocate Mir Suhail with the contention that she had been working without any break for 18 years.
Mir argued that it would be contrary to the rules and principles of natural justice that after serving for 18 years, the authorities have passed the cancellation order of her appointment, that too without giving any opportunity to defend herself.
He further submitted that JKPSC had clarified its position in the meeting held on February 25, 2020, that the selection for 36 referred posts was completed in the year 2005 and as such the exclusion of the last selected candidate from the select list was neither feasible nor justified.
“Due to the mistake committed by the JKPSC, Mughal should not be punished after 18 years of service,” he said.
The CAT observed that before the Division Bench of the High Court, Dr Gupta had brought on record that she could be accommodated against the four vacancies, which remained unfilled in the selection of 2003 on account of not joining despite selection, by four candidates.
Moreover, the CAT observed, it was brought on record before the High Court that 17 vacancies of the post of Dental Surgeons were available which had not been notified to the Commission for the purposes of selection.
“Therefore, the respondent could easily be accommodated to any of the said vacancies without disturbing the selection and appointment of any candidates either as per the select list of 2005 or any other select list prepared thereafter,” the High Court had said.
“In view of this, the respondents (authorities) are directed to accommodate the applicant (Dr Gupta) as observed by the High Court in its order dated December 15, 2021, as well as in view of the clarification issued by the PSC in its meeting on February 25, 2020,” the CAT said. “The impugned order dated July 20, 2023, should remain in abeyance until further orders.”