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Dr. Ravindra Nath Tandon Vs. Dr. Arun Kumar Gupta and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectService
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberSpecial Appeal Nos. 232, 233 and 256 of 1975
Judge
Reported inAIR1976All244
ActsMedical Council Act, 1956 - Sections 33
AppellantDr. Ravindra Nath Tandon
RespondentDr. Arun Kumar Gupta and ors.
Appellant AdvocateR.N. Bhalla, ;S.C. Khare, ;S.N. Kacher and ;J. Swarup, Advs.
Respondent AdvocateB.P. Srivastava, ;Shanti Bhushan Lalji Sinha and ;Chand Kishore, Advs. and Standing Counsel
DispositionAppeals partly allowed
Excerpt:
service - prescribed qualification - section 33 (k) of medical council act, 1956 - appointment to the post of professor in medicine - qualification prescribed for each subject separately - appointee experienced in cardiology - experience contemplated cannot be acquired by reader or lecturer of another subject who occasionally does teaching or research work in subject - held, 'medicine' does not include 'cardiology' and appointment quashed. - - and so, we think, it would normally be wise and safe for the courts to leave the decisions of academic matters to experts who are more familiar with the problems they face than the courts generally can be. the parties will bear their own costs of these appeals as well as of the writ petition......in the department of medicine at s. n. medicalcollege, agra.about six years' and six months' teachingexperience(ii)july 1971upto the date of appointment as professor; reader in medicine in s. n.medical college, agra.about 3years, and two months teaching experience6. the writ petitioners contended that none of the four periods on which dr. r. n. tandon relied could be counted towards the experience of teaching/ research in medicine so as to qualify him for the posts of professor in medicine. it was not disputed that the second period in which dr. m. c. gupta worked as reader in medicine could be counted, but it was asserted that the earlier period during which he worked as lecturer in cardiology could not be taken into account. two main arguments were advanced by the writ.....
Judgment:

G.C. Mathur, J.

1. On September 8, 1973, the U. P. Public Service Commission published an advertisement inviting applications for two posts of Professor of Medicine in the State Medical Colleges, The date for filing applications, as extended later, was March 30, 1974. The age qualification mentioned in the advertisement was 'not above 45 years'. The other requisite qualifications were also set out in the advertisement.

2. The three writ petitioners were at this time officiating as Professors of Medicine on an ad hoc basis, of them Dr. Arun Kumar Gupta was officiating in the B. R. D. Medical College, Gorakhpur, Dr. Brij Kishore in the S. N. Medical College, Agra, and Dr. Sheo Narain Agarwal in the G. S. V. M. Medical College, Kanpur. All three of them applied for the two posts of Professor of Medicine which were advertised. Respondents Nos. 3 and 4 in the writ petition, Dr. Ravindra Nath Tandon and Dr. Mahesh Chandra Gupta, also applied for these posts. Dr. Tandori was at this time working in the Department of Medicine of the State University of New York at Buffalo, U. S. A., Dr. Gupta was Reader in Medicine in S. N. Medical College, Agra. The Public Service Commission held the interviews on 28th and 29th of August, 1974, and sent its recommendations to the State Government. The writ petitioners somehow came to know of these recommendations and on September 5, 1974, Dr. S. N. Agarwal sent a representation to the Government requesting that the eligibility of Dr. Tandon and Dr. Gupta may be investigated. A few days later, on September 13, 1974, Dr. A. K. Gupta, Dr. Brij Kishore and Dr. S. N. Agarwal filed a writ petition in this Court challenging the qualifications of Dr. Tan-don and Dr. M. C. Gupta for appointment on the posts of Professors of Medicine in the State Medical Colleges. The main reliefs sought were for the issue of writ of mandamus directing the Public Service Commission and the State Government not to give effect to the selections made by the Public Service Commission. On October 30, 1974, the State Government appointed Dr. K. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta to the two posts of Professor in Medicine. Dr. R. N. Tandon was posted in G. S. V. M. Medical College, Kanpur, thereby displacing Dr. S. N. Agarwal, who was officiating on the post, and reverting him to the post of Reader in Medicine in the same College. Dr. M. C. Gupta was posted to the S. N. Medical College, Agra, thereby displacing Dr. Brij Kishore, who was officiating on the post and who was then reverted to the post of Reader in Medicine in the same College. Thereupon the writ petition was amended and reliefs were added for quashing the selection made by the Public Service Commission (Contd. on Col. 2) and the orders of appointment of Dr. R. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta.

3. The main question which arose for consideration in the writ petition was whether Dr. R. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta possessed the requisite qualifications and experience for appointment as Professors in Medicine. Under Section 33(k) of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, the Medical Council of India, with the approval of the Government of India, has framed Regulations setting out the qualifications required for appointment to various posts in the Medical Colleges and attached Hospitals. The Regulations prescribe academic qualifications and teaching/research experience for posts in ten medical subjects, viz., Anatomy, Physiology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Pathology/Microbiology, Medicine, Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Social and Preventive Medicine and Forensic Medicine, and 14 specialised branches under medicine and Surgery, viz., Pediatrics, Tuberculosis, Phychiatry, Venereology and Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Gastro-Enterology; Orthopaedics, Anaes-thesiology, Radiology, Oto-Rhino-Laryn-gology, Ophthalmology, Thoracic Surgery/ Neuro-Surgery / Plastic-Surgery / Genito Urinary Surgery and Dentistry. In these appeals we are concerned with the subjects of Medicine and Cardiology. The Regulations prescribe the following Qualifications and experience for the various posts in Medicine:--

Post

Academic Qualifications

Subject

Teaching/Research Experience

MEDICINE

(a) Director

M.D., M.R.C.P., F.E.C.P.Speciality Board of Internal Medicine (U. S. A.) or anequivalent qualification in the subject.

(a) As Professor for 10 years

(b) Professor/Associate Professor.

Do.

(b) As Header/ Asstt. Proff. in Medicine for 5years in Medical College after re. quisitePost-graduate qualification.

(c) Reader/Asstt. Professor.

Do.

(c) As Registrar or an equi-valent post inMedicine or allied clinical depart, mentefor at least 3 years in a teachinginstitution.

4. There is no dispute that the five doctors, who figure in these appeals, all had the academic qualifications prescribed for the post of Professor in Medicine.What was challenged in the writ petition was that Dr, R. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C.Gupta did not have the requisite Teaching/ Research experience.

5. The experience of Dr. R. N. Tandon as set out in Annexure 'C. A.-2' of his counter-affidavit was as follows :--

(i)

1-10-1965to 31-10-1966;Post Doctoral Teaching Fellow, Department of Medicine, State University ofNew York at Buffalo, U. S. A.

One year's teaching experience

(ii)

1-2-1967to 31-1-1968;as a lecturer while posted as Pool Officer, Department of. Medicine in G. S.V. M. Medical College, Kanpur

One year's teaching experience

(iii)

5-4-1968to 4-7-1969;Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Medicine, in G. S. V. M. MedicalCollege, Kanpur.

Fifteen months' teaching experience

(iv)

29-7-1969to 30-10-1974(Date of appointment as Professor). Assistant Professor Medicine, StateUniversity of New York at Buffalo,U. S. A.

Over five years' teaching experience

The experience of Dr. M. C. Gupta as set out in paragraph 8 of his counter-affidavit is as follows:--

(i)

25-1-1965to 19-7-1971;Lecturer in Cardiology in the Department of Medicine at S. N. MedicalCollege, Agra.

About six years' and six months' teachingexperience

(ii)

July 1971upto the date of appointment as Professor; Reader in Medicine in S. N.Medical College, Agra.

About 3years, and two months teaching experience

6. The writ petitioners contended that none of the four periods on which Dr. R. N. Tandon relied could be counted towards the experience of teaching/ research in Medicine so as to qualify him for the posts of professor in Medicine. It was not disputed that the second period in which Dr. M. C. Gupta worked as Reader in Medicine could be counted, but it was asserted that the earlier period during which he worked as Lecturer in Cardiology could not be taken into account. Two main arguments were advanced by the writ petitioners, viz., (i) that in order to qualify for the post of Professors in Medicine the teaching or research experience must be in Medicine and, as such, experience in Cardiology cannot be counted and (ii) that the experience can only be taken into account if the candidate was, at the time of the experience, holding the post of a Reader or Assistant Professor (which admittedly includes Lecturer) in Medicine.

7. The learned single Judge held that neither Dr. R. N. Tandon, nor Dr. M. C. Gupta had the requisite Teaching/ Research experience and, therefore, neither of them was qualified for selection as Professor in Medicine. So far as Dr. R. N. Tandon is concerned, the learned Single Judge held that the first threeperiods could not be counted, as during this time Dr. Tandon was not holding the post of a Reader or Lecturer in Medicine. So far as the fourth period is concerned, the learned Single Judge was of opinion that the period should be counted upto the last date of the submission of applications and since at that time Dr. Tandon's experience came only to about 4 years and 8 months, it did not qualify him even if it be accepted that during this period he was an Assistant Professor in Medicine. As regards Dr. M. C. Gupta, the learned Single Judge held that the first period could not be counted, as he was not, at that time, holding the post of Reader or Lecturer in Medicine. The learned Single Judge, accordingly, allowed the writ petition and quashed the selection of Dr. R. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta for the posts of Professors in Medicine.

8. Against the judgment of the learned Single Judge Special Appeal No. 232 of 1975 has been filed by Dr. R. N. Tandon and Special Appeal No. 233 of 1975 has been filed by Dr. M. C. Gupta. Another Special Appeal has been filed on behalf of the writ petitioners during the hearing of the first two special Appeals contending that the learned Single Judge ought to have also quashed the appointments of Dr. R. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta to the posts of Professors in Medicine. All the three appeals have been heard together and will be disposed of by a common judgment.

9. It was urged before us that when the Public Service Commission was assisted by four technical experts, its view that Dr. R. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta each had five years' Teaching/Research experience in Medicine should not have been interfered with and that the Court should not have substituted its own opinion for that of the Commission. It is true that Courts should be reluctant to interfere with the decision of experts in academic matters. In the University of Mysore v. Govinda Rao, (AIR 1965 SC 491) the Supreme Court observed:--

'Boards of Appointments are nominated by the Universities and when recommendations made by them and the appointments following on them, are challenged before courts, normally the courts should be slow to interfere with the opinions expressed by the experts. There is no allegation about mala fides against the experts who constituted the present Board; and so, we think, it would normally be wise and safe for the courts to leave the decisions of academic matters to experts who are more familiar with the problems they face than the courts generally can be.'

But further on the Supreme Court said:--

'What the High Court should have considered is whether the appointment made by the Chancellor had contravened any statutory or binding rule or ordinance, and in doing so, the High Court should have shown due regard to the opinion expressed by the Board and its recommendations on which the Chancellor has acted.''

In State of Bihar v. Asis Kumar Mukherjee, (AIR 1975 SC 192) a question arose before the Supreme Court about the qualifications for appointment to the post of Lecturer in Orthopaedics under these very Regulations with which we are concerned. The question was whether the qualification of 'Teaching Experience in a Teaching Institution' must be acquired in India alone or whether such experience in England could also be taken into account. The Government of Bihar took the view that such experience in India alone could be taken into account. The Supreme Court examined the meaning and ambit of the relevant Regulation and held that a candidate having the requisite teaching experience in a teaching institution in England was also qualified for the post.

10. The jurisdiction of the Courts in cases where violation of some statutory provision is alleged cannot be doubted. If the statute relates to academic matters, the decision of experts familiar with academic problem should be treated with respect and should not be lightly interfered with. In the present case the writ petitioners had contended that the provisions of the Regulations had been contravened, as, according to them, Dr. K. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta, who were selected and appointed to the posts of Professors in Medicine, did not fulfil the qualifications laid down by the Regulations. There is no doubt that the Regulations are statutory having been framed under Section 33(k) of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956, by the Medical Council of India, which is a statutory body. These Regulations were treated as statutory by the Supreme Court in the Bihar case. From the counter-affidavits filed on behalf of the Public Service Commission and the Government it appears that they took the view that Teaching/ Research experience in Cardiology was experience in Medicine. This view was challenged before us and it was asserted that on account of this erroneous interpretation of the Regulations Dr. R. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta have been held to be eligible. We have to consider whether this interpretation is correct or not.

11. The first question which arises on the interpretation of the relevant Regulation is whether the experience in Teaching/Research in Cardiology can be taken into account for the appointment of a Professor in Medicine. Learned Counsel for Dr. R. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta have contended that the word 'Medicine' is of wide import and includes 'Cardiology'. It is urged that Teaching/ Research experience in Cardiology is experience in Medicine. We have been referred to Dictionaries, Encyclopaedia and Medical Text Books to show that Medicine embraces a number of subjects including Cardiology. It has been pointed out that the Regulations themselves treat Cardiology as a speciality of Medicine. There is no doubt that in its widest sense medicine means the art and the science of healing and in a somewhat narrower sense it means all branches of Medical Science other than Surgery and Obstetrics. Even in this sense it includes Cardiology. But the question is whether in the expression 'Reader/Assistant Professor in Medicine' occurring in the Regulations the word 'Medicine' has been used in this wide sense. The Regulations set out the academic qualifications and Teaching/Research experience for appointment of teachers in various subjects. They prescribe qualifications for each subject separately. Each subject is treated as an independent and distinct subject or speciality. This shows that the subject of 'Medicine' in the Regulations is exclusive of the other subjects mentioned therein and, therefore, does not include 'Cardiology'.

12. Our attention was drawn to the Seniority list of the year 1970 maintained by the U. P. Government of teachers in the State Medical Colleges (a copy of which is Annexure 'R-5' to the rejoinder-affidavit filed by Dr, Brij Kishore and Dr. Sheo Narain). The list is maintained subjectwise -- the subjects being virtually. the same as those mentioned in the Regulations. The names of the three writ petitioners, viz., Dr. Arun Kumar Gupta, Dr. Brij Kishore and Dr. S. N. Agarwal, find place in the seniority list of Lecturers in Medicine, while the name of Dr. M. C. Gupta finds place in the seniority list of Lecturers in Cardiology. The name of Dr. R. N. Tandon does not find place in any list, as he was not serving in any Medical College in U. P. The Directory of Medical Teachers in India prepared by the Medical Council of India in 1963 was also placed before us. This also lists Medical Teachers subject-wise--subjects being the same as those set out in the Regulations. There are separate lists of teachers in 'Medicine' and in 'Cardiology'. It is legitimate to infer that when the Medical Council of India made the Regulations in 1970 and mentioned Teachers (Professors, Readers, Assistant Professors (Lecturers) etc.) in Medicine, it contemplated this separate class of Teachers in Medicine which did not include Teachers in Cardiology or in any other subject.

13. If we give the wide meaning to the word 'Medicine', it would lead to results which could not have been contemplated by the framers of the Regulations. Medicine then would include Anaesthesiology, Opthalmology, Biochemistry etc. and persons having five years' experience of Teaching/Research in these subjects would become eligible for appointment as Professors in Medicine, in which posts they would be required to teach general medicine. If we give a wide meaning to the word 'Medicine', we must also give a wide meaning to the word 'Surgery' as used in the Regulations. Surgery would then include Plastic-Surgery, Orthopaedics etc. and persons with five years' experience in Teaching/ Research in Plastic-Surgery and Orthopaedics would become entitled to be appointed Professors of Surgery, in which posts they would be required to teach subject different from those which they had been teaching. The Regulations provide for the posts of Professors in all the subjects. They do not contemplate the appointment of teachers in one subject to the posts of Professors in another subject. We are, therefore, of opinion that the experience of Reader or Lecturer in Teaching/Research in Cardiology cannot be taken into account for appointment to the posts, of Professors in Medicine.

14. The second question on the interpretation of the relevant Regulation which was raised before us is whether the experience of Teaching/Research in Medicine cannot be taken into account, unless the candidate held the post of a Reader or Lecturer when he acquired the experience and unless the post was one of a Reader or Lecturer in Medicine. The relevant Regulations require 'Teaching/ Research experience as Reader/Assistant Professor in Medicine for five years in a Medical College'. The plain language of the Regulation requires experience as a Reader or Lecturer in Medicine in a Medical College. It is not disputed that the teaching experience must be as a Reader or Lecturer, but it is urged that Research experience need not necessarily be as a Reader or Lecturer, but can also be otherwise. The Regulation makes no distinction in this respect between teaching experience and research experience. The appointment to the post of Professor is appointment to a post higher than that of Reader or Lecturer. Experience, whether teaching or research, for appointment to this post must be in the post of a Reader or Lecturer. Take the case of the appointment of a Director. The Teaching/ Research experience prescribed is 10 years as a Professor. Can a person, who has been a Professor for five years only and has for the remaining period the research experience in the post of a Reader or Lecturer, be considered eligible for appointment as Director We think not. Teaching and Research experience must both be acquired as a Professor. Likewise Teaching/Research experience to qualify for the post of a Professor must be acquired as a Reader or Lecturer.

15. But it was argued that the expression 'Research experience as Reader/ Assistant Professor in Medicine' should be read with the General Condition No. 4 at page 1 of the Regulations and when so read it shows that the Research experience need not be as Reader/Assistant Professor. General Condition No. 4 reads thus:--

'4. 50% of the time spent in recognised research under the Indian Council of Medical Research or a University or a Medical College. After obtaining the requisite post-graduate qualification be counted towards teaching experience in the same or an allied subject provided that 50% of the teaching experience shall be the regular teaching experience.'

There is no doubt that the two provisions must be read together. If the Regulation is read in isolation, it would mean that teaching experience for five years or research experience for five years or teaching and research experience taken together for five years would satisfy the experience requirement, provided that it was acquired as a Reader/Assistant Professor in Medicine in a Medical College General Condition No. 4 provides for three things, namely:--

(i) that out of the five years' experience at least 2 1/2 years must be regular teaching experience;

(ii) that the research experience will count only for half the time spent thereon; and

(iii) the research must be recognised research under the Indian Council of MEdical Research or a University or a Medical College.

To this extent General Condition No. 4 controls or supplements the relevant Regulations, but it does not do away with the requirement of the Regulations that the Research experience must be as a Reader/Assistant Professor in Medicine in a Medical College.

16. The question then arises whether the person when he acquires the Teaching/Research experience in Medicine should also be a Reader or Lecturer in the same subject 'Medicine'. It was urged that a person who was holding the post of a Reader/Assistant Professor in Cardiology, but was teaching or doing research in Medicine should be considered qualified for the post of Professor in Medicine, if the experience was for the requisite period. The language of the Regulation does not permit of such an interpretation. The words are 'Teaching/Research experience as Reader/Assistant Professor in Medicine' and not 'teaching/ Research experience in Medicine as a Reader/Assistant Professor'. Cases where a Reader/Assistant Professor in one subject will be carrying on teaching/research work in another subject would be rare. That apart, a Reader or Lecturer in one subject cannot be regularly teaching or doing research work in another subject. The experience contemplated by the Regulation is of regular and continuous teaching on research in the particular subject. Such experience can only be acquired by a Reader or Lecturer in that subject and not by a Reader or Lecturer in another subject who occasionally does teaching or research work in the subject concerned. We, therefore, think that Teaching/Research experience for appointment of Professor in Medicine will only count if it has been acquired while holding the post of a Reader or Lecturer in Medicine.

17. We are, therefore, of opinion that the Public Service Commission and the State Government did not correctly interpret the Regulations and their decisions that Dr. R. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta were eligible for the posts of Professors in Medicine are vitiated by this error. Still it was argued before us that even after excluding the periods wrongly counted by the Public Service Commission and the Government, these two persons were still eligible, and we were invited to examine the other periods of their teaching/research experience and to pronounce upon their eligibility. These are more or less academic matters, which, after we have given our interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Regulations, should be decided by the Public Service Commission aided by the Medical Experts. We will only enumerate the points raised before us for the convenience of the Commission. They are, with respect to Dr. R. N. Tandon:--

(i) Whether his experience in the first three periods can be taken into account ?

(ii) Whether his Teaching/Research experience in the University of New York at Buffalo or in the Buffalo General Hospital can at all be considered ?

(iii) Whether he acquired any teaching experience in Medicine in this University or Hospital?

(iv) Whether he held the post of Assistant Professor of Medicine during the entire period or any part of it when he worked in this University or Hospital and

(v) Whether his experience in the U. S. A. should be counted upto the last date of the filing of the applications before the Public Service Commission or upto the date of the Selection by the Public Service Commission With respect to Dr. M, C. Gupta they are:--

(i) Whether his experience during the first period can be counted ?

(ii) Whether his experience of teaching during the second period was for five years ?

(iii) Whether he had any such research experience in Medicine as could be taken into account under the relevant Regulation and, if so, whether added to his teaching experience during the second period it would bring his teaching/research experience to 5 years

18. The appeals are partly allowed. The judgment of the learned single Judge is modified, the selection by the Public Service Commission of Dr. R. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta for the post of Professor of Medicine and the order of the State Government appointing them to these posts are quashed and the Public Service Commission is directed to make the selection afresh. The Public Service Commission, with the aid of Medical Experts, will consider the points relating to the eligibility of Dr. R. N. Tandon and Dr. M. C. Gupta set out above in the light of the interpretation given by us to the relevant provisions of the regulations. The parties will bear their own costs of these appeals as well as of the writ petition.


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