Beas Management Board Vs. Krishan Kumar Vij & ANR.  INSC 648 (19
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL No.3439 of
2007 Bhakra Beas Management Board ....Appellant Versus Krishan Kumar Vij &
Anr. ...Respondents W I T H Civil Appeal No.3438 of 2007;
Appeal No.3440 of 2007;
Appeal No.3418 of 2007.
This Judgment and Order shall govern disposal of C.A.No.3439 of
2007, C.A.No.3438 of 2007, C.A. No. 3418 of 2007 and C.A. No.3440 of 2007 as
they project common question of law to be answered by this Court. Precisely, we
are required to consider whether in the light of the Order/Circular issued by
the appellant- Bhakra Beas Management Board (hereinafter shall be called as
'Board'), respondent No.1 - employee would be entitled to the benefit of higher
scale of pay/upgradation/stepping up of salary sans pre- requisite
qualification for the grant of the same.
For the sake of convenience, facts appearing in Civil Appeal
No.3439 of 2007 are being taken into consideration. Respondent No.1, Krishan
Kumar Vij had C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 2 - initially joined the
services of the State of Punjab, Department of Irrigation as Tracer in 1949. He
was thereafter promoted as a Draftsman in the year 1950.
further promoted as Divisional Head Draftsman, sometime in the year 1962.
Thereafter, he was transferred in the services of the Board. There also, he
earned promotion as Circle Head Draftsman and then as the Assistant Design
Engineer. Regular promotion to respondent No.1 on the post of Asstt.
in Punjab Service of Engineers (II) was granted with retrospective effect from
on attaining the age of superannuation, he retired from service on 31.1.1987.
Even though, respondent no.1 had earned several promotions, while in service,
he still complained of stagnation in service as he was not able to earn further
the cause for triggering off the instant litigation.
Brief history giving rise to this litigation is as under :-
State of Punjab was of the opinion that there existed stagnation
amongst various cadres of regular employees. Pursuant thereto, an Office Order
was issued by the Punjab State Electricity Board (for short 'PSEB') on
23.4.1990, adopted by the Board vide C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 3 -
Order dated 26.06.1992. The aims and objects of the said Office Order issued by
the PSEB are reproduced herein below :
Punjab State Electricity Board have been seized of the problems of stagnation
prevailing amongst the various cadres of regular employees and its consequent
effect in their efficiency. It is felt that an employee should under ideal
service conditions get normally two promotions from his initial recruitment
level during his service. However, this is not always possible owing to
non-availability of promotional posts. The aspiration of the employees can
however, be met to a great extent, by allowing time-bound higher scales to the
employees at two stages in their service career. The Punjab State Electricity
Board has, therefore, decided to introduce scheme to allow time-bound benefit
of promotional scales after the completion of 9/16 years of regular service in
the PSEB, provided the maximum benefit on being placed in the time-bound
promotional scales does not exceed five increments including promotional
increment(s) to the subordinate employees having a maximum scale upto Rs.3500/-
except the categories where the benefit of time-bound placement to higher scale
is applicable on the Punjab Government pattern as in the case of teachers
The said scheme of time-bound benefit of promotional scale
commenced from 1.1.1986 but the payment of arrears was spread over two years
i.e. arrears from 1.1.1986 to 28.2.1989 were to be paid in 1990-91 and
1991-1992. As per this Circular, the benefit of first time-bound placement
would be C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 4 - available to an employee on
completion of 9 years of regular service on the post and second time-bound
promotional scale would be available after completion of sixteen years of
service. Para 7 thereof refers to those employees who do not fulfil the
qualification/passing of examination essential for promotion to the next higher
post, but they shall also be placed into the time bound promotional/devised
promotional scale to be specified by the Board in the schedule as referred to
in para 5. It has been mentioned in para 5 that the Board shall draw schedules
indicating the lowest post(s) for direct recruitment in respect of various
cadres for the purpose of this order, separately.
Pursuant to the said order, another order was issued by P.S.E.B.
on 24.5.1990 (hereinafter for brevity shall be referred to as 'Order of 1990')
specifying the promotional scales for Assistant Engineers and the conditions
precedent for eligibility thereof, adopted by the Board.
The relevant part of the said Order of 1990, is reproduced herein below:
The above higher scales will only be available to the directly recruited
Assistant Engineers as per regulation. (emphasis supplied by us) 7-A(i) read
with regulation-9 of PSEB, Service of 7-A(i) read with Regulation-9 of PSEB,
Service of C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 5 -
Engineers(Electrical)Regulation-1965 Engineers (Civil) Regulations - 1965 The
cases of Assistant Engineers appointed by promotion as per provisions of the
Regulation 7-A (ii) read with Regulation - 10 of the Regulations ibid will be
governed by Guidelines circulated vide Secretary Finance Officer Order No. 197/PRC/FIN-1988
departmental (Technical Subordinate and Drawing Staff) who while in service of
the Board have been promoted to the post of AE(Electrical) (Civil) against
quota reserved for promotion from amongst them under Regulation 7-a(ii)read
with Regulation 7-(A)ii) read with Regulation 10 (7) of the
PSEB--------------------- Regulation 10 (4) of the PSEB---------------------
Service of Engineers (Electrical) Regulations-1965 Service of Engineers (Civil)
Regulations - 1965 shall be deemed to have been appointed as Assistant
Engineers like the Assistant Engineers appointed through direct appointment
under Regulation 7 A (i) read with Regulation - 9 of the Regulation 7-a(i) read
with Regulation-9 of the Service of Engineers (Electrical) Service of Engineers
(Civil) Ibid for the purpose of grant of above next higher scales after 9/16
years of regular service as Assistant Engineer/Assistant Executive Engineer/
Executive Engineer, prescribed period to be counted from the date of joining
the post of Assistant Engineer on regular basis. Similarly, Graduates in
Electrical/Mechanical Engineering/AMIE qualified Civil Engineering/AMIE
qualified hands who possesses this qualification before joining the service of
the Board and subsequently promoted as Assistant Engineers against quota
reserved for promotion from amongst C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 6 -
them in terms of provisions of Regulation 7-a(ii)read with Regulation 10(9) of
Regulation 7-a(ii) read with Regulation 10(6) of Service of
Engineers(Electrical) Regulations-1965 Service of Engineers (Civil)
Regulations-1965 will be treated likewise. "
7 A has wrongly been described in the Order/Circulars instead, it be read as
Regulation 7 (a), wherever it appears.
Clause 2 of the aforesaid Order of 1990 categorically stipulates
that it would be applicable only to directly recruited Assistant Engineers as
per Regulation 7(a)(i) read with Regulation 9 of the Regulations and to none
In the case in hand, we are concerned only with Civil Engineers,
directly recruited to the posts of Assistant Engineers (Civil).
Pursuant to the above two Orders, respondent no.1 had made several
representations claiming grant of time-bound promotional scale of Rs.4500-6300
Since several representations made by respondent no.1 did not
bring required result, he was constrained to file C.W.P. No. 6945 of 2003 in
the High Court of Punjab and Haryana, which came to be disposed of on 8.5.2003,
with a direction to the Board to decide the C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.)
- 7 - representation in the light of relevant law, rules and instructions by
passing a speaking order. In the aforesaid Writ Petition, no notice was issued
to the appellant-Board. In consequence of the directions passed by the High
Court as mentioned hereinabove, respondent No.1's representation was considered
at length by the Board but was decided against him on 22.8.2003 which was again
challenged by respondent No.1 before the Division Bench of the High Court of
Punjab and Haryana. The High Court vide the impugned judgment and order passed
on 6.12.2004 allowed respondent No.1's Writ Petition whereby and whereunder the
order dated 22.8.2003, passed by the Board was set aside with further direction
to grant to the said respondent the next higher pay scale after completion of
16 years of service. It is this order which is being assailed by the Board
According to respondent No.1, since he had completed requisite
length of service of 16 years on the post of Assistant Design Engineer, thus
had become entitled for the higher pay scale. It appears, he took the cue for
filing the 2nd Writ Petition on the strength of orders passed by the High Court
in another petition filed by other employee, as mentioned herein below. C.A.Nos.3439/07
etc. .... (contd.) - 8 - 13.It is pertinent to mention here that one of such
employees Rajinder Singh Patpatia had also independently filed C.W.P.No. 9162
of 1994, which was allowed on 26.8.1999 by the learned Single Judge of the High
Court of Punjab and Haryana.
Patent Appeal No.1127 of 1999 filed by the Board, against the aforesaid
judgment and order of the learned Single Judge was dismissed on 13.1.2001 by
the Division Bench of the said High Court.
Challenging the order of Division Bench as also that of the
learned Single Judge of the High Court, the Board had preferred Special Leave
Petition No.2393 of 2002 in this Court, which was dismissed on 15.2.2002. An
application for review of the said order was filed by the Board in this Court
but was similarly dismissed and met the same fate.
We have heard learned Senior Counsel Shri Jawahar Lal Gupta, Mr.
D.S. Nehra and Ms. Nidhi Gupta, Advocate for the appellant-Board. Shri Mahabir
Singh, Ms. Reena Singh, Mr.Sanjeev Kumar, Mr. Mahipal, advocates, Mr. T.S.
Doabia, Sr. Advocate, Mr.Anil Mittal, Mr.Rajiv Kataria, advocates appeared for
the respondents at length and perused the records.
Mr. Jawahar Lal Gupta, learned Senior Counsel appearing for
appellant strenuously challenged, C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 9 -
attacked and hammered the impugned judgment broadly on the following grounds :
Respondent No.1's Writ Petition could not have been entertained, belatedly
after a lapse of 8 years, thus was liable to be dismissed on the ground of
delay and laches.
Respondent No.1 herein had already earned 3/4 promotions before he attained the
age of superannuation. Thus, his case would not fall under the category of
Order of 1990 has wrongly been interpreted by the Division Bench of the High
Clause 2 of Order of 1990 clearly stipulated that the same would be applicable
only to directly recruited Assistant Engineers (Civil) and to none others.
Admittedly, respondent No.1 does not fall in that category, consequently would
not be entitled for it.
Division Bench also lost sight of the fact that unless an employee had
pre-requisite qualification for promotion, the question of grant of time-bound
higher pay scale or upgradation in salary, would not arise.
Per contra, the learned counsel for respondent no.1 contended that
issue is no more res integra in the C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 10 -
light of the order passed in the matter of Rajinder Singh Patpatia by learned
Single Judge of the High Court, confirmed in LPA by Division Bench, further
approved by this Court, by dismissing the Board's Special Leave Petition at the
threshold and then rejection of review petition. It has been contended by them
that stagnation would be applicable at all stages and to all the employees, who
have not been granted promotion, otherwise the very purpose of the word
'stagnation' would stand defeated.
They have also submitted before us that there was no question of
granting promotion to them but the actual relief on the strength of the
order/circular which could have been granted to the employees was stepping up,
upgradation/ revision of the pay scale without being actually promoted to next
words, they have contended that no interference is called for in the impugned
judgment and the appeals being devoid of merits and substance, deserve to be
As mentioned herein above while granting relief to respondent
no.1, Division Bench has placed reliance on the earlier Division Bench judgment
rendered in the case of Rajinder Singh Patpatia, whereby and whereunder the
Board's Writ Appeal was dismissed and the order C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. ....
(contd.) - 11 - dated 26.8.1999 passed by Learned Single Judge was confirmed.
Special Leave Petition (C) No. 2393 of 2002 was dismissed on 15.2.2002 and a
Review Petition filed by the Board also came to be dismissed by this Court.
thus contended that the same reliefs ought to have been granted to respondent
no.1 also as he was similarly situated and the High Court committed no error in
Thus, we are required to first consider this aspect of the matter,
where earlier Special Leave Petition and Review having been dismissed at the
preliminary stage by this Court, what would be its effect on the impugned
judgment. Whether the same can still be assailed and challenged even though,
earlier view of the High Court in identical matter has a seal of approval of
However, this issue should not detain us any longer in view of
well considered judgment of a three- Judge Bench of this Court reported in
2000(6) SCC 359 wherein this Court categorically held that mere dismissal of a
Special Leave Petition at a preliminary stage does not constitute a binding
precedent, and accordingly, any order passed by the High Court placing reliance
on earlier order, can still be C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 12 -
The relevant para of the aforesaid judgment in Kunhayammed (supra)
authored by most illustrious learned Judge (Hon'ble Mr. Justice R.C. Lahoti as
he then was) in his lucid and concise language has held as under: (at page 377
A petition for leave to appeal to this Court may be dismissed by a non-speaking
order or by a speaking order. Whatever be the phraseology employed in the order
of dismissal, if it is a non-speaking order, i.e., it does not assign reasons
for dismissing the special leave petition, it would neither attract the
doctrine of merger so as to stand substituted in place of the order put in
issue before it nor would it be a declaration of law by the Supreme Court under
Article 141 of the Constitution for there is no law which has been declared. If
the order of dismissal be supported by reasons then also the doctrine of merger
would not be attracted because the jurisdiction exercised was not an appellate
jurisdiction but merely a discretionary jurisdiction refusing to grant leave to
appeal. We have already dealt with this aspect earlier. Still the reasons
stated by the Court would attract applicability of Article 141 of the
Constitution if there is a law declared by the Supreme Court which obviously
would be binding on all the courts and tribunals in India and certainly the
parties thereto. The statement contained in the order other than on points of
law would be binding on the parties and the court or tribunal, whose order was
under challenge on the principle of judicial discipline, this Court being the
Apex Court of the country.
or tribunal or parties would have the liberty of taking or canvassing any view
contrary to the one expressed by this Court.
of Supreme Court would mean that C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 13 - it
has declared the law and in that light the case was considered not fit for
grant of leave. The declaration of law will be governed by Article 141 but
still, the case not being one where leave was granted, the doctrine of merger
does not apply. The Court sometimes leaves the question of law open.
sometimes briefly lays down the principle, may be, contrary to the one laid
down by the High Court and yet would dismiss the special leave petition. The
reasons given are intended for purposes of Article 141. This is so done because
in the event of merely dismissing the special leave petition, it is likely that
an argument could be advanced in the High Court that the Supreme Court has to
be understood as not to have differed in law with the High Court."
further held in para 40 reproduced hereinbelow :
..... In any case, the (page 382) dismissal would remain a dismissal by a
non-speaking order where no reasons have been assigned and no law has been
declared by the Supreme Court. The dismissal is not of the appeal but of the
special leave petition. Even if the merits have been gone into, they are the
merits of the special leave petition only. In our opinion neither doctrine of
merger nor Article 141 of the Constitution is attracted to such an order."
according to the law laid down by the Bench of three learned Judges of this
Court, it is clear that dismissal of a matter by this Court at the threshold,
with non-speaking order, would not fall in the category of binding precedent.
Meaning thereby that the impugned order of the Division Bench can still be
challenged on merits by the Appellant Board. Thus, C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. ....
(contd.) - 14 - the earlier order of the High Court and this Court passed in
Rajinder Singh Patpatia's case, creates no bar from re-examining the matter on
We have already mentioned hereinabove with regard to Clause 2 of
Order of 1990 read with Regulation 9 which restricts the benefit only to
directly recruited Assistant Engineers/Assistant Executive Engineers, meaning
thereby that one must possess the requisite qualification as prescribed under
the Regulations, then only the benefit would accrue to the employee, not
The note appended thereto clearly stipulates that even those
employees who were promoted under Regulation 7(a)(ii) read with Regulation
10(4) shall be deemed to have been appointed by direct recruitment. This legal
fiction is limited. It is applicable only to those employees who have been
promoted in conformity with the provisions contained in clause 4. Thus, the
employees who had passed both parts (A) and (B) of the AMIE Examination and
were promoted against 9% posts reserved for that class were fictionally treated
as direct recruits. Thus, it clearly stipulates that only those Assistant
Engineers who were either directy recruited or had acquired the requisite
qualifications prescribed for direct C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 15 -
recruitment were chosen to be granted higher scale if they had been promoted
against the post falling within the quota of 9% of the cadre strength of the
Order of 1990 contemplates that it is to be followed as per
Regulation which provides that only such persons as have been promoted under
Regulation 7(a)(ii) read with Regulation 10(4) shall be treated as direct
recruits. In other words, it does not apply to the promotees irrespective of
their academic qualifications nor they can be treated at par with the direct
recruits. There was a purpose of treating them so, otherwise, it would have the
effect of violating the constitutional mandate contained in Articles 14 and 16
of the Constitution of India, on the premise that unequals have been treated as
equals. It is with that intention, to avoid criticism and future litigation
that such persons who possessed qualifications for direct recruitment and could
be promoted against the posts falling vacant, would become entitled to claim
the benefit. Since respondent no.1 did not fall in this category, obviously, he
was not entitled to the higher scale.
Thus, there appears to be no illegality committed by the Board in
rejecting respondent no.1's C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 16 -
representation. So, in our considered opinion, the High Court has clearly erred
in setting aside and quashing the same. Critical examination of the impugned
judgment passed by the Division Bench of the High Court completely defeats
primary purpose of the Order of 1990 and provisions applicable to the employees
of the Board. No doubt, it is true that the Order of 1990 was issued only with
an intention to remove the stagnation but this would not give blanket or
absolute right to any employee to be entitled to higher pay scale even if he
does not fulfil pre- requisite qualifications for holding the higher post.
words, if he possesses the required qualifications but is unable to get the
higher post on account of non-availability of such post, then only he can be
categorised as suffering from stagnation as per Order of 23.4.1990.
Obviously, an employee who does not fulfil the qualification as
per Regulation 10(4) for the higher post would be ineligible for promotion
and/or higher pay scale. In that eventuality, such an employee cannot complain
Moreover, even while adopting the Order of 1990, it was made clear
by the Board vide its Order dated 26.6.1992 that the time bound
promotional/devised C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 17 - promotional
scales after 9/16 years' service are admissible only in respect of the posts in
which the initial induction is through direct recruitment.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Regulations had been
notified in the year 1965.
no.1 was in service with the Board for two decades or so after promulgation of
employees claiming benefit of the Order of 1990 had retired long after the
promulgation of the Regulations. Thus, they were fully aware and conscious of
the fact that the relevant Regulation puts a partial embargo and impediment on
their future career for promotion. They were aware that unless they are able to
acquire these requisite qualifications, the benefit of the Order of 1990 cannot
be extended to them. Even though, they had enough opportunity and time to do
so, but they did not improve their respective qualification. In such a fact
situation, they cannot complain of stagnation.
to thank their own stars that despite having knowledge of the provisions of the
Regulations applicable to them, they did not make any attempt to acquire the
It is also to be noted that even though respondent no.1 was junior
to Rajinder Singh Patpatia C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 18 - who was
granted relief by the High Court, still respondent No.1 took such a long time
to approach the High Court. The aforesaid legal and factual aspect of the matter
specially the interpretation of the order of 1990 read with the Regulations was
not properly and reasonably appreciated by the Division Bench. In this regard,
it is necessary to quote the stand of the appellant-Board right from the very
beginning when it had proceeded to reject the representation of respondent
The relevant portion of the reason of the Board so assigned to
reject the respondent's representation is reproduced hereinbelow :
view of the principles/features enunciated in the scheme for grant of
time-bound placement into the promotional/devised promotional scale after 9/16
years of regular service as introduced on the PSEB pattern, the case of Diploma
Holder SDOs does not fall within the ambit of grant of 1st and 2nd Time-bound
Promotional Scale after completion of 9/16 years regular service as admissible
to the directly recruited Degree Holder AEs and departmental employees
(Technical Subordinate and Drawings Staff) who have been promoted on the basis
of the AMIE/Degree in Engineering against their share quota on the PSEB
aforesaid reasoning of the Board entirely rests on C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. ....
(contd.) - 19 - the Order of 1990 and the Regulations applicable to such
During the course of the hearing, a question was posed to the
learned counsel for the appellant Board:- if an employee is able to acquire the
requisite qualification and has also served the Board for the minimum required
length of years as Assistant Engineer whether such an employee would be
entitled to get the benefit of the order of 1990 or not.
Mr. J.L Gupta, learned senior counsel appearing for the Board
categorically submitted that such employees would be entitled to get the
benefit provided, they fulfilled the requisite conditions.
counsel for the appellant has agreed that if an employee has acquired
qualifications for grant of promotion and has suffered stagnation, then he
would be entitled for stepping up/revision of his pay scale.
thereby that all such employees who have cleared both parts of the AMIE
examination, but have not put in required experience of working as Assistant
Engineer in consonance with the order of 1990 and the Regulations, the Board
would be fully justified in rejecting their claims.
If the interpretation of the High Court to the Order of 1990 is to
be implemented, then it would lead C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 20 - to
unsustainable consequences. It would then mean that every Assistant Engineer
irrespective of his conduct, qualifications, performance or behaviour would
become entitled to the higher scale on completion of particular length of
service. If that be so, then even those employees with poor service record and
doubtful integrity would also become entitled to claim higher scale merely
because they had completed a particular length of service. If such an
interpretation is to be given to the Order of 1990, then it would not only be
improper but would also be against public policy and interest of the Board. It
is too well settled that a statute or any enacting provision must be so
construed as to make it effective and operative. Any such construction which
reduces the statute to a futility has to be avoided.
It has been stated by Lord Dunedin, in the case of Murray v. IRC
(1918) AC 541 at p. 553 that, 'it is our duty to make what we can of statutes,
knowing that they are meant to be operative and not inept and nothing short of
impossibility should in my judgment allow a judge to declare a statute
unworkable'. The principle was reiterated by him in a later judgment in the
case of Whitney v. IRC (1926) AC 37 at p.52, where he observed, 'a statute is
designed to be C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 21 - workable and the
interpretation thereof by a court should be to secure that object unless
crucial omission or clear direction makes that end unattainable.
The aforesaid observations make it abundantly clear that the
courts will, therefore, reject the construction which is likely to defeat the
plain intention of the legislature even though there may be some inexactitude
in the language used. If the choice is between two interpretations, the
narrower of which would fail to achieve the manifest purpose of the legislation
should be avoided.
In view of this, to attain the fruitful results of the Order of
1990 we have to give it a meaningful and proper construction which would
achieve the object for which it was passed, rather than to give a narrower
construction which may defeat the very purpose of passing the said order.
In somewhat similar circumstances, a Bench of two learned Judges
of this Court in the case of M.V. Joshi v. M.U. Shimpi AIR 1961 SC 1494 = 1961
(3) SCR 986 eloquently said as under :
But these rules do not in any way affect the fundamental principles of
interpretation, namely, that the primary test is - the language employed in the
Act and C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 22 - when the words are clear and
plain the court is bound to accept the expressed intention of the legislature."
cost of repetition, we reiterate that the clear and plain reading of the Order
of 1990 is as has been interpreted by us hereinabove.
No doubt, it is true that the Order of 1990 is not happily worded,
but even then the only inevitable conclusion that can be deciphered from the
same is that the benefit thereof would accrue to only those directly recruited
Assistant Engineers/Assistant Executive Engineers who have pre-requisite
qualification for appointment to the higher post.
if an employee does not have the required qualification, then under what
circumstances he would be entitled to claim benefit of the Order of 1990. A statute
is designed to be workable and the interpretation thereof by a court should be
to secure that object unless crucial omission or clear direction makes that end
unattainable. In our considered opinion, the Order of 1990 cannot be logically
interpreted in any other manner than what we have done. It is also too well
settled that when the words of the statute are clear, plain or unambiguous and
are reasonably susceptible to only one meaning, the courts are bound to give
effect to that meaning only which C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 23 -
serves the cause and purpose irrespective of the consequences.
Yet, another question that draws our attention is with regard to
delay and laches. In fact, respondent no.1's petition deserved to be dismissed
only on that ground but surprisingly the High Court overlooked that aspect of
the matter and dealt with it in a rather casual and cursory manner. The
appellant had categorically raised the ground of delay of over eight years in
approaching the High Court for grant of the said relief. But the High Court has
simply brushed it aside and condoned such an inordinate, long and unexplained
delay in a casual manner. Since, we have decided the matter on merits, thus it
is not proper to make avoidable observations, except to say that the approach
of the High Court was neither proper nor legal.
It is not in dispute that all the respondents of various appeals
have since demitted the office on attaining the age of superannuation. While
they were in service, may be on account of orders of the High Court, to save
itself from being hauled up for committing contempt of court, Board has made
payments to them towards arrears etc. After such a long lapse of time, more so,
when the respondents have already C.A.Nos.3439/07 etc. .... (contd.) - 24 -
retired, it will be harsh on our part to direct recovery thereof. Thus, we
direct that the amounts already paid to the respondents would not be recovered
by the Board.
At the cost of repetition, we may reiterate that the effect of the
Order of 1990 read with the Regulations would be that only those employees who
fulfilled the pre-requisite qualification for further promotion along with
certain length of service as required would only be entitled to the benefit as
per the Order of 1990. The other Assistant Engineers, even though they had
completed the requisite length of service would not be entitled to claim the
benefit, unless they had fulfilled the basic qualifications and minimum
experience as required.
In the facts and circumstances of the case, we are of the
considered opinion that the impugned order cannot be sustained. It has to be
set aside and quashed and we accordingly do so. The appeals are accordingly
allowed as indicated hereinabove. The parties to bear their costs.
......................J. [DALVEER BHANDARI]