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Sonalika Bhargava Vs. Govt. of NCT of Delhi and Ors. - (High Court of Delhi) (28 Aug 2020)

Once contract of employment comes to end by efflux of time, it cannot be claimed as a vested right for its extension



Present Petition has been filed by the Petitioner seeking directions to the Respondents to continue the services of the Petitioner in the post of Legal Consultant (Law) till regular appointment against the post as well as for directions to Respondent No. 3 not to initiate the fresh process for appointment of Legal Consultant on contractual basis by replacing the Petitioner with another contractual employee.

The process of engagement of Legal Consultants was decentralized in 2018, even before the Petitioner was given her first appointment in 2018. Once the concerned DMs were given the authority to make selection and the concerned DMs chose the alternative of engaging a suitable Legal Consultant by inviting names from the DLSA, no infirmity can be found with the said action.

The law on the right of a contractual appointee to seek extension of contractual appointment is more than well-settled. Once contract of employment comes to end by efflux of time, it cannot be claimed as a vested right for its extension.

It is true that, an Authority/State cannot be permitted to act whimsically, capriciously or arbitrarily, but this cannot be applied as a principle in every case, to hold that in each case the Contract of employment must be extended as a matter of right. On the expiry of the Contract, no obligation can be fastened on the employer to necessarily extend the said contract. The Court exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950 cannot impose any such liability on the employer. This shall apply with greater force in the present case, where the terms of the employment gave a discretion to the Competent Authority, to extend the contract or make fresh selection.

Legal Consultants are appointed intermittently to fill in the gaps, on purely contract basis. In fact, the post of Legal Consultant is not even a substantive or a permanent or a sanctioned post. The sanctioned post is that of Legal Assistant. Till such time that the posts of Legal Assistant are lying vacant, the Legal Consultants are hired. This confers no right to continue in perpetuity or for any specified term as the nature of appointment is not with an intent or purpose to bestow any employment. The appointment is at best comparable to panel lawyers of the various State and Central Government and cannot be treated as akin to an employment with a Government and cannot have any analogy to a contract of service under the Government, which is on a different threshold.

Respondents in their affidavit have clearly stated that the representation of the Petitioner has been treated as an application and that she will be considered during the process of fresh selection. The Petitioner is, therefore, free to compete with the others who are under consideration and if she is successful, she shall be appointed again. With the nature of post in question, it would be unfair to hold that the Petitioner has a right to continue in perpetuity as there are others who would be waiting for equal opportunity to compete being qualified and eligible. Article 16(1) of the Constitution of India guarantees equal opportunity to all to aspire to make their careers.

In view of the above, the relief sought by the Petitioner for extension of her contract cannot be granted. The writ petition is accordingly dismissed.


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