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HC upholds CAT verdict; rejects plea by 45 candidates selected by SSB as physiotherapists but denied jobs by govt

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Srinagar: The J&K High Court has upheld a Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) verdict that rejected a petition by 45 candidates selected by the Services Selection Board (SSB) as physiotherapists, who were later denied jobs by the government.

Forty-five posts of junior physiotherapists were referred by the Health and Medical Education Department of the erstwhile State of J&K to SSB in 2015. The Board after undertaking a selection process, forwarded the list of selected candidates to the intending department on December 14, 2017 for making appointments.

However, the Director, Health Services Kashmir, on January 01, 2018, intimated the Principal Secretary to the Government, Health and Medical Education Department, that the Directorate has no vacant post of Junior Physiotherapist available, and, as such, made a request for creation of equal number of posts for adjusting the selected candidates.

In response, the Principal Secretary through communication dated 14.02.2018 conveyed to Director Health Services that the administrative approval as intimated earlier vide letter dated 16.01.2018 for issuance of appointment orders in favour of the selectees, has been kept in abeyance till further orders.

Aggrieved of the order (letter) of January 14, 2018, the selected candidates preferred a writ petition seeking a direction that the communication No. HD/NG/297/2017 dated 14.02.2018, be quashed and that the respondents be directed to issue formal appointment order in favour of the petitioners against the posts of junior physiotherapists.

The respondents admitted that the making of reference of 45 posts of Junior Physiotherapist to the Board in 2015. They, however, claimed “the reference was made inadvertently by mistake and the reference was withdrawn vide letter dated 07.12.2015 addressed to SSB. It further claimed that the Board overlooked it, and instead proceeded with the process of selection and made recommendations.”

They also stated “the Intending Department, however, took up the matter with the Finance Department for creation of supernumerary posts of Junior Physiotherapist in order to accommodate the selected candidates to which the Finance Department conveyed its agreement.”

They further said that the proposal was submitted for creation of posts to the General Administration Department (GAD) which referred the matter to the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. The experts here opined “the selectees have no right to appointment against the posts and accordingly, the GAD on December 13, 2019 directed the Health and Medical Education Department to hold an inquiry into the matter and also convey non-acceptance of the recommendations to the Board”.

The petitions were transferred to CAT which held “the petitioners have no right for appointment to the posts of Junior Physiotherapist while directing the Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education to compensate the petitioners herein by paying costs of litigation of Rs 20,000 per applicant.”

The petitioners challenged the CAT judgment before a division bench of the High Court which agreed with the view taken by the Tribunal.

“The Tribunal seemingly has dealt with the matter rightly and justly while awarding costs of litigation to the petitioners to be payable by Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education Department,” said Justices Atul Sreedharan and Javed Iqbal Wani.

The CAT judgment does not call for any interference. “Resultantly the petition fails and is accordingly dismissed,” ordered the bench.

The bench said that law is no more res integra and stands settled that mere selection does not confer any right of appointment on a selectee and that an employer has a right to abandon the selection process at any time, though, with a caveat that same should not be done arbitrarily without any reasonable and just cause.

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