SRINAGAR — The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh while dismissing a batch of petitions filed by the paramedical staff appointed on academic arrangement has asked the J&K Services Selection Board (JKSSB) to proceed with the selection process of posts on a regular basis.
The aggrieved petitioners were engaged in the Health and Medical Education Department as Para-Medical Staff on an academic arrangement basis for a period of one year extendable up to a maximum of four years, one year at a time.
By a subsequent amendment made vide SRO-409 of 2013 dated 19-09-2013, the academic engagement was provided extendable up to six years instead of four years. The extension, however, was subject to good performance and conduct of the candidates or till selection or promotion was made according to the recruitment rules, whichever was earlier.
J&K Services Selection Board, meanwhile, issued an advertisement notice in the year 2021 for filling up the 1446 posts of paramedical staff on regular basis and aggrieved by the advertisement notice, the candidates approached the court to challenge the notification.
The Division Bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar and Justice M A Chowdhary while deciding the pleas in a common judgment said there is no dispute that the recruitment rules governing selection and appointment against the posts held by the writ petitioners provide for making selection through a statutory selection body.
The Health & Medical Education Department was represented in the High Court by the Deputy Advocate General, Irfan Andleeb who strongly pleaded for directions to the SSB for going ahead with the selection process of the paramedical staff.
The Bench said that indisputably, the writ petitioners are not the persons appointed pursuant to their selection made by the JKSSB after issuing public notification and conducting a fair and transparent selection process.
“Though there is nothing on record to demonstrate that selection of the writ petitioners was pursuant to a selection process but from a reading of the 2009 rules, in particular Rule-6, we find that there was a proper committee constituted for making the selection and, therefore, we presume that appointment of the writ petitioners is not a backdoor appointment,” the Bench said.
“However, the fact remains that if such appointments, which are made purely as a temporary measure, are regularized and the persons selected are substantively appointed against the posts held by them, it would definitely violate Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution,” the court added.
The court recorded that Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution ensure equal opportunity to all eligible candidates to participate in the selection and make it to the select list on the basis of merit determined in a proper selection process initiated after the issuance of public notification.
“We find no merit in these petitions and the same are, accordingly, dismissed. The interim directions, if any, shall stand vacated. The respondents are free to conclude the selection process initiated vide Advertisement Notice No. 02 of 2021,” the court said.