Shitla Sahai Srivastava Vs. General
Manager, North Eastern Railway  INSC 297 (14 December 1965)
14/12/1965 SATYANARAYANARAJU, P.
GAJENDRAGADKAR, P.B. (CJ) WANCHOO, K.N.
CITATION: 1966 AIR 1197 1966 SCR (3) 61
R 1969 SC 212 (5) R 1971 SC 766 (8)
Civil Service-Selection post-Inclusion of
name in panel and later deletion-When amounts to reduction in rank.
Selection to the post of Travelling Ticket
Inspector from that of Travelling Ticket Examiner is made by a Selection Board
in accordance with the Promotion and Selection Rules (Non-Gazetted) framed
under the Indian Railway Establishment Code Every year, the number of vacancies
that are likely to occur during the year is assessed and in accordance with r. 8(7),
eligible staff upto 4 times the number of anticipated vacancies are called up
for written and viva voce tests.
Thereafter, the Board prepares a panel and
promotions are made from the panel.
In 1959, there were 8 vacancies, in the
ex-Muzaffarpur region of the North Eastern Railway, which were to be filled up
immediately and in addition a panel of 6 was required to be drawn up. But, due
to an incorrect assessment, 92 persons of whom the appellant was one, were
called up for examination instead of 56. As a result of the tests a panel of 14
persons was prepared and the appellant was given the 12th rank. The final list
was then prepared and the appellant was given the 13th rank; but a note was
appended that the selection of candidates 9 to 14 was provisional.
Later, under orders of the General Manager,
who was the prescribed authority, the names of candidates 9 to 14 were deleted
from the panel.
The appellant filed a petition under Art.
226, but the High court dismissed it.
In appeal to this Court it was contended by
the appellant that the deletion amounted to a reduction in rank and that the
order was bad in law, because, the appellant was not given an opportunity
before his name was deleted.
HELD : If a civil servant has a right to a
particular rank, then the very reduction from that rank will operate as a
penalty, for he win then lose the emoluments and privileges of that rank. If,
however, he has no right to the particular rank, his reduction from an officiating
higher rank to his substantive lower rank will not ordinarily be a punishment.
Since, in the panel prepared, the word "provisional" was specifically
noted against the name of the appellant, it shows that he did not acquire a
right to the post. The appellant could not complain of any infraction of the
guarantee given by the Constitution to government servants and no penal
consequences have been visited on him.
Therefore the deletion of his name from the
panel did not attract the provisions of Art. 311. [65 C-E,, 67 E] Parshotam Lal
Dhingra v. The Union of India,  S.C.R. 828, followed.
Dineshwar v. Chief Commercial Superintendent
Eastern Railway, A.I.R. 1960 Cal. 209, overruled.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 766 of 1964.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
order, dated September 19, 1963 of the Allahabad High Court in Special Appeal
No. 268 of 1963.
S. P. Sinha and Shaukat Husain, for the
Niren De, Additional Solicitor-General, K. C.
Chawla and R. H. Dhebar, for the respondent.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Satyanarayana Raju, J. This appeal, by special leave, is against the judgment
of a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court which affirmed the judgment of
a Single Judge of that Court. The facts giving rise to this appeal may be
shortly stated as follows.
The appellant had been in the service of
North Eastern Railway holding the substantive post of Travelling Ticket
Examiner. The post of Travelling Ticket Inspector, which is the next higher
post, is a selection post. Selection is made by a Selection Board in accordance
with the Promotion and Selection Rules (Non-Gazetted) framed under para 158 of
the Indian Railway Establishment Code, Volume I (hereinafter referred to as the
rules). Every year, an assessment of the number of vacancies that are likely to
occur during that year is made. The Chief Commercial Superintendent is the
appointing authority for the posts of Ticket Inspectors. In accordance with r.
8(7), eligible staff, up to four times the number of anticipated vacancies,
shall be called up for written and viva voce tests. After the examination and
the interview, the Board prepares a panel and promotions are made from the said
In the year 1959, a Selection Board for preparing
a panel for the ex-Muzaffarpur region was constituted. There were, during that
year, eight existing vacancies which were to be fined up immediately. In
addition, a panel of six was required to be drawn up. It was also expected that
there would be nine more vacancies on account of upgrading of posts but this
did not actually materialise. But, due to an incorrect assessment of the
anticipated number of vacancies, 92 persons were called up for examination,
whereas 56 persons should have been called up for written and viva voce tests.
There was a written examination on February
22, 1959 and March 31, 1959, and thereafter the Selection Board interviewed 63
the candidates. As a result of the examination and the viva voce test, the
Selection Board prepared a panel of fourteen persons and the appellant was
given the twelfth rank in the panel. He was posted as officiating Travelling
Ticket Inspector on or about July 28, 1960. The final list of persons brought
on the panel was published in the Railway Gazette on January 1, 1961 and the
appellant was shown at serial no. 13 in that panel. But a note was appended to
the notification stating that the selection of the appellant and five others
By a letter, dated September 29, 1961, the
Chief Commercial Superintendent, North Eastern Railway, Gorakhpur, under the
orders of the General Manager, the prescribed authority, deleted the name of
the appellant and five others who were shown at serial numbers 9 to 14 in the
On November 28, 1961, the appellant filed a
petition under Art. 226 of the Constitution for the issue of a writ of
certiorari, impugning the validity of the order dated September 29, 1961 in and
by which his name had been removed from the panel. Her contended that the
deletion of his name from the panel indefinitely postponed his right of
promotion and therefore amounted to a reduction in rank.
The respondents contested the petition. They
averred that the name of the appellant was deleted from the panel in accordance
with rules, that he had no subsisting right to the post merely by reason of the
fact that his name was included in the panel, that the appellant and five other
persons were called up for examination on an incorrect assessment of the number
of vacancies. It was also contended for the respondents that the provisions of
311 were not attracted.
By judgment, dated March 14, 1963, the
learned Single Judge dismissed the writ petition filed by the appellant. He
held that the deletion of the appellant's name from the panel did not amount to
reduction in rank under art. 311 and that therefore he was not entitled to the
notice prescribed by that article. The learned Judge also held that the
appellant had not established that the decision of the respondent amounted to a
violation of any constitutional provision or statutory rule.
The appellant preferred an appeal which was
summarily dismissed by a Division Bench. An application for leave to appeal to
this Court was also rejected. Thereupon, the appellant obtained special leave
from this Court.
64 In support of the appeal, it is contended
for the appellant by Mr. S. P. Sinha, that the deletion of the appellants name
from the panel amounted to a reduction in rank and that the order was bad in
law for the reason that the appellant was not given an opportunity to explain
or defend himself before his name was deleted from the panel. Now, as has been
explained by this Court in Parshotam Lal Dhingra v. The Union of India(1) the
expressions "dismissal', 'removal' or 'reduction in rank' are technical
words taken from the service rules where they are used, to denote the three
major categories of punishments.
The question for determination is whether the
deletion of the appellant's name from the panel amounts to a reduction in rank
within the meaning of art. 311. Mention has already been made of the fact that
the panel was prepared under the rules. Rule 8 lays down the procedure to be
followed by the Selection Board. Sub-rule (7) of that rule reads :
"Eligible staff up to 4 times the number
of anticipated vacancies as defined below shall be called up for written and/or
viva voce test." Under the above rule, eligible staff up to four times the
number of anticipated vacancies should be called for written and viva voce
test. The vacancies to be filled up were 8 and in addition a panel of 6 was
required to be drawn up; thus for the 14 persons to be included in the panel,
56 eligible staff were to be called. On account of an incorrect assessment of
the anticipated vacancies, 92 persons were called to take the promotion
examination. The appellant's number in the eligible staff was after 56 and, but
for the mistake, he would not have been called for the examination.
Rule 11 Provides that panels for selection
posts framed by a duly constituted Selection Board and approved by the
competent authority shall not be cancelled or amended without reference to an
authority next above the one that approved the panel. Now, the panel was
prepared by (he Chief Commercial Superintendent, Gorakhpur, who was subordinate
to the General Manager, North Eastern Railway.
The panel, as originally drawn, was
subsequently amended by the Chief Commercial Superintendent under instructions
from the General Manager. This was in accordance with rule II.
In the final list of the personnel included
in the panel, the names of Sahai and Ramanand were included. The name of the
first of them was included by reason of the fact that his marks (1) 
65 were not correctly totaled up and the
second was included by reason of the fact that he belonged to the Scheduled
The complaint made by the appellant is that
by reason of the inclusion of the said two persons in the final panel of
Travelling Ticket Inspectors there was no post in which he could be kept and he
was therefore reverted till another vacancy occurred, that by reason of the
deletion of his name from the panel it would be necessary for him to appear
before another Selection Board and until his name was again brought into the
panel he would have no chance of being promoted to the post of Travelling
It is to be noted that in the panel prepared
by the Selection Board the word 'provisional' was specifically noted against
the name of the appellant which clearly shows that he did not acquire a right
to the post. The deletion of his name from the panel therefore does not attract
the provisions of art. 311. If a civil servant has a right to a particular
rank, then the very reduction from that rank will operate as a penalty, for he
will then lose the emoluments and privileges of that rank. If, however, he has
no right to the particular rank, his reduction from an officiating higher rank
to his substantive lower rank will not ordinarily be a punishment : vide
Dhingra's Case(1). It is no doubt true that in the said case it has been held
that when reversion entails penal consequences, it would be reduction in rank,
but the instant case is not one in which penal consequences have been visited
on the appellant.
Learned counsel for the appellant has relied
upon the decision of a Single Judge of the High Court of Calcutta as supporting
his contention that the deletion of the appellant's name from the panel would
amount to a reduction in rank. That decision is reported as Dineshwar v. Chief
Commercial Superintendent, Eastern Railway (2).
At p. 21 1, the learned Judge observed:
"The question is whether the striking of
the petitioner's name from the panel, has affected his future right of
promotion. In my opinion, the escapable conclusion is that it has so affected
the petitioner. As I have mentioned above, promotion from Class III post to a
Class II post is to be done according to the recommendations made by Selection
Where there is such a list or a panel, then a
person not in the list cannot hope to be promoted..... It is implied, that in
order (1)  S.C.R. 828.
(2) A.I.R. 1960 Cal. 209 66 to have a chance
of promotion the petitioner would have to be in the selection list, that is to
say, in the panel But with regard to the second contention, viz., that the
striking out of his name from the panel affected his chances of future
promotion, it is a point of substance and must be upheld. What the authorities
should have done before striking out the name of the petitioner from the panel
was to give him an opportunity of showing cause as to why his name should not
be struck off from the panel and the order could only be made after giving the
petitioner an opportunity of being heard." We are of opinion that this is
not a correct statement of the law, in view of the decision of this Court in
High Court, Calcutta v. Amal Kumar Roy(1). There the facts were these. The
respondent was a Munsif in the West Bengal, Civil Service (Judicial). When the
cases of several Munsifs came up for consideration before the High Court for
inclusion of names in the panel of officers to officiate as Subordinate Judges,
the respondent's name was excluded. He was told by the Registrar of the Court,
on a representation made by him, that the Court had decided to consider his
case after a year. As the result of such exclusion, the respondent, who was
then the senior most in the list of Munsifs, lost eight places in the cadre of
Subordinate Judges before he was actually appointed to act as an Additional
Subordinate Judge. He filed a suit praying that a declaration might be made
that he occupied the same position in respect of seniority in the cadre of
Subordinate Judges as he would have done if no supersession had taken place.
His case, in substance, was that as a result
of the High Court's order he was reduced by eight places in the list of
Subordinate Judges, and that in law amounted to reduction in rank within the
meaning of art. 311(2) of the Constitution.
This Court held at p. 453 as follows :
"In our opinion, there is no substance
in this contention because losing places in the same cadre, namely, of
Subordinate Judges does not amount to reduction in rank, within the meaning of
art. 311(2). The plaintiff sought to argue that 'rank', in accordance with dictionary
meaning, signifies 'relative position or status or place'. According to Oxford
English Dictionary, the word 'rank' can be and has been used in different
senses in different contexts. The expression 'rank' in art.
(1)  1 S.C.R. 437.
67 311(2) has reference to a person's
classification and not his particular place in the same cadre in the hierarchy
of the service to which he belongs. Hence, in the context of the Judicial
Service of West Bengal, 'reduction in rank' would imply that a person who is
already holding the post of a Subordinate Judge has been reduced to the
position of a Munsif, the rank of a Subordinate Judge being higher than that of
a Munsif. But Subordinate Judges in the same cadre hold the same rank, though
they have to be listed in order of seniority in the Civil List. Therefore,
losing some places in the seniority list is not tantamount to reduction in
rank. Hence, it must be held that the provisions of Art.
311(2) of the Constitution are not attracted
to this case." This decision has established the following principle,
viz., the expression 'rank' in art. 311(2) has reference to a person's
classification and not his particular place in the same cadre in the, hierarchy
of the service to which he belongs and therefore losing some places in the
seniority list is not tantamount to reduction in, rank within the meaning of
art. 311(2) of the Constitution.
It is perhaps true that the hopes of the
appellant were raised' by reason of the inclusion of his name in the panel.
It is also true that the respondent made an
incorrect assessment of the anticipated number of vacancies, but the fact
remains that his inclusion in the panel was expressly stated to be provisional.
The appellant cannot therefore complain of any infraction of the guarantee
given by the Constitution to Government servants.
The appeal fails and is dismissed. In all the
circumstances of' the case, there will be no order as to costs.