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Jagdish Lal & Ors Vs. State of Haryana & Ors [1997] INSC 526 (7 May 1997)





Hon'ble Mr. Justice K. Ramaswamy Hon'ble Mr. Justice S. Saghir Ahmad Hon'ble Mr. Justice G.B. Pattanaik K.B. Rohtagi, Mrs. Aparna Rohtagi Jain, Advs. for the appellants.

Prem Malhotra,Jasbir Malik and K.S. Chauhan, Advs. for the Respondents.

The following Judgment of the Court was delivered:

JU D G ME N T K. Ramaswamy, J.

Leave granted Wehave heard learned counsel on both sides.

This appeal by special leave arises fromthe Division Bench Judgmentof Punjab & Haryana High Court, made on November 5, 1996 in C.W.P. No.8755/96.

The appellant-general candidates,viz., JagdishLal, Ram Dayal and Surinderjit Kapil, challenged thepromotion of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates(for short, the `reserved candidates'), viz., Ram Asra,H.S.

Hira, Sant Lal and Ajmer Singh,as Superintendents in Class- III Service ofHaryana Government. Respectiveappointments of theappellant and the respondents have beenreflected in the judgment ofthe High Court as under:

S.No Name SeniorityDt. of As As As As As no.inapptt.Asstt. Dy. Supdt. Bud-R.E.

theseni-as Supdt. get (Cla- ority listClerk Offiass cer-I) of 1.1.95 (Cla- ss II) ------------------------------------------------------------ APPELLANTS:

1. Jagdish 22 24.11.58 1.12.68 27.10.871.4.90 - - Lal

2. Ram Dayal 28 22.2.61 1.12.68 16.1.89 9.8.91 - -

3. Surinderjit 56 1.9.66 10.4.72 2.2.96 - - - Kapil

1. Ram Asra 48 31.1.66 22.9.71 26.5.82 4.9.87 - -

2. H.S.Hira 64 18.4.67 31.5.73 27.10.83 27.5.88 - 2.2.96 promoted on ad hoc basis for a period of 4 months only and 31.5.96 on regular basis.

3. SantLal 91 16.8.71 6.11.78 4.11.87 8.2.90 --

4. Ajmer Singh 99 24.8.72 9.9.79 31.10.88 1.7.90 -- Inthe lowest cadre post,i.e., Clerks and Assistants, in theEducation Department, admittedly, the appellantwere senior to the respondent. Butas Deputy Superintendents, Respondent Nos. 1 and2 werepromoted respectively on May 26, 1982 and October 27 1983, while the appellantswere promoted on different dates, viz., October 27, 1987, January 16, 1989 and February2, 1996. Sixthrespondent, Sant Lal was promoted on November 4, 1987, that is, prior to the promotion of Surinderjit Kapil. Equally, respondentNo.7 Ajmer Singh also was promotedearlier to Ram Dayal and Surinderjit Kapil on October 31, 1988. While working as Deputy Superintendent,Ram Asra was promoted to the post of Superintendent on September 4,1987; H.S. Hirawas promoted as Superintendent on May 27, 1988 whilethe first appellant, JagdishLal was promoted on April 1,1990 and Ram Dayal, appellant No.2was promoted on August 9, 1991; SantLal, respondent No.6 was promoted on February 8, 1990, that is, prior to the promotion of Jagdish Lal as Superintendent.

Equally, Ajmer Singh, 7th respondent waspromoted as Superintendent on July1, 1990, that is, prior to the promotion of second appellant, Ram Dayal on August 9 1991.

While all of them were working as Superintendents, H.S.Hira was further promoted on ad hoc basisw.e.f.February 2, 1996 for a period of 4 months and from May31, 1996 on regularbasis,in hisown right, as Registrar (Education) which post is now classified as Class I post. On June 4, 1996, the appellants filed a writ petition claimingthat right from the post of Clerk upto the post of Superintendent,the Class III Service of the Education Department, they were senior to the reserved candidates.

Thoughthey were promotedon the basisof rule of reservation applying the 100 point roster maintained by the Government, they stolea marchover the appellants whowere being members of the same Class III Service.They further claimed thatthoughthe reservedcandidates has got promotion to the different posts earlier to them, the appellants still were entitledto be senior tothem for the purposeof promotion to ClassI posts. As aconsequence, they were entitled tobe considered for promotion before consideration of the reserved candidates includingH.S.

Hira, the fifth respondent asRegistrar (Education). The sheet anchor oftheir case was the decision of this Court in Ajit Singh Januja & Ors. v. State of Punjab [JT 1996(2) SC 727]. The HighCourt dismissedthe writ petition interalia on the ground of abnormal delayin challenging the promotion of the reserved candidate to thepost of Asstt./Dy.

Superintendentsand Superintendents. Itobserved that though the reserved candidates were promoted on different dates as Superintendentsetc. earlier to the appellants, they having become members of the Service in the lower cadres earlier to the appellant,were entitled to be considered for further promotion to the higher ladders ofthe Service; their promotions arenot vitiated byan error of law. The Haryana Eduction Deptt.(State Service Class II) are governed by the HaryanaEducation Deptt. (StateServiceGroup B) Rules,1980 (For short, the `Rules') Rule11 of the Rules dealswith seniority. By operation thereof thereserved candidates became senior to the appellants in the respective cadres.

Fifth respondent, H.S. Hira waspromoted to Group `B' Class- I Service in his own right asa general candidate as there was noreservation. Therefore, their promotion is valid in law. It was also held thateven otherwise, since the promotions of the reserved candidates came to be made prior to thedecision in Sabharwal's case,they could not be declared invalid. The High Court has pointed out that "Here it is important to mention that as on the dateof promotion of respondent No.4 on the post ofSuperintendent, the petitioners has notbeen promoted even as Deputy Superintendents. Similarly, ason thedate ofpromotion of respondent Nos. 4 and5 , thepetitioner No.2has notbeen promoted as Deputy Superintendent andso far as petitioner No.3 is concerned, he cameto bepromoted as Deputy Superintended after almost 8 years and 6 months of the promotion of respondent No.4; after 7 years and 9 months of the promotion of respondent No.5; andafter almost 4 and 5 years and 6 months of the promotion ofrespondent Nos.6 and 7 as Superintendents. Thus the petitioners cannot have any claim to be assigned seniority over and above respondent Nos. 4to 7 as Superintendents." TheHigh Court negatived the contentionthat the appellants were denied of right to equality on accountof the applicationof rule of reservation androster point violating Articles14 and 16 of the Constitution. The High Court further pointed out thus:

"Acareful reading of the various decisions of the Apex Court and the decision of this Court, shows that in R.K. Sabharwal's case, their Lordships were primarily concerned with the interpretation of the policy circulars issued by the Government of Punjab regarding reservation in favourof the Scheduled Castes andBackward Classes and operation of the roster system. In Court was dealing with circularsissuedby the Railway Board with particular reference to the letter dated 31st Aug., 1982 and held that the word "Panel" used inthat circular meant the panel prepared by the recruiting authority at the time of initial entry in the service andthat the seniority of the employees in the higher gradesmust also be determinedwith referenceto their panel position. This very principle has been reiterated in Ajit Singh's case in which circular issued by the Government ofPunjaband the judgment of the Full Bench case in Jaswant Singh's case (supra) came upfor consideration. TheDivision Bench which decided Madan Lal's case simply applied the observations made in the three decisions of the Supreme Court and held that reserved categories employeeshave no right to be assigned seniority on thepromoted posts over and above the general category employees who were senior inthe lower cadre andwho got promotion in the next higher post ona later date. However,in Akhil Bhartiya Soshit Karamchari Sangh's case (supra) their Lordships clarified that the principle laid down in R.K. Sabharwal'scase and Virpal Singh Chauhan's case (supra) will operate prospectively and not retrospectively.

In our opinion, noneof these decisionsis of any help for interpreting rules relating to seniority which have been extracted above. Innone of the decisions, their Lordshipsof the Supreme Court interpreteda rulelike the one whichis under consideration before us.No doubt in Madan Lal's case a similarrules has been referredto but instead of interpreting that rules the Division Bench has limited its considerations made by the Supreme Court in Ajit Singh's case(supra).

We are of the opinion that in view of the clearlanguage used in the substantive part of Rule 11 and its firstproviso, seniority will have to be determined in different cadres and categories of posts because the services governed by the Rulesof 1974and 1980 consist of different cadres. Posts of Registrar, Assistant Registrar (Examinations), Budget Officer and Superintendents constitute differentcadresand, therefore, seniority will haveto be determined in each cadre separately. Similarly, the post of Deputy Superintendents, Assistants and Clerks, recruitment towhich is governed by `1974 Rules' constitute different cadres and seniority will have to bedetermined separately in each ofthese cadresand the general principle laid down in Ajit Singh's case cannot be applied for the purpose of determination of seniorityin acase like the present one.

On thebasis of above discussion, we hold that:- (i) the writ petition deserves to bedismissed on the groundof delay and laches in sofar as challenge to the promotionof the respondents as Superintendents/Registrar is concerned;

(ii) the principles laiddown in Virpal Singh Chauhan's case (supra) and Ajit Singh's case (supra) will operate prospectively andwill not affect promotions ofreserved category candidates which were made prior to the decisionin R.K.

Sabharwal's case (supra) or Virpal Singh Chauhan's case (supra);

(iii) thedecision in Virpal Singh Chauhan'scase and Ajit Singh's case cannot be applied in a case like thepresent one where the seniority is required to be determinedin different cadres and categoriesof posts. In the absence ofany challenge to the vires of Rule 11the petitioners cannot claim fixation oftheir seniority above theRespondent Nos. 4 to 7 who were promoted as Deputy Superintendents earlier than the petitioner." Shri Rohtagi, learned counselfor the appellant, contended that in all the posts/grades startingfrom that of Clerk to Superintendents in Class III Service and the posts of Budget Officer, Assistant Registrar and Registrar in Group `B' Class I Service byoperation of ratio ofAjit Singh'scase and Union of India v. Vir Pal Singh Chauhan [(1995)6 SCC 684], seniorityis required to be determined keepingthe seniority of the general and reserved candidates in the lower grade/cadre in fact as allthe posts are of the same Service. As soon as the general candidatesget promoted to thehigher cadre, the inter se seniority of the general candidates andthe reserved candidates is required to be redetermined onthe basis of their inter se seniority in the feeder grade/cadre. That was the view taken by this Court in Veer Pal Singh Chauhan case. Even though the reserved candidates were promoted earlier to the general candidates, the inter se merit between the general candidates and the reserved candidates inGroup `B' Class I Service should be redetermined. The promotion is requiredto be given to Class I Service on that basis. Promotion at various levels in Class II Service is also, accordingly,required to be given and the seniority determined. As soon asthe general candidates getpromoted, eventhough later tothe reserved candidates, they have right to have their seniority restored. As a consequence, the general candidates are eligible to beconsidered forpromotion in higher posts before consideration of the reserved candidates since for the first timethe inter se rights are being considered in Class-IGroup `B' Service. This interpretationin Chauhan's case and Ajit Singh's case is consistent with the principle laid down in Articles14 and16 (1)of theConstitution granting equality of opportunity to both the general aswell as the reservedcandidates. Theabsencethereofwould negate the right toequality to general candidates violating Article14 and 16 (1) of the Constitution. The mere delay in filing the writ petitions cannot madethe base to deny the relief to the generalcandidates. The rightto equality being a constitutionalmandate, as and when the right is required to bedetermined, the Courthas toconsider the facts of each case anddecide it on merits. The High Court, therefore, is wrong in law. Shri Prem Malhotra, learned counselfor the State, contended that whatever be the earlierlegal position, afterthe judgment inAjit Singh's case, the Government re-examined the matter and issued proceedings restoring the seniority of the general candidate in their respective feeder post/cadres from which reserved candidates came to be promoted. The direction, it is contend, is consistentwith and is in implementation of the law laid down by thisCourt. The HighCourt, therefore, is not right in refusing to grant the relief to the appellants.

Shri K.S. Chauhan, learned counsel for the reserved candidates, contended that under Rule11 ofthe Haryana Education Department Class III Service Rules, 1974[for short, the "1974 Rules"] and Rule 11of the Rules provide for determination of seniorityof the employees in thesaid Service. The Service as per 1974 Rules consists of various cadres,starting from Clerk toSuperintendentsin the Class III Service. Under 1980Rules, the Gazetted Cadre consist of BudgetOfficers, Assistant Registrar (Education) and Registrar (Education)all of whichconstitute Class I Service. Rule 11 of the respective Rules is a substantive rules creating right toseniority. The moment the officer is appointed to the service/cadre on putting probation, on successful completion of the probation periodand on being duly declared,they cease to be the members of the feeder cadre from which theycame tobe promoted, Asand when the vacancies arisein the posts inthe respective cadres as per the roster point, the candidates,whether general or reserved, are requiredto be considered for promotion and duly promoted in accordance with theexisting Rules.They became membersof theservicein therespective cadres of Class III or Group B Class I Service. Themomentthey started discharging the duties of the posts and on declaration ofthe successfuland satisfactory probation period,they became fullfledged members of that Service.

They also ceased to be members of the feeding cadre.

Therefore, themoment,the termination of probation was declared, theyceased to be members of the Service of the lower feeder cadres at various levels as cadre officers. The subsequent promotions to the general candidates do nothave the effect of denying the seniority secured bythe reserved candidates dueto their early promotion. Even if promotions to Group `B' Class I serviceare to be made without applying the rule of reservation, the reserved candidates having become senior to general candidates, are entitled to be considered for promotion as per Rules in their own merit.

Accordingly, the 5th respondent came to be promoted to the post of Registrar (Education) in his own right. The appellants have no right to claimseniority over the respondent-reserved candidates. He also contendedthat promotion to the reserved candidates is as member of the Dalits and Tribes asa Class. Constitutional right to equality enshrined under Article 14, the genus, and Article 16 (1), thespecies thereof, provide for protective discrimination in favour of theDalit and Tribe. Appointment by promotion to a post or Service under theState is a constitutional right given byArticle16(1) or (4A) of the Constitution. Therefore, when the reserved candidates are promoted in accordancewith the Rules, applying rules of reservation, and are promoted to posts as per the roster and are appointed to the posts reserved for reserved candidates as perthe roster, nounconstitutionality result and it is not discriminatory or arbitrary, violating Article 14 of the Constitution. He also contendedthat the reserved candidates were promoted long prior the general candidatesin Class III and Group B Class I Service.The writ petition came to be filed after Ajit Singh's case. The HighCourt, therefore, is right in dismissing the writ petitions on the ground of delay as well.

Inview of the diverse contentions, the questionsthat arise for consideration are: from what date seniority of reserved or general candidates should be determined? Whether the accelerated promotions given to the reserved candidates to various cadres, applying the ruleof reservation,will not enure to them the seniority from the date of respective promotion? Conversely,whetheron thepromotions given to the general candidates as per the roster point, the promotions willhave the effectof giving them the seniority over the reserved candidates in the respective feeder/promotedcadres? Whether the view taken by theHigh Court is correct inlaw? In order to appreciate the contention, itis necessary torefer to Rule 11 of the1974 Rules and Rule 11 of the 1980 Rules. They read as under:

"1974 Rules : Rule 11 : The seniority, inter-se seniority of members of service shall be determined by the length of continuousserviceon a post in the service;

Provided that where there are different Cadres of categories of the post in service, the seniority will be determined separately for each cadreor category of posts;

Provided further that in the case of members appointed by direct recruitment, theorder of merit determinedby thecommission shall not be disturbed in fixing the seniority and candidates recommended earlier shall be senior tothe candidate recommended later;

Provide further that in the case oftwo or more members appointed on the same date, their seniority shall be determined as follows:

(a) a member appointed by direct recruitment shall be senior to a member appointed by promotion or by transfer;

(b) a member appointed by promotion shall be senior to a member appointed by transfer;

(c) in the case of members appointed bypromotion or by transfer, seniority shall be determined according to the seniority ofsuch members in the appointments from which they were promoted or transferred; and (d) in the case members appointed by transfer from different cadres theirseniority shall be determined according to pay, preference beinggiven to a member, who was drawing a higher rateof pay in his previous appointment and if the rates of pay drawn are also the same, then by the length of their service in the appointments, andif the length of such service is also the same, the older member shallbe senior to the younger member.

`1980 Rules' : Rules 11 : Seniority ofmembers of the service : The seniority,inter se, of members of the Service shallbe determined by the lengthof continuous service on a post in the service;

Provided that where there are different cadres or categories of posts in the service, the seniority shall be determined separately for each cadreor category of posts;

Provided further that in the case of members appointed by direct recruitment, theorder of merit determinedby theCommission shall not be disturbed in fixing the seniority and candidates recommended earlier shall be senior to thecandidates recommended later;

Provided further that in the case oftwo or more members appointed on the same date, their seniority shall be determined as follows:

(a) a member appointed by direct recruitment shall be senior to a member appointed by promotion or by transfer;

(b) a member appointed by promotion shall be senior to a member appointed by transfer;

(c) in the case of members appointed bypromotion or by transfer, seniority shall be determined according to the seniority ofsuch member in the appointment from which they were promoted or transferred; and (d) in the case of members appointed by transfer from different cadres, their seniority shall be determined according topay, preference beinggiven to a member, who was drawing a higher rate of payin hisprevious appointment and if the rates of pay drawn are also the same,the y by the length of their service in the appointments, andif the length of such service is also the same, the older member shallbe senior to the younger member." 1974 Rulesand 1980 Rules mutatis mutatis are the same.

Rule 2(g) of1980 Rules defines "Service" to mean Haraya Education Department (State Service, Group B). Under Rule 3, the Service shall comprise theposts shown in AppendixA to the Rules. Rule 4 prescribes thegeneral eligibility criteria and Rule 5 prescribes age requirement. Rule 6 prescribes educationalqualifications as perAppendix B.

Rule 8enumerates certain grounds fordisqualification for appointment toany post in the service. Relevant part of Rule 9 with which we are concerned reads as under :

"9. (1) Recruitment to the Service shall be made, (a) in the case of Registrar, - (i) fromamongst the Assistant Registrar (Examinations), Budget Officer in the Service or by promotion from amongst the Superintendents in the Service;" Inother words, all feeder posts enumerated constitute source of recruitment to the post of Registrar.

"or (c) in thecase ofBudget Officer,-

(i) by promotionfrom amonst the Superintendents; or

(ii) by transfer or deputation of an officer of equivalent grade/experience, already in the service of Government of Indiaor any State Government.

(d) in the case of Superintendent,- (i) by promotionfrom amonst the Deputy Superintendents, or Assistants in the Haryana Education Department (State Service, Group C) Services; or (ii) by transfer or deputation of an officer ofequivalent grade already inthe service of Government of India or of any StateGovernment; or (iii) by direct recruitment." (2) Whenever any vacancyoccur or isabout to occur in theService, the appointing authority shall determinein what manner such vacancy shall be filled.

(3) All promotions, whether from one gradeto another or from one class of service to another class of service, shall bemade by selection based onmerit and taking into consideration seniority but seniority alone shall not given any right to such promotions.

Onappointment so made, byoperation of Rule 10, person appointed to nay post in the Service shall remain on probation for a periodof two years, if appointed by direct recruitment and one year ifhe isappointed otherwise (promotion). However, under proviso thereto, among others, any period before such appointment, spent on deputationon a corresponding post or a higherpost shall count towards the period of probation ofone year. Undersub-rule (2) ofRule 10, ifin theopinionof the appointing authority thework or conduct of aperson during the period of probation is not satisfactory, it may, (a) if such person isappointed by direct recruitment, dispense with hisservices; and (b) if such person is appointed otherwise then by direct recruitment (promotion) or transfer, (i) revert him to his former post; or (ii) deal with him insuch other manner as the terms and conditions of hisprevious appointment permit.

On completion of the period ofprobation by a person, under sub-rule (3), the appointing authoritymay, (a) if hiswork or conduct hasin itsopinion, beensatisfactory - (i) confirmsuch person from the date ofhis appointment, if appointed against a permanent vacancy;or (ii)confirmsuch person from the date from which a permanent vacancy occurs, if appointed against a temporary vacancy; or incase ofnon- availability of permanent vacancy (iii) declare that he has completed his probation satisfactorilyand awaits appointment topermanent vacancy; or (b) If his work or conducthas, in its opinion, not been satisfactory, - (i) dispense with his services, if appointed by direct recruitment orif appointed otherwise, revert him to his former post ordeal with himin such other manner as the terms and conditions ofhis previous appointment permits; or (ii) extend hisperiod of probation andthereafter passsuch order, as it could have passed on theexpiry of the period of probation. Under proviso, however,the total period of probation, including extension, if any, shall not exceed three years. It would thus in the Service, either by direct recruitment orby promotion/transfer, the incumbent officer is required tobe put on probation andon completion of the probation or extended probation period, uptoa maximum of three years, the authority is enjoined to declare completion of his probation. In other words, he stands confirmed to the Service. He gets appointed to apermanent vacancy subject to availability and thereafter he becomes full-fledged member of the Service. It is settled legal positionthat confirmation isan inglorious uncertainty. Continuous length of service; if appointed according to the Rules on consideration of claims of eligible persons ason thatdate as perrules accords seniority and gets counted from the date ofinitialappointment by direct recruitment/promotion/ transfer to thecadre/post.

The question thenarises: as to from what date the seniority is required to be determined? As seen, underRule 11, the inter se seniority of the member ofthe Service shall be determined bythe length of continuosserviceis a post in the Service. However,exception are carved out to the said general rule.Under the firstproviso, where there are different cadres or categories of posts inthe Service, the seniority shall bedetermined separately for each cadre or category ofposts. The second proviso beingnot relevant for our purpose, is omitted. Under the third proviso, in case of two ormore members are appointed on the same date, their seniorityshall be determined in the following manner:

"(a) a member appointed by direct recruitment shall be senior to a member appointed by promotion or by transfer;

(b) a member appointed by promotion shall be senior to a member appointed by transfer;

(c) in the case of members appointed bypromotion or by transfer, seniority shall be determined according to the seniority ofsuch members in the appointments from which they were promoted or transferred;" [Class (d) being irrelevant for the present purpose, is omitted] Conjoint reading of the provisions referred to hereinabove would indicate that according to1974 Rules, there exist in the Servicecadre/grades consisting of Clerks, Assistants, Deputy Superintendents and Superintendentsin the Service.Similarly, under 1980 Rules, there exist cadre/grade of Budget Officer, Assistant Registrar and Registrar. It is also seen that under the Rules, appointment by promotion to Grade B-Class-I, i.e., Gazetted cadre, is tobe made fromamongst the Budget Officers or Superintendents. Therefore, promotion to the post of Registrar (Education)one ofthe feeder posts is Superintendent.It is seen that as soon as a person is appointed to a cadre/grade, he starts discharging the duties of appointmentto thepost and his seniority is determined on thebasis of that date unless he is appointed onlyas a stop-gap arrangement or on adhoc basis andde hors the Rules.In case of regular appointment, the appointing authority is enjoinedto put him on probation and on successful completion of the probation period of oneyear including the period spent onthe higher post (s), unless the probation is extended upto a maximum of three year, he stand confirmedin the promotedpost. Thus, hisconfirmation dates back to his initial dated of appointmentby promotion and by operation of Rule 11and the proviso referred to hereinabove, the seniority stands determined from thedate of hisappointment tothe cadre/grade. It would thus be manifest that as soonas the candidate, whether general or reserved, getspromoted from one cadre, e.g., a Clerk is promoted as Assistant on his completion of probation and on declaration thereof, he gets confirmed as Assistant and becomesa member of the Service fromthe initial date of appointment bypromotion. Equally, when an Assistant become DeputySuperintendentand Deputy Superintendent becomes Superintendent,the method of computation of seniority would be thesame, viz., as soon as his probation isdeclared, he becomes a member of the Service.On availability of permanent post,he getsappointed to the post and thereafter ceases to be a memberof thefeeder/lower cadre. Inthis regard, under Fundamental Rule 14-A(a) a Government Servant's lienon a post may, in no circumstance, be terminated, even with his consent, if the result will be to leave him without a lien or a suspended lien upon a permanent post.Under Fundamental Rules14-A(d)a Government servant's lienon a post shall stand terminated on his acquiring a lien on apermanent post(whether under the CentralGovernment or a State Government) outside the cadre on which he is borne. A conjoint reading,thus, would establish that a Government servant shall always have alien on thepost and simultaneously, he shall not have right to hold any lien on morethan one post. In other word, the articulated bea member of twopost/service/grade/cadre nor is he eligibleto holdlien ontwo posts. On promotionfrom the post ofClerkas Assistant, on successful and satisfactory completion of probation and declaration thereof, he becomes a member of the Service inthe cadre of Assistant and so on till the cycle is complete. Vice versa, there are various stages of promotion to the higher echelons of Service andthe same resultant consequence follow. The same principle equally applies in GroupB Service under1980 Rules. This principle is applicable equally to the general as well as reserved candidates. On this principle, there is and there should be no dichotomy andthis is the settled service jurisprudence. In the case of appointment by promotion of Dalits and Tribes, nodifferent yardstick should be applied. This is the normal/common phenomenon is servicejurisprudence in Service under, either the Union Government or the State Government, or for that matter, semi-Governmentauthorities/corporations/undertakings.

The question thenis : whether such a rule becomes arbitrary or violativeof equality enshrined under Article 14 read with Article 16 (1)of the Constitution,when appliedto Dalits andTribes?It would be appropriate at this stage to have the benefit of case law onthe subject.

In theAll India Administrative Service (SAS) Association & Ors. V/s. Union of India [(1993) Supp1 SCC 730], in paras 14 and15, a Bench ofthree Judges, to which one of us, K. Ramaswamy, J., was a member, has held that no one has vested right to promotion orseniority butan officer has an interest in seniority acquiredby working out the rules. In T.R. Kapoor V/s. Stat of Haryana [(1986) Supp. SCC 584 at 595], this Court observed that "unless it isspecifically provided in the rules, theemployees whoare already promoted before the Amendment of the Rules, cannot be reverted and their promotions cannot be recalled". In State of Maharashtra V/s. ChandrakantAnant Kulkarni [(1981) 4 SCC 130], another Bench ofthree Judges inparagraph 16 atpage 141 had held that "(M)ere chances of promotion are not conditions of service, and the fact that there was reduction in thechancesof promotion did not tantanmount to a change in the conditions of service." In K. Jagadeesanvs. Union of India & Ors. [(1990) 2 SCC 228 at 230], in para 6, it was held that "a right to be considered for promotion is aterm of service, but mere chances of promotion are not"; soalso the eligibility for promotion. Passing of thedepartmental examination isnothingbut a mere chance of promotion. In Ashok Kumar Gupta V/sStat of U.P. [1997 (3)SCALE 289 at 299, para 22] this Court comprising allthe three of us, had held that "in service jurisprudence, a distinction between a right and interest hasalways been maintained.Seniority is a facetof interest. When the Rules prescribed the method of selection/recruitment, seniority is given as per the ranking given and governed bysuch as was laid inthe rules".

Similarview taken inA.K. BhatnagarV/s. Union of India [(1991)1 SCC 544] was upheld by this Court. In Akhil Bhartiya SoshitKarmchariSangh V/s. Union of India [(1996) 6 SCC 65]to which tow ofus, K. Ramaswamy and G.B. Pattanaik, were members, this Court has held that no member of the servicehas a vested right to promotion or seniority but an officerhas an interestin seniority acquired by working out the rules. In Md. Shujat Ali & Ors. etc. v. Union of India & Ors. etc. [(1975) 1 SCR 449] a Constitution Bench hadheld that arule which confers a right of actual promotionor a right to be considered for promotion is a rule prescribing conditions of service.In Mohd. Bhakar vs. Krishna Reddy [1970 SLR 268], a Bench of three Judges had held that any rule which affects the promotion of a person, relates to conditions of service.In State of Mysore v. G.B. [1967 S.L.R. 753] a Bench of two Judges hadheld that rule which merely affectschancesof promotion cannot be regarded as varyingthe condition of service. Chances of promotion are not conditionsof service. InSyed Khalid Rizvi & Ors. v. Union of India& Ors. [1993 supp. (3) SCC 575]to which one of us K.R.S., J. was amembers, it washeld inpara 31that no employer hasa rightto promotion; the only right isthat he is entitledto be considered for promotionaccording to rules. Chancesof promotion are not conditions of service which defeasible in accordance with the rules. Thus, it is settledprinciple in the service jurisprudence thatmere chancesof promotion are not conditions of service and a candidate appointed inaccordance withthe rule and steal a march over hiserstwhile seniors in the feeder/lower cadre.

On his having satisfactorily completed probation and declaration thereof, he is given seniority in the higher cadre. He become a member of the higher cadre from thedate of starting discharging duty of the post towhich he is promoted unless otherwise determined in accordance with the rules. From that date, he ceases to be a Member of the feedercadre/grade from which hewas promoted. The hierarichal promotions tovarious cadres mentioned hereinabove operate in the same manner and thereby on successive promotion tovariouscadres/grades, though in the same service, on would steal a marchover other, bythey generalor reserved candidates.

On promotion to the higher cadre, the reserved candidate steals a march over general candidates and becomes a member of theservicein the higher cadre or grade earlier to thegeneralcandidates. Continuous length of service gives him the seniority cannot get re-opened, after the generalcandidate getspromoted to the highercadre/grade, though he was erstwhile senior in the feedercadre/grade.

Would adual principle of seniority of Dalits and Tribes and general candidatesis valid and constitutionally permissible? If a positive findingin that behalf is recorded, it would runcontrary to thebed role of judicial precedents andit would be fraughtwith irreconcilable incongruities in matter of integratingemployees drawnfrom different streams to forge intocommon seniority or promoted according to rule whichhitherto is well-trenched in service jurisprudence. In State of U.P. v. Dr. Dina Nath Shukla & Anr. [JT 1997 (2) SC 467 para 8] itwas held that the craving for equality generates clash of interest and competing claims amongst thepeople, for emancipation of the Dalits and Tribes from the pangs ofabsolute prohibition of legal equality under Articles 15(1) and 16(1). Under Article15(2) to (4) and Article 16(4) and 4(a) readwith the DirectivePrinciples, protective discrimination has poured forth practical content,softened the rigour of legal equality andgiven practical content ofequality in opportunity infavour of unequals to hold an office orpost under the State in the democratic governance.In paragraph 9, it is further statedthat ina democracy governed byrule of lawevery segment of the society is entitled to a share in thegovernance of the country. Permanent bureaucrayis a facet of our democraticgovernance and an integral scheme of the Constitution. Recruitment to a post or anoffice under State is governed by the Constitution, law and the rules made under proviso toArticle309 ofthe Constitution or administrative instructions in the absence of statutory rules. Protective discrimination has been upheld bythis Court which connotes mitigation of absoluteequality in order to achieve equality in result in favour of the disadvantaged segmentsof thesociety. Appointment to an office or postgives an opportunity to haveequality of status and dignity ofperson.The object, thereby, is to provideeconomic equality, Social equality gets realised throughfacilities and opportunities given to the Dalits and Tribes to livewith dignity and withequal status in the society. Economic equality also gives socio economic empowerment, ameasureto improve excellence in everywalk of life. Equalopportunity ofappointment to a post or office is available to all citizens and legitimately and constitutionally entitles themto consider their claims for employment/appointment to an office or post in accordance with rules. Article 335mandates the State thatin the field of competitionthe claims of Dalits and Tribes shall be taken into consideration consistentlywith the maintenance in appointment of promotion in favour of Dalit and Tribes is a constitutional rightunder Article 16(1) and 16(4A)read with Article 46 and other related Articles. Reservation in promotion was upheld by this Court inR.K. Sabarwal &Ors.

v. State of Punjab & Ors. [(1995) 2SCC 745]. It iswell settledconstitutionalprincipal that reservation in favour of Dalits and Tribes is in favour of the community but not to theindividuals belonging to thatcommunity, although other ultimate beneficiaries are individuals. In Dr. Jagdish Saran & Ors v. Union of India [(1980) 2 SCC768], it was held that Dalits and Tribes for the purposeof admission under Article 15(4) stand as aclass. "The Constitution has assigned a special place for that factum and the problems of inherited injustice demanding social surgery which, if appliedthoughtlessly in other situation, may by a remedy which extenuates theirmalody." In other words, in social surgeryof effectuatingactuality in results, reservation in favour of Dalits Tribes is aresultant surgical remedy to the malody. InDr. Pradeep Jain & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. [(1984) 3 SCC 654] which wasapproved in Indira Sawhney's case, discrimination. Now the concept which takes in itssweep every process of equalisation under the canopy of protective discrimination.

Equality must not remain mere idleincantation butmust become a vibrant living reality for the large masses of people.In a hierarchical society with an indelible feudal stamp and incurable actual inequality, it is absurd to suggest thatprogressive measuresto eliminate group disabilities and promotecollective equality are antagonistic to and anathima of equality on the groundthat every individual is entitled to equality of opportunity based purely onmerit mantra judged by the marks obtained by him. We cannotcountenance such a suggestion,for to do so would make the equality clause becomessterile and perpetuate existing inequalities. Equality of opportunity is not simply a matter of legal equality. Its existence depends not merely onthe absence of disabilitiesbut on the presence of abilities and opportunity for excellence ineach cadre/grade. Where, therefore, there isinequality, in fact, legal equality always tends to accentuate inequality. It is, therefore, necessaryto take into account de facto inequalities which exist in the society and in order to bring about real equality, affirmative action fills thebill and allows to give preference to the socially and economically disadvantaged persons byinflicting handicaps on those more advantageously placed. Such affirmative action though apparently discriminatory, is calculated to produceequality in result on abroaderbasis by eliminating de facto inequalities and placing the weaker section of the community on afooting of equality with thestronger and more powerful and a disadvantaged section so thateach memberof the community, whatever is by his birth, occupation or social position, may enjoy equal opportunity of using to thefull, his natural endowments ofphysique, of character and of intelligence. This principlewas approved and reiterated by the Constitution Bench in Marri Chandra ShekharRao v.Dean, Seth G.S. Medical College &Ors.

[(1990)3 SCC 130]. It would, thus, i.e. , a settled constitutional principle that facilities and opportunities should be given to the Dalits and Tribes forpromotion to higher cadre or grade, gain accelerated seniority by the Dalit and Tribes and delimit the seniority of the erstwhile generalcandidates in the lowercadre or grade in accordance with the roster point. Thereby, the Dalits and Tribes are gettingand accelerated placement in the higher echelons of cadre or grade. Itis constitutionally a permissible classification bearingreasonable nexus to the object of equality in result ascomponent of economic and social empowerment. It is just and reasonableprocedure prescribed to achieve theconstitutionalobjectives ofequality in result,of status andopportunity anddignityof person to integrate themin themainstream of the national life, as per the arch of theConstitution, i.e., the Preamble, Article14, 15,16 and 46 and all other related Articles of the Constitution consistentwith the efficiency of administrationenvisaged under Article 335 of the Constitution.

InA.K. Gupta & Anr. v. State of U.P. & Ors. [1997 (3) SCALE 289 at 302 para28] we have held that as regards the competing claims between Dalits and Tribes onthe onehand and the general candidates onthe other, Article 14 and 16(1) render an balancing right toequality in result adjusting the competingrights of all sections.In Ahmedabad St. Xaviers College Society &Anr. v. Stateof Gujarat & Anr. [(1975) 1 SCR 173 at 252] a largerBench of nine Judges had held that to establish equality,if it would require absolute identical treatmentof both the minority and majority, thatwould result only in equalityin law but inequality in fact. Equality inlaw precludes discrimination of anykind whereas equality in fact mayinvolve the necessity of differential treatment in orderto attain a result which establishes an equilibrium between different situations. This Courtheld that the fundamental rights are to be construedbroadlyso as to enablethe citizen to enjoy the fundamental right by succeeding generations. InA.K. Gupta'scase, therefore, it was held that "to give adequate representation to the Dalits and Tribes in all posts or classesof posts of services to make it areality and truism,facilities andopportunities are required to be provided to the Dalits as enjoined in Article 38 for the purposeof achieving equalityof representation as areal content. In para 30, it wasobserved thatin abstract application ofequality underArticle14, every citizen is treated alike without there beingany discrimination.

Thereby, the equality, in fact,subsists. Equality prohibits the State frommakingdiscrimination among citizen on any ground.However, inequality in fact withoutdifferential treatment between the advantaged and disadvantaged subsists.

In order to bridge the gap between inequality in results and equality in fact, protective discrimination provides equality of opportunity . Those who are unequals cannot be treatedby identical standards. Equality in law certainly would not be real equality. In the circumstances, equality of opportunity depends notmerelyon the absence of disparities but on the presenceof abilities and opportunities. De jureequality must ultimately finds its raisond'etre in de factoequality. TheState must, therefore, resort to protective discrimination of the purposeof making people, who are factually unequally, equal in specific areas. It would, therefore,be necessary totake into account defacto inequality in which exists the society and totake affirmative action by giving preference and making reservation in promotion in favour of the Dalits and Tribesor by inflicting handicaps onthosemore advantageously placed,in order to bring about equality.

Such affirmative action, though apparently discriminatory, is calculated to produce equality inresult on a broader basis by eliminating de facto inequality and placing Dalits and Tribes on the footing of equality with non-tribal,non- Dalit employees so as to enable them toenjoy equal opportunity inorder to unfold their fullpotentially.

Protective discrimination envisaged in Article 16(4) and 16(4-A)is thearmourto establish the said equilibrium betweenequality in lawand equality inresultsas a fact to the disadvantaged. The principle of reservationin promotion provides equality in results.

Itis truethat Indra Sawhney's ratio on reservation in promotion became a torch bearer to the general candidates but before itcould become path-finder, the Parliament enacted77th Constitution (Amendment) Act and brought on the Constitution Article 16(4A) asa part of the Constitutional Schemeof reservation in promotion to a post. The legislative judgment put off the stream generated by Indra Sawhney's case. It isconstitutionally a valid principle which was declared to be so in several judgments referred to and followed and ultimately held as valid inA.K. Gupta's case.

Vir Pal Singh Chauhan's case followed byAjit Singh's case createdeuphoria among general candidatesthat reservation in promotion, though till then had by the Dalits and Tribes, slided backin the seniority scale to the bottom as and when thegeneralcandidates in their ownturn had got promotion to higher echelons of service. The questionis :

whetherit is really so and whetherit interjected the normal servicejurisprudence of continuous officiationin a post or a cadre, unless promotion is not in accordancewith rule? In Direct Recruit Class II Engineering Officers' Association v.State of Maharashtra & Ors. [(1990) 2 SCC 715], the Constitution Bench had held in respect of preposition No.1 in paragraph47 thatonce anincumbent is appointed to apost according to rule,his seniority has to be counted from the date of his confirmation. The corrolary of theabove rules is that where the initial appointment is only ad hoc and not according to rules and is madeas a stop-gap arrangement, the officiation in such post cannot be taken into account for purpose of determination of the seniority. to appreciate the effect and the real impact of the above two decision, it is necessary to look into the facts therein. In Vir Pal SinghChauhan's case the principle consideration for promotion was seniority under the rules made by the Railway Establishment Code. The Railway Board issued circular letterdated August 31, 1982 which referred the word `Panel'. It was a case of pure seniority rule.

Explaining themeaningof theword `panel prepared by the recruiting authority and in the absence of any specific rules as regards the nature of the effect ofseniority in the higher cadre/grade, the Bench of two Judges considered its effect andheld that theword `panel' used inthat circular meant the panel prepared by the recruiting authority at the time of initial entry into service andthat the seniority of the employees in the higher grades wasalso held to be determine with reference tothe placement in the initialappointment. It is settled legal position that the ratio decidendiis based upon the factsactually decided. It is an authority of those facts. In thelight of the factual position culled out by this Court on the panel position in the lower cadre ofthe general as wellas reserved candidates, this Courtin VirPal Chauhan's case, hadheld that though the Dalitand Tribes were promoted earlier to the general candidatesto a higher cadre/grade, in the absence of such apanel prepared in the promoted cadre/grade, the panelprepared in thelower cadre remained to be operative. Consequent, on promotion ofthe general candidates, the inter se seniority vis-a-vis reserved candidates remained the same as was found in the lower cadre. That wasthe real ratio in that case, onthe basis of the circular letter referred to hereinbefore.Accordingly, the said ratio, as pointed out by theHigh Court, does not help the appellants-general candidates for the reasonthat Rule 11 of 1974 Rulesor 1980Rules expresslyoccupies the field and determines their inter se seniority ineach cadre/grade with reference to thedate on which the candidates, beit reserved orgeneral, entered into the servicein the promotedcadre/grade. Vir Pal Chauhan's case, therefore, is a classof its own and of no assistancewhen the rules occupy the field governing the seniority position in a particular manner. The Rules alone are required to be lookedinto and senioritydetermined in accordance therewith. In fact, this Court in Vir Pal Chauhan'scase furtherpointed out that when reserved candidateswere promoted from the initial stage to further stage, circular letter has no application and the seniority ofthe reserved candidates wasrequired to bedetermined on the basis of seniority position occupied by him in the promoted post.

This clearly explains that this Court did not intend to depart from the normal service jurisprudence; nor did it intend to lay down any separate ruleof interpretation in determining inter se seniority of the reserved candidates and the general candidates and theirfusioninto common seniority in the higher echelons overthe erstwhile junior reserved candidates. Equally, the ratio in Ajit Singh's case, as rightly pointed out by the High Court, is inapplicable. It did not lay down any separaterule inthat behalf.In that case it was not brought to the notice of this Court the existence of operation ofthe service conditions andseniority rulelike Rule 11 of the Rule in this case ineach grade/cadre or services in Punjab & HaryanaSecretariat service orCivil Services.On the other hand, this Court was invited to deal with the circular letter issued by the Punjab & Haryana Government, on the subjectof reservationrules.The primary question before the Full Benchof Punjab & Haryana High Court in Jaswant Singh v. Secretary, Govt. of Punjab & Haryana [1990 (4) SLR 257] was whether the reservedcandidates wereeligible for consideration for promotion to the general vacancies? It was held that theywere entitled.The further question was :

whethertheir placement should be in the roster point reserved for ScheduledCastes and Backward Classes, orthey are required to be adjusted in the general vacancies specified inthe roster? In Sabharwal's case, the Constitution Bench upheld that the reserved candidates are entitled to competewith the general candidates for promotion to the general postin their own right. On their selection, they are to be adjusted in the general post as per the roster and the reserved candidates should be adjusted in the points ear-marked inthe roster to the reserved candidates. Since a slight deviation tothat principle was required to be consideredin other cases,Ajit Singh case andother cases were delinked. These caseswere dealt with in Ajit Singh's case. Therein the question was as to theeffect of the consideration of interse claims of reserved candidatesand generalcandidate to the post/vacancy availableto thegeneralcandidates. Inthat background, this Courtconsidered in Ajit Singh's casethat since the reserved candidatespromoted accordingly to the principal of reservation earlier to the general candidates were not considered, the general candidates and reserved candidates arerequired to the considered forpromotion to the general vacancies on the basis oferstwhile seniority.

the inter se seniorityin the lower cadre is required to be considered andto that extendthe advantagehad by the reserved candidates ofearlier promotion was not relevant.

It is also tobe noted that the criteria forpromotion in Ajit Singh's case was seniority-cum-merit or merit-cum- seniority in which event the principle of seniorityalso gains relevancy and is one ofthe factors to be takeninto consideration. It is settled legal position that if the selection is to be made for promotion on theprinciple of merit and ability, the more meritorious, though junior, steals a marchover the less meritorious senior candidate, be it general or reserved candidate. In this case H.S.Hira has stolen a march over his senior Dalits. Where merit and abilityare approximately equal, onlythe seniority in the lower cadre becomes relevant.When the merit-cum-seniority or seniority-cum-merit principle is to be applied, as stated earlier, the senioritybeing a relevant factor, this Court in Ajit Singh's case has held that the advantage of prior promotion to the reserved candidates is not material circumstance when the general andreserved candidates together areconsidered for promotion to a higher cadre/grade. The ration in Ajit Singh's case should be understood in the above backdrop andperspective. If so understood, this Courtin Ajit Singh's case has notlaid down any contra principle tothe settled legal service jurisprudence; nor it intended to cut down the effect of the Rule in vogue for determination of the interse seniority in eachcadre/grade in accordance with the Rules. Therefore, it is a simplistic euphoria tothink that at all events the earlierpromotions hadby the reservedcandidates havebeen slide down andput back in the vanguard of the erstwhile seniority position in the feeder cadre/grade. Ifthis clarityof though iskept in fore-front, there is no occasion to adopt a mistaken application of theprinciple to all facts in all circumstance. In Ajit Singh's case,this Court did not,therefore, intend to lay down any principle contrato the settled legal principle that continuous officiation toa promoted postin accordance with the rules gives right toseniority. Theobservation of this Court in Ajit Singh's case thatany other rule of construction would be arbitraryviolating Article 14is required to be understood in that backdrop and context. As stated inA.K.

Gupta'scase, it was held that both generaland reserved candidates being citizen of India areentitled to equality of opportunityassuredunder Article 14 and 16(1). Asheld in Thomas v. State of Kerala [1976 (1) SCR 906]and approved in Indra Sawhney's case, theright to equality to the reserved candidates isa fundamental right under Article 16(1) read with Article 14which itself guarantees a fundamental right. After the Constitution (77th Amendment) Act, Article 16(4-A) gives fundamentalrights to the Dalits and Tribes to promotionto a post or a service in the State, The protectivediscrimination is a contour to bring about equality in results tothe Dalits and Tribes. It is a facet of equality under Article 14, 15 and 16of the Constitution.

Therefore, when competing rights betweengeneral and reserved candidates require adjudication and adjustmentwith the right of general candidates, the doctrineof violation of Article 14 has no role to play since protective discrimination itself is a facet of Article 14 and itdoes not again deny equality to the reserved candidates.

Therefore, in Ajit Singh's case whenthis Court hadheld that such a rule of reservation would be violative of Article14 andarbitrary, it does notappear to have meant to destroy the protectivediscriminationwhich is a consistent thread running through all situationswhen reservation wasappliedin favour of the reserved candidates and the equality in results in achieved. Thus, we hodthat the euphoria had by the general candidates from the ratios in VirPal Chauhan's and Ajit Singh's cases isshort lived;

it does not help in so realising thecorrectimplications arisingfrom the aforesaid ratios. It is settled lawthat administrative instructions supplementthe law but do not supplant thelaw. It fills only yawning gaps. The administrative instructions issued by the Haryana Government after Ajit Singh's caseflies in the facet of statutoryRule 11 of the rules. Therefore, it crushes itself with the grinding teethof theabove statutory Rule11 and the principle. Thus considered, we hold that the view taken by the High Courtin that behalfis correct in law and is not vitiated by any infirmity in law. We further hold that the reserved candidates became senior to the general candidates in each successive cadre/grade from Assistant to Superintendent in Class III Service and 5th respondent in Class I Service. Theirseniority is not and cannot have the effect of getting wiped out after thepromotion of general candidates from their respective dates of promotion. The generalcandidates remain junior in higher echelons to the reserved candidates as was heldby the High Court.

That apart, as this Court has repeatedly held, the delay disentitles the party to the discretionary relief under Article 226 or 32 of the Constitution. It is not necessary to reiterateall catena ofprecedents inthis behalf.Sufficeit to state that the appellant kept sleeping over their rights for long andelectedto wakeup whenthey had the impetus from Vir Pal Chauhan and Ajit Singh's ratios.But Vir Pal Chauhan and Sabharwal's cases, kept at rest the promotion already made by that date,and declared them as valid;they were limited to the question of future promotions given by applying the rule of reservation, to all the persons prior to the dated of judgment in Sabharwal's case, which required toexamined in thelight of law laid in Sabharwal's case. Thus earlier promotions cannot be reopened? Onlythose cases arising after that date would be examined in the lightof thelaw laid down in Sabharwal's case Vir Pal Chauhan's case and equally Ajit Singh's case.

If thecandidate has already been further promoted to the higher echelons of service, his seniority is not open to be reviewed. In A.B.S. Karamchari Sangh's case,Bench of two Judge to whichtwo ofus, K.Ramaswamy and G.B. Pattanik, JJ. were members, hadreiterated the above view and it was also held that all the prior promotions are notopen judicial review. In Chander Pal & Ors. v. State of Haryana [W.P. (C) Nos. 4715-18/93 datedDecember 4, 1996] a Bench of two judges consisting of S.C. Agrawal and G.T. Nanavati, JJ.

considered theeffect of Vir Pal Chauhan's,Ajit Singh, Sabharwal and A.B.S Karmachari Sangh's cases and heldthat the seniority of those respondents who had already retired or promoted tohigherposts could not be disturbed. The seniority of the petitioner therein and the respondent who were holding the post in the same levelor in the same cadre would be adjusted keeping in view the ratioin Vir Pal Chauhanand Ajit Singh's cases; but promotion, if any, had been given to any of them during the pendencyof thiswrit petition, was directednot tobe disturbed. Therein, the candidates appointed on the basis of economic backwardness, socialstatus or occupation etc.were eligible for appointment against the post reservedfor backward classes if their income did not exceed Rs. 18,000/- per annum and they were given accelerated promotion on the basis of reservation. In that backdrop,the above directions came to be issued. In fact, it did not touch upon Article 16(4) or 16(4-A). Therefore, desperate attemptsof the appellants to re-do the seniority had by them in various cadres/grades though in the same services according to 1974 Rules or1980 Rule, are not amenable to judicial review atthis belated stage. The High Court,therefore, has rightly dismissed the writ petition on the ground of delay aswell.

Thus we hold that the decision of the HighCourt is not vitiated by any errorof application of wrongprinciple of law warranting interference.

The appeal is accordingly dismissed but, in the circumstance, without costs.


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