J.P. Jain, J.
1. The petitioner in this case is a professor and head of the department of Mining in the Faculty of Engineering, University of Jodhpur. He has come to this Court for the issue of a writ of quo-warranto, challenging the appointment of the third respondent Prof. S.C. Goyal as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering being contrary to Statute 14 of the Statutes of the University. He has also asked for a mandamus that this Court should direct the respondents Nos. 1 and 2 to appoint him as a Dean, Faculty of Engineering in place of Prof. S.C. Goyal.
2. The University of Jodhpur was created on 12-6-1962 by the Jodhpur University Act, 1962 (Act No. 17 of 1962) (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'). The University started with as many as seven Faculties including the Faculty of Engineering. The Departments of studies assigned to the Faculty of Engineering consist of (i) Civil, (ii) Structural, (iii) Mechanical, (iv) Electrical, (v) Mining, and (vi) Metallurgy. Each Faculty has to be headed by a Dean. Except the first Statutes of the University, Senate has been empowered to make statutes under Section 22 of the Act The parties rely upon the Statutes of the University as contained in the schedule in the Handbook of University of Jodhpur (1973 edition. Statute 14 deals with the appointment of Dean of each Faculty and the functions that a Dean has to perform. It is this statute which falls for interpretation in the present case. It reads as follows:
14. (1) There shall be a Dean of each Faculty who shall be appointed by the Vice-Caancellor in the following order of preference, namely:
(i) Professors in the University or Principals of Colleges & Heads of Institutions by seniority;
(ii) Readers in the subjects assigned to the Faculty in which there are no Professors.
Note: 1. The person to be appointed Dean must profess a subject included in the Faculty concerned.
2. In case, in any Faculty, no person satisfies the above qualifications for being nominated as Dean, the Vice-Chancellor shall nominate a Senior Teacher as Dean in the Faculty.
(2) The Dean shall hold office for a term of three years and no person shall be eligible for reappointment as Dean until a period of at least three years has elapsed after the expiry of his last term:
Provided that the Vice-Chancellor may waive this condition for those professional Faculties which have only one Professor.
(3) The Dean of each Faculty shall be the Chief Academic and Executive Officer of the Faculty and shall preside at its meetings.
(4) The Dean shall issue the lecture lists of the University in the Departments comprised in the Faculty, and shall be responsible (or the conduct of teaching therein.
(5) The Dean shall have the right to be present and to speak at any meeting of any Committee of the Faculty but not to vote there at unless he is a member of the Committee.
3. The second and the third respondents, who are Chancellor of University of Jodhpur & Prof S.C. Goyal, Dean of Faculty of Engineering have not put in appearance. On behalf of the University of Jodhpur who is the first respondent, a reply has been filed to oppose the writ petition.
4. The facts of the case are not much in dispute. Prof. S.C. Goyal is the senior most Professor in the Faculty and is Head of the Department of Structural Engineering Prof. M.L. Mathur is the Head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Shri Alamsingh is another Professor and Head of the Department of Civil Engineering. Dr. B.S. Rao was the Professor and Head in 1968 of the Department of Electrical Engineering He resigned and left service on 4-12-1971 till then he continued to be the Head of the Department. The petitioner is the Professor and Head of Mining Department from 22-11-1969. Besides these Heads of the Departments in the Faculty of Engineering there are three more Professors (1) Prof. Divakaran in the Civil Engineering from 22-11-1969; (2) Prof. Marthy in the Electrical Department and he became Head of the Department after Dr. Rao left service; and (3) Prof. Bansal is another gentleman in the Electrical Department, working as Professor from May, 1972. There is also no controversy on the various appointments of Deans in the past in this Faculty. Prof. V.J. Garade was the first Dean of Faculty appointed on 3-12-1962 He left service and Prof. Goyal succeeded him on 18-12-63 being the next senior most Professor. According to statute 14 (2), term of this appointment was tor a period of three years, but it so happened that Prof Goyal went on deputation to the U.P. Agricultural University Pantnagar now Known as the Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, on 8th November, 1966 In this vacancy Prof M.D. Mathur being the next senior man was appointed as Dean by the Vice-Chancellor. For reasons not known Prof. Mathur resigned from the Deanship with effect from 4-12-1968. In this vacancy Prof Alamsingh was appointed as the Dean. On the date of his appointment there was no one senior to him He completed his full term of Deanship expiring on 3-12-1971. Next man appointed as the Daen in the Faculty was Prof. B.S. Rao with effect from 4-12-71. It must be noticed here that Prof. S.C. Goyal had returned by that time and was working as Professor and Head of the Structural Engineering Prof. Goyal, however, challenged the appointment of Prof. Rao by a representation to the Chancellor. According to him he being the senior most Professor alone could be appointed as Dean under the relevant statute. Before the representation could be decided, Prof. Rao resigned and left service. Soon that, after the Vice-Chancellor appointed Prof. Goyal by his order dated 20-2-72 as Dean It has been alleged on behalf of the University that the Vice-Chancellor after having obtained the advice of the University's Legal Advisor submitted the question of appointment of Dean to the, then, Chancellor of the University. The Chancellor in reply, did not agree with the opinion of the legal advisor and he approved the appointment of Prof. Goyal as Dean of the Faculty being the senior most professor in the Faculty on the interpretation of statute 14. This approval from the Chancellor was followed by the impugned order dated 16-6-72 appointing Prof. S.C. Goyal as Dean of the Faculty of Engineering for a term of three years with effect from 20th February, 1972.
5. The petitioner has challenged this order of the Vice Chancellor on the ground that according to the statute 14 (1) and the practice of the University, the Dean of the Faculty could be appointed from amongst the Professors by rotation according to their seniorty. The submission mads on behalf of the petitioner is that all the Professors senior to him have already been appointed as Deans and had their turns and after Dr. B.S. Rao vacated the office of Dean he is the next man in turn to be appointed as the Dean of the Faculty. On the other hand, Mr. Mehta learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the University contented that' the appointment of Deans as envisaged by Statute 14(1) cannot be by rotation. He frankly admitted that once he himself had the impression that the statute provided for the appointment of Dean by rotation but by a close reading of the statute he is not in a position to support his earlier view. As regards trie practice adopted by the University he conceded that in the matter of appointment of Prof B.S. Rao, the University made an error. While Prof Goyal was there being the senior most man in the faculty, Mr. Rao's appointment as Dean was not proper. But he submitted that this cannot lend support to the construction put by the petitioner of Statute 14 (1). It has also been urged on behalf of the University that the petition for the issue of writ of quo warranto does not lie as the office of Dean is not a public office Reliance has been placed by Mr. Mehta on Vidyodaya University of Ceylon and Ors. v. Silva (1964) 3 AII.E.R. 805, and Dr. P.S. Venkatswamy Setty v. University of Mysore and Ors. AIR 1964 Mys 159.
6. The case before the Privy Council was from Ceylon. Mr. Silva was appointed professor and head of the department of Economics and Business Administration at the Vidyodaya University of Ceylon. By a letter, he was informed by the Vice-Chancellor that in a meeting of the Council it has been unanimously resolved to terminate his appointment with immediate effect. Prof. Silva sought a writ of certiorari to quash the Council's order terminating his service on the ground that the Council were bound to act judicially in terminating his appointment and should, therefore, tell him of the nature of accusations and give him an opportunity of being heard. The Supreme Court of Ceylon granted the writ sought for but in the appeal the Privy Council held that the relationship between the Professor and the University was that of master and servant and was governed by the law governing ordinary contracts, and accordingly certiorari was not available where a master summarily terminated a servant's employment. The principle stated by Lord Reid in Ridge v. Baldwin (1963) 2 All England Reporter 97) was held applicable On the basis of this finding their Lordships advised Her Majesty to allow the appeal and set aside the order of the Supreme Court. Obviously the facts in the Ceylon case are distinguishable from the facts of the present case. The office of the Dean in the University of Jodhpur is not at the pleasure of the Vice-Chancellor of the University. Dean holds office for a period of three years under Statute 14. The principle laid down in Silva's case or that of Baldwin's cannot be made applicable to this case.
7. In support of the contention reliance has also been placed on the following observations made in the Mysore case referred to above.
Professors and the Readers of the University clearly do not exercise any governmental functions nor are they invested with the power or charged with the duty of acting in execution or enforcement of the law. They are merely employees under a statutory body. They cannot therefore in any sense be described as holders of public offices in respect of which quo warranto will lie.' It was further held that the office either may be elective office or one in respect of which a nomination or appointment is made by a specified authority and in the case of elective office there is generally provided the procedure of election petitions which makes it unnecessary for any one to proceed by way of writ of quo warranto.
8. With great respect, the learned Judges have taken a narrow view of the nature of the office in respect of which quo warranto would lie. That apart, the office involved in the present case is not that of Professor or Reader but of Dean of a Faculty In Halsbury's Laws of England, Simonds Edition, Volume 11, Page 146, the learned author observed that an information in the nature of quo warranto lay in respect of any particular office only if that office satisfies certain conditions. The conditions laid down are that the duties of office must be of a public nature and the office must be substantive in character. It does not necessarily mean that the office be one entrusted with Government functions Reference may here be made to a bench decision of this Court which had an occasion to deal with the question whether the office of a Professor and Head of Department of Hindi and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts was a public office.
9. In Mrs Priti Prabha v. Dr. C.P. Singh and Ors. 1968 (18) ILR (Raj.) 712 the petitioner challenged the appointment of Dr. C.P. Singh as Professor and Head of the Department of Hindi, as Dean of the Faculty of Arts and member of the Syndicate in the University of Jodhpur. She prayed for quashing the appointment of Dr. C.P. Singh by a writ of quo warranto. One of the questions raised in that case was that writ of quo warranto did not lie as Dr. C.P. Singh did not hold a public office. Their Lordships after discussing the essential conditions requisite for issuing a writ of quo warranto held that the office of Professor of Hindi Department is a high public office. The relevant observations read as follows:
In the present case, the office of the Professor of Hindi Department, is a high public office. It has been created by statute. The respondent No. 1 has assumed the office although his appointment is in complete violation of the statutory provision. He was not selected by the selection committee and was appointed by the Vice Chancellor under the cloak of emergency when, in fact, there was no emergency. In the circumstances, it is an appropriate case tor a writ of quo warranto making an order of buster of respondent No. 1 from holding the office of Professor of Hindi and consequent upon it from holding the office of Dean of the Faculty of Arts and member of the Syndicate.
10. Again in a Single Bench case of this Court, Satish Cbandra Sharma v. University of Rajasthan, Jaipur 1970 RLW 403 a question arose whether the office of a member of Syndicate is a public office. Tyagi J. after having considered the case law on the point held as follows:
These observations, when read in the light of the duties assigned to the Syndicate by the Act itself, make it absolutely clear that the membership of Syndicate in the University is not only an office but is a public office and as such the petitioner who is a registered graduate of the University has a right to seek for a writ of quo warranto against the respondent who, according to him, have been declared elected in clear violation of the Ordinance made by the Syndicate for conducting the election of its members.
11. I have examined the various provisions of the Act and Statutes. Under Section 15 of the Act the Senate is the supreme authority of the University and has the power to review the acts of Syndicate and the Academic Council and it can exercise all the powers of the University not otherwise provided for by the Act of the Statutes A dean of Faculty is an ex-office member of this body Under Sec 16 of the Act Syndicate is the executives body, and two Deans are on that body to be nominated by the Vice-chancellor in rotation. The term of their office is for a period of three years. Under statute 6 all the Deans of the Faculties are the members of the Academic Council. The term of office of the member of Academic Council other than ex-office member is for a period of three years. A Dean holds an important position in the Faculty vide Statute 8. According to Statute 14 (3) he is the Chief Academic and Executive Officer of the Faculty and presides at its meetings. The Dean of the Faculty of Engineering is also a member and convenor of the Committee of Courses and Studies. The Dean also finds place on the equivalence committee. Having thus regard to the nature of the duties which one has to perform as a holder of the office of Dean. I have no hesitation to hold that the office of Dean of a Faculty in University is a public office and it is of substantive character.
12. I am not only bound by the Bench Decision of this Court but I am also in respectful agreement with the view expressed in the cases of this Court referred to. There is, therefore no substance in the contention that the office of Dean in the University of Jodhpur is not a public office and a petition for an information in the nature of a quo-warranto would not lie.
13. It now brings me to the real controversy between the parties. To resolve this controversy Statute 14 (1) calls for interpretation. At the cost of repetition, statute 14 (1) is extracted below:
14 (1)--There shall be a Dean of each Faculty who shall be appointed by the Vice Chancellor in the following order of preference, namely:
(i) Professor in the University or Principals of Colleges and Heads of Institutions by seniority;
(ii) Readers in the subject assigned to the Faculty in which there are no Professors.
14. Learned Counsel for parties did not dispute that Statute 14(1) is qualified by Statute 14 (2) The former relates to the appointment of Dean whereas the latter fixes the term of office of a Dean to three years. It further imposes a restriction on the out-going Dean that he shall not be eligible for reappointment for at least a period of three years after the expiry of his last term. There is an exception to this, as contained in the proviso when the Vice-chancellor may waive this condition in the case of professional Faculties, which have only one professor. It is conceded by the learned Counsel for the parties that this proviso will have no application to the Faculty of Engineering, which admittedly consists of more than one Professor. With this in the background that a Dean appointed under Statute 14 (1) remains in office only for a period of three years and the last holder of office is not eligible for reappointment, I will proceed to examine Statute 14 (1).
15. The Statute in question empowers the Vice Chancellor to appoint a Dean of each Faculty in University out of two categories mentioned in 14 (1) in the order of preference. The two categories are (i) Professors in the University or Principals of Colleges and Heads of Institutions, and (2) Readers in the subject assigned to the Faculties in which there are no Professors. The order of preference governs the two categories, that is so long there are members in the category No. 1, the question of appointment from category No. 2 shall not arise. In the present case, category No. 2 is excluded as admittedly there are Professors in the University in the subjects assigned to the Faculty of Engineering. The Vice-Chancellor, in that situation, can make the appointment from the first category, which comprises of Professors, Principals of Colleges and Heads of Institutions. It is admitted that there are no Principals of Colleges as the University is not an affiliating University and there are no Heads of Institutions. The only members, out of which the appointment has to be made, belong to the class of Professors. As noticed above, there are eight Professors in the Faculty of Engineering The Vice-Chancellor is, therefore, confined to have his choice only from the Professors. But he has no option to pick and choose as he has to appoint one 'by seniority'. The expression 'by seniority' finds place in category No. 1 though it does not find mention in category No. 2 In a case where appointment has to be made from category No. 2, the Vice-Chancellor may have his own choice but in the case of category No. 1 he has no choice except to appoint one of the Professers by seniority. Much argument has been made on behalf of the learned Counsel for the petitioner that the expression 'by seniority' means 'by turn' or 'by rotation'. He has also referred to the meaning given in various dictionaries of the word 'by'. The literal and the plain meaning of the word 'by' in the context, is 'in accordance with'. Mr. Kasliwal has not been able to point out as to how the word 'seniority' can be read to mean 'rotation'. The natural meaning of the expression 'by seniority' would, therefore, mean, to my mind, in accordance with seniority. It is not open to this Court either to read 'rotation' for 'seniority', or to add the words 'and by rotation' after 'by seniority' in the statute. The Vice-Chancellor can, therefore, appoint only the senior most. Professor as Dean of a faculty. He has no choice to appoint a second man or any other Professor from the Faculty. The expression 'order of preference' has nothing to do while making an appointment of category No. 1. As indicated above the appointment from the category No. 1 has to be regulated 'by seniority'. Again the appointment under statute 14(1) being only for a period of three years, the senior most man appointed once to hold office as Dean after his term expires is not eligible to be reappointed under 14(1) for at least a period of three years. The question will, therefore, arise as to who can be appointed next as Dean. If Rule 14 (1) is again read, it will present no difficulty in its interpretation that the next senior most Professor can be appointed as Dean. His term also expires after another three years. The question will then again arise as to who can be appointed for the third term. By a mere reading of this statute, the senior most man alone can be appointed as by that time, he becomes eligible for appointment. The third Professor or next to him cannot claim any appointment under this statute as it exists. If however, the second man appointed as Dean for second term, vacates office before the expiry of the term, the third Professor can be appointed as the senior most will still remain ineligible by virture of statute 14(2). The result therefore, is that if the office of Dean is held for the full term of three years, the Deanship will remain between the senior most Professor and the next to him only. The third man in seniority or any one else after him will have no chance to be appointed as Dean under this Statute.
16. The appointment of Dr. B.S. Rao as Dean on 4-12-71, even when the senior most Professor was there, no doubt, gives an indication that the University itself construed statute 14(1) in the manner in which the petitioner wants this Court, to interpret, but that does not advance the petitioner's case The precedent does not estop the University to accept the correct interpretation of statute 14(1) when it occurred to it, and it received the proper advice. That apart, it does not afford any guide line to this Court in the matter of interpreting the statute. Nor do I think, that this Court is bound to accept the meaning, once understood by the University.
17. To quote, Maxwell on the Interpretation of Statutes, 11th Edition The first and most elementary rule of construction is that it is to be assumed that the words and phrases of technical legislation are used in their technical meaning if they have acquired one, and, otherwise in their ordinary meaning', and the second, that the phrases and sentences are to be construed according: to the rules of grammar. It is very desireable in all cases to adhere to the words of an Act of Parliament, giving to them that sense which is their natural import in the order in which they are placed. From these presumptions it is not allowable to depart where the language admits of no other meaning. Nor should there be any departure from them where the language under consideration is susceptible of another meaning, unless adequate grounds are found, either in the history or cause of the enactment or in the context or in the consequences which would result from the literal interpretation, for concluding that that interpretation does not give, the real intension of the legislature. If there is nothing to modify nothing to alter, nothing to qualify the language which the statute contains, it must be construed in the ordinary and natural meaning of the words and sentences. The safer and more correct course of dealing with a question of construction is to take the words themselves and arrive, if possible, at their meaning without, in the first place, reference to cases. A word may be construed in its popular meaning in one Act, and in its technical meaning in another Act.
18. I find no reason to depart from the wall recognised principles for interpretation of Statutes as extracted above. The meaning of the statutes under consideration is clear and quite unambiguous I have construed the statute 14 (1) giving its natural and plain meaning without doing any violence to the language and in my opinion, it gives effect to the intent, what the ftramers of the Statutes meant to express. I am unable to accept the contention of Mr. Kasliwal that the framers of the statutes intended to make the office of Dean as rotative amongst all the Professors in the subject assigned to a Faculty.
19. I have already held above that the statute 14 (1) presents no difficulty in giving it a literal construction. I find no adequate grounds to justify the inference, that the framers of the Statutes intended something which it omitted to express. While the Courts are entiled to resolve a difficulty in construction of a statute, omission & deficiencies must not be supplied by the Court by unnecessarily straining the language of the statute. The principle that what the legislature intended to be done or not to be done can only be legitimately ascertained from the language in which it has been expressed. In Thomson v. Goold 1910 Appeal Cases 409 Lord Mersey observed 'it is a strange thing to read into an Act of Parliment words which are not there, and, in the absence of clear necessity, it is a wrong thing to do'.
20. The learned Counsel for University has pointed out that the friars of the statutes were quite aware of the expression 'by rotation' and they have used it as and where they needed to use. For instance statute 8 (3) (iv) provides for the nomination of one or two teachers as members of the Faculty by rotation according to seniority. Another instance is found in statute 4. Two Deans will find place on the Syndicate to be nominated by the Vice-Chancellor in rotation. If the intention of the framers of the Statutes was to make the appointment of Dean, to be made by rotation and in accordance with seniority it could be so expressed. In my opinion, the words contained in the statute cannot be construed contrary to their natural and plain meaning. It matters not, in such a case, what the consequences may be. The words must receive their full effect.
21. Reference may be made to Management Shahdra (Delhi) Saharanpur Light Railway Co. Ltd. v. S.S. Railway Workers Union : (1969)ILLJ734SC . Their Lordships while quoting with approval, the observations of Lord Watson in Saloman v. A. Saloman and Co. Ltd. (1897) AC 22, Lord Goddard in R.V. Wimbledon Justices in 1953 (1) Q B. 380, and Lord Coleridge in R.V. Mansel Jones (1889) 23 QBD 29, observed:
It is well settled that the meaning which words ought to be understood to bear is not to be ascertained by any process akin to speculation and the primary duty of a court is to find the natural meaning of the words used in the context in which they occur, that context including any other phrase in the Act which may throw light on the sense in which the makers of the Act used the words in dispute.
22. According to their Lordships, the Courts ought, therefore, to give a literal meaning to the language used by Parliament unless the language is ambiguous or its literal sense gives rise to an anomaly or results in something which would defeat the purpose of the Act.
23. Learned Counsel for the parties placed before me the rules governing the appointment of Dean in various Universities. Suffice it to say that they have no direct application to the facts of the present case. Different Universities have prescribed different Rules for the appointment of Deans. They are, however, illustrative, and a reference to them will be useful.
24. According to statute 7 of the Agra University, the senior-most teacher member of a Faculty shall be the Dean of the Faculty by rotation for a period of three years. Even for filling up a casual vacancy in the office of Dean for a period exceeding six months, it has been provided that the teacher member of the Faculty next in seniority to the Dean shall officiate, The intention of the farmers of the statute is clearly indicated.
25. Statute 23 of the Allahabad University provides that in each Faculty except in those of Medicines and Engineering, the office of the Dean shall be held for a term of three years by one of the Professors, who is Head of Department comprised in the Faculty by rotation in order or seniority as Professor--Head of Department. The rule of rotation in order of seniority among the Professors-Head of Department has been clearly expressed.
26. The Statutes of University of Saugar had made the office of Dean of a Faculty as an elective office, out of the persons, who are Heads of Teaching Departments or Heads of a Department of Studies Reference may be made to Statute 12 (1) in this connection, which reads: 'The member of each Faculty shall elect the Head of a Teaching Department of the University or the Head of a Department of Studies to be the Dean of the Faculty'.
27. The University of Udaipur is governed in this respect by Section 15 (3) of the Udaipur University Act, 1962. According to this section every Dean or Associate Dean has to be appointed by the Board on the recommendations of the Selection Committee consisting of such persons as may be prescribed.
28. In the University of Rajasthan, Section 24-B governs the appointment of Dean in each Faculty. It does not intend to make the appointment even by seniority or by rotation. It only empowers the Vice-chancellor to make an appointment from certain catagories of persons in order of preference.
29. After having given my anxious consideration to the question involved in the case, I am clearly of the opinion that the appointment of Dean by seniority or by rotation is not a matter of universal application It is governed by the provisions of the relevant Act or the Statutes made in that behalf under the Act. In the case of the University of Jodhpur, under statute 14 the Vice-chancellor has no choice but to appoint the senior most available Professor as Dean of a Faculty provided he is eligible within the meaning of statute 14 (2), On the day Prof. S.C. Goyal was appointed as Dean of Faculty of Engineering he was eligible and was admittedly the senior most. As such, his appointment is in order and it can not be said that he is a usurper of the office of Dean.
30. In view of my finding recorded hereinbefore, the question of issuing a direction in the nature of mandamus, does not arise. I will, however, point out, that even if I had accepted the contention of the petitioner in regard to the interpretation of Statute 14 (1) and that the appointment of Prof. S.C. Goyal as illegal, I would have refused the petitioner's prayer seeking a direction for the University to appoint him as the Dean. The seniority of the petitioner has been disputed by the University, and in my opinion, this is not the forum, where I can adjudge his seniority vis-a-vis other Professors.
31. In the result, I find no substance in the writ petition and it is hereby dismissed. In the circumstances of the case I will direct the parties to bear their own costs.