0

Calcutta High Court Upholds Associate Professor’s Right to Promotion and Benefits, Affirms Decision on Humanitarian Grounds

Case Name:  Dr. Tapas Kumar Mandal v. Union of India & Ors 

Case No.: WPA 24009 of 2019 

Dated: March 19, 2024 

Quorum: Justice Amrita Sinha 

 

FACTS OF THE CASE: 

In this current writ petition, the petitioner requests that the Departmental Promotion Committee, also known as “the DPC,” recommend that he be promoted. Additionally, the petitioner requests that all encashment of leave, pension, and gratuity be released, as well as a directive to the Institute’s authority to accept this recommendation. 

The Institute was being served by the petitioner. On June 30, 2010, he reached the usual age of retirement and retired from the military. The petitioner was under consideration for a promotion from Associate Professor grade E to Professor grade F before to retirement; however, the petitioner was superannuated prior to the promotion being finalised. 

While the petitioner was employed, he was the target of disciplinary action. Long after he retired, the aforementioned procedure was still ongoing. The petitioner filed a writ suit with this court, and on June 29, 2017, the Hon’ble Division Bench issued an order addressing the matter. The Hon’ble Division Bench instructed the authority to grant admissible service benefits that were denied to the petitioner as a result of the order of punishment dated June 16, 2011, and to drop the disciplinary proceeding that was started against the petitioner through the charge sheet dated August 30, 2005, while deciding how to handle the appeal. 

The petitioner filed a contempt application on June 21, 2019, claiming that he had not followed the Hon’ble Division Bench’s directive, since he had not been granted promotion. The case was eventually resolved. The petitioner made a push for advancement in the contempt motion. It was with satisfaction that the Honourable Court noted that there was no clear directive on the power to promote the petitioner.  

The petitioner has been denied promotion by the Institute, and this is the main reason for the current writ suit. 

 

CONTENTIONS OF THE PETITIONER: 

In their petition, the petitioners requested that the Departmental Promotion Committee’s (DPC) proposal be accepted by the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, also known as “the Institute.” His advancement from Associate Professor (grade E) to Professor (grade F) was the subject of the recommendation.  

The counsel asked for a further directive to discharge any consequential benefits, such as leave encashment, pension, and gratuity, in addition to the promotion. It was further contended that On June 30, 2010, Dr. Mandal announced his retirement from the Department of Health and Welfare. But, even after he retired, the disciplinary actions that had been started against him while he was serving persisted. 

Following the submission of a writ petition by Dr. Mandal, the Hon’ble Division Bench directed the authorities to halt the disciplinary action against him. Additionally, the court ordered that benefits for eligible service that had previously been refused be granted. In addition, Dr. Mandal was entitled to receive payment for any unpaid wage arrears resulting from a promotion awarded by the Governing Council. 

Dr. Mandal claimed in his application for contempt that he had not followed the court’s order on promotion as he had not received promotion. 

 

CONTENTIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS: 

The petitioner’s promotion claim was disputed by the respondents. They claimed that as the promotion was not completed before Dr. Mandal’s superannuation, he was not eligible to receive the benefits of the promotion. 

It was argued by the respondents that Dr. Mandal’s disciplinary actions throughout his employment were appropriate and justified. They maintained that these procedures ought to go on even after he retires and were unrelated to the promotion controversy. 

The respondents claimed they had followed the court’s ruling in order to justify their acts. They argued that, per the directive of the Honourable Division Bench, the disciplinary proceedings were dropped. But they made it clear that Dr. Mandal was not given the promotion by default. 

In reference to the salary arrears, the respondents contended that payment would only occur in the event that Dr. Mandal was promoted by the Governing Council. They insisted that there was no duty to make up any arrears up until that point. 

The promotion procedure, disciplinary actions, and following the court’s orders constituted the focal points of the respondents’ arguments, to sum up. 

 

COURT’S ANALYSIS AND JUDGMENT: 

The Court decided that it lacked the necessary knowledge to evaluate an employee’s merits. It is the responsibility of the employer to evaluate each candidate for a promotion based only on merit, and only then may the employer move forward with the decision. Since the employer has exclusive authority over the matter, it is improper to impose the Court’s opinion on top of the DPC’s.  

A promotion was given to an employee as a mean of encouraging them to raise their game so that the employer can use their experience to further the institution’s development. An employee is to be motivated to perform and deliver to the best of their abilities when they are promoted.  

The court was of the view that withholding a promotion due to valid reasons, such as the pending outcome of a criminal or disciplinary case against the candidate, is now considered an acceptable stance. Because of legal issues in this particular case, the petitioner’s promotion was denied. 

As soon as the legal proceedings came to an end and the Court issued its directive, the petitioner was superannuated by the time the case regarding their promotion was reopened. An employee was no longer eligible for advancement following superannuation. The only way to compensate an employee in such a case is to give them relief in the form of money, provided that the employee is able to demonstrate that their rejection of advancement was unlawful. 

The court determined that the employer’s decision to deny the petitioner a promotion did not appear to have been motivated by illegality, arbitrariness, bias, or malice in this particular case. The Court does not believe that the denial of the petition was incorrect for the same reason.  

Considering the aforementioned, the Court declined to take on jurisdiction over the case. The writ petition was dismissed as a result of its failure. The related applications have been closed. 

 

“PRIME LEGAL is a full-service law firm that has won a National Award and has more than 20 years of experience in an array of sectors and practice areas. Prime legal fall into a category of best law firm, best lawyer, best family lawyer, best divorce lawyer, best divorce law firm, best criminal lawyer, best criminal law firm, best consumer lawyer, best civil lawyer.” 

 

Judgment reviewed by Riddhi S Bhora. 

Click to view judgment.