Court name: The Supreme Court of India.
Judgement name: Union of India, through the Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forest Vs. Trilok S. Bhandari & Ors.
Judgement date: September 29th,2021
Judges/ Bench: J.Ajay Rastogi and J. Abhay S. Oka
This case is an appeal directed to the Supreme court against the High court of Uttarakhand. This case deals with the promotion of the Indian Forest Service (IFS) in 1996 against the notional vacancies and pensionary benefits keeping in view the judgement in Union of India & Others v.s Vipinchandra Hiralal Shaw.
Brief of the facts:
The respondent was a member of the State Forest Service of UP Cadre and after clubbing of the earlier year vacancies of 1996, Promotions were made to the IFS cadre which came into effect from 16th September 1996 which was challenged by the filing of an application before the Central Administrative Tribunal stating clubbing is not valid as per Regulation 5 of the IFS regulations 1996 based on the judgement of the court in Union of India v.s Supra & Others.
Contentions of the Appellants: The council on behalf of the State of UP contended that the officers who could not be selected as per 2005 recommendations do not have the right to continue as a member of the IFS cadre but were led to continue because of the interim order passed by the court.
Contentions of the Respondents: The respondents on behalf of all the officers involved in the process of promotions collectively pray for the benefits as being extended by the Division Bench of High court in favour of 1st respondent on whose basis the writ petition was filed.
Principals and observations of the court:
The court in this case referred to judgements and also the judgement of the same case given by the preceding court in the prior judgements. The respondents referred to Rule 5 of the IFS regulation 1996 based on the judgement of the court in Union of India v/s Supra & Others.
The respondent pointed out that the writ petition filed on behalf of the 12 officers was on the basis of the judgement given in favour of the 1st respondent in the Division Bench.
- The case is an appeal from the High court to the Supreme court, for better understanding, we shall deal with the decision, opinion and arguments of the Tribunal, Division Bench and then the High court furthermore with the Supreme Court.
- The tribunal allowed the application and quashed the order of promotion as of 10th September 1997, the court held that it was incumbent upon the respondent to create a separate promotions list depending upon the vacancies restricted zone of consideration every year. The court also ordered the respondent to prepare a year-wise selection list holding the opinion of DPC in accordance with the law, and the officers who have been promoted as per the list need not be reverted back and the decisions further were to be taken by the decision shall be taken on the outcome of the review of the DPC within 2 months.
- The order of the tribunal was challenged by a civil miscellaneous writ petition which seemed to be dismissed, upholding the order of review recommendations and appointments made on 8th as per notification date 4th/5th October 2005.
- The 1st respondent was first in the promotions list on 16th September but was excluded in the list submitted by the review recommendations committee, The respondent now filed a writ petition seeking the writ of mandamus in the High court of Uttarakhand stating that the names of the officers whose names have been excluded by the committed should be adjusted in the further list as per the judgment of the court in Union of India & Others v/s Supra.
- The petitioner as well as other persons like the petitioner, who were selected as per the final seniority list of 1996 and were promoted were entitled to be adjusted against those eight vacancies against which the notional promotions were made as the notional promotions were only for the selection grade and for pensionary benefit. It is also clarified here that the petitioner has also retired, therefore he is also entitled to notional promotion allocating them of allotment as per rules.
- The court directed to maintain Status Quo as the interim order as the officers who did not find their names shall continue as De-facto in the cadre of IFS officers, though all the others were appointed as IFS only respondent no. 13 could not be appointed in that year, found a place the next year and continued on the basis of De-facto as ordered by the court.
- The court held that the tribunal which passed orders on Regulation 5 of Regulations 1955, the order came to be passed in exercise of the power of this Court under Article 142 of the Constitution of India for adjustment of the officers against the future vacancies, was of no assistance and the High Court has exceeded its jurisdiction in granting such omnibus relief which was in clear violation of the Regulations 1966.
- The court ordered the council representing the state to mention the variation in the salary and all other services due to the disturbance caused in the promotion, and all that shall be calculated and the difference is explained, it is also lead that he was in de-facto appointed and served in the position of IFS and not the State Forest Officer.
- The court held that the order in the Supra case stood unreasonable due to the absence of the recommendations of the officers in the review selection committee, and not the jurisdiction of the High Court.
In my opinion, I do agree with the decision of the Supreme court in accepting the writ petition and the appeal as the services of the officers cannot be unpaid, though in the position of de-facto the case being registered does affect the mental stability and respect in the society.
Prompt action should be taken on the officers who have resulted in clubbing the promotion list irrespective of the vacancies and further processes being hindered.