The Delhi High Court has observed recently reiterated that in exercise of powers of Judicial Review, Court cannot sit as an Appellate Authority over the decision taken by administration/management.
In a petition filed for seeking relieving order, enabling the petitioner to pursue MD/MS Course from PGI Chandigarh, Justice V. Kameswar Rao categorically said,
“I am conscious of the fact that the petitioner being a meritorious candidate, has a legitimate expectation to acquire a higher qualification and advance in his career but at the same time, as an employee working in the Govt. of NCT of Delhi, is bound by the Rules framed by the Government; Rule 50 of the Leave Rules clearly stipulates that the grant of study leave is not a matter of right, as the same shall be granted to the government servant with due regard to the exigencies of public service.”
It was argued by Senior Counsel Ms. Geeta Luthra that the petitioner, after taking the necessary permission from the respondent authorities, applied for INICET-2020 examination and secured 15270 rank of a total 80000 appearing candidates. After successfully attending the online counselling and securing a seat in MD (paediatrics), the petitioner applied for his study leave on December 31, 2020 which was kept pending by the respondent authorities for the longest time possible. In the meantime, respondent 3 (PGI Chandigarh) extended the last date for accepting the seat allotment.
On January 8, 2021, the petitioner upon his visit to the Secretariat found that his application was not forwarded for consideration to the superior authorities and that he has not been granted study leave on account of COVID-19 situations prevailing in the State. It was submitted by Senior Counsel that denying study leave citing COVID-19 is untenable as statistics reveal that the management/availability of medical assistance from the government of Delhi has considerably improved. Moreover, 326 doctors have been freshly appointed as Medical Officers by the Govt. of NCT of Delhi so to cope up with medical exigencies.
Reliance was placed on the following cases; (i) Dr. J Samjaison v. the Dy. Director of Health Services, WP (MD) No. 10275/2020 (ii) Dr. Kamal Jain v. State Of Rajasthan, WP 5532/2020 (iii) Professor Udaya Kumar v. Jawaharlal Nehru University, WP (C) 5496/2020 (iv) Dr. Anil Prasad Gara v. State of Bihar, (1992) 40 (1) BLJR 485 (v) Ganesh Prasad Shukla v. Guru Ghasi Das Central University, MANU/SG/0209/208 (vi) Dr. Puneet Mishra v. GNCTD, WP (C) 4590/2020.
In counter affidavit filed by the respondent authorities, it was submitted that a Government Servant is not entitled for study leave as a matter of right. Reliance was placed on Chapter VI, Rule 50 of Central Civil Services (Leave) Rules, 1972 which clarifies the practice stating that, even if a Medical officer may be granted study leave for prosecuting a course of post graduate study in Medical Science, in the exigencies of service, the Competent Authority may deny the same. Reference was further made to the case of State of Punjab v. Dr. Sanjay Kumar Bansal, 2009 (15) SCC 168, wherein the Supreme Court held that shortage of Doctors fell in the category of ‘administrative exigencies’ and Courts cannot sit in appeal thereon.
It further made a brief discussion over the judgments placed on record by the petitioner and made observations regarding applicability of the same. Furthermore, Court said that the decision in State of Punjab & Ors. has been taken at the highest level in the Government and this Court cannot sit as an Appellate authority over it.
Case Title: Dr. Rohit Kumar v. Lt. Governor Of Delhi & Ors. [WP(C) 499/2021, CM No. 1294/2021]