Rly. Class II Officers Fedn. & Anr Vs. Anil Kumar Sanghi & Ors  Insc
400 (23 September 2002)
Babu & P. Venkatarama Reddi. P.Venkatarama Reddi, J.
by the order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (C.A.T.) Principal Bench,
passed on 4.8.1995 in O.A. No. 574 of 1993, the present appeal has been filed
by the second respondent in O.A., which is an Association of Class II Railway
Officers and one of the respondents in the O.A. The O.A. was filed in the
C.A.T. by six Class I Officers working as Assistant Signal and
Telecommunication Engineers (ASTEs), who are respondents 1 to 6 herein. The
appellant-Association is espousing the cause of Group 'B' Officers of Indian
Railways Services of Signals Engineers (IRSSE), who were, by an order dated
15.9.1992 issued by the Ministry of Railways, appointed substantively to the
Junior Scale of IRSSE with effect from 23.7.1992. The Group 'B' (Class II)
posts constitute the base level of gazetted cadre on the Indian Railways and
these posts are filled up by promotion, from amongst Group 'C' personnel
through the process of selection. Immediately above Group 'B' are the Junior
Scale Group 'A' posts. It is a feeding cadre for the Group 'A' posts at higher
level. The appointments for Group 'A' Junior Scale posts are made partly by
direct recruitment and partly by promotion from amongst eligible Group 'B'
Officers as per the quotas prescribed in the recruitment Rules. The incumbents
of posts in Group 'A' Junior Scale and in Group 'B' are designated as Assistant
Officers and it appears that these posts are operated inter-changeably. As per
the recruitment rules, Group 'B' Officers who have rendered three years of
non-fortuitous service in the grade are eligible for consideration for
promotion to Group 'A'/Junior Scale. It is common ground that the 127 Officers
covered by the appointment order dated 15.7.1992 were working for nearly 8 to
10 years against regular Group 'A' vacancies and most of them were promoted to
Senior Scale on ad hoc basis and were working as such for several years.
Apparently, the eligible Group 'B' Officers could not be promoted to Group 'A'
Junior Scale for administrative reasons viz., delay in recruitment process of
Group 'A' Officers and constitution of DPC. There was virtually stagnation of a
number of Group 'B' Officers who as already stated were working on ad hoc basis
in Senior Scale vacancies of Group 'A'. With a view to discontinue the ad hoc
arrangements and to give better promotional opportunities to Group 'B' Officers
who were stagnating without regular promotion, the Ministry of Railways
proposed additional posts in Junior Time Scale not only in Signal and
Telecommunication Department, with which we are concerned, but also in various
other departments of Railways. As against 654 additional posts proposed by the
Railways, the UPSC agreed for creation of 463 posts. Out of these, the
allocation for the Signal and Telecommunication Department was 76. These
additional posts (76) were to be filled by promotion of Group 'B' Officers in
relaxation of the normal quota and such variation of quota was permissible,
according to the Railways, under Rule 4(b) of the relevant recruitment Rules.
In the reply filed by the Railways before the Tribunal, it is stated that the
appointment of 127 Group 'B' Officers to Junior Time Scale was made against 153
vacancies in the promotion quota as per the particulars given below:
year Direct Recruitment Quota Promotion quota 1989 35 (60%) 23(40%)+2 (Carry
forward vacancies) 1990 42(29%) 104(71%)(including additional 76 posts decided
by the Govt. in consultation with UPSC, for reasons brought out in para-8 to 10
of this counter affidavit.
37(60%) 24(40%) ________ Total 153 ________ It is further stated that the DPC
recommended the appointment of 146 Officers out of whom 127 were appointed by
the order impugned in the O.A.
Group 'A' Junior Scale Officers who were apprehensive of dimunition of their
promotional prospects by virtue of weightage in service which the Group 'B'
Officers would be entitled to, filed the O.A. before the CAT questioning the
appointment of 127 Officers mainly on the ground that it is in excess of their
quota and that the relaxation was not permissible.
case of the Group 'A'/Class I Officers (Respondents 1 to 6 in this appeal) was
substantially accepted by the Tribunal and the following directions were given
by the Tribunal in the concluding part of the order :-
is not competent for the Railways to appoint as many persons by promotions as
they like, in disregard of the provisions of Rule 4 which stipulates the quota
for promotion and direct recruitment. Repeated violent departures from the
quota rule will lead to collapse of the quota rule (Direct Recruits' case
supra) and therefore of the linked seniority rule (B.S. Gupta's case supra).
The principle of weightage in seniority will be limited to promotees appointed
against their quota.
As the rules stand at present, the maximum quota for promotees is only 40%. It
cannot be raised further by relaxation, as Government has no such power.
Vacancies not filled in a year whether in the direct recruitment quota or promotee
quota can be carried over, but all such vacancies have to be filled in the
subsequent years by both methods on the basis of the quota mentioned in Rule 4.
of the 127 appointments made by the Annexure A-1 order dated 15.9.1993,
promotion should be deemed to have been made to the extent of 40% of the
vacancies in 1992 which have been computed tentatively at 89 (para 34 supra) subject
to departmental verification. They alone are entitled to weightage and
seniority on the seniority principle (vii) and (ix).
The remaining 38 persons, subject to departmental verification, have been
promoted in excess of the promotion quota and they are not entitled to weightage
in seniority on the basis of the Annexure A-1 order. Their promotion shall be
treated as ad hoc only. They can be treated as regularly promoted against the
quota for promotees in 1993 and thereafter. In that case, such promotees can be
given weightage from the dates their promotions are regularized.
The Annexure A-1 order shall stand modified to the extent indicated above.
The O.A. is disposed of as above.
Tribunal was of the view, agreeing with the Jabalpur Bench on the issue, that
the provision authorizing variation of percentage in terms of concluding part
of clause (b) of Rule 4 did not authorize the Government to exceed the ceiling
of 40 per cent of vacancies in relation to departmental promotees. The Tribunal
relied on the expression "not more than" occurring in clause (b) of
Rule 4. The Tribunal further held that power of relaxation in favour of
departmental promotees cannot be spelt out in Rule 4. At the same time, the
Tribunal held that Note 1 to Rule 4 did not preclude carrying forward of the
unfilled vacancies in the promotion quota. The Tribunal pointed out that if
vacancies in the quota for promotees or direct recruits are not filled up
fully, those vacancies can be filled up in the succeeding year.
the carried over vacancies will be filled up in the same ratio as is indicated
in clauses (a) and (b) of Rule 4. The Tribunal then examined the number of
vacancies available against the promotee quota pertaining to years 1989, 1990
and 1991. The Tribunal was of the view that only 40 per cent of the 76
additional posts created i.e. 30 posts will fall to the share of the promotees.
The Tribunal worked out that promotees could get only 89 against their quota of
40 per cent out of the total vacancies available upto 1992. The Tribunal,
therefore, concluded that 38 Group 'B' officers should be deemed to have been
promoted in excess of quota and those 38 persons are not entitled to weightage
of past service while determining their seniority. Their promotion should be
treated as ad hoc only and they could be treated as regularly promoted against
the quota for promotees available in 1993 and thereafter. In other words, 30
respondents promoted in excess of quota should be adjusted against future
vacancies. The contention that the seniority rule had collapsed by reason of
break down of quota rule was negatived on the ground that departure from quota
rule was only marginal and it cannot be said that the quota rule had
substantially failed. The Tribunal finally directed that the impugned order of
the Railway Ministry shall stand modified in the light of directions given by
relevant rule dealing with recruitment is as follows :
4 Method of Recruitment - Recruitment in the service shall be by the following methods
competitive examination held in accordance with part II of the rules.
promotion of Class II officers of the Signal Engineering Department. Not more
than 40 per cent of the vacancies shall be filled by departmental promotion. This
percentage is likely to be varied from time to time, if found necessary.
NOTE : If the quota of 40 per cent
reserved for Class II officers for promotion to Class I is not fully utilized,
the remaining vacancies shall be filled by direct recruitment under clause (a),
(c) By occasional admission of other qualified persons appointed by the
Government on the recommendation of the Commission."
concerned here with Clause (b) and the Note thereto. As noticed earlier, 76
additional posts were created in S&T department in order to facilitate the
absorption of Group 'B' (Class II Officers) in Group 'A' Junior Time Scale. It
also transpires from the pleadings that the induction of Group 'B' officers to
the extent of vacancies falling within their quota could not take place on
account of administrative delays in constituting the DPC and moreover on
account of linking up the promotional quantum to the number of direct recruits
inducted during the year. The extent of intake of direct recruits fell short of
the requisite available number of vacancies as a result of which there was
corresponding reduction in the number of officers appointed to Group 'A' Jr. scale
against promotion quota. That there was ample justification for remedying the
injustice done to the Group 'B' officers who were manning the posts in Group
'A' (Jr. scale) on ad hoc posts since considerable time and to put an end to
the long time ad hoc arrangements is amply clear from the pleadings and the
correspondence forming part of the record. Though the Tribunal conceded the
power to carry forward the vacancies, the Tribunal was of the view that having
regard to the rule position, it was not possible to allocate all the newly
created posts to Group 'B' officers awaiting promotion. The learned members of
the Tribunal held that the carry forward vacancies have to be filled up in
subsequent years on the basis of the quota i.e. 60 : 40 per cent. In other
words, the Tribunal was of the view that the direct recruits too have their
share in the 76 newly created posts and they cannot be exclusively filled by promotees.
see how far Rule 4 (b) and the Note thereto stands in the way of allocation of
additional posts exclusively to Group 'B'/Class II officers in order to
compensate the deficiency in the intake of promotee officers into Group
'A'/Class I during the preceding years. The answer depends on the proper
construction of the Rule.
doubt the second sentence in clause (b) places a ceiling of 40 per cent on the
vacancies to be filed up by departmental promotion. The Note reinforces this
mandate by providing that in case of shortfall in the promotional quota of 40
per cent, those vacancies remaining should be allocated to direct recruits.
That means, in a given year, the direct recruits can go beyond 60 per cent, if
sufficient number of promotee officers are not available. It is a different
thing that it had never happened and the direct recruitment could not be made
in some years even to the full extent of 60 per cent. But, that is what the
Rule provides. However, the rule in so far as it operates against the promotee
officers has been diluted to a certain extent by reserving the power to vary
the percentage allocated to promotees. The variation, in our view, could be
both downward and upward, depending upon the exigencies of service and the
march of events. Going by the plain language, the variation could be either
way. If the variation was intended only to curtail but not to enhance the
promotion quota of 40 per cent, suitable language could have been employed.
That apart, the word 'not more than' itself would have provided some
flexibility to the appointing authority to reduce the promotee quota in a given
year for good and relevant reasons. Hence, it is not appropriate and proper to
limit the ambit of variation to the reduction of percentage. If the last
sentence in Clause (b) is to be read subject to the preceding sentence with the
appended note, the very purpose for which such power is reserved to the
Government will be lost. A reading of the Rule so as to confine the variation
of percentage to impinge on the normal promotee quota but not vice-versa is
clearly unwarranted either on the plain language of the provision or its
intendment. There is nothing which precludes the Government of India to take a policy
decision that the percentage should be so varied so as to give the benefit to
the stagnating promotee officers. When once such policy decision is taken, the
normal rule that 40 per cent is the maximum for departmental promotees would
stand protanto modified for the time being.
course, such variation, either upward or downward should be based on rational
basis and relevant considerations. When once such test is satisfied, there is
no difficulty in giving effect to the variation of percentage so as to operate
in favour of promotee officers. The Tribunal harped on the fact that there is
no power of relaxation under the rules such as the one provided for by the
Indian Railway Traffic Service Rules. The provision for variation of percentage
from time to time in case of necessity is for all practical purposes equivalent
to the power of relaxation. There is no particular reason why the Class II promotee
office of S&T department should be treated differently from the same
category in Traffic department. The application of such different standards
could very well be avoided by giving a wider meaning to the expression
"varied from time to time". Whether it be variation or relaxation, it
is meant to provide a leeway for adjustment in exigencies of service which is
very much necessary in administrative interest and to cope up with unforeseen
we are of the view that no illegality has been committed by the Union of India
in appointing 127 Group 'B' officers of S&T department of Railways to the
junior scale of Group 'A' by the impugned order dated 15.9.1992. The Central
Administrative Tribunal has committed an error of law in interpreting the
relevant rule and holding that 38 Group 'B' (Class II officers) promoted in
excess of normal quota of 40 per cent have to be promoted on regular basis
against future vacancies. The impugned order of the Tribunal is, therefore, set
aside and the appeal is allowed. We make no order as to costs.