The Delhi High Court has held that an employee who is appointed on an “officiating basis” to a permanent post cannot claim a vested right to continue on the post. A Single Judge Bench of Justice Jyoti Singh passed the order.
The Petitioner, Dr Rajiv Chopra, was selected as Officer on Special Duty-Principal (OSD) in one of the colleges in the Delhi University in October 2013.The appointment was made for a period of six months in terms of the provisions of Clause 7(3)(c) of Ordinance XVIII of University of Delhi.
Thereafter, repeated extensions were granted to the Petitioner and he continued on the post till May 24, 2020 when he received an intimation that he had been replaced by another person.The Petitioner moved the High Court against his removal, alleging malafide on part of the University. He argued that there was no urgency or any immediate cause to remove him from the post.
The Petitioner contended that he had a legitimate expectation that his appointment would continue till a regular Principal was appointed and invoked the protection under Article 311(2) of the Constitution. Delhi Univeristy, on the other hand, stated that the Petitioner’s appointment was a temporary arrangement and was subject to ‘further orders’ as was clear from the extension orders.
The Court further perused the extension letter issued to the Petitioner and noted that the tenure was subject to either of the two contingencies i.e., ‘further orders’ or ‘appointment of a regular Principal’, whichever was earlier.
Holding that the rights of an employee (officiating basis) stem out of and are dependent on the nature of their employment and its Terms and Tenure, the Court said,
“Appointment to a permanent post can be substantive or on probation or on officiating basis. A substantive appointment carries with it, a right to hold the post and the employee is also entitled to a ‘lien’ on the post.. However, appointment to a permanent post on ‘officiating basis’ is by its very nature temporary and transitory in character.”
Considering that the letter informing him of the repatriation was served upon him at midnight, on a holiday and without permitting him to hand over the Charge, the Court noted in matter of officiating basis post ,
“Petitioner’s Counsel had narrated the saga of how the Petitioner was forcefully prevented from entering the office and the lock was broken. An employee may or may not have a right to continue on a post, but certainly cannot be sent out so unceremoniously. Teachers/Professors are the pillars of our society. They play myriad roles in lives of many in shaping knowledge, values and careers, leading to the path of success, as a guiding light. This kind of treatment is least expected in a College, a Temple of learning and education.”
The petition was dismissed.