UNION OF INDIA VS NAVNEET KUMAR CASE

UNION OF INDIA VS NAVNEET KUMAR CASE

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


Non-Reportable
 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3656 OF 2022
(Arising out of SLP (C) No.20919 of 2021)
UNION OF INDIA & ORS. ... APPELLANT(S)
Versus
NAVNEET KUMAR ... RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
L. Nageswara Rao, J.
Leave granted.
1. The respondent’s request for extension of the term of
appointment as a Judicial Member, Central Administrative
Tribunal by another term was rejected by Appointments
Committee of the Cabinet (for short “ACC”) on
11.10.2019. The same was communicated to the
respondent on 24.10.2019. A writ petition was filed by the
respondent before the High Court of Judicature at
1
Allahabad, Lucknow Bench, which was allowed by the High
Court on 27.08.2021. Thus, this appeal has been filed by
the appellant questioning the correctness of the judgment
passed by the High Court.
2. It is necessary to refer to the relevant facts that have
led to the filing of this appeal. On 19.05.2011, the
respondent was approved by the competent authority to
be appointed as Judicial Member of the Central
Administrative Tribunal. On 30.05.2011, the respondent
was appointed as a Judicial Member for a period of five
years from the date of assumption of charge or till he
attains the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier. He
assumed charge as a Judicial Member, Central
Administrative Tribunal, Kolkata Bench on 28.6.2011. In
2013, the respondent was transferred to Lucknow Bench
of Central Administrative Tribunal at his request. Rules 9
and 10 were inserted in The Administrative Tribunals
(Procedure for Appointment of Members) Rules, 2011 (for
short “2011 Rules”) by way of an amendment dated 21st
March 2014. Rule 9 relates to the extension of term of
2
appointment of a member of the Central Administrative
Tribunal.
3. A representation was made by the respondent on
21.12.2015 requesting for extension of his term as a
Judicial Member of the Central Administrative Tribunal in
accordance with the 2011 Rules. The Chairman, Central
Administrative Tribunal, by a letter dated 21.12.2015, sent
a proposal to Department of Personnel and Training (for
short “DoPT”) for extension of the term of the respondent.
The proposal of the Chairman, Central Administrative
Tribunal along with the report received from the
Intelligence Bureau were placed before the Selection
Committee on 19.02.2016. The Selection Committee
headed by a sitting Judge of this Court recommended
extension of the term of the respondent. The said
recommendation was approved by the Hon’ble Chief
Justice of India on 08.03.2016.
4. On 01.06.2016, the ACC requested the DoPT to reexamine the proposal for extension of the term of the
respondent in light of the additional material that had
surfaced. The DoPT submitted its remarks and thereafter,
3
the ACC returned the proposal for extension of term of
respondent on 06.03.2017. The decision of the ACC was
placed before the Selection Committee which was headed
by a sitting Judge of this Court on 11.03.2017. The
Selection Committee, took note of the decision of the
ACC for returning the proposal for extension of term of
the respondent, and recommended that the existing
vacancies be carried forward to the next vacancy year,
i.e. 2017. The decision of the Selection Committee was
approved by the Chief Justice of India on 06.04.2017.
DoPT, by a letter dated 12.04.2017, informed the
Chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal about the
decision of the Selection Committee which was approved
by the Chief Justice of India. The Committee
recommended that both the vacancies may be carried
forward to the next year i.e. 2017.
5. The respondent filed a writ petition seeking a
direction to the appellants to issue appointment order for
extension of his term as per Section 6(3) of the
Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985. The High Court, by a
judgment dated 08.05.2019, allowed the said writ petition
4
and set aside: (i) the order dated 06.03.2017 by which the
respondent was informed that the ACC has returned the
proposal for extension of the term of the respondent; and
(ii) order dated 12.04.2017 by which DoPT informed the
Chairman, Central Administrative Tribunal about the
decision by the Selection Committee which was approved
by the Chief Justice of India. The High Court further
directed ACC to decide on the recommendations of the
Selection Committee and pass appropriate orders within a
period of 4 months. Thereafter, the ACC passed an order
on 11.10.2019 denying extension of term of appointment
to the respondent for another term as Judicial Member,
Central Administrative Tribunal and the same was
communicated to the respondent on 24.10.2019. Being
aggrieved, the respondent filed a writ petition before the
High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, Lucknow Bench
challenging the validity of the order dated 11.10.2019.
The High Court passed the impugned judgment and
allowed the writ petition directing the competent authority
to take a decision afresh regarding extension of the
respondent’s term of appointment as Judicial member of
5
Central Administrative Tribunal within a period of ten
weeks from the date of receipt of the order.
6. The High Court was of the opinion that in view of the
earlier judgment dated 08.05.2019, the letter dated
12.04.2017 written by the DoPT to Chairman, Central
Administrative Tribunal was quashed. Resultantly, the
decision of the Selection Committee for carrying forward
the vacancies to the next year i.e., 2017 was also quashed
by the High Court and could not have been relied upon by
the DoPT again. In spite of certain complaints that were
received by the concerned authorities against the
respondent, the High Court held that the entire record was
examined before the judgment dated 08.05.2019 was
passed, in which it was held that there was nothing
adverse against the respondent in the said complaints.
The High Court found fault with the proposal of the DoPT
as they have not taken into consideration the findings
recorded in its earlier Judgment dated 08.05.2019. The
said proposal of DoPT was the basis for the decision taken
by the competent authority. The High Court was of the
view that the recommendation made by the
6
Administrative Department that was sent to the
competent authority could not have been relied upon for
the purpose of rejecting the extension of the respondent’s
term. The decision of ACC should be without considering
any inputs of the DoPT, strictly in accordance with Rule
9(4) of the 2011 Rules. The High Court found fault with
the decision of the ACC as it was contrary to the
recommendations made by the Selection Committee
which was approved by the Chief Justice of India. The High
Court allowed the writ petition and directed the ACC to
take a decision afresh for the grant of extension of the
respondent’s term of appointment as Judicial Member of
the Central Administrative Tribunal.
7. On behalf of the appellants, Mr. Sanjay Jain, learned
Additional Solicitor General, submitted that the High Court
committed an error in holding that the recommendation
made by the Selection Committee for carrying forward the
vacancies to the next year i.e. 2017, stood set aside by
the judgment of the High Court dated 08.05.2019.
According to learned ASG, after the recommendation was
made by the Selection Committee to the competent
7
authority, the additional material which came to the notice
of the authorities was placed before the Selection
Committee. Pursuant thereto, the Selection Committee
decided that the vacancies which were to be filled up by
the appointment of the respondent and Shri A.K. Bhardwaj
should be carried forward to the next year i.e. 2017. The
said recommendation of the Selection Committee was
approved by the Chief Justice of India. It was further
argued by Mr. Jain that the High Court, by a judgment
dated 08.05.2019, only directed the competent authority
to pass an order in accordance with Rule 9(4) of the 2011
Rules. It was contended on behalf of the appellants, that
a suitable order in terms of the recommendations made by
the Selection Committee which was approved by the Chief
Justice of India was passed.
8. Mr. Pradeep Kant, learned senior counsel appearing
on behalf of the respondent, stated that the
recommendations made by the Selection Committee to
extend the tenure of the respondent has to be complied
with by the competent authority. However, the competent
authority taking into account certain inputs given by DoPT
8
referred the request of the respondent for extension of
term of appointment to the Selection Committee. The
request that was made by ACC to the Selection
Committee relates only to carrying forward the vacancies
of 2016 to the next year which was approved by the
Selection Committee. The said approval does not amount
to rejection of the respondent’s request for extension of
his tenure for another term. It was submitted on behalf of
the respondent that the judgement of the High Court
dated 08.05.2019, set aside the proceedings dated
06.03.2017 by which the ACC had returned the proposal
for extension of term of appointment of the respondent
and the letter dated 12.04.2017 by which the Chairman,
Central Administrative Tribunal was informed about the
rejection of extension of tenure of the respondent was
also set aside. Learned senior counsel appearing for the
respondent, supported the impugned judgment by arguing
that the High Court, in its judgement dated 08.05.2019,
had already considered the complaints that were made
against the respondent which was the basis for the
rejection of the respondent’s request for extension of his
9
term. The High Court, in its judgment dated 08.05.2019,
observed that there was nothing adverse against the
respondent on the basis of which the request for extension
could be rejected.
9. The facts of this case are not in dispute. Initially, the
Selection Committee headed by a sitting Judge of this
Court recommended the extension of the respondent as
Judicial Member of the Central Administrative Tribunal for
another term. The said recommendation was approved by
the Chief Justice of India. Thereafter, additional material
surfaced which was placed before the Selection
Committee by the Competent Authority for seeking review
of the earlier decision. We have carefully examined the
original record. It is clear from the record that the
Selection Committee recorded that the ACC had returned
the proposal for extension of the tenure of the respondent
after taking a decision not to fill up the vacancies by
extending the term of the respondent and Shri A.K.
Bhardwaj. It was recommended by the Selection
Committee to carry forward the said vacancies to the year
2017. Therefore, we are not in agreement with the
10
contention of the respondent that the recommendation
made by the Selection Committee to carry forward the
2016 vacancies to year 2017 does not amount to
rejection of the request of the respondent for extension of
his term as Judicial Member of the Central Administrative
Tribunal. There cannot be any manner of doubt that a
conscious decision was taken by the Selection Committee
not to recommend the extension of tenure of the
respondent. The decision taken by the Selection
Committee was duly approved by the Chief Justice of
India.
10. The High Court committed an error in holding that
the recommendation made by the Selection Committee to
carry forward the vacancies to year 2017 was set aside
by the High Court, in its earlier order dated 08.05.2019.
The reason given for such conclusion is that the letter
dated 12.04.2017 by which DoPT informed the
Chairman of the Central Administrative Tribunal that the
said vacancies of 2016 will be filled up along with the
vacancies for the year 2017 was set aside. A close
scrutiny of the judgment dated 08.05.2019 would show
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that the direction of the High Court was that the ACC
should pass an order in accordance with Rule 9(4) of the
2011 Rules pursuant to the recommendations made by
the Selection Committee and approved by the Chief
Justice of India. Setting aside the order dated 12.04.2017
cannot be understood as the recommendation of the
Selection Committee being set aside.
11. The ACC did not take any decision contrary to the
recommendation made by the Selection Committee which
was approved by the Chief Justice of India. Pursuant to
the direction issued by the High Court on 08.05.2019, the
order passed on 11.10.2019 by the ACC is neither
contrary to the recommendation made by the Selection
Committee nor in violation of the directions issued by the
High Court.

12. For the foregoing reasons, the impugned judgment of
the High Court is set aside. The appeal is allowed.

 ..............................J.
 [L. NAGESWARA RAO]
 .............................J.
 [B. R. GAVAI]
New Delhi,
May 5, 2022
12

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