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Delhi HC appoints retired judge as Observer to carry out election process for vice president of Dental Council of India

·4-min read
Representative Image
Representative Image

By Amiya Kumar Kushwaha

New Delhi [India], June 20 (ANI): The Delhi High Court has directed to forthwith hold elections for the post of Vice President of Dental Council of India and appointed retired judge Justice GS Sistani as an Observer to carry out the process of holding of election in a smooth manner.

The High Court said that retired judge Justice GS Sistani will consult with the Secretary and the members of the Executive Committee of the respondent council to carry out the modalities of the election process, including but not limited to holding elections virtually and the notices to be sent to the members of the Council and will oversee the conduct of the elections.

The Court said that the Secretary of the respondent council would render all assistance to Justice GS Sistani in holding of the elections. Justice GS Sistani will be paid an honorarium of Rs 2 lakhs by the respondent Council for the services rendered by him, the Court directed.

The Court also clarified that till the Vice President is elected, respondent Ashok Khandelwal will continue to discharge functions of the President in terms of the impugned Order dated 11th May, 2021.

A vacation judge Amit Bansal order came while hearing a plea challenging May 11's notification issued by the Government of India by which it has asked the respondent Dr Ashok Khandelwal to discharge the functions of President of the Dental Council of India with immediate effect.

The High Court, however, refused to stay the impugned order and said that "it may be pertinent to mention here that the impugned Order per se does not appoint the respondent no.3 (Ashok Khandelwal) as the President of the respondent no.2 (Dentist Council of India) on a regular basis. It only provides that the respondent Ashok Khandelwal shall discharge the functions of President of the respondent council with immediate effect till election takes place for the said post or any other order is passed relevant to the said post, whichever is earlier."

The Court also noted that the erstwhile President of the respondent council has challenged his ouster and where the judgment has been reserved by a Coordinate Bench of this Court.

"In my prima facie view, respondent no.1 UOI is right in contending that the functioning of respondent no.2 council would be impaired in the absence of a President/Vice President and therefore, I see nothing wrong in respondent no.1 appointing someone to perform functions of the President on a temporary basis", the Court said.

"Though I am not inclined to stay the impugned Order, I am inclined to maintain the democratic functioning of the respondent no.2 council. It is essential that institutions like the respondent no.2 council, that perform important public functions, continue to retain their democratic character", the Court said.

It further added that after all, democratic values are the essence of our society and elections are the bedrock of democracy.

"Though the election of the President is subjudice, there is no impediment in the election of the Vice President of the respondent no.2 council, as provided in Section 7 of the Act. I am not impressed with the submission on behalf of respondent no.1 that election of the Vice President of the council should await the framing of new regulations. The new regulations, as and when they are framed, will take effect from a future date and will have no bearing on the elections conducted prior to that", the Court said.

The Court was hearing a petition filed by four petitioners, who are members of the respondent council, which is the regulatory body for Dental Council in India, governed by the Dentists Act, 1948 (the Act). On November 9, 2020, the then President of the respondent Council, Dr Dibyendu Mazumdar was removed by the respondent Centre.

Dr Mazumdar challenged his removal before the Delhi High Court, in which judgment was reserved by a Coordinate Bench on May 31, 2021. In terms of Clause 35 of the Regulations, the Vice President of the Council acts in place of the President in case the office of the President is vacant.

However, in the present case, the erstwhile Vice President of the respondent council (Dr. Bharat Shetty) also tendered his resignation from the post of Vice President as well as the membership of respondent Council on May 3, 2021. In light of the vacancy created in the posts of President as well as Vice President, respondent Ashok Khandelwal, being a member of respondent council, was appointed by the Centre to discharge the functions of President of the respondent council with immediate effect till elections take place for the said post. (ANI)

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