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A Court may refuse to issue a Writ of Quo Warranto if it is found that the person whose appointment is under challenge could be re-appointed under the law in force: High Court of J&K and Ladakh

A Court may refuse to issue a Writ of Quo Warranto if it is found that the person whose appointment is under challenge could be re-appointed under the law in force at the time of issuance of writ on account of his becoming qualified for such appointment on that day. Thus, a Writ of Quo Warranto will not be issued when the alleged usurper could immediately be re-appointed to the very post as held by the High Court of J&K through a learned bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar in the case of Dr. Syed Shujat Hussain Vs State Of J&K And Others [SWP No.683/2013 c/w SWP No.681/2013].

Brief facts of the case are that Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences & Technology, Kashmir issued advertisement notice inviting applications for various posts including the posts of Assistant Professor/Junior Scientist in the subjects of Plant Pathology and Soil Science. In response to the said advertisement notice, petitioner Dr. Firdous Ahmad Raina applied for the post of Assistant Professor/Junior Scientist in the subject of Plant Pathology whereas petitioner Dr. Syed Shujat Hussain applied in the subject of Soil Science.

Both the above-named petitioners claim that they possessed the requisite qualification and experience. The interviews are stated to have been conducted by the respondent University but when the select list was issued, the petitioners did not find their names in the same and instead ineligible persons i.e., respondent No.4 and respondents No.4 and 5, found their way in the select list.

The official respondents have taken a stand that the qualification requirements for the posts of Assistant Professor underwent change so as to bring it in line with broad policy framework of Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) New Delhi and it was because of this reason that in the fresh advertisement notice of 2012, which has been impugned in the writ petitions, the prescribed qualification for the aforesaid posts was changed. It is claimed by the respondents that because the selection of teaching faculty is being made on All India Competition basis in terms of Statute of the University, as such, the University was well within its competence to advertise the posts held by the petitioners on adhoc basis.

The High court was of the opinion that the fact of the matter remains that Expert Committee of the respondent University has scrutinized and examined the testimonials of all the candidates’ where after they have found private respondent No.5 eligible for appointment to the post of Assistant Professor, Plant Pathology. It would not be open to this Court to examine and interfere with the findings of the Screening Committee in this regard. Observing the same the court stated that “Apart from the above, it needs to be borne in mind that a Court may refuse to issue a Writ of Quo Warranto if it is found that the person whose appointment is under challenge could be re-appointed under the law in force at the time of issuance of writ on account of his becoming qualified for such appointment on that day. Thus, a Writ of Quo Warranto will not be issued when the alleged usurper could immediately be re-appointed to the very post.”

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Judgment Reviewed by – Aryan Bajaj

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