Singh Vs. State of Haryana & Ors  INSC 123 (7 April 1989)
Rangnath Misra Rangnath Oza, G.L. (J)
1989 AIR 1367 1989 SCR (2) 437 1989 SCC (3) 93 JT 1989 (2) 97 1989 SCALE (1)856
INFO : APL 1989 SC1370 (1)
Services: Haryana State--Recruitment to post of District Food and Supplies
Officer--Qualifications for--'Five/three years experience as an executive
officer'--Inspector/Sub-Inspector in Food and Supplies Department--Whether
'executive officer' eligible Words and Phrases: 'Officer'--'Employee'--Meaning
Public Service Commission advertised the filling-up of 4 posts of District Food
and Supplies Officers by direct recruitment, and prescribed "five/three
years' experience as an executive officer" as one of the essential
qualifications. The appellant who was working as Inspector/Sub-Inspector in the
Food and Supplies Department, applied for the post. Some other
Inspectors/Sub-Inspectors also applied. Subsequently, the Special Secretary to
the Haryana Government in the Food and Supplies Department wrote to the
Commission affirming, inter alia, that the work of Inspectors/Sub-Inspectors of
his Department was of executive nature though they were not officers. The
Commission, howev- er, required the appellants to produce a certificate from
the State Government to the effect that they had the requi- site experience of
executive officer. The State Government did not issue such a certificate, and
in its absence the Commission did not consider the Inspector and Sub-Inspector
candidates as having the requisite qualification.
the appellant filed a writ petition in the High Court claiming that he had the
requisite qualifica- tion. The learned Single Judge dismissed the writ petition
and the Division Bench dismissed the appeal therefrom.
this Court, it was contended on behalf of the appellant that the post of
Inspectors and Sub-inspectors belonged to the category of executive office, and
that in earlier years certain similarly situated Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors
of the Department had been appointed on that basis.
Allowing the appeal, it was,
was conceded in the Department's letter to the Commission that 'the
Inspectors/Sub-Inspectors held executive posts. [440B]
None of the parties has placed any definition of the term 'Officer' from any Haryana
Statute. It is also not the contention of any of the parties that the
administrative orders gave a definition to the term. In such a situation, the
common parlance meaning of 'officer' has to be accepted for the purpose of
finding out whether Inspectors and Sub- inspectors held the pest of officer.
service jurisprudence even ministerial employees have been referred to as
officers. The terms 'Officer' and 'employee' put together obviously signify the
grade of the establishment or post held, the officer being higher in grade to
person invested with the authority of an office has been treated as an officer.
Keeping in view the nature and duty assigned to the Inspector or the
Sub-Inspector working in the Department to whom powers have been delegated, it
cannot be doubted that the holders of pests of Inspector and Sub-Inspector are
officers. [441G-H] G.A. Monterio v. The State of Ajmer,  SCR 682 and Bajrang Lal & Anr. v. State of Rajasthan,  3 SCR 497, referred to.
The appellant was entitled to be considered for recruit- ment in 1980 and since
his claim had been over-looked with- out justification, the State and the Haryana
Public Service Commission are bound to consider his case now on the basis that
he was entitled to recruitment in 1980. In case the appellant is found
qualified, be shall be selected for the post and duly appointed. [442E]
APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No. 294 of 1982.
the Judgment and Order dated 8.9.1981 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in L.P.A. 857 of 1981. 439 P.P. Rao,
R. Venkataramani, U.G. Pragasan and S.M. Garg for the Appellant.
Singh, Subhash Sharma and C.M. Nayar for the Respondents.
Judgment of the Court was delivered by RANGANATH MISRA, J. This appeal is by
special leave and is directed against the appellate judgment of a Division
Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court upholding the
decision of a learned Single Judge of that Court by dismiss- ing the appeal in limine.
The Haryana Public Service Commis- sion advertised the filling-up of one Post
of D.F.S.C. and 4 posts of District Food and Supplies Officers by direct
recruitment. The Commission prescribed, inter alia, that one of the essential
qualifications shall be "five/three years' experience as an executive
officer in a commercial organisa- tion of Government or Semi-Government office
before or after acquiring the academic degree" and the Special Secretary
to Haryana Government in the Food and Supplies Department, on 20th of February,
1981, wrote to the Secretary of the Com- mission affirming that position and
Inspectors/Sub-Inspectors of this Department seem to have sent their appli- cations
(advance copies) to the Commission for these posts. The work of Inspectors/
Sub- Inspectors is of executive nature though they are not officers. As such,
in case the Commis- sion feels that they fulfil the qualifications for the
posts in question, this department have no objection to the names of the Inspec-
tors/Sub-Inspectors who have applied directly to the Commission, to be
considered for these posts." The Commission called the appellant and other
similarly placed candidates for interview but required them to produce
certificates from the State Government to the effect that they had the
requisite experience of executive officer. The State Government, however, did
not issue such certificates and in their absence the Commission did not
consider the Inspector and Sub-Inspector candidates as having the requisite
qualification for being candidates for the post. The selection was undertaken
excluding them. Thereupon a writ petition was filed before the High Court
claiming that the appellant had the requisite qualification having been an
executive officer for the requisite period and his exclusion was unjustified
and the selection made by the Com- 440 mission was hit on account of infraction
of the provisions of Article 16 of the Constitution. The learned Single Judge negatived
this stand and dismissed the writ petition and the Division Bench upheld the
decision of the Single Judge by dismissing the appeal in limine.
this appeal the sole question for consideration is whether Inspectors and
Sub-Inspectors of Food and Supplies Department are executive officers. That
they held executive posts and for the required period was conceded in
Government letter of 21st of February, 1981. It has, therefore, to be found out
whether Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors could be treated as officers.
selected candidates were not made parties to the writ petition. A civil
miscellaneous petition has been filed to add them as party-respondents to the
appeal and that application had been placed for hearing along with the appeal.
P.P. Rao appearing in support of the appeal has contended that the post of
Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors belonged to the category of executive office and
the High Court, therefore, came to a wrong conclusion. In earlier years certain
similarly situated Inspectors and Sub-Inspec- tors of the Department had been
appointed on the basis that they satisfied the requirements of clause (c) of
the advertisement and there was no justification for a different basis when
further recruitment was undertaken 1980.
of the parties has placed any definition of the term 'Officer' from any. Haryana
Statute. It is not the contention of counsel appearing for any of the parties
that the administrative orders gave a definition to the term. In such a
situation, the common parlance meaning of 'officer' has to be accepted for the
purpose of finding out whether Inspectors and Sub-Inspectors held the post of
Officer. The ordinary dictionary meaning of the term 'Officer' is:
person appointed or elected to a position of responsibility or authority in a
Government, society etc." Stroud's Judicial Dictionary (5th Edition) has
given a variety of instance of "officer" with reference to different
statutes. Some of the instances given therein do support Mr. Rao's stand that
an Inspector or Sub-Inspector would indeed be an 'officer' inasmuch as under
statutory orders made in exercise of powers conferred under the Essential
Commodities Act on the State Government, authority has 441 been vested in these
categories of officers to exercise jurisdiction.
Law Dictionary states:
determining whether one is an 'officer' or 'employee', important tests are the
tenure by which a position is held, whether its duration is defined by the
statute or ordinance creating it, or whether it is temporary or transient or
for a time fixed only by agreement; whether it is created by an appointment or
election, or merely by a contract of employment by which the rights of the
parties are regulated; whether the compensation is by a salary or fees fixed by
law, or by a sum agreed upon by the contract of hiring." A person invested
with the authority of an office has been treated as an officer.
Words and Phrases (Permanent Edition--Volume 29A) an 'Officer' has been stated
person who is invested with some portion of the functions of government to be
exercised for the public benefit." "If the powers and duties reposed
in the incumbent of a position are such that he exercises the function of the
sovereignty, the incumbent is an 'Officer' regardless of the name by which he
may be designated." If these tests are applied, the appellant who held an
office and was clothed with functions of sovereignty was an officer.
Articles 146 and 229 of the Constitution officers and servants of the Supreme
Court and the High Court have re- spectively been provided for. In service
jurisprudence even ministerial employees have been referred to as officers. The
terms 'officer' and 'employee' put together obviously signi- fy the grade of
the establishment or post held,, the officer being higher in grade to employee.
Keeping the nature and duty assigned to the Inspector or the Sub-Inspector
working in the Department to whom powers have been delegated, it cannot be
doubted that the holders of posts of Inspector and Sub-Inspector are officers.
We, therefore, accept the contention of Mr. Rao that the appellant held the
post of an officer and since the State had conceded 442 that it was an
executive office and the appellant was holding the said post from April, 1973
till September, 1978, by 1980 when selection was be made he had the requisite
relied upon decisions of this Court in G.A. Monterio v. The State of Ajmer,
 SCR 682 and Bajrang Lal & Anr. v. State of Rajasthan,  3 SCR
497 in sup- port of his plea that the appellant was an officer. Both these
cases were with reference to the definition of 'public servant' in s. 21 of the
Indian Penal Code. On principle, these decisions support the conclusion which
we have reached.
appearing for the respondents did not attempt to contend that if the appellant
had the requisite qualification when selection was being made and he had been
kept out on the wrong premises that he did not have the qualification, he would
be entitled to challenge the selection. The selected candidates were, however,
not impleaded as respondents in the writ petition and attempt to implead them
at this stage is bound to prejudice them. They have now been in service for
more than eight years and respondent no. 4 has even been holding a promotional
post for some time. We do not think in such a situation there would be any justifica-
tion to allow challenge to the recruitment of the respondents. At the same time
the State had no justification to keep out the appellant from consideration.
The appellant was entitled to be considered for recruitment in 1980 and since
his claim had been overlooked without justification, the State and the Haryana
Public Service Commission are bound to consider his case now on the basis that
he was entitled to recruitment in 1980.
was placed by Mr. Rao on some decisions of the this Court, as to the nature of
relief that can be granted in a case of this type. We do not think in the facts
of this case, the ratio of the decisions can be applied as a guide- line.
been brought to our notice that an enquiry was undertaken by Government against
some of the selected candidates on the allegation that forged/false
certificates had been produced by them in support of qualification/eligibili- ty
and in the enquiry a prime facie case had been made out.
express no opinion about it as it shall be for the State Government to deal
with the question and the appellant's appeal has nothing to do with it.
appeal is allowed, the order of the learned Single Judge as also the appellate
order are vacated and the State Government and the 443 Public Service
Commission are directed to consider the appellant's claim for recruitment on
the basis of the noti- fication for recruitment. In case the appellant is found
qualified, he shall be selected for the post and duly ap- pointed. The question
of appellant's seniority is left open to be dealt with by the State Government
in consultation with the Public Service Commission. The appellant shall have
the cost of the appeal. Hearing fee is assessed at Rs.3,000 to be recovered
from the Respondent-State only.