Vs. Sunil Misra  INSC 329 (13 May 1994)
Dayal (J) Yogeshwar Dayal (J) Kuldip Singh (J)
1994 SCC Supl. (2) 245 JT 1994 (4) 31 1994 SCALE (2)1030
Judgment of the Court was delivered by YOGESHWAR DAYAL, J.- This is an appeal
on behalf of appellants S/Shri A.K. Nigam, K. Thiagarajan and Suresh Kumar
against the judgment dated 5-3-1993 of the
Central Administrative Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi, in O.A. No. 1422 of 1987 filed by
Respondent 1 Shri Sunil Misra challenging the seniority list of Indian Railways
Personnel Service (JS/SS) Officers as on 1-3-1987. By the aforesaid order the
Tribunal had accepted the application of Respondent 1 and held that the
appellants herein could not be ranked senior to him.
appreciating the controversy it would be necessary to refer to the facts.
Appellants 1 and 2 were appointed to the grade of Section Officers (Rs
650-1200) (Group 'B') in the Railway Board Secretariat Service (RBSS) on the
basis of IAS, etc.
1977 and joined the service on 9-7-1979 and 21- 7-1979 respectively. Appellant 3 joined the RBSS as Section
Officer (Rs 650-1200) (Group.'B') on 10-6-1980 based on the IAS etc. Examination,
Sunil Misra, Respondent 1, appeared in the Civil Services Examinations held in
1980 and was selected for Indian Railways Personnel Service (in short TRPS) as
direct recruit Class 1 Officer on 12-1-1982.
5. On 25-7-1983 the appellants applied for promotion to Junior
Scale, Group 'A' of IRPS from RBSS, when options were called for from them.
15-2-1984 the appellants were found suitable for appointment to Junior Scale,
Group 'A' of IRPS by a duly constituted DPC and as such were promoted to the
above grade from RBBS against 50% quota reserved for Class 11 Officers.
1 and 2 were substantively appointed to the Junior Scale of IRPS on 15-2-1984
and by applying clause (a) of principle (vii) of the Principles for determining
the Relative Seniority of Class 1 Officers of All Services on Indian Railways
Except Officers of the Medical Department and other Misc. Categories (in short
'Principles'), reckoning the weightage for seniority, their date for increment
in time-scale worked out to 15-2-1979. Appellants 1 and 2 were to get Rs 900 in
Junior Scale, Grade 1 while appellant 3 Rs 940 and as such were entitled for
maximum weightage of 5 years for the purpose of seniority. Taking into account
the pay, the appellants were to get in Junior Scale, Grade 'A' of IRPS, the
appellants were granted benefit of weightage in seniority to the maximum extent
of 5 years and thus, the seniority of the appellants were reckoned from
15-2-1979 so far as appellants 1 and 2 were concerned and 24-12-1980 so far as
the appellant 3 was concerned, by going 5 years backward who was substantively
appointed to the Junior Scale, Grade 'A' of IRPS on 24-12- 1985.
Appellants 1 and 2 having completed 5 years' service on 15-2-1984 itself were
posted in Senior Scale, Grade 'A' of IRPS as soon as they joined their
respective railways viz., Western (appellant 1) South Central (appellant 2).
They were also promoted to Junior Administrative Grade with effect from
14-5-1987 by reckoning their services from 15-2- 1979, as one who has completed
8 years of service, is eligible for consideration for promotion to Junior
21-5-1987 the Railway Board circulated a seniority list of IRPS Officers to all
the zonal railways, vide its letter dated 21-5-1987. The said seniority list
did not contain the name of appellant 3 as his date for increment in time-scale
was decided only during 1988.
Aggrieved by this seniority list, Respondent 1 made a representation to the
Chief Personnel Officer, Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala, Jullundur. However,
the same was rejected and Respondent 1 was informed that the seniority to the
appellants has been correctly assigned. Against the rejection of his
representation by order 20-8-1987, Respondent 1 filed OA No. 1422 of 1987
before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi.
will be noticed that the challenge before the Tribunal was to the grant of weightage
of 5 years to the appellants for purposes of seniority as per principle (vii).
was no challenge either to grant of increments in timescale to appellants 1 and
2 to 15-2-1979 and to a similar date to appellant 3, who was to get Rs 940
whereas appellants 1 and 2 to get Rs 900 in Junior Scale, Grade 'A'.
One thing may.be noticed that the seniority in IRPS is not governed by the date
of joining. If one looks at the Principles, as approved by the President,
principle (i) is - "the seniority of officers, appointed to various Indian
Railway Services (Class 1) shall be determined on the basis of the 'date for
increment on time-scale' to be specifically determined in each case in
accordance with these 248 principles". It is not an invariable rule that
seniority should be determined only on the basis of the respective dates of
appointment to the post and that any departure from it would be unreasonable
and illegal. It is open to the rulemaking authority to take a note of the
relevant circumstances obtaining in relation to each department and determine
objectively the rules that should govern the inter se seniority and ranking.
The dates of increment of the appellants in time-scale having been specifically
determined by the authorities before Respondent 1 joined service, he has to
rank junior to the appellants. Besides, principle (vii), which is the relevant
principle, may be extracted for understanding its scope:
(vii) In the case of Class II Officers permanently promoted to Class 1
Services, if two or more than two officers are promoted on the same date their
relative seniority will be in the order of selection. Subject to the aforesaid
provisions the seniority of officers, permanently promoted from Class 11 to
Class 1 services, shall be determined by giving weightage based on- (a) the
year of service connoted by the initial pay on permanent promotion to Class 1
Service; or (b) half the total number of years of continuous service in Class
II, both officiating and permanent;
is higher, subject to a maximum weightage of five years."
was in accordance with principle (vii)(a) that the date of increment on time-scale
for the appellants was determined. Once this position becomes clear, there is
no difficulty in applying principle (vii).
The principle of granting seniority on the basis of weightage of past service
and lower service to the category of promoting (sic promoted) officers is well
known and well recognised in the service jurisprudence.
may mention that the appellants were initially members of RBSS and were thus
actively associated in personnel matters and it was because of this that the
Railway Board thought it fit to provide avenue for promotion to these officers
in IRPS. The nature of working being done by them while working for RBSS was
similar to the work which they were required to perform in superior service,
The principle for conferment of limited benefit or weightage was held to be not
unreasonable or illegal by this Court in the case of State of A.P. v. K.S. Muralidhar1.
Learned counsel for Respondent 1, however, referred us to the decision of this
Court in the State of Bihar v. Akhouri Sachindra Nath 2. It
will be noticed that there was no principle like principle (vii) in the service
which this Court was dealing with in that matter. Learned counsel then referred
us to the decision of this Court in K. C. Vasudeva v. Union of India 3. It will
be noticed that there the dispute was in relation to fixation of seniority
between existing employees and those taken over from an autonomous body after
its dissolution. Although 1 (1992) 2 SCC 241 : 1992 SCC (L&S) 539 : (1992)
20 ATC 226 2 1991 Supp (1) SCC 334: 1991 SCC (L&S) 1070: (1991) 16 ATC 936:
JT (1991) 2 SC 279 3 1980 Supp SCC 341 : 1981 SCC (L&S) 250 249 employees
of the erstwhile body were not recruited on the basis of qualification
prescribed for Central Government servants, credit or weightage given to them
for their service in that body for the purpose of seniority in the Central
Government Department in which they were given fresh appointments. The Bench of
this Court, on facts, did not find it reasonable and thus held that it violated
Article 16 of the Constitution.
is settled law that the appointing authority or the appropriate Government can
frame rules governing seniority which are reasonable keeping in mind the
divergent claims that can be put forward by the various categories of the
members of the service. It is, however, necessary that there should be no
discrimination, that is, persons placed in the same group must be treated
similarly and, further, that any principle which is made the basis of determination
of seniority should, if applicable to others, be applied to them also. In other
words, if seniority is to depend purely upon the date of confirmation or the
date of appointment, that rule should be applicable to all; but if the promotees
and special recruits are being given weightage, the principles applicable to
the members of the service should be kept in mind while determining the weightage
to be given or while laying down rules for determination of seniority.
the case of Anand Prakash Saksena v. Union of India4 this Court considered the
rules of seniority contained in the Regulation of Seniority Rules and the
Special Recruitment Seniority Regulations, 1960 to be valid not offending
Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. Under Rule 3(3)(b) of the Regulation of
Seniority Rules the year of allotment of a promotee was to be determined by his
continuously officiating on a senior scale post included in the Indian
Administrative Service. Under Regulation 3(3) of the Special Recruitment
Seniority Regulations, 1960, the year of allotment of special recruits was to
be determined by the formula. While upholding the validity of these rules and
not regarding them to be arbitrary or discriminatory, it was observed that the promotees
can claim that total length of service in the Provincial Civil Service be
considered for determining seniority. On the other hand, the direct recruits
can say that the seniority should depend upon their entry in the Indian
Administrative Service. This Court took the view that the rule contained in
clauses (b) and (c) of Rule 3(3) was a mean between these extreme views and was
regarded to be just and fair. Similarly, the rule contained in Regulation 3(3)
of the Special Recruitment Seniority Regulations, 1960 was considered to be
fair and equitable.
There are similar principles for determination of seniority between promotees
and direct recruits to the Indian Police Service. Those rules also contemplate
an order of allotment being given to a promotee which may be much earlier to
his actual induction in Indian Police Service when he was still in the
Provincial Police Service and weightage was given to the year of allotment for
purposes of seniority.
the present case the RBSS is in the nature of a lower grade of similar service.
The appellants were promoted from Class II Service to Class 1 Service and rules
having been framed for determining the seniority based on the grant of 4 AIR
1968 SC 754: (1968) 2 SCR 611 : (1969) 1 LLJ 373 250 increments. Having once
determined the date of increment, rest follows and consequently the conferment
Learned counsel for respondent 1 submitted that these very appellants had
earlier appeared in the present Class 1 Service but had not qualified and were
selected only for Class 11 Service and when Respondent 1 was selected for Class
1 Service, the appellants were still in Class 11 Service.
are afraid this argument has no merit once we uphold first the principle of
seniority and second the provision for grant of weightage. The principle for
determination of seniority had not been challenged before us. Only challenge
before us was the grant of weightage for past service as Class II Officers.
we have noticed earlier even the order by which the date of earning increment
in time-scale was determined by the appropriate Government for appellants 1 to
3 was never questioned and in any case could not be questioned while
challenging the seniority list which was prepared as late as in 1987.
For the aforesaid reasons the appeal is allowed and the impugned order of the
Central Administrative Tribunal, Principal Bench, New Delhi, dated 5-3-1993 is
are, however, left to bear their own costs.