Earlier Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed the case
Unsatisfied with the decision of the Punjab and Haryana high court; now Supreme court too has dismissed the CAT order on seniority of Doctors in the Department of Surgery of PGIMER; whereby the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Chandigarh, Bench had set aside the PGI’s order of January 2017 related to seniority of doctors.
The tribunal had granted relief to Dr. Arunanshu Behra of PGI, who had filed a petition against the hospital administration’s order, which the HC has dismissed in January 2019.
The Supreme Court on 18 Oct 2019, did not even give notice of Motion to the petition by Dr. Arunanshu Behera, The court said that “Delay Condoned. We do not see any reason to interfere in the matter. The Special leave petition is, accordingly, dismissed and disposed off.”
What did Punjab and Haryana High Court said:
Whereas The HC order reads: “We are of the view that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the tribunal was unable to justify in entertaining the petition and the same was liable to be dismissed on the ground of limitation and delay and laches. Further, the respondent no 1 was estopped from challenging the grant of retrospective seniority to other respondents with effect from the date of their eligibility under the Assessment Promotion Scheme (APS) being himself a beneficiary of retrospective promotion under that scheme at an earlier stage in his service career. It is well settled that disputes relating to seniority cannot be permitted to be raised at a belated stage.”
The court order also elaborated that it had come on record that the respondent no 1 was promoted under the APS scheme as associate professor on September 29, 2000, with retrospective effect from July 1, 1999, and then again on the post of additional professor (general surgery) with retrospective effect from July 1, 2003. Being a beneficiary of the retrospective promotion under the scheme, he is estopped from challenging the grant of similar benefits to others. Thus, we are of the view that the tribunal has wrongly entertained the OA, which was liable to have been dismissed on the grounds of limitation and delay. Consequently, there was no occasion for the tribunal to adjudicate the case on merits. Accordingly, these writ petitions are allowed. The order of the tribunal is set aside.”
The petition was initially filed by Dr. Behera against Dr. Gurpreet Singh and Dr. G R Verma of the general surgery department in CAT. Allowing the petition, CAT had considered Behera senior to both the doctors and thus eligible to the post of professor in the department. The PGI had challenged CAT’S order in the HC.
In his petition, Behera had said that he had joined the department on February 11, 1995, as an assistant professor. Later, he was promoted as associate professor and additional professor via the assessment promotion scheme (APS). It added that in 2002, three posts of professors were sanctioned in the general surgery department. An advertisement to fill up one of these posts was issued by the PGI on October 15, 2004.
The three doctors had applied for the same and only Behra was selected. However, Singh and Verma were promoted the same day via the APS scheme. However, the authorities did not appoint Behera as a professor while the other two were appointed.
On August 19, 2016, Behera submitted a representation in this regard and asked to be declared senior to the other two. However, it was rejected by the authorities concerned on January 4, 2017. He, thus, approached CAT, which decided the case in his favour and the HC dismissed CAT order and Now Supreme Court too has dismissed the case.