Vs. Goa University& Ors  Insc 49 (29 January 2002)
Babu & Ruma Pal Ruma Pal, J.
object of scrutiny, in this judgment, is the selection of the appellant as
Professor of Marine Science in the University of Goa. The appellant's selection was
challenged under Article 226 of the Constitution of India by the respondent
No.5 who was himself a candidate for selection to the post. The challenge was
upheld by the High Court.
events which formed the basis of the High Court's decision can be said to have
commenced in 1991 when the post of Professor, Marine Science fell vacant.
were issued from time to time but no candidate could be found who fulfilled the
essential qualifications for the post. On 10th August 1994, an advertisement was again issued
for the post of Professor, Marine Science. The hand-out distributed to the
applicants prescribed the minimum qualifications as:
eminent scholar with public work of high quality actively engaged in research
with 10 years of experience in post graduate teaching and/or research at the
University/National level Institution including experience of guiding research
at doctoral level.
outstanding scholar with established reputation which significant contribution
to knowledge." Additional qualifications prescribed by the University
Grants Commission were also stated as:
M.Sc., Ph.D. in Marine Science or any related subject with outstanding
accomplishments of teaching and research in branches of Marine Science, Marine
Biology, Marine Biotechnology Marine Geology, Chemical Oceanography or Physical
Oceanography with a proven record of publications in international
the appellant and the respondent No. 5 applied for the post. Both of them were
Readers in the Department of Marine Science, the respondent No. 5 being senior
were called for interviews on 13th September 1995.
before the date of the interview a note was written by the respondent No. 2 as
Head of the Department to the Vice Chancellor requesting for the holding of an
urgent interview for the appointment of Professor; Marine Science. The note
placed on record an appointment letter received by the appellant for
appointment as Professor in Geology in the University of Gulbarga. The note extolled the qualities of
the appellant and concluded with the following paragraphs:
HOD (Head of Department) submits that if Dr. Nayak (the appellant) is relieved
from this Dept., the Dept. and the University will lose a dedicated and
intelligent faculty whose services are very essential for this newly emerged
dept. and the young Goa University in general at this juncture.
may be noted that Goa University had already advertised a post of Professor in Marine
Sciences in January, 1995 for which Dr.Nayak is also an applicant. In the light
of above, it is earnestly requested that Vice Chancellor may kindly hold the
interviews as early as possible without re-advertising the same, so that Dr. Nayak
is given a chance to answer the interview and if selected may be retained by
note was endorsed by the Dean of the Faculty on 6th August 1995 who forwarded
the note with the endorsement that he fully agreed with the views expressed by
the respondent No. 2 and suggested that interviews should be held.
respondent No. 5 obtained a copy of this note and on 23rd August 1995 wrote a
letter to the Chancellor as well as to the Vice Chancellor objecting to the
participation of the respondent No. 2 and the Dean of the Faculty in the
selection on the ground that he apprehended that they would be biased against
him and that they had in writing disclosed their bias in favour of the
appellant. There is no dispute that the Vice Chancellor received the letter but
he did not reply.
respondent No. 5 then filed a writ application (W.P. No. 264/95) in the High
Court seeking to stop the participation of the respondent No. 2 as well the
nominee of the Vice Chancellor in the selection process. The writ petition was
withdrawn on 12th
According to the respondent No. 5, the previous writ application had been
withdrawn because the Court had observed that the petition was premature and
also because the respondent- University had given an oral assurance to the Court that the
respondent No. 2 would not be participating in the selection process. This has
been denied by the appellant and the University.
On 13th September 1995, interviews were held as scheduled.
However, the respondent No. 2 did not take part in the selection process. The
Selection Committee found that neither the appellant nor the respondent No. 5
were suitable for the post.
October 1995, a fresh advertisement was issued for the post. This time,
although the essential qualifications as advertised in 1994 remained the same,
the additional qualifications were amended so that the specialisation read:
of Marine Science:
Any branch of Marine Sciences, namely physical Oceanography, Marine Chemistry,
Marine Geology or Marine Geology or Marine Biology." The requirement of 'M.Sc.-Ph.D.
in Marine Science or any related subject with outstanding accomplishment of
Teaching and Research and also with proven record of publications in
international journals' was done away with.
fresh Selection Committee was constituted pursuant to the 1995 advertisement.
It met on 20th May 1996. This time the respondent No. 2
participated. The Committee recommended the appointment of the appellant. The
appellant's appointment was accepted by the Executive Council and a formal
order appointing the appellant as Professor of Marine Science was issued to him
on 8th June 1996.
respondent No. 5 filed a second writ petition challenging the selection of the
appellant. The challenge was upheld by the High Court broadly on the following
eligibility criteria as advertised for the purpose of selection had been
illegally amended in disregard of the provisions of the Statutes of the
Selection Committee was not legally constituted;
records had been maintained by the Selection Committee as to how the inter-se
grading was done between the candidates;
selection process was vitiated by bias;
appellant was not qualified and did not possess the essential qualifications as
advertised for the post.
the decision of the High Court, since the selection of the appellant as
Professor, Marine Science was set aside, a special post was created for the
appellant by the University where he is now serving.
first submission raised on behalf of the appellant is in the nature of a
preliminary objection. According to him, the respondent No. 5 having withdrawn
the earlier writ petition without liberty to file a fresh application on the
same cause of action could not be permitted to re-agitate the identical issues
submission is misconceived. The first writ application had been filed on the
ground of apprehended bias on the part of the respondent No. 2. In the present
case, the allegation is of actual bias. Furthermore, the subject matter of the
earlier writ application was the selection which was due to be held on 13th
September 1995 pursuant to the advertisement issued on 10th August 1994.
subject matter of the subsequent writ application is in connection with the
advertisement issued in October 1995 and the selection which was held on 20th May 1996. The subject matter of both
proceedings being different, the second writ application is competent.
appreciate the arguments of opposing counsel on the merits, the framework of the
law within which the events took place are noted. The University of Goa was established in 1984 by the Goa University Act, 1984 (hereinafter
referred to as 'the Act'). The Act provides for the management and running of
the University by Statutes framed under Sections 22 and 23, Ordinances under
Section 24 and Regulations under Section 25. Under the Act, the Lt. Governor of
the Union Territory has been constituted ex- officio Visitor of the University.
By virtue of an amendment to the Act in 2000, the Visitor is now known as the
Chancellor of the University. The Chancellor is the Head of the University.
Among the authorities of the University, we are concerned with the Executive
Council and the Academic Council. The Executive Council is the principal executive
body of the University (Section 18) and is empowered by Section 23 (2) to make
Statutes subject to the approval of the Chancellor dealing with a range of
subjects including the appointment of teachers and other academic staff of the
University. The Academic Council is, on the other hand, the principal academic
body of the University and is mandated to 'subject to the provisions of the
Act, the Statutes and Ordinances, co-ordinate and exercise general supervision
over the academic policies of the University'.
first Statutes of the University are set out in the Schedule to the Act. They
have been amended from time to time and further Statutes have also been
incorporated in the Schedule. We are concerned primarily with Statutes 8 and
8(1) empowers the Executive Council:
) to create teaching and academic posts, to determine the number and emoluments
of such posts and to define the duties and conditions of service of Professors,
Readers, Lecturers and other academic staff and Principal of colleges and
institutions maintained by the University;
that no action shall be taken by the Executive Council in respect of the
number, qualifications and the emoluments of teachers of the University and
academic staff otherwise than after consideration of the recommendations of the
Academic Council." Statute 15 provides for constitution of the Selection
Committee for making recommendations to the Executive Council for appointments
of the various posts. The constitution of the Selection Committee varies
according to the nature of the post. For the post of Professor, the Selection
Committee is required to consist of the Vice Chancellor, a nominee of the
Chancellor (Visitor), the Head of the Department and in case of his
non-availability, a person nominated by the Planning Board from its members,
the Dean of the Faculty concerned, one Professor to be nominated by the Vice
Chancellor and three persons not in the service of the University nominated by
the Executive Council out of a panel of names recommended by the Academic
Council for their special knowledge of or interest in the subject with which
the Professor as the case may be, will be concerned.
to the respondent No. 5, the amendment of the qualifications for the post of
Professor of Marine Science was illegal. It was contended that under Statute 8,
it is the Executive Council which has to prescribe the qualifications after
considering the recommendations of the Academic Council. According to the
respondent No. 5, the qualifications which were prescribed in the 1995
advertisement and hand-out issued to the applicants in connection therewith had
not been prescribed by the Executive Council nor recommended by the Academic
Council. Whether this is so or not, this is not a grievance which could have
been raised by the respondent No. 5. He knew that there was a change in the
eligibility criteria for the post yet he applied for the post and appeared at
the interview without protest. He cannot be allowed to now contend that the
eligibility criteria were wrongly framed.
then come to the question of the qualifications of the appellant and whether he
was qualified to have at all been considered for appointment to the post of
If we analyse
the 1995 advertisement and hand-out it will be seen that the minimum
qualifications prescribed for a candidate were that he/she had to be:
work of high quality;
engaged in research;
with 10 years' experience in post-graduate teaching and/or research at the University/
national level institution including experience of guiding research at doctoral
significant contribution to knowledge.
candidate to be qualified under the second limb, apart from a brilliant
academic record and having an established standing, the candidate must have
been responsible for original research which had added to the field of the
particular science, not in small measure but significantly. The appellant has
not sought to justify his appointment under this limb but has claimed that he
was qualified under the first. For the purposes of this judgment, we will
assume that the appellant fulfilled the first three qualifications under the
first limb. The difficulty arises in connection with the fourth requirement,
namely, 10 years experience of teaching or research.
appellant claims in his bio-data that he completed his post-graduation in 1982
and acquired his Doctorate in the year 1986. On 17th December 1986, he was appointed as a Lecturer in the University after
which he became a Reader on 19th June 1991.
The advertisement was issued in October 1995 and the Selection Committee met on
20th May 1996. The appellant claims that if the
research which was conducted by him for three years in connection with
obtaining his Doctoral degree is counted in addition to his teaching
experience, he is qualified.
candidate can club together his qualifications of teaching and research to
cover the 10 years' period has been held in Dr. Kumar Bar Das v. Utkal University. The question still remains would any kind of research at a
University do? Strictly speaking and as a matter of legal interpretation, the
phrase 'research at the University/national level institution' should be read ejusdem
generis and in the context of the alternate qualifications specified viz.
'teaching experience' and the last phrase 'including experience of guiding
research at doctoral level'. In other words, the research must be independent
such that the researcher could guide others aspiring for doctorate degrees and
not the research where the researcher is striving for a doctorate degree
appellant's research prior to 17th September 1986 was pre-doctoral. Consequently and according to the letter of the law
perhaps the appellant was not qualified to be considered as a candidate for a
Professorship in 1996 since he had failed to meet the criteria by about four
the Court would not be justified in adopting a legalistic approach and proceed
on a technical view of the matter without considering the intention of the
University in laying down the condition of eligibility , since it is for the
University to decide what kind of research would be adequate to qualify for
professorship. The University had intended, understood and consistently
proceeded on the basis that the pre-doctoral research could be counted towards
the 10 years experience clause. So did the respondent No. 5. When the
respondent No. 5 applied for the post when it was advertised in 1994 he did not
have 10 years cumulative experience of teaching and post doctoral research.
Since he had obtained a doctorate degree in November 1985, the University also
considered his application and called him for an interview in September 1985
though according to a strict interpretation of the eligibility criteria the
respondent No. 5 was not qualified.
in Dr. Kumar Bar Das V. Utkal University 1999 (1) SCC 453, this Court in
construing similar eligibility criteria has held (at p. 458) that the research
required could include pre-doctoral research experience.
it was said that the Selection Committee was faultily constituted. Statute 15
has already been quoted earlier. According to the Registrar's affidavit, the
Academic Council had prepared a panel of subject experts and forwarded it to
the Executive Council. The panel as approved by the Executive Council was
Prof. Subba Rao or Prof. V.V. Modi ;
Dr. J. Samant or Dr. D. Chandramohan;
Prof. K.T. Damodaran or Prof. R.K. Banerjee, Prof. Subba Rao and Prof. V.V. Modi
had both regretted their inability to be part of the Selection Committee. Dr.
D. Chandramohan who had been mentioned as an alternative choice by the
Executive Council was inducted into the panel.
to the respondent No. 5, the panel of experts had been prepared by the
Executive Council subject wise, the idea being to have experts from the specialised
fields mentioned in the advertisement of October 1995. Our attention was drawn
to the fact that Prof. Subba Rao was Professor, Immunology and Biochemistry and
Professor Modi was from the Department of Biology and Biotechnology.
is nothing on the record which shows that the Executive Council had 'paired'
the experts according to their special field of knowledge. On the contrary, it
has not been pointed out how the subjects of Immunology and Biochemistry on the
one hand can be paired with Biology and Biochemistry and not with Marine
Biology in which Dr. Chandramohan is stated to be an expert. In fact each of
the experts had been approved by the Academic Council as being fit to be to in
the Selection Committee. The Executive Council merely prepared the panel in
order of preference. If the preferred members were unavailable, the other
members approved by the Academic Council and recommended by the Executive
Council could be empanelled. There has thus been no violation of Statute 15.
High Court, however, held that there was a further defect in the proceedings.
The Selection Committee was constituted by the following persons:
NigamVice Chancellor Chairman
of the Faculty Member
of Department Member (the respondent No. 2)
Prof. D.J. Bhat-Nominee of the V.C. Member
Admiral Dr.Menon,Nominee of the VC Member
Prof. K.T. Damodaran-Subject Expert Member
J. Samant-Subject Expert Member
Expert, Member but the Report of the Selection Committee records, "Shri/Dr.D.Chandramohan
regretted his/her ability to be present at the meeting". With the absence
of Dr. Chandramohan the quorum would have been incomplete.
to the Registrar's affidavit, this was a typographical error as Dr. Chandramohan
had in fact participated and signed the Report. The statement of the Registrar
on oath should have been accepted by the High Court, particularly when there
was no allegation even on the part of the respondent No. 5 that Dr. Chandramohan
did not in fact sit on the Selection Committee.
brings us to the issue of bias.
may be generally defined as partiality or preference. It is true that any
person or authority required to act in a judicial or quasi-judicial matter must
act impartially. "If however, 'bias' and 'partiality' be defined to mean
the total absence of preconceptions in the mind of the judge, then no one has
ever had a fair trial and no one ever will. The human mind, even at infancy, is
no blank piece of paper. We are born with predispositions and the processes of
education, formal and informal, create attitudes which precede reasoning in
particular instances and which, therefore, by definition, are prejudices".
not every kind of bias which in law is taken to vitiate an act. It must be a
prejudice which is not founded on reason, and actuated by self interest whether
pecuniary or personal. Because of this element of personal interest, bias is
also seen as an extension of the principle of natural justice that no man
should be a judge in his own cause.
a state of mind, a bias is sometimes impossible to determine. Therefore, the
Courts have evolved the principle that it is sufficient for a litigant to
successfully impugn an action by establishing a reasonable possibility of bias
or proving circumstances from which the operation of influences affecting a
fair assessment of the merits of the case can be inferred.
A.K. Kraipak and Others V. Union of India and Others 1969 (2) SCC 262, the
Selection Committee had been constituted under Regulation 3 of the Indian
Forest Service (Initial Recruitment) Regulations, 1966 for the purpose of
making selections to any State cadre of the All India Forest Service. The Chief
Conservator of Forests was selected. Setting aside the selection, this Court
held that the Chief Conservator of Forests being himself one of the candidates
seeking to be selected to the All India Forest Service should not have been
included as a member of the Selection Board because of the possibility of bias.
have noted, every preference does not vitiate an action. If it is rational and
unaccompanied by considerations of personal interest, pecuniary or otherwise,
it would not vitiate a decision. For example, if a senior officer expresses
appreciation of the work of a junior in the Confidential Report, it would not
amount to bias nor would it preclude that senior officer from being part of the
Departmental Promotion Committee to consider such junior officer along with
others for promotion.
this case, the respondent No. 5 has relied on the note quoted earlier to allege
bias against the respondent No. 2. No doubt the respondent No. 2 has, in the
note, lavished praise on the performance of the appellant. As the Head of the
Department it would be but natural that he formed an opinion as to the
abilities of the Readers working under him. It is noteworthy that it was not
the respondent No. 5's case that the respondent No.2's praise of the appellant
was unmerited or that the respondent No. 2 had any extraneous reasons or
reasons other than the competence of the appellant for selecting the
appellant's as Professor. We are also not persuaded as the High Court was, to
infer bias merely because at the previous selection in September 1995 the
appellant was found unsuitable. If the outcome of the previous selection was
conclusive as to the non-suitability of the appellant for all times to come, it
was conclusive as far as the respondent No. 5 as well. Yet the respondent No. 5
applied again because he knew that a reappraisal by a new Selection Committee
at a later point of time might yield a different result.
the failure to keep any record as to the grading of the candidates under
Statute 15, the procedure to be followed by the Selection Committee in making
recommendations are required to be such as may be laid down in the Ordinances.
No Ordinance was drawn to our notice which prescribes a particular mode of
rating the respective merits of the candidates. When appointments are being
made to posts as high as that of a Professor, it may not be necessary to give
marks as the means of assessment.
whatever the method of measurement of suitability used by the Selection
Committee, it was an unanimous decision and the Courts will, in the
circumstances obtaining in this case, have to respect that.
we set aside the decision of the High Court and allow the appeal but without
any order as to costs.