PIL challenges tenure extension of IHBAS director beyond age of 65, Delhi HC to hear plea on March 23
New Delhi: A PIL against the Director of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) was recently moved with the Delhi High Court alleging that the incumbent Director continues even after he has attained the age of superannuation.
While listening to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the State Government's decision to extend the tenure of the Director of Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), the Delhi High Court bench comprising Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh has scheduled the matter for the next hearing on March 23.
The petition was filed by a former professor of the institute, Tej Bahadur Singh. He challenged, in his petition before the HC, the extension of the service tenure of Director Dr Nimesh G. Desai after attaining an age of 65 years.
IHBAS was formerly known as Hospital for Mental Diseases, Shahdara. The formation of IHBAS in 1993 took place because of a Supreme Court verdict that had transformed the former HMD into a centre for treatment, training, and research. The institute runs autonomously however, it gets funded and administered jointly by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and Government of NCT of Delhi.
As per the recent media report by Daily Pioneer, the HC had asked the Government of NCT of Delhi, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Delhi government), Satyendra Jain (Health Minister), Dr V.K.S. Gautam (Officiating Joint Director, IHBAS), Dr N.G. Desai (IHBAS) and IHBAS to file their response regarding the matter. The Delhi HC also noted that the decision to extend the tenure of the IHBAS director was contrary to the rules and requirements for the appointment of director.
The daily further adds that all the three respondents submitted counter-affidavit and the rejoinder was also filed by the petitioner of the PIL. The case was listed for hearing on February 17 and again scheduled on February 23. Meanwhile, the Delhi Government, on 12.02.2021, had issued an advertisement on the IHBAS website for the post of Director.
An earlier report by India Legal Live added that as per the DoPT rule, the extension to any government employee could only be granted before the completion of tenure or age of superannuation, it couldn't be given retrospectively after passing 18 days of superannuation.
As per Indian Legal Live, the petition stated, "The Institute is an autonomous body registered under the Societies Act 1860, funded jointly by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and Government of NCT of Delhi. It is submitted that IHBAS is a prime Hospital and its affairs need to be organised and controlled by the authorised and legally selected and appointed person. The affairs of the Govt. Hospital under the garb of autonomous body, cannot be hoodwinked and the rules and regulations cannot be thrown to the wind."
"Dr N.G. Desai Respondent no. 5 who was appointed as a Director in accordance with the recruitment rules, rather it can be said the existing rules has attained the age of 65 years i.e. the age of superannuation on 18.10.2020, but he is being permitted to control the activities and affairs of the institution even after the said date and is being permitted to work as Director by Respondent no. 3 and 4, with no authority to do so and their action, is totally non-est. It is submitted that the existing recruitment rules not prescribe for such extension at all," added the petition.
Calling the decision of extending the tenure unfair, the petition further mentioned, "That the transparency and fairness are the basic fabric of the democratic system of the Government. The citizens, as well as authorities who are empowered to run the institution like the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) etc., are duty-bound to follow the rules and regulations, the procedure of the law as well as precedence. The affairs of the Government body and Government institution are required to be conducted as per the settled position of law that and the individual whims and caprices cannot be permitted to be imposed upon the institution and further to flout basic rules and regulations and common law. In other words, it can be said that every person who is in the helm of the affairs for conducting the business of a Government body, are bound to follow the rules and they cannot be permitted to act in an unreasonable, unfair and arbitrary manner."
The plea before the High Court had also noted, "The custodian of the property cannot be permitted to usurp the property or to misuse the same for any other purposes than to safeguard the interest of the public at large; Further, every person is bound by the rules of the law and violations thereof for causing any favour to any person, by compromising the interest of the public at large and the institution, would be the most vulnerable as well as detrimental for the citizens as well as for the institution."