Service Law Part 3

Summary of Question-   Rejection of Study Leave

Question-  Whether it is in the unmindful discretion of  an Employer to reject Study Leave.

 Answer –  No.  It is true that a leave including Study leave is not a matter of right of any   employee but rejection of Study Leave by the authority of the employer competent to take decision must be logical and mindful. Under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, High Court is empowered to examine whether decision of the competent authority is arbitrary

Rationale-

 
1. A Division Bench of Hon’ble Delhi High Court in LPA No.482/2012,  decided on 11 September, 2012 observed and held:

"20. Though we must admit that the thought of letting the appellant complete his higher education and of this Court not coming in the way thereof has crossed our minds also but the logical side of our brain, for the following reasons, tells us to decide otherwise.

i. As the term `study leave' denotes, it is a permission for absence from employment or duty or a authorized absence and thus cannot be claimed as a matter of right. Without permission or authorization there can be no study leave.

ii. Merely because an employee may be eligible for leave does not bind the employer to grant such leave. The employer, in taking decision on an application of leave is entitled to consider, not only the eligibility of the employee for leave but also other factors as to its own functioning and if does not find it convenient or practical or conducive to its own affairs to grant leave, is entitled to refuse the same. It is the prerogative of the employer to act according to the exigencies of the situation, keeping in view the best interest of administration. The paramount consideration in granting leave, for an educational institution, is not only the convenience of the teacher but the welfare of the students. The authority which is to sanction leave, can take into account all the relevant facts and either grant or refuse leave.

iii. The employer herein being amenable to writ jurisdiction, this Court, in exercise of powers of judicial review is only to see whether refusal of the leave can be said to be arbitrary, discriminatory or malafide and is otherwise to not sit in appeal over the decision of the employer in this regard. It is after all the employer who has to manage its affairs and decide whether it is convenient or not to grant leave of absence and the Court cannot interfere therewith.

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2.  In this connection, a Division Bench decision of the Hon’ble Patna High  reported in 1991(2) PLJR  is also relevant in view of which study leave cannot be granted as a matter of right but rejection must not be unmindful on the part of the competent authority . This case was related to  Govt. Doctor seeking study leave for Post Graduation/specialization. Some of the observations made by the Hon'ble High Court are quoted below:

" It is too late in the day to contend that the attainment of higher qualification or specialisation in a particular subject would not be in public interest. We are living in an age of specialisation and the Medical Science is one branch, which has made tremendous strides abroad mainly on account of better facilities for getting specialised training. In this background, it is difficult to countenance this stounding proposition that grant of study leave for attaining speciality in a particular subject would not be in public interest"

"The Government has obviously acted unmindfully of its power as contained in the aforesaid rule while rejecting the request for grant of study leave. The question, therefore, that next arises for consideration is whether this Court in exercise of its writ jurisdiction should issue appropriate order or direction directing the concerned authority to grant study leave or not. Learned Counsel for the State has argued that the grant of leave being discretionary in nature, this Court has no jurisdiction to issue any mandamus in the matter. I regret my inability to agree to this contention. The Supreme Court in The Comptroller & Auditor General v. K.S. Jagannathan , after referring to the celebrated observations of Justice Subha Rao AIR 1966 S.C. 81 (sic) that Article 226 is designed "to reach injustice wherever it is found" and "to mould the reliefs to meet the peculiar and complicated requirements of this country, "had this to say while laying down the scope of power of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution in such matters:--
There is thus no doubt that the High Courts in India exercising their jurisdiction under Article 226 have the power to issue a writ of mandamus or a writ in the nature of mandamus or to pass orders and give necessary directions where the Government or a public authority has failed to exercise or has wrongly exercised to discretion conferred upon it by a Statute or a rule or policy decision of the Government or has exercised such discretion mala fide or on irrelevant considerations or by ignoring the relevant considerations and materials or in such a manner as to frustrate the object of conferring such discretion or the policy for implementing which such discretion has been conferred. In all such cases and in any other fit and proper case a High Court can, in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226, issue a writ of mandamus or a writ in the nature of mandamus or pass orders and give directions to compel the performance in a proper and lawful manner of the discretion conferred upon the Government or a public authority, and in a proper case, .in order to prevent injustice resulting to the concerned parties, the Court may itself pass an order or give directions which the Government or the public authority should have passed or given had it properly and lawfully exercised the discretion."