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Twenty years on, Jamia Hamdard harasses former lecturer, misuses judicial process, hurts Unani medicine

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New Delhi: Dr, rather Hakeem, M.M. Nomani is a rare breed of Unani physicians who have deep specialised knowledge of singular properties of herbs. He was a lecturer in Jamia Hamdard’s Faculty of Medicine. His boss took umbrage at a petty issue and got him terminated in January 1993. He went to court against this unjust termination. The trial court headed by Shri DK Jungla on 30 November 2004 decided in Dr Nomani’s favour ordering his reinstatement from the date of dismissal as well as payment of his full back wages and other accruing benefits from the date of his unfair dismissal on 5 January 1993. Judge Jungla said in his order that Jamia Hamdard’s dismissal order is “null and void having no validity in the eyes of the law”.  The learned judge further said in his order that “the order of dismissal passed by the defendant [Jamia Hamdard] is bad in the eyes of law as it is passed in violation of principle of natural justice.”

Jamia Hamdard (JH) appealed in the court of the Addl. District Judge Delhi (Shri Yashwant Kumar) who dismissed the appeal on 3 March 2005 and returned the case for execution to the trial court headed by Judge Jungla who again heard it in the same month (March 2005) and bluntly asked the Jamia Hamdard lawyers: “When are you going to pay? Are you going to pay from your pocket? The university will pay or the government will pay.”

But there was a hitch. The court order did not quantify the exact amount to be paid to Dr Nomani to whom it was left to prove the quantum of his dues. He asked Jamia Hamdard to give him a copy of his service book but they repeatedly refused. Finally he used the RTI route and faced JH’s stone-walling tactics until one year later he got a copy of his service book on the basis of which he quantified his dues from the date of dismissal to the date of the initial court order as Rs 30,97,056. This was accepted by the trial court which passed an order for the payment of this specific amount on 12 May 2008. The verdict included an order to attach the JH bank account with this sum out of which Rs 5 lakh was released to the hapless petitioner.

In the meantime, since the November 2004 decree was to be effective three months from the date of passing the judgement, JH conducted a sham enquiry and on 25 Feb 2005 issued a service termination order against Dr Nomani with a back date, i.e., from January 1993. The trial court, now headed by Judge DK Sharma, rejected this termination order and described it as illegal in its order of 8 September 2006.  

JH used the termination gimmick as a ruse to claim in a further appeal to the court that after this termination order the relief of back wages payable to Dr Nomani became “infructuous”. Judge DK Sharma, in his order of 8 September 2006 rejected this ploy and made it clear that “it is well settled  law that the services of any employee cannot be terminated with retrospective effect.” The judge further renewed his order to reinstate Dr Nomani and ordered JH to pay his back dues from the date of dismissal in 1993 to the date of the initial order observing that JH’s fresh order to terminate his services “does not mean that back wages with accruing benefits for the period 05.01.1993 to  25.02.2005 will not be or are not to payable to the decree holder.”

Yet the JH lawyers continued their stalling tactics filing “objections” which had no new ground. They benefited from the fact that judges of the trial court were frequently changed.

The trial court (Shri Kishor Kumar, civil judge, Tis Hazari) again clearly decided in favour of Dr Nomani on 1 August this year wherein it totally rejected the objections of JH saying that the issue has been decided “once for all” and that “the present objections of JH to this fresh execution petition of decree holder should be shown face of the door.” Judge Kishor Kumar’s verdict upheld the right of JH to hold an enquiry within the grace period of three months given in the first judgement but rejected JH’s right to dismiss him retrospectively, that is from the date of first dismissal in 1993. Hence, the judgement held, JH is bound to pay in any case the back wages and all accruing benefits due to Dr Nomani from the date of his dismissal in January 1993 to the date of the second termination order in February 2005. The verdict clearly rejected the dismissal order with a retrospective date. It further clarified that the issue of the reinstatement is separate and that an administrative order of JH “cannot overcome a judicial order and decree.”  The judge dismissed JH’s case and ordered its bank to issue a cheque for the decreed amount and send it to the court by 27 August 2013.

Now the JH lawyers again rushed to the Delhi High Court and were able to secure a stay order from the court of Justice Manmohan Singh which said that Dr Nomani should be paid an interim relief of Rs 5 lakh within two weeks but he was ordered at the same time to submit an undertaking that he would refund that amount to JH if its appeal was allowed. The appeal was filed in utter secrecy and the hearing in the high court was going to take place in the absence of Dr Nomani’s lawyer but he somehow came to know of this development through the court’s website and managed to be present during the hearing.

As this stalling drama went on and on inside court rooms, JH lawyers, thought to be influential and well-connected in the judiciary, issued threats to Dr Nomani and his lawyer time and again that they will see to it how the judgment goes in favour of Dr Nomani.

The next date in the high court is on 21 October. It is to be seen what new gimmick JH comes up with to persecute a hapless former employee whose bright career was ruined two decades ago by a petty boss who exploited his position and ruined a rare repository of Unani hebal system and his  family as well as hurt the Unani-pathy which lost the services of a brilliant Hakeem who enjoys deep insight into the rare field of individual herbal properties at a time Unani medicine is declining due to paucity of talent and high calibre practitioners of this natural cure system. It is an irony that this has happened in an institution which was specifically established by the visionary Hakeem Abdul Hameed to revive the Unani-pathy.   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 October 2013 on page no. 1

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