NOC cannot be denied on the grounds that it was not applied through a proper channel : Delhi High Court

No Objection Certificate cannot be denied on the grounds that it was not applied for through a proper channel. The High Court bench consisting of J. Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and J. Asha Menon in the matter Krishna Kant Yadav v. Union of India & Ors. [W.P. (C) 8002/2020 & CM No. 26058/2020], issued mandamus directing Indian Air Force to comply with the pleas of the petitioner.

The petitioner, an Airman of the respondents, Indian Air Force (IAF), filed the present writ petition seeking mandamus, directing the respondents, AIF to grant ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) / Discharge Certificate to the petitioner, thereby allowing him to join the post for which he had selected in the recruitment process held by one of the respondents, Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC), i.e. the post of Assistant Labour Commissioner in the Government of State of Uttar Pradesh. The writ petitioner first came up before the court on 15th October, 2020, when a notice thereof was ordered to be issued and the respondents restrained from revoking / cancelling the offer of appointment made to the petitioner, on the ground of non-submission of the NOC by the petitioner.

The petitioner relying on CPL N.K. Jhakar v. Union of India [W.P. (C) No. 9088/2008], argued that “holding that not applying through proper channel cannot be a ground for denying NOC/Discharge Certificate”. The respondents on the other hand pleaded that firstly the court did not have jurisdiction to entertain this petition and that the petitioner had other statutory remedy under Section 26 of the Air Force Act, 1950 for redressal of his grievance. The respondents further argued that “considering the functionality of the respondents IAF, it requires well trained and experienced manpower and each Airman is trained for specific role and his continuance in the service is essential not only to make good the expenditure incurred on him by the nation on his training but also to man all the required posts at all levels, to achieve desired operational preparedness at all times”. Additionally it was stated by the respondents that “permission to apply for civil post as well as grant of NOC are privileges and hence cannot be claimed as a matter of right”.

The court, placing heavy reliance on the case of Subhash Chand v. Union of India [MANU//DE/0794/2020], stated that “the respondents IAF cannot be permitted to impose the condition of Skill Grade ‘A’ which has been struck down in Subhash Chand supra by making it impossible for an Airman to apply for prior permission because of not having Skill Grade ‘A’ and then contend that the Airman is not entitled to NOC/discharge on the said ground”. The SC further found that “Though the respondents IAF has pleaded that the condition of possessing Skill Grade ‘A’ for seeking NOC / Discharge Certificate, after 7 years of service, was introduced as an incentive to Airmen to upgrade their skill and which is pleaded to be in the interest of operational preparedness of the respondents IAF, but surprisingly, there is no condition, that an Airman, after upgrading his skill grade to Level ‘A’, will serve the respondents IAF for any minimum period during which he will contribute with Skill Grade ‘A’ to the benefit of the respondents IAF. Thus, technically it follows that an Airman, the very next day or shortly after upgrading his skill grade to Grade ‘A’, would be entitled to be discharged from the respondents IAF, much before his initial term of engagement of 20 years. We could have understood that if the incentive given to upgrade to Skill Grade ‘A’ were to benefit the respondents IAF in any way”. The SC hence, allowed the petition and issued Mandamus as pleaded by the petitioner.

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