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Upon Expiration of Given Application Period, it is not possible for Court to Intervene to Extend Time: High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh at Srinagar

Where the period of submitting the application has already expired, the Court cannot extend the time for submitting the application by an interim order so as to protect the interests of the petitioner by permitting him to participate in the selection process, as was highlighted in a judgement by the HIGH COURT OF JAMMU & KASHMIR AND LADAKH AT SRINAGAR, before a bench consisting of the Hon’ble Chief Justice and Hon’ble Justice Sindhu Sharma, in the case of Shoket M. Chowdry vs. Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir [WP(C) No. 147 of 2022], on 02.02.22.

The petitioner alleges that he is Assistant Professor and Head of Department of Gastroenterology in Super Specialty Hospital of Government Medical College Jammu. He has filed this petition invoking the discretionary jurisdiction of this Court aggrieved by the non-grant of interim order to him in his original application by the Central Administrative Tribunal (‘the Tribunal’) Jammu. It appears that by an advertisement dated 20.12.2021, Government Medical College, Jammu invited online applications for the post of Assistant Professors, Associate Professors and Professors in the various departments of the Super Specialty Hospital at Jammu, inter alia including the department of Medical Gastroenterology. The petitioner somehow could not apply and as such, preferred original application No. 19/2022 before the Tribunal for the quashing of the above advertisement and for the stay of the selection insofar as it pertains to the post of Medical Gastroenterology. The petitioner sought relief in the form of quashment or setting aside of the Advertisement Notice released by the respondent, in addition to other interim measures. The Tribunal by the impugned order dated 10.01.2022 entertained the original application and fixed it for 28.02.2022 for orders giving time to the respondents to file response but has refused to grant exparte interim relief in view of the fact that the petitioner is under suspension since 2017 and is absent from duty from 2018 and, as such may not be entitled to the No objection Certificate (NOC) from the Principal so as to apply for the said post.

The Learned Counsel for the Petitioner, contended that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the petitioner was atleast entitled to some interim protection either by way of stay to the selection or by permitting him to participate in the selection. He further submits that he has no difficulty in getting the matter considered by the Tribunal on 28.02.2022 as fixed but in the meantime, the selection process on the post of department of Medical Gastroenterology may not be finalized.

It was observed by the Court that the writ petition is directed against the interlocutory order and reading of the said order reveals that the application of the petitioner for interim relief has not yet been rejected and may be considered on the next date after the respondents have filed their response. Therefore, it was held not to be a case of miscarriage of justice which may warrant exercise of the discretionary jurisdiction. Moreover, it was noted that the petitioner in the original application has prayed for the quashing of the advertisement and for its stay or selection in pursuance thereof. He had not made any prayer directing the respondents to allow him to participate in the selection or to give NOC to him so that he may apply and, as such, the Tribunal could not have issued any direction to allow him to participate in the selection even provisionally that too without NOC.

A perusal of the advertisement clearly reveals that the NOC from the Principal, Government Medical College, Jammu, in respect of the faculty members seeking absorption by lateral entry in the Super Specialty Hospital, Jammu, is one of the pre-condition for applying. Applications were to be submitted latest by 4 pm on 10.01.2022. It was observed that admittedly, the petitioner is not having any NOC from the Principal, Government Medical College, Jammu, and has not applied for participation in the selection process within the time prescribed. There is no material on record which could indicate that the petitioner has approached the Principal Government Medical College, Jammu, for NOC or he has made any effort to submit the application within the stipulated time.

It was thus held that the Tribunal could not have stayed the entire advertisement or the selection or even selection on the post of the department of Medical Gastroenterology as it would have gone against the public interest at large, more particularly, when the petitioner was under suspension and was not attending the duties and getting salary since 2018. Since the period of submitting the application has already expired, the Court cannot extend the time for submitting the application by an interim order so as to protect the interests of the petitioner by permitting him to participate in the selection process, moreso, when no such prayer was made by him in the original application.

It was further noted that the petitioner would be entitled to desired relief as claimed in the original application only if the Tribunal comes to the conclusion that the advertisement is illegal. Thus, it was held that there is no merit in the contention that the petitioner is entitled to some interim protection. The writ petition was, accordingly, dismissed, however, with a direction that the Tribunal was directed to proceed to decide the original application as a whole most expeditiously and the interim application, if necessary on the next date fixed ensuring that no unnecessary adjournment is sought by any of the parties. It was provided that the respondents would not get the matter adjourned unnecessarily and would cooperate with the hearing of the matter as whole atleast with the interim application.

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Judgement reviewed by Bhargavi

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