Commissioner (Admn.) & Commissioner of Income-Tax, Vs. K.C. Sharma &
Ors  INSC 454 (2
V. Manohar, S. Rajendra Babu Sujata V. Manohar. J.
[With C.A. No. 4569 of 1998 (arising out of S.L.P. (c) No. 7071
granted in S.L.P. (C) No. 7071 of 1993.
Appeal No 4028 of 1993 This appeal is from a judgment and order of the Central
Administrative Tribunal, Principal Bench, dated 27.11.1992 by which the
Tribunal has set aside the Income tax Department Recruitment (Amendment) Rules,
1986 insofar as they deal with promotions to the posts of Inspectors in the
Income Tax Department.
to be post of Income Tax Inspectors is by direct requirement as well as by
promotion of departmental candidates in the ratio of 1/3rd to 2/3rd. All the
Group C officials in the ministerial cadre, namely, Supervisors Grade I and
Grade II, Head Clerks, Tax Assistants and Upper Division Clerks are eligible
for promotion. Similarly, the cadre of Stenographers is also eligible for
appointment by promotion to the posts of Inspectors. All these persons, whether
in the ministerial cadre or in the Stenographers' cadre have to qualify in the
departmental examination for the post of Income tax Inspectors and should have
put in the prescribed minimum years of service.
to April 1960, for the purpose of promotion, the list of all departmental
candidates who had passed the departmental examination was arranged according
to their seniority irrespective of the date or year of passing the departmental
examination. This list was submitted to the Departmental Promotion Committee
for selection for promotion to the post of Income Tax Inspectors. This gave
rise to some discontent, as young and junior persons who had qualified in the departmental
examination earlier than their seniors, found themselves lower in the
eligibility list. Therefore, the entire matter was reconsidered and in April
1960 it was decided that for the purpose of promotion to the grade of
Inspectors, persons who had qualified in an earlier departmental examination
should be treated en-bloc senior to those who qualified in a subsequent
examination. This revised procedure also gave rise to discontent amongst
seniors who passed the departmental examination later.
taking all factors into account, the Government decided that there should be a
fair balance between senior persons who qualify in the departmental examination
at a later stage and junior persons who qualify in the same examination
earlier. It was, therefore, decided that two lists should be drawn up of
persons who pass the departmental examination. In the first list, the names
should be arranged in accordance with seniority of the persons in the
department provided they had passed the departmental examination and had put in
the requisite years of service. In the second list, the names should be
arranged in accordance with the date/year of passing the departmental
examination. Both these lists would be forwarded to the Departmental Promotion
Committee. Selection would be made from both the lists on a 50:50 basis. This
decision was taken after taking into account the demands of both the categories
of persons, namely, those who claimed that their seniority should not be
overlooked, and those who claimed that their eligibility for promotion should
depend upon the year of passing the departmental examination. Accordingly,
orders to this effect were issued in November, 1960. This procedure for
promotion of departmental candidates was embodied in the recruitment rules for
the post of Inspectors which were issued in December 1969.
the Stenographers in the department represented that since they do not form
part of the ministerial cadre, a separate quota should be provided for them for
the purpose of promotion to the grade of Inspector.
representation was considered. In 1985 instructions were issued fixing the
promotion quota between the ministerial cadre and the Stenographers' cadre in
the ratio of 3:1. The Recruitment Rules for the post of Inspectors were
accordingly amended in September, 1986. In respect of the Stenographers also,
two lists were required to be prepared, namely, a list in the order of
seniority of those Stenographers who had passed the departmental examination
and a list of Stenographers arranged in accordance with the date and year of
their passing the departmental examination.
same procedure for selection from both these lists in the ratio of 50:50 was to
be adopted for promotion to the post of Inspectors in the quota which was kept
procedure of two lists was in force for more than three decades and had worked
satisfactorily when the respondents challenged the preparation of two select
lists for each cadre in the manner provided in the recruitment rules in the
present proceedings. The challenge is on the ground that the preparation of two
select lists is against fair play and natural justice and is irrational and violative
of Articles 14 and 16. The Tribunal, in the impugned judgment and order, has
described the procedure as difficult to understand, cumbersome and complicated.
the procedure has been evolved over a period of time to meet the conflicting
demands of two sets of persons, namely, those who are junior in the cadre but
have qualified much earlier in the departmental examination and are, therefore,
meritorious and eligible for promotion, and the more senior persons who have
passed the departmental examination later. The procedure has been in operation
for over three decades. Therefore, this cannot be a ground for setting it
other ground of challenge is that there is no rational basis on which this
classification is made because both the lists consist of persons who have the
requisite eligibility. However, the whole purpose of preparing two lists is to
give equal weightage to seniority from amongst eligible candidates and merit
from amongst eligible candidates in the form of passing departmental
examination much earlier. There is, therefore an intelligible criterion for
distinguishing between the two lists. The object which is sought to be achieved
by this differentiation is to give weightage to those departmental candidates
who have shown merit by passing the departmental examination earlier than their
seniors, while at the same time preserving the claim of the seniors who may
have passed the departmental examination later for promotion on the strength of
their seniority. The Tribunal, therefore, was not right in coming to the
conclusion that there is no nexus between the formulation of the two lists and
the object sought to be achieved. There is, therefore, no violation of Articles
14 and 16 in the present case.
appeal is, therefore, allowed and the impugned order of the Tribunal is set
aside and the application of the respondents before the Tribunal is dismissed.
The cross appeal arising from S.L.P. (C) No. 7071 of 1993 is dismissed. There
will, however, be no order as to costs.