Justice Ahanthem Bimol of the High Court of Manipur on Monday quashed and set aside an order of October 27, issued by under-secretary of the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry, entrusting additional charge for the post of director, RIMS to Dr L Ranjit (Obst & Gynae, RIMS, Imphal, Manipur, through the deputy director, Regional Institute of Medical Sciences) for a period of six months, that is up to April 11, 2023 or till a regular appointment of director, RIMS or till further orders.
The HC stated that quashing the order will not preclude the official authorities from making fresh interim in-charge arrangement in respect of vacant post of director, RIMS, Imphal strictly in terms of the provisions of Rule 12(1)(iii) of the Rules and Regulations of RIMS.
The high court stated that the authorities have entrusted additional charge of director of RIMS, Imphal to L Ranjit arbitrarily and in a pick and choose manner and in complete violation of the provisions of Rule 12(1)(iii) of the Rules and Regulations of RIMS, Imphal.
Accordingly, the HC has no hesitation to hold that officials have acted arbitrarily and illegally in issuing the impugned order on October 12, 2022.
The writ petition, regarding the order, was filed by Dr Hemam Priyosakhi Devi for directing the official authorities to allow her to hold the post of director, RIMS, Imphal, pending regular appointment.
According to her, as per the applicable rules, if such additional charge is to be given, the same should be given to the senior most officer in the next lower grade and since she is the senior most officer in the next lower grade, she is entitled to get such additional charge and that entrusting such additional charge of director, RIMS to Ranjit, who is junior to her, is ultra-vires the applicable rules and not sustainable in the eyes of law.
However, DSGI appearing for authorities submitted that the inter-seniority seniority list of professors of RIMS relied on by the petitioner is not yet approved by the executive council of RIMS and that the inter-se-seniority of professor of RIMS is yet to be finalized and accordingly, the claim of the petitioner that she is the senior most professor in RIMS is unfounded and without any basis.
The HC examined the provisions of Rule 12(1)(iii), it is crystal clear that in respect of unanticipated vacancies in the post of director, RIMS, the administrative ministry may, with the approval of the Minister in charge, order additional charge arrangements subject to maximum period of 6 months, with effect from the date of occurrence of the vacancy and also subject to the condition that the officer to whom the additional charge is assigned is senior most officer in the next lower grade and is clear from the vigilance angle.
While, from the affidavit submitted by the Union of India, through the Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, government of India; Under Secretary to the government of India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Regional Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS), Imphal, through its Director (RIMS); deputy director (Administration), RIMS, the HC found that L Ranjit is at Serial No. 4 of the tentative inter-se-seniority list of professor, RIMS, had been entrusted with the additional charge of the Director, RIMS, Imphal in terms of the provisions of Rule 12(1)(iii) of the Rules and Regulations of RIMS and the DoPT O.M. dated 05.01.2015 of the Central Government.
It may be mentioned that former director of RIMS, Ahanthem Santa was the director for a period of 5 years with effect from 09.11.2018, vide order dated 28.07.2021 issued by the under secretary to the government of India, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. Before completion of his tenure of 5 years as director of RIMS, Ahanthem Santa Singh was repatriated prematurely from the post of director, RIMS to his parent cadre, pending the process for appointment of director of RIMS on regular basis.
The authorities of RIMS issued the impugned order on October 12, 2022, entrusting the additional charge for the post of director, RIMS to L Ranjit for a period of six months or till a regular appointment of director, RIMS or till further orders whichever is the earliest.