VAZHITHALA SERVICE CO OPERATIVE BANK Vs. REGISTRAR OF CO OPERATIVE SOCIETIES
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
VAZHITHALA SERVICE CO-OPERATIVE BANK
REGISTRAR OF CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETIES
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(1.) This Writ Appeal is filed against the judgment in O.P. No. 26196 of 2001. The appellant is the petitioner in the Original Petition.
(2.) The appellant is Vazhithala Service Cooperative Bank Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as the Bank). As per the bye laws of the Bank, the post of Secretary is to be filled up either by promotion from the cadre of Assistant Secretary / Manager / Chief Accountant or by direct recruitment. Sri. K.M. Mathai, the Secretary of the Bank, was due to retire from service on 31.8.2000. The Assistant Secretary Smt. N.G. Santhakumari and the Branch Manager Smt. N.M. Anice did not possess the necessary qualification for promotion to the post of Secretary. Sri. K. Sugathan Nair and Smt. K.C. Cicily, who are Accountants in the Bank were qualified for the post of Secretary but they relinguished their claim for the post of Secretary. Hence, the Board of Directors of the Bank as per Resolution No. 9/239 dated 3.7.2000 resolved to make appointment to the post of Secretary by direct recruitment. The Bank approached the Registrar of Cooperative Societies (first respondent) for necessary sanction / permission for making the appointment. The application was routed through the Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies (General), Thodupuzha (second respondent). The second respondent returned the application to the Bank stating that the relinquishment letters of Sri. K. Sugathan Nair and Smt. K.C. Cicily should be produced along with the application. The application was re - submitted to the second respondent along with the relinquishment letters. As per letter dated 16.11.2000 (Ext. P4(a)), the Registrar of Cooperative Societies granted permission to the Bank to make direct recruitment to the post of Secretary but directed that the written test should be conducted by the Institute of Cooperative Management, Thiruvananthapuram. Since the Institute of Cooperative Management, Thiruvananthapuram expressed their inability to hold the written test, the Bank approached the first respondent for further orders. As per his letter dated 12.1.2001 (Ext. P4), the first respondent granted permission to the Bank to make appointment to the post of Secretary subject to the conditions contained in Circular No. 18/91 of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies and directed that the written test should be conducted by the Institute of Management in Government, Ernakulam and that the principles of reservation should be observed by the Bank. After the first respondent granted permission to fill up the post of Secretary by direct recruitment as per his letter dated 16.11.2000, the Bank advertised the vacancy and invited applications through notification published in two leading Malayalam dailies on 20.11.2000. Eleven applications were received within the time stipulated. On receipt of Ext. P4 letter dated 12.1.2001 of the first respondent the Bank on 8.2.2001 wrote to the Institute of Management in Government, Ernakulam requesting to conduct the written test. As per their letter dated 15.3.2001 (Ext. P5), the Institute of Management in Government, Ernakulam communicated their terms and conditions for conducting the written test. The Bank remitted the prescribed fee and complied with all the conditions contained in Ext. P5. The written test was conducted by the Institute of Management in Government on 24.6.2001 at St. Sebastians Higher Secondary School, Vazhithala. Nine out of the 11 applicants appeared for the written test. In their letter dated 25.6.2001 (Ext. P6), the Institute of Management in Government, Ernakulam forwarded to the Bank the results of the written test along with all the relevant documents relating to the written test. Ext. P7 is the list of six candidates qualified for interview. The interview of the candidates was held on 5.7.2001. All the six candidates included in Ext. P7 list appeared for the interview before the Interview Board consisting of all the eight Directors of the Bank. While the interview was going on on 5.7.2001, an employee in the office of the second respondent Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies came to the Bank and handed over Ext. P8 order dated 5.7.2001 of the second respondent staying all further proceedings in connection with the appointment to the post of Secretary of the Bank. Ext. P8 order referred to a complaint dated 5.7.2001 of Sri. P.S. Radhakrishnan, Member No. 2965 of the Bank. Aggrieved by Ext. P8 order, the Bank filed O.P. No. 20238 of 2001 in the High Court of Kerala praying to quash the said order of the Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies or, in the alternative, to direct the Assistant Registrar to conclude the proceedings initiated by the impugned order within a time limit. The said Original Petition was disposed of by the High Court as per Ext. P9 judgment dated 26.7.2001 directing the Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies to dispose of the complaint filed by Sri. P.S. Radhakrishnan within a period of three weeks. It was also directed that if the Assistant Registrar did not dispose of the complaint within three weeks, the Bank was free to proceed with the selection and appointment to the post of Secretary, subject to the final decision on the complaint. Pursuant to Ext. P9 judgment, the second respondent issued Ext. P10 notice dated 4.8.2001 calling for the explanation of the Bank with regard to the complaint of Sri. P.S. Radhakrishnan. A copy of the complaint (Ext. P11) also was forwarded to the Bank. The main complaint of Sri. P.S. Radhakrishnan was regarding the conduct of the written test by the Institute of Management in Government, Ernakulam after the constitution of the Cooperative Service Examination Board. He had also objected to the appointment to the post of Secretary by direct recruitment when the Bank was functioning at a loss. Though the Bank submitted its explanation on 9.8.2001, the second respondent as per Ext. P12 order dated 13.8.2001 declared that all the steps taken for appointment to the post of Secretary of the Bank were invalid and directed to make appointment only on the basis of written test conducted by Cooperative Service Examination Board. It was also directed that the appointment shall be made only after hearing persons in the feeder category who are eligible for appointment by promotion to the post of Secretary. Aggrieved by Ext. P12 order of the second respondent, the Bank filed O.P. No. 26196 of 2001 which has been disposed of by the impugned judgment.
(3.) The main contention of the Bank in the Original Petition was that the second respondent, Assistant Registrar of Cooperative Societies had no power or jurisdiction to issue Ext. P12 order. It was also contended that the second respondent had practically usurped the power and jurisdiction of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies. It was further contended that by setting aside the entire proceedings taken by the Bank for making the appointment to the post of Secretary, the second respondent practically rescinded the resolutions of the Board of Directors of the Bank and that the power to rescind the resolutions was conferred exclusively on the Registrar of Cooperative Societies as per R.176 of the Kerala Cooperative Societies Rules, 1969. The Bank also disputed the assumption of the second respondent that the request to conduct the written test was made and the written test was conducted after the Cooperative Service Examination Board was constituted. According to the Bank, the decision to appoint the Secretary by direct recruitment was taken as per Ext. P2 resolution dated 3.7.2000 and the subsequent resolution (Ext. P3) dated 28.10.2000. It was contended that permission of the Registrar was sought and permission was granted by the Registrar before the Cooperative Service Examination Board was constituted. The Bank also disputed the assumption of the second respondent that the qualified persons in the feeder category were not heard before taking the decision to make appointment by direct recruitment. It was contended that the Registrar was informed that the two officers in the feeder category were not qualified and the two qualified officers in the feeder category had relinquished their claim for promotion.;
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