A petition filed by a Professor and Dean of School of Mass Communication at Chitkara University, Punjab, demanding the quashing and setting aside of the appointment of Sanjay Dwivedi as Director General of Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi, is rejected by the Delhi High Court.
The plea demanded the inquiry to probe into the alleged illegal appointment.
Holding repute in the field of mass communication, teaching, training, research and consultancy, Indian Institute of Mass Communication is an autonomous institute set up in 1965, under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting.
Referring advertisement by the petitioner which dated 13.06.2019 of IIMC inviting applications for the post of Director General for which the essential educational and other qualifications were, a Masters’ degree, minimum 25 years’ experience in the field of journalism/films/media with administrative experience of holding senior positions in Academic/ Professional Institution/University Department/Organization of National repute, or officers not below the rank of Additional Secretary in the Government of India or equivalent thereto with experience of managing or making personal contribution in one of the areas of writing stories/lyrics/screen play, film editing production of films/TV programmes.
Citing the instances, the petitioner alleged that in the past Sanjay Dwivedi had been appointed to the post of Reader in MCRPV, Bhopal, a petition against which was pending in the Jabalpur High Court.
Attacking the career-path of Sanjay Dwivedi, the petitioner alleged that a history of appointments without Dwivedi meeting relevant criteria.
Against the present appointment it argued that as Dwivedi had acquired his Master’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication in 1995-96 and the mark sheet was issued in December 1996, as on the cut-off date, Dwivedi had only 23 years experience. But the petition alleged that a minimum experience of 25 years was a prerequisite in the advertisement.
Appearing on behalf of IIMC Additional Solicitor General Vikramjit Banerjee, contended that writ in the nature of quo warranto lies only when the appointment challenged has been made contrary to the statutory provisions/Rules and the petitioner had to satisfy the Court that the office in question was held by an appointee whose appointment was without the requisite qualifications and that there was a violation of any statutory provision.
Referring to the judgment of the Supreme Court in B. Srinivasa Reddy v. Karnataka Urban Water Supply Board Employee’s Association & Ors.[(2006) 11 SCC 731] where it was held that the Court cannot sit in judgement over the wisdom of the Government in the choice of person to be appointed so long as the person chosen possesses the prescribed qualifications.
He also submitted that Dwivedi’s candidature was considered and recommended by a duly constituted Search-cum-Selection Committee which had personally interviewed all applicants along with their supporting documents before shortlisting him. The recommendation was also approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet and was also in consonance with provisions of Rule 35 of the Recruitment Rules of IIMC, which reads as: “The appointment of Director will be by the Executive Council on recommendations of the Search & Selection Committee constituted by the Ministry and approved by DOPT on such terms and conditions as may be approved by the Central Government, vide minutes of the 112th Meeting of Executive Council held on November 20, 2008. The Director of the Institute shall be appointed by the Executive Council with the prior approval of the Central Government on such terms and conditions as may be approved by the Central Government.”ASG submitted that the allegation of the petitioner that Dwivedi did not possess 25 years of relevant experience was baseless, as counting his experience with effect from 10.07.1994 he met the requirement of having 25 years experience as on 19.07.2019.
“In the absence of any averment as to the violation of any statutory provision, writ in the nature of quo warranto is not maintainable.” The Court noted.
Delhi High Court reasoned that is “not the requirement in the Advertisement that the requisite experience must be post-acquisition of the Master’s Degree, as erroneously contended by the petitioner. The advertisement can only be read in the manner it is authored and it is not open to the Court or to the petitioner to read into the advertisement requirements of eligibility which do not exist.”
The Court relied on the decision of Jose Meleth v. Union of India & Ors. W.P (C) No. 1443/2012 & CM APPL 3149/2012 where it was held that the Courts cannot, while exercising powers of judicial review, sit over the decisions of Expert Selection Committees, and that “fetters and limitations on the Courts to review actions of Selection and Appointment Committees and the limited window available in this field cannot be ignored. Principles laying down the strict parameters in interfering have been affirmed and re-affirmed in various judicial pronouncements.”