In a historical judgment, a division bench of Kerala High Court categorically stated that promotion to the post of Principal should be on the basis of PSC advice seniority, and not on the basis of seniority in the professor post.
The Honourable Mr. Justice Alexander Thomas& Honourable Mr.Justice Viju Abraham of Kerala High Court issued a judgement on O.P.(KAT) No.334 of 2020 on 22.12.2021 in a case filed by Professor Dr. Geetha Jose of Govt Homoeopathic Medical College Kozhikode to prepare a seniority list of officers afresh based on the date of first effective advice after following all the prescribed procedures and to effect promotions to a higher post.
In all medical colleges and other institutions – Senior most Professors are only considered for the post of Principal. Junior hands could steal a march over the seniors purely on fortuitous circumstances like earlier creation/availability of posts of Professor in some departments.
Promotion to the post of Principal should be done only by reckoning the seniority of the Professors. It is true that as per the Kerala State and Subordinate Service Rules, 1958 the seniority of a candidate depends on the date of advice to the service. However once a candidate is posted in a particular department, his seniority/promotions thereafter will be considered only departmental-wise. Since the feeder category to the post of Principal is Professor, all senior-most professors of various departments will be considered together.
That is common seniority of Professors can be considered only on the basis of the date of promotion to the post of Professors and not the date of entry cadre or date of advice of PSC. It was also contended that promotions can be given only against the sanctioned posts and as the staff pattern is not common in all Departments and some departments do not have a post of professor.
Supreme Court Judgment
The High Court and Kerala Administrative Tribunal after considering the rival contention of the parties allowed the O.A as per SC order 17.01.2020 following the dictum laid down by the ASC in State of Andhra Pradesh v. Dr. M. Ramachandra Rao [1990 (3) SCC 590] Rule 33 (a) of AP Subordinate Service Rules which is a verbatim reproduction of Rule 27 (a) of Part II KS & SSR and held in para 16 and 17 of the judgment.
“A junior with relatively less important speciality may be fortunate enough to get quick promotion than his senior with a different speciality. We are of the opinion that the juniors who get accelerated promotion on account of fortuitous circumstances depending upon their speciality and availability of vacancies in such speciality should not be allowed to march over their seniors for appointment to administrative posts”