New Delhi: An associate professor of Haryana Agriculture University has been ordered by the Delhi High Court to be appointed as a principal scientist in the Indian Council for Agricultural Research.

A bench of justices B D Ahmed and V K Jain directed the Agriculture Scientists Recruitment Board (ASRB) to appoint Virender Singh Lather as a principal scientist in ICAR within eight weeks.

"Respondents (Ministry of Agriculture and ASRB) are directed to appoint the petitioner (Lather) to the available post of Principal Scientist (Genetics/Cytogenetics) in ICAR subject to his fulfilling all the requirements, post interview in which he was selected. The respondent shall comply with this order within eight weeks," the bench said.

The court gave its order after the government informed it that there was no vacancy currently for the petitioner in ASRB but a post of principal scientist was available in ICAR and he could be accommodated there.

Hissar-based Lather has moved the Delhi High Court against the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) order dismissing his plea against the ASRB's decision not to appoint him on the post despite the fact that he had qualified for the post in an interview held for it in 2002.

The board had declined to issue appointment letter to the senior professor for the post of Principal Scientist (Genetics/Cytogenetics) in ASRB on the ground that he did not fulfil the requisite criteria of having three years experience as senior scientist.

The court, however, rejected ASRB's argument, agreeing with the professor's contention that an associate professor is equivalent to a senior scientist.

The court also dismissed the government's argument that Lather's present age will be more than the requisite age bar of 50 years for the appointment as scientist in ICAR.

The bench, however, considered Lather's age as on 16 June, 2000, the last date for applying for the post, and said on the date of application, he was younger than 50 years.

"The respondents cannot deny benefit of appointment to him on account of his having crossed 50 years of age as on today. This is more so, when the petitioner has been agitating the issue firstly before the tribunal and then before this court.

"It will not be fair to the petitioner, to deny the appointment to him, when he has been wronged against, and he has relentlessly been perusing his remedy before legal fora," the court also said.