Pending enquiry no bar in further studies, says HC; directs govt to issue NOC | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times

Pending enquiry no bar in further studies, says HC; directs govt to issue NOC

BySahyaja MS
Apr 08, 2024 07:44 AM IST

Bombay HC directs state health dept to issue NOC to Dr Pawar for higher studies in medicine, citing right to education under Article 21.

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court has directed the state health department to furnish a no objection certificate (NOC) to medical officer Dr Kailash Kashinathrao Pawar, so he can pursue higher studies in medicine. The department had denied Pawar an NOC citing a pending departmental enquiry and a concurrent criminal case against him. The court, however, asserted that “administrative barriers should not impede an individual’s pursuit of higher education” and asked the department to issue the NOC within two weeks.

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During the proceedings, Pawar’s counsel, advocate Balasaheb Deshmukh, emphasised on the fundamental nature of the right to education enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution. “The denial of NOC solely on the basis of pending proceedings violates the petitioner’s fundamental right to education,” he contended.

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In contrast, assistant government pleader Sachin H Kankal, who represented the state, defended the administrative decision citing government regulations that barred individuals facing disciplinary or criminal action from pursuing further studies as in-service candidates. “The state’s refusal to grant NOC is in accordance with established rules aimed at maintaining discipline and integrity within the public service sector,” Kankal argued.

After hearing both sides, the bench comprising justices GS Kulkarni and Firdosh P Pooniwalla remarked, “The right to education flows directly from the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21.” Citing judicial precedents highlighting the constitutional significance of education, the bench emphasised that the right extended even to in-service candidates seeking to pursue further studies.

The court acknowledged that while terms and conditions of employment may govern the pursuit of higher studies, denial of the right could not be solely based on the existence of ongoing departmental or criminal proceedings against the employee.

“It cannot be overlooked that the State cannot have a policy, rule or regulation which would adversely affect the citizen’s pursuit to education which he intends to achieve, much less of those who are in employment, as right to education is now recognised to be a facet of the right to liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the court observed, adding that the public would ultimately benefit if an in-service candidate completed higher studies.

The court further pointed out that the state cannot enact policies that hinder citizens’ pursuit of education, particularly those already in employment. Scrutinising the circumstances in Pawar’s case, it noted the absence of any imminent threat posed by the pending proceedings to public interest or the petitioner’s ability to discharge his duties effectively.

“Administrative barriers should not impede an individual’s pursuit of higher education, particularly when such proceedings lack immediacy or relevance to the petitioner’s professional capacity,” the court observed, ruling in favour of Pawar and directing the health department to issue the NOC within two weeks.

If the NOC is issued, Pawar will be able to pursue any post graduate course in medicine subject to his clearing the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test and being exonerated in the ongoing departmental proceedings. If the outcome of these proceedings goes against Pawar, the state government is entitled to make an appropriate decision regarding his enrollment in postgraduate studies.

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