Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Friday admitted the petition of aggrieved J&K Bank candidates for hearing after the court held that the CAT does not have the jurisdiction under Section 14 in relation to the subject matter in the case.
“This Court continues to have the jurisdiction in relation thereto to entertain this petition,” it said.
The government through Advocate General (AG), D C Raina in an earlier hearing had submitted that by the applicability of the CAT Act to Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, “the High Court does not have jurisdiction to entertain the writ petition as a court of first instance”.
“Since the instant matter relates to recruitment in the Bank, declared as a public authority, all jurisdiction and powers and authority in relation thereto lies with the CAT,” the AG had submitted before court.
Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey while recording a detailed judgement on the issue noted that perusal of Clauses (b) and (c) of sub-section (1) of Section 14 of CAT makes it axiomatic that the same speak of and relate to ‘all service matters’.
The court elaborated that ‘service matters’, in relation to a person, means all matters relating to the conditions of his service in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State or of any local or other authority within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India.
The court recorded that conditions of recruitment are different from conditions of service.
“Conditions of service, therefore, cannot be construed conditions of recruitment. Consequently, the words ‘service matters’ do not include ‘recruitment or matters concerning recruitment”. The argument raised by Advocate General in this regard, therefore, is untenable,” Justice Magrey said.
The court remarked that so far as Clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 14 is concerned, it specifically mentions and relates to recruitment and matters concerning recruitment.
“But it does not relate to the Banking Services or the posts borne thereon,” the court noted that it specifically enumerates the services to which it is relatable, that is, to any All India Service or to any civil service of the Union or a civil post under the Union or to a post connected with defence or in the defence services, being, in either case, a post filled by a civilian.
“Obviously, the posts borne on the service of the Bank in respect of which recruitment is to be made do not constitute All India Service. These posts, or the service of the Bank, also do not constitute civil service of the Union or civil posts under the Union or posts connected with defence or defence services filled by civilians,” the court recorded.
“However, as already mentioned earlier, an endeavour was made to plead that the posts borne on the service of the Bank are civil posts, therefore, governed and covered by Clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 14 of the CAT Act. I may at the very outset observe that this argument on the face of it is wholly, conceptually untenable,” Justice Magrey said.
The court while dealing with sub-section (3) of section 14 of the Act noted its application is dependent on the discretion of the Central Government to apply it to a local or other authorities within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India and to corporations or societies etc., and such discretion has to be exercised only by issuance of a notification in that behalf.
It was observed that during the course of arguments, the Court specifically enquired from the Advocate General and Sunil Sethi, senior counsel, whether the Government of India had issued any such notification. “They frankly answered in the affirmative,” the court said.
The court said that certain documents / notifications issued by the Central Government, from time to time, in exercise of such power under sub-section (2) of Section 14 have been placed before the Court which depict that so far nearly 214 organizations, by their name, have been brought under the purview of sub-section (3) of Section 14 of the CAT Act; “the J&K Bank, in any case, is not one amongst them,” court noted.
“Viewed in the above context, it cannot be said that sub-section (3) of Section 14 of the CAT Act applies to the Bank or the instant recruitment process of the Bank,” the court recorded.
“Resultantly, it is held that the CAT does not have the jurisdiction under Section 14 in relation to the subject matter of controversy in the instant case; and, further, that this Court continues to have the jurisdiction in relation thereto to entertain this petition,” Justice Magrey said.
“The petition is admitted to hearing. List these petitions for final hearing on 20 July,” the court directed.
The Court also directed the parties to complete their pleadings and/or supplement their pleadings, if they choose so.
“It is expressly provided herein that on the date fixed an endeavour would be made that the arguments in the case are concluded so that the matter is finally decided and disposed of,” the court said.