Union of India & Ors Vs. M.P. Singh
& Ors  INSC 61 (27 February 1990)
R.M. (J) Sahai, R.M. (J) Kania, M.H.
1990 AIR 1098 1990 SCR (1) 604 1990 SCC Supl. 701 JT 1990 (1) 457 1990 SCALE
INFO : D 1992 SC1277 (101)
Land and Cantonment Service (Class I & II) Rules 1951--Rule 4(v)(c) and
5(b)--Indian Defence Estates Service--Assistant Military Estate Officers
(Technical)--Seniority determination of.
dispute in these appeals by special leave relates to the inter se seniority of
officers in Class 'A' of the Indian Defence Estate Service. Class 'A' of the
said service com- prised of officers promoted from two different channels viz.,
Assistant Military Estate Officers and Assistant Military Estate Officers
(Technical) of the Military and Cantonment Service Class 'B'. The manner of
selection and appointment of these categories of officers is different.
Assistant Military Estate Officers were promoted from among the service Class
III staff of the military Lands and Cantonments Service; Assistant Military
Estate Officers (Technical) were appointed on the recommendations of the Union
Public Service Commission, from amongst the officers who were released from
Engineering Service of Army after 1962. There was however no difference in the
performance of their duties. AMEOS were included in Class II of Military Land
and Cantonment Service (Class I and II) Rules 1951 for the first time in 1964,
by virtue of a notification issued in 1964 and was incorporated in 1951 Rules
when it was amended in 1968. But no such notification was issued in the case of
AMEOS (Technical) until 1976; nor any other rule was applied to them. In other
words selections and appointments of AMEOS (Technical) was made without any
avoid the anomoly, AMEOT were included in Class II of 1951 Rules in 1976. Thus
from this date officers appointed as AMEOT either under the 1968 Rules or prior
to it became members of Military Land and Cantonment Service to whom 1951 Rules
applied. But no provision was made for the period of service rendered from 1964
to 1976, which affected their seniority and promotion. According to the
appellant-Union, the service rendered during this period has to be deemed as ad
hoc. Respondents being aggrieved filed a Petition before the Central
Administrative Tribunal. The Tribunal allowed the Petition and held that the
seniority of AMEOT was to he determined under Rule 11 of 1951 Rules on length
of regular service in the cadre and accordingly directed the appellant-Union to
re-determine 605 the seniority of officers. Hence this appeal by the Union of
the appeal, this Court,
Seniority of an employee and its determination depends on service in the cadre
to which he belonged or to which he was appointed. [611B] Effect of Tribunal's
order in the instant case is that it cured the injustice perpetrated due to
absence of exer- cise of power by the Government under Rule 4(v)(c) of 1951
Rules as it stood amended since 1964. Substantial justice being one of the
guidelines for exercise of power by this Court the order is not liable to
interference. [611F] Justice is alert to differences and sensitive to dis-
crimination. It cannot be measured in terms of money. A Government of a welfare
state has gruelling task of being fair and just and so justice oriented in its
approach and outlook. |611H] Mere rectification of mistakes or omissions by
Courts and Tribunals should not prompt parties to approach this Court by
Special Leave merely for taking a chance or to protect some vested interest
except for sake of justice or for laying down law for benefit of Court and its
were granted seniority from the date of appointment in MLC service whereas
similar benefit was denied to AMEOT as they were working as ad-hoc. To remove
this irritant Tribu- nal directed that they shall be deemed to be holding
regular posts. Officers working since 1964 without any flaw could not be
treated as ad hoc. In any case once review DPCs were held it was incumbent on
it to include these persons and if necessary to evaluate their services or get
it evaluated by appropriate authority to regularise them and then determine
seniority. But ignoring them in 1987 even they had become member of MLC service
was arbitrary and unjustified. [612A- D] Col. D.D. Joshi and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors..
 2 SCC 235; Ranga Reddy and Ors. v. State of Andhra Pradesh,  Suppl. SCC 15.
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal Nos. 4397-98 of 1989 etc.
the Judgment and Order dated 30.11.1988 of the Central Administrative Tribunal
at New Delhi in O.A. Nos. 838 of 87 and 1502 of
Sibal, Additional Solicitor General, A. Subba Rao, C.V.S. Rao and M.S. Ganesh
for the appellants.
No. 1 in-person.
R.P. Oberoi and D.B. Vohra for the respondents.
judgment of the Court was delivered by R.M. SAHAI, J. Seniority in services is
the nature of dispute amongst officers in Class 'A' of Indian Defence Estates
Service, who were promoted from Class 'B' of Military and Cantonment service
where they were working as Assistant Military Estates Officers (AMEO) and
Assistant Military F. states Officers (Technical) (AMEOT), is slightly,
unusually. That is why apart from correctness or otherwise of directions issued
by the Tribunal (Central Administrative Tribunal, New Delhi) for re-determining seniority one
of the issues debated was if this Court in exercise of its powers under Article
136 of the Constitution of India should interfere with orders of Tribunal if
sub- stantial justice has been done between parties. To this may be added, yet,
another, namely, if the Union of India should have approached this Court by way
of Special Leave Petition not for sake of justice or injustice, legality or
illegality of any provision but because it may have to pay few thou- sands, may
be few lakhs more.
first, manner of appointment of two group of offi- cers and rules by which they
were governed from time to time may be noticed as even though initially posts
of both AMEO and AMEOT were sanctioned and created by the President in 1962 and
they were governed for some time by different set of rules but were brought in
common stream in 1976 and were promoted in Class 'A' before fresh rules were
enforced in 1983 and 1985, yet entire thrust of attack to justify dif- ferential
treatment to AMEOT was rounded on difference in method of their selection.
AMEOS were included in Class II of Military Land and Cantonment Service (Class
I and II) Rules, 1951 for the first time in 1964. Relevant amendment by
notification issued in 1964 was incorporated in 1951 Rules when it was amended
in 1968. Amended Rule 4(v)(c) read as under:
II of the Service shall consist of Executive Officers Class II, Assistant
Military Estates Officers and such other posts, as may, by order of the
Government be declared to be included in Class II cadre of the Service."
607 Manner of appointment to this class was provided by Rule 5(b) which is
Appointment to Class II Cadre of the Service shall be made in the following
manner, namely:-- (1) upto 20% of vacancies in Class II, by promotion from
among the serving Class III staff of the Military Lands and Cantonments Service
having service and educational qualifi- cations specified in sub-rules (c) and
20% of vacancies by direct recruitment made by a selection from among serving
employees of Cantonment Boards having service and educational qualifications
specified in sub-rules (d) and (e);
remaining vacancies from among the candidates who qualify at the Examination
and are recommended by the Com- mission but who fail to secure Class I
appointment in any of the Central Services.
that (i) for a period of five years commencing from the 29th January, 1966, 30
per cent of the permanent vacancies to be filled by direct recruitment in any
year shall be reserved for being filled in by the Emer- gency Commissioned
Officers of the Armed Forces of the Union who were commissioned on or after the
1st November, 1962, and who were released at any time thereafter." In 1981
service known as Military Lands and Cantonment Service (Group A) was constituted. 75% of
the substantive vacancies, in this Group 'A', junior scale, were to be filed by
direct competition and 25% by promotion from a panel prepared on the basis of
selection on merit in ratio 1:1 from amongst Cantonment Executive Officer Group
'B' and Assistant Military Estates Officer Service (Group B) who had not
rendered less than 3 years regular service.
(Technical) on the other hand were officers who were released from Engineering
Service of Army after 1962.
there was increase in work load and they were to be absorbed as well they were
appointed on recommendation of UPSC (Union Public Service Commission) in 1964
and 1965 against posts which were created from time to time by the Military
Land and Cantonments Department as is clear 608 from various orders issued in
1963, 1967 and 1970 which have been extracted in the order of Tribunal to
demonstrate that the Director, Military Lands and Cantonment, Ministry of Defence,
issued letters conveying the sanction of the Presi- dent to the creation of
various posts in the Military Lands & Cantonment Service which included
Assistant Military Estates Officers (Technical). Although the appointment
letter issued to each officer mentioned that the post was temporary yet each
was appointed on probation of two years.
word "Technical" appears to have been added because they were
engineers. Otherwise there was neither difference in pay nor in work as the
AMEOT were appointed to work as AMEO as well. AMEOT were thus qualified persons
holding rank in Army. To say that they were lesser in merit than AMEO, only,
because they had not appeared in competitive examination was being uncharitable
misfortune of AMEOT they were neither included in the Class II cadre of 1951
Rules nor any other rule was applied to them. Presumably because of method of
recruitment. All the same it was very unsatisfactory that posts of AMEOT were
being created and selections made in pursuance of advertise- ment issued by the
UPSC yet they were not being provided any statutory basis. Realising this rules
were framed under Article 309 in 1968, but these rules again did not provide
for promotions, seniority etc. However, the anomoly was finally removed, when
officers appointed prior to 1967 or under 1968 Rules as AMEOT were included in
Class II of 1951 Rules by amending Rule 3 in 1976 which read as under:
The Service shall be constituted by officers appointed-- (i) in accordance with
in accordance with the Military Lands and Cantonments Service (Assistant
Military Estates Officers-Technical) Recruitment Rules, 1968; and (iii) in
consultation with the Commission, as Assistant Military Estates Officer
(Technical), prior to the 1st January, 1967." Thus from this date officers
appointed as AMEOT either under the 1968 Rules or prior to it became members of
Mili- tary Lands and Cantonment Service (MLC) to whom 1951 Rules applied. On
that there is no dispute. But what about 1964 to 1976? Should they be 609
deemed to have served under no rules as claimed by AMEOS and strangely even by
Union, or they were governed by Central Civil Services (Temporary)Rules 1965
(CCS Rules). And if so what was its effect on their promotion and seniority.
For this one of the appointment letter issued to AMEOT contain- ing terms and
conditions is extracted below:-- MEMORANDUM Subject: Recruitment to the post of
Assistant Military Estate Officer (Technical) Military/Lands & Cantonments
recommendation of the Union Public Service Commission, the President is pleaded
to offer Shri Mahandra Pal Singh, a temporary post of Assistant Military
(Estate Officer Technical) in the Military Lands & Cantonment Serv- ice
Under Ministry of Defence.
xxx The terms and conditions of appointment are as follows:
The post is temporary. In the event of its becoming permanent his claim for
permanent absorption will be Consid- ered in accordance with the rules in
He will be on probation for a period of two years from the date of appointment
which may be extended at the discre- tion of the competent authority. Failure
to complete the period of probation to the satisfaction of the competent
authority will render him liable to discharge from service or reversion to his
parent department in case he is holding a permanent posts.
XXX (iv) The appointment may be terminated at any time on one month's notice
given by either side, viz., the appointee or the appointing authority, without
assigning any reasons, or by reverting the individual to his parent department,
in case he is holding a lien. The appointing authority, howev- er, reserves the
right of terminating the services of the appointee forthwith or before the
expiry of the stipulated 610 period of notice by making payment to him of a sum
to the pay and allowance for the period of notice or the unexpired portion
will be subject to conditions of service as applica- ble to temporary civilian
Government servants paid from Defence Services Estimates in accordance with the
orders issued by Govt. of India from time to time. He will be subject to Field
Service Liability Rule, 1957." What stands out Clearly from it is that
they were appointed in Military Lands and Cantonment Service (MLC) under Minis-
try of Defence. That is clear from the order creating the posts from time to
time. Letter dated 27th April, 1963 is extracted below:
The Director, Military Lands & Cantts. New Delhi.
Establishment of the New Eastern Command Sanction of Staff.
Consequent on the establishment of the New Eastern Command and re-organisation
of the existing Eastern Command into Central Command, I am directed to convey
the sanction of the President to the creation of the following posts in the
Military Lands and Cantts. Services:--
Director, Military Lands & Cannts. 1
Director, ML & C. 1
Military Estates Officer (Bihar & Orissa) 1
Mily. Estates Officer, (Technical Class II) 2"
it is too late to claim that they were not ap- pointed to Military Land and Cantonment Service under Minis- try of Defence. Was
their status effected or nature of employment altered because 611 Central Civil
Service (Temporary service) 1965 Rules applied to them. These rules applied to
'service under the Govern- ment of India in the Ministry of Defence .... paid
out of the Defence Service Estimates'. Purpose of the rule was not to create a
cadre or grade of temporary employees but to provide statutory basis to
employees of different depart- ments mentioned in it and accord them a
quasi-permanent status if they fulfilled the requirements mentioned in Rule
Seniority, promotion etc. were to be governed by the rules under which the
temporary employee was appointed.
seniority of an employee and its determination depended on service in the cadre
to which he belonged or to which he was appointed.
the AMEOT were appointed to MLC service cannot be disputed. Nor it can be
disputed that they were appointed to posts which were created by the President
and its sanction was conveyed by the Director of MLC. The only shortcoming was
that there was no declaration that these posts were included in Class II Cadre.
That also stood removed in 1976.
it included every AMEOT whether appointed under 1968 Rules or even prior to it
all those AMEOT who were appointed in 1964 or 1965 also become member of
service to whom 1951 Rules applied. Automatic consequence of it was that seniori-
ty of AMEOT was to be determined under Rule 11 of 1951 Rules on length of
regular service in the cadre. That is what the tribunal held. And rightly.
Whether service rendered by the respondents between 1964 to 1976 was regular or
it could be deemed to be regular as held by the Tribunal is different.
the Tribunal committed error in applying 1951 Rules to service of AMEOT prior
to 1976, does it call for any interference? Is the order not just and fair?
Effect of Tribunal's order is that it cured the injustice perpetrated due to
absence of exercise of power by the Government under Rule 4(v)(c) of 1951 Rules
as it stood amended since 1964.
justice being one of the guidelines for exercise of power by this Court the
order is not liable to interfer- ence.
is baffling is filing of the SLP by Union Govern- ment. Not because of any
injustice to AMEO as that has been taken care of by Tribunal by protecting all
those who are working but because if it works out seniority of AMEOT from back
date it may have to pay substantial amount and creation of superanuary posts
may further entail cost. Justice is alert to differences and sensitive to
discrimination. It cannot be measured in terms of money. A government of a
welfare state has gruelling task of being fair and just and so justice 612
oriented in its approach and outlook. Mere rectification of its mistakes or
omissions by Courts and Tribunals should not prompt parties or it to approach
this Court by Special Leave merely for taking a chance or to protect some
vested inter- est except for sake of justice or for laying down law for benefit
of Court and its guidance. Neither was in this case.
to respondents is apparent as admittedly these officers were promoted in Class
'A' in 1978 and are working since then uninterruptedly yet when review DPC were
held in pursuance of the judgment given by Allahabad High Court and seniority
list was published in 1987, they were ignored as they were working as ad-hoc
resulting in pushing up AMEOS who were junior to them. AMEOs were granted
seniority from the date of appointment in MLC service whereas similar benefit
was denied to AMEOT as they were working as ad-hoc.
remove this irritant Tribunal directed that they shall be deemed to be holding
regular posts. Officers working since 1964 without any flaw could not be
treated as ad-hoc. In any case once review DPCs were held it was incumbent on
it to include these persons and if necessary to evaluate their services or get
it evaluated by appropriate authority regu- larise them and then determine
seniority. But in ignoring them in 1987 even when they had become member of MLC
service was arbitrary and unjustified.
other objections one about delay and other about nonjoinder raised, again, by
Union Govt. may be examined. As regards former suffice it to say that the
occasion to ap- proach Tribunal arose when seniority of respondents was
disturbed and panels recommended in 1972 and 1979 were redrawn in 1987 and
seniority were refixed in Group 'B' with effect from March 1968. Therefore
objection of claim being slate or belated cannot be accepted. Nor there is any
sub- stance in defect due to non-joinder of parties. Objection stands answered
by the ratio in Col. D.D. Joshi & Others v.
of India & Others,  2 SCC 235; where it was held that it was not
necessary to implead all parties if chal- lenge was to validity of rule. As
regards Ranga Reddy & Others v. State of Andhra Pradesh.,  Suppl. SCC
15 relied on behalf of the appellant in support of the submis- sion that the
order passed by the Tribunal was vitiated in the absence of interested parties
cannot be accepted as some of those officers who were directly affected or were
immedi- ately likely to be effected got themselves impleaded before the
Tribunal. Therefore, the defect, if any, stood removed.
the Tribunal protected interests of all 613 these persons who were working at
present by directing that they shall not be disturbed. Non-impleadment of these
who may be effected in future could not render the petition vulnerable.
result both the appeals fail and are dismissed.
respondents shall be entitled to costs from Union of India.