The division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said that the government action was a “contempt of the court” as the state in September had assured the court that the entire process of new selection will be completed by November 30, 2021.

The Delhi High Court Tuesday pulled up the Delhi government for cancelling the selection process, initiated in February 2021, for the post of Director of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), and questioned the decision to instead extend incumbent Dr Nimesh G Desai’s tenure till he attains the age of 67 years.

The division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh said that the government action was a “contempt of the court” as the state in September had assured the court that the entire process of new selection will be completed by November 30, 2021.

“We hereby issue notice on the respondents and they shall file a reply that why, and will show a cause that why the new recruitment process which was assured by respondent 1 [Delhi government] was stopped,” said the court, while listing the matter for next hearing on December 23.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Tej Bahadur Singh, an ex-employee of IHBAS, who has contended that Desai should have demitted office in October 2020, on attaining the age of 65. Singh has challenged the extension granted to Desai.

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, representing the petitioner, while arguing an application in the case, told the court that the government, despite an assurance to the court, has cancelled the recruitment process. He contended that the Chief Secretary needs to be called to the court.

The court, while addressing the counsel representing the government and IHBAS, observed, “What all of you people are doing for one man. What is this going on in your institution, unnecessarily.”

It also said that the government made a categorical statement which has been made part of a court order, in which it has been assured that the process will be completed.

“But what you now do to just adjust this one man, you scrap that advertisement process and continue with a tenure appointment and a superannuation extension. Under what law? I think it is a complete contempt. You want to overreach a court order is quite bad,” observed Justice Singh.

The government in September told the court that ten applications have been received and a Screening Committee was duly constituted for screening the applications for placing before the Selection Committee. However, the state also had told the court that it has been decided to reconstitute the Screening Committee. The entire process, including the appointment to the post, will be completed by November 2021, the government had told the court.

“We are sanguine that the entire exercise of selection of the Director of Respondent No. 6 [IHBAS] shall be completed without any unnecessary delay, as assured by Respondents No. 1 to 3. While the affidavit alludes to a maximum time frame upto 30.11.2021 for completion of the process, however, this is the outer limit and we expect that all efforts and endeavours shall be made by the official Respondents to complete the exercise, well before 30.11.2021, considering the fact that the process was initiated way-back in February 2021,” the court had said in the order passed on September 23.

 

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