Vs. H.L. Ramesh & Ors.  INSC 563 (29 July 2010)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6057 OF
2010 (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No. 9473/2006) DR. BASAVAIAH
...Appellant VERSUS DR. H.L. RAMESH & ORS. ...Respondents WITH CIVIL APPEAL
NO. 6058 OF 2010 (Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No. 9474/2006) DR.
MANJUNATH ...Appellant VERSUS DR. H.L. RAMESH & ORS. ...Respondents
These appeals are directed against the judgment and order dated
2.8.2005 passed in Writ Appeal No. 5014 of 2004 and dated 22.3.2006 passed in
Review Petition Nos. 593, 594 2 and 632 of 2005 in Writ Appeal No. 5014 of 2004
by the High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore
By this judgment, we propose to decide the cases of both the
appellants Dr. Basavaiah and Dr. D. Manjunath, because exactly similar issues
have been raised in both the appeals.
the sake of convenience, the facts of Civil Appeal No. 6057 of 2010 arising out
of SLP (C) No. 9473 of 2006 are recapitulated.
The short controversy which needs to be adjudicated in these cases
is whether the appellants Dr. Basavaiah and Dr. D. Manjunath were qualified to
be appointed as Readers in Sericulture?
Brief facts which are necessary to dispose of the appeals are
recapitulated as under:
The appellants in both the appeals were appointed as Readers in
Sericulture in the year 1999 on the basis of the qualifications possessed by
them in accordance with the vacancy Notification No. ET.8/335/98-99 dated
3 As per
the notification, the qualifications necessary for appointment as Readers as
per the said notification are set out as under:
Prospective candidates shall have consistently good academic record with a
Doctorate Degree or equivalent published work. Candidates from outside the
university system, in addition, shall also possess at least 55% marks or an
equivalent grade at Master's degree level.
shall possess eight years experience of teaching and/or research including 3
years for a Ph.D. Degree, and shall have made some mark in the areas of
scholarship as evidenced by quality of publications, contribution to
educational innovation, design of new courses, curricula, etc."
Dr. Basavaiah obtained M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in Botany.
Thereafter, he served as Senior Research Assistant in the Central Sericultural
Research and Training Institute (for short CSRTI), Mysore from the years 1986
to 1992. Dr. Basavaiah, the appellant herein while working as Senior Research
Assistant, joined the Karnataka State Sericulture Research and Development
Institute (for short, KSSRDI) at Bangalore as Scientific Officer-II and
continued to work there 4 till 31.1.1994. In addition to the research work he
had taught many training courses and also worked as the examiner of M.Sc.
The appellant was selected to the higher post of Scientific
Officer-I (Scientist-D). The appellant had also undergone Overseas Training in
Sericulture for two months in the Department of Sericulture at Zhejiang
Agricultural University, Hangzhou, China and had also passed certificate course
in Genetic Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore.
The appellant had 18 years of research experience and out of that,
13 years was directly in the field of Sericulture.
worked for six years at CSRTI, Mysore, which is an internationally renowned
Sericulture Research and Training Institute and seven years at KSSRDI,
The appellant had more than five years of teaching experience. The
appellant's twenty Research Papers were published on Sericulture in Journals of
national and 5 international repute. The appellant was the first author in
twelve Research Papers and in other eight Research Papers he was the second
author. The appellant possessed the equivalent qualification prescribed in the
said vacancy notification dated 12.11.1998.
The appellant, Dr. Basavaiah was M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Botany. He had
also got sixteen years of Research experience.
possessed postgraduate diploma in Sericulture and worked as Sericulture
inspector in the State Government and also worked as Senior Research Assistant
at the CSRTI, Mysore. He worked as the Scientific Officer II with effect from
29.5.1992 to 31.1.1994 and he worked as the Scientific Officer-I with effect
from 1.2.1994 till his appointment as the Reader in the University of Mysore.
In addition to these, he had about twenty publications to his credit.
In the counter affidavit of the University it was asserted that
the appellant in C.A. No.6058/2010 @ SLP (C) No.9474/2006 Dr. Manjunath was
M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Zoology and also had teaching experience. He had got
research 6 experience of about twenty two years. He had joined the CSRTI as
Senior Research Assistant on 28.3.1981. He was promoted to the post of Senior
Research Officer on 15.10.1986 and he had worked in that Institute till his
appointment in the University of Mysore. He had also published a number of
Papers in Sericulture and number of connected subjects as per the certificate
produced by him. He was also teaching M.Sc. Sericultural Technology course, in
addition to other courses.
Dr. H. L. Ramesh, the respondent in both the appeals challenged
the appointments of both the appellants in the High Court on the ground that
the appellants were not qualified to be appointed as Readers in Sericulture.
The learned single Judge on 11.10.2004 after examining the pleadings and
scrutinizing the arguments of the parties dismissed the writ petition filed by
the 1st respondent (Dr. H.L. Ramesh) in the Writ Petition No. 24300 of 1999.
Respondent Dr. H. L. Ramesh, aggrieved by the said judgment
preferred a Writ Appeal before the Division Bench of 7 the High Court. The writ
appeal was allowed and the appointments of the appellants were set aside
leaving it open to the University of Mysore to make fresh selection in
accordance with the law.
The appellants aggrieved by the said judgment have filed these
special leave petitions against the judgment of the Division Bench of the High
In the Writ Petition No. 24300/99 before the learned Single Judge
of the High Court of Karnataka, the University of Mysore filed a separate
counter affidavit. It was contended in the said counter affidavit filed by the
University that the qualifications prescribed for the post of Reader, according
to the Advertisement issued on 12.1.1998, are as under:
to notification prospective candidate shall have consistently good academic
record with a doctorate degree or equivalent published work.
further specified that applicant shall possess 8 years experience of teaching
and/or Research including 3 years of a Ph.D. degree and shall have made some
mark in the areas of scholarship as evidenced by quality of publication,
contribution to educational innovation, design of new courses etc.
Therefore, it is very clear that the advertisement does not specify that only
those who possess M.Sc. in Sericulture are eligible for the post of Reader in
Sericulture. It is submitted that the candidates with the Master Degree and
Ph.D. are also qualified to apply for the post and for consideration for the post.
Therefore, the contention of respondent, Dr. H.L. Ramesh that the qualification
required for the post of Reader in Sericulture in Master Degree and Ph.D.
Degree only in Sericulture is not correct. It is needless to mention that
Botany, Zoology and Sericulture are all interrelated subjects."
The University of Mysore further submitted that there was no merit
in the contention of Dr. H.L. Ramesh that the appellants Dr. Basavaiah and Dr.
Manjunath were not qualified to be appointed as Readers in the Sericulture.
deem it appropriate to mention that the University had constituted an Expert
Committee consisting of the leading experts. The said Committee consisted of
the following eminent experts:
Y. Srinivasa Reddy Chairman, DOS in Sericulture Manasagangothri, Mysore - 6.
Prof. M. C. Devaiah, Dept. of Sericulture.
of Agri. Sciences Bangalore.
S. Govindappa, Dept. of Sericulture Sri Venkateswar University Tirupati.
S. B. Dandin, Director Karnataka State Sericulture Research and Development
Institute, Bangalore (e) Prof. V. Subramaniam Dept. of Textile Technology Anna
The Committee appointed by the University thoroughly scrutinized
the qualification, experience and published works of both the candidates and
made its unanimous recommendations in favour of their appointments. The
University also clearly stated that the appointments of the appellants were
made in consonance with the terms of the provisions of the Act. Admittedly, for
the selections to the post of Readers, an Expert Committee was constituted and
thereafter, its recommendations were accepted by the University and issued
orders accordingly. No one had any 10 grievance so far as the constitution of
Experts Committee was concerned and no mala fides have been levelled against
any member of the expert committee.
We have heard the learned counsel for the parties.
According to the advertisement, a relevant portion of which has
been set out in the preceding paragraph it is clearly indicated that the
qualification for appointment to the post of Reader was that candidates must
possess consistently good academic record with a Doctorate Degree or equivalent
According to respondent no.1, the appellants were not eligible to
be appointed because they had degrees in Zoology and Botany respectively
whereas only respondent no.1 was eligible because he was the only one who had
the Doctorate degree in the subject of Sericulture.
In the impugned judgment dated 2.8.2005, the Division Bench did
not properly comprehend the qualifications for the appointment of the Reader
given in the advertisement. It is 11 clearly indicated in the advertisement
that the qualification for appointment as Reader was a Doctorate degree or
equivalent published work. Admittedly, both these appellants had extensive
published work in the national and international journals of repute to their
credit. This is clearly indicated in extenso in the application forms which
they had filled for the appointments for the posts of Readers.
The learned Single Judge dismissed the writ petition filed by
respondent no.1 on the ground that selection had taken place in 1999 and the
appellants were working in their respective teaching posts and the court did
not deem it appropriate to disturb the existing arrangement and dismissed the
The Division Bench in the impugned judgment allowed the appeal
filed by Dr. H.L. Ramesh, respondent no. 1 herein, on the short ground that the
appellants herein did not have Doctorate degree in Sericulture. Therefore, they
were not qualified for appointment as Readers in Sericulture. In the impugned
judgment, the court did not properly comprehend 12 the advertisement in which
it was clearly mentioned that the prescribed qualification was Doctorate degree
or equivalent published work. According to the affidavit which has been filed
by the University, the Expert Committee consisting of highly qualified five
distinguished experts evaluated the qualification, experience and the published
work of the appellants. They found them eligible and suitable. The relevant
portion of the affidavit reads as under:- "All the abovesaid members of
the committee are experts in the field of Sericulture. The said selection committee
thoroughly scrutinized the relative merits and demerits of each candidates and
made its recommendations. It is needless to mention that the selection and
appointment of teachers is to be made in terms of Section 49 of the Act. This
respondent University has strictly followed the Government orders issued from
time to time regarding reservations. After taking into consideration the orders
issued by the Government and the guidelines issued by the University, the
recommendation of the expert selection committee has been accepted by the
University and accordingly impugned orders have been issued."
It is abundantly clear from the affidavit filed by the University
that the Expert Committee had carefully examined and scrutinized the
qualification, experience and published 13 work of the appellants before
selecting them for the posts of Readers in Serology. In our considered opinion,
the Division Bench was not justified in sitting in appeal over the unanimous
recommendations of the Expert Committee consisting of five experts. The Expert
Committee had in fact scrutinized the merits and de-merits of each candidate
including qualification and the equivalent published work and its
recommendations were sent to the University for appointment which were accepted
by the University.
It is the settled legal position that the courts have to show
deference and consideration to the recommendation of an Expert Committee
consisting of distinguished experts in the field. In the instant case, experts
had evaluated the qualification, experience and published work of the
appellants and thereafter recommendations for their appointments were made. The
Division Bench of the High Court ought not to have sat as an appellate court on
the recommendations made by the country's leading experts in the field of
A similar controversy arose about 45 years ago regarding
appointment of Anniah Gowda to the post of Research Reader in English in the
Central College, Bangalore, in the case of The University of Mysore and Anr. v.
C.D. Govinda Rao and Anr. AIR 1965 SC 491, in which the Constitution Bench
unanimously held that normally the Courts should be slow to interfere with the
opinions expressed by the experts particularly in a case when there is no
allegation of mala fides against the experts who had constituted the Selection
further observed that it would normally be wise and safe for the courts to
leave the decisions of academic matters to the experts who are more familiar
with the problems they face than the courts generally can be.
We have been called upon to adjudicate the similar matter of the
same University almost after half a century. In a judicial system governed by
precedents, the judgments delivered by the Constitution Bench and other Benches
must be respected and relied on with meticulous care and sincerity.
ratio of the Constitution Bench has not been properly appreciated by the
learned judges in the impugned judgment.
In Dr. M.C. Gupta & Others v. Dr. Arun Kumar Gupta &
Others (1979) 2 SCC 339, somewhat similar controversy arose for adjudication,
in which the State Public Service Commission invited applications for two posts
of Professors of Medicine in the State Medical Colleges. The two appellants as
well as respondent nos.1, 2 and 3 applied for the said post.
no.1 had teaching experience of about 6 years and 6 months as a Lecturer in
Cardiology in the department of medicine and about 3 years and 2 months as
Reader in Medicine in S. N. Medical College, Agra. Since there was no separate
Department of Cardiology in that College, Cardiology formed part of general
medicine and as such he was required to teach general medicine to undergraduate
students and to some post-graduate students in addition to Cardiology.
appellant no.2 had one year's experience as post- doctoral teaching fellow in
the Department of Medicine, State University of New York, Buffalo, one year's
teaching experience 16 as Lecturer while posted as a Pool Officer and 15
months' teaching experience as post-doctoral research fellow in the Department
of Medicine in G.S.V.M. Medical College, Kanpur and about 4 years' and 6
months' teaching experience as Assistant Professor of Medicine, State
University of New York, Buffalo. The cardiology is a part of medicine and the
teaching experience acquired while holding the post of Lecturer in Cardiology,
was teaching experience in a subject which substantially formed part of general
medicine and over and above the same. The Commission was amply justified in
reaching to the conclusion that he had the requisite teaching experience. The
High Court was, therefore, in error in quashing his selection of the appellant
in this case.
The teaching experience of foreign teaching institutions can be
taken into consideration if it is from the recognized and institution of
repute. It cannot be said that the State University of New York at Buffalo,
where appellant no.2 served as an Assistant Professor would not be an
institution of repute. The experts aiding and advising the Commission must 17
be quite aware of institutions in which the teaching experience was acquired by
him and this one is a reputed University.
According to the experts of the Selection Board, both the
appellants had requisite qualification and were eligible for appointment. If
they were selected by the Commission and appointed by the Government, no fault
can be found in the same. The High Court interfered and set aside the
selections made by the experts committee. This Court while setting aside the
judgment of the High Court reminded the High Court that it would normally be
prudent and safe for the courts to leave the decision of academic matters to
experts. The Court observed as under:
....When selection is made by the Commission aided and advised by experts
having technical experience and high academic qualifications in the specialist
field, probing teaching research experience in technical subjects, the Courts
should be slow to interfere with the opinion expressed by experts unless there
are allegations of mala fides against them. It would normally be prudent and
safe for the Courts to leave the decision of academic matters to experts who
are more familiar with the problems they face than the Courts generally can
In Dr. J. P. Kulshrestha & Others v. Chancellor, Allahabad
University & Others (1980) 3 SCC 418, the court observed that the court
should not substitute its judgment for that of academicians:
Rulings of this Court were cited before us to hammer home the point that the
court should not substitute its judgment for that of academicians when the
dispute relates to educational affairs.
there is no absolute ban, it is a rule of prudence that courts should hesitate
to dislodge decisions of academic bodies. ... ... ..."
In Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary
Education & Another v. Paritosh Bhupeshkumar Sheth & Others (1984) 4
SCC 27, the court observed thus:
... As has been repeatedly pointed out by this Court, the Court should be
extremely reluctant to substitute its own views as to what is wise, prudent and
proper in relation to academic matters in preference to those formulated by
professional men possessing technical expertise and rich experience of actual
day-to-day working of educational institutions and the departments controlling
them. .. ... ..."
In Neelima Misra v. Harinder Kaur Paintal & Others (1990) 2
SCC 746, the court relied on the judgment in University of Mysore (supra) and
observed that in the matter of appointments in the academic field, the court
generally does not interfere. The court further observed that the High Court
should show due regard to the opinion expressed by the experts constituting the
Selection Committee and its recommendation on which the Chancellor had acted.
In Bhushan Uttam Khare v. Dean, B.J. Medical College & Others
(1992) 2 SCC 220, the court placed reliance on the Constitution Bench decision
in University of Mysore (supra) and reiterated the same legal position and
observed as under:
the Court should normally be very slow to pass orders in its
jurisdiction because matters falling within the jurisdiction of educational
authorities should normally be left to their decision and the Court should
interfere with them only when it thinks it must do so in the interest of
In Dalpat Abasaheb Solunke & Others v. Dr. B.S. Mahajan &
Others (1990) 1 SCC 305, the court in some what similar matter observed thus:
... ...It is needless to emphasise that it is not the function of the court to
hear appeals over the decisions of the Selection Committees and to scrutinize
the relative merits of the candidates.
candidate is fit for a particular post or not has to be decided by the duly
constituted Selection Committee which has the expertise on the subject. The
court has no such expertise. The decision of the Selection Committee can be
interfered with only on limited grounds, such as illegality or patent material
irregularity in the constitution of the Committee or its procedure vitiating
the selection, or proved mala fides affecting the selection etc. It is not
disputed that in the present case the University had constituted the Committee
in due compliance with the relevant statutes. The Committee consisted of
experts and it selected the candidates after going through all the relevant
material before it. In sitting in appeal over the selection so made and in
setting it aside on the ground of the so called comparative merits of the
candidates as assessed by the court, the High Court went wrong and exceeded its
The Chancellor & Another etc. v. Dr. Bijayananda Kar &
Others (1994) 1 SCC 169, the court observed thus:
This Court has repeatedly held that the decisions of the academic authorities
should not ordinarily be interfered with by the courts. Whether a candidate
fulfils the requisite qualifications or not 21 is a matter which should be
entirely left to be decided by the academic bodies and the concerned selection
committees which invariably consist of experts on the subjects relevant to the
In Chairman J&K State Board of Education v. Feyaz Ahmed Malik
& Others (2000) 3 SCC 59, the court while stressing on the importance of
the functions of the expert body observed that the expert body consisted of
persons coming from different walks of life who were engaged in or interested
in the field of education and had wide experience and were entrusted with the
duty of maintaining higher standards of education. The decision of such an
expert body should be given due weightage by courts.
In Dental Council of India v. Subharti K.K.B. Charitable Trust
& Another (2001) 5 SCC 486, the court reminded the High Courts that the
court's jurisdiction to interfere with the discretion exercised by the expert
body is extremely limited.
In Medical Council of India v. Sarang & Others (2001) 8 SCC
427, the court again reiterated the legal principle that the court should not
normally interfere or interpret the rules and should instead leave the matter
to the experts in the field.
In B.C. Mylarappa alias Dr. Chikkamylarappa v. Dr. R.
Venkatasubbaiah & Others (2008) 14 SCC 306, the court again reiterated
legal principles and observed regarding importance of the recommendations made
by the expert committees.
In Rajbir Singh Dalal (Dr.) v. Chaudhari Devi Lal University, Sirsa
& Another (2008) 9 SCC 284, the court reminded that it is not appropriate
for the Supreme Court to sit in appeal over the opinion of the experts.
In All India Council for Technical Education v. Surinder Kumar
Dhawan & Others (2009) 11 SCC 726, again the legal position has been
reiterated that it is a rule of prudence that courts should hesitate to
dislodge decisions of academic bodies.
We have dealt with the aforesaid judgments to reiterate and
reaffirm the legal position that in the academic matters, the courts have a
very limited role particularly when no mala fide has been alleged against the
experts constituting the selection committee. It would normally be prudent,
wholesome and safe for the courts to leave the decisions to the academicians
and experts. As a matter of principle, the courts should never make an
endeavour to sit in appeal over the decisions of the experts. The courts must
realize and appreciate its constraints and limitations in academic matters.
In the impugned judgment, the High Court has ignored the
consistent legal position. They were expected to abide by the discipline of the
precedents of the courts. Consequently, we are constrained to set aside the
impugned judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court and restore the
judgment of the Single Judge of the High Court.
The University of Mysore, respondent herein, is directed to give
regular pay-scale to the appellants from 1st August, 2010. To avoid any further
litigation, we may make it clear 24 that the appellants would not be entitled
to claim any arrears or benefits for the past period.
The appeals are allowed, but, in the facts and circumstances of
the case, we direct the parties to bear their own costs.
..............................J. (DALVEER BHANDARI)
...............................J. (T.S. THAKUR)