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IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 8324-8327 OF 2022
[Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 30734-30737 of 2014]
AMIT SINGH …APPELLANT (S)
RAVINDRA NATH PANDEY & ORS.
ETC. ETC. …RESPONDENT(S)
1. Leave granted.
2. The appeals challenge the judgment and order dated 4th September 2014, passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad, Lucknow Bench, Lucknow, in Special Appeal No. 625 of 2008 and other connected Appeals, thereby, while upholding the order passed by the learned Single Judge, modifying it to the extent that the seniority list shall be prepared by applying the rota system to direct recruits and promotees appointed in one recruitment year.
3. The facts, in brief, giving rise to the present appeals are as under:
3.1 The writ petitioners, who were promoted to the post of Assistant Consolidation Officers (hereinafter referred to as “the ACOs”) against the recruitment year 1997-1998, approached the learned Single Judge of the High Court, claiming that their seniority was above the direct recruits of the same recruitment year. It was the contention of the writ petitioners that the ACOs who were directly appointed were erroneously given seniority over the promotees. It was their contention that the seniority was required to be given in accordance with Rule 8(3) of the U.P. Government Servants Seniority Rules, 1991 (hereinafter referred to as “the 1991 Rules”) and their names had to be placed in a cyclic order, i.e. a promotee followed by a direct recruitee.
3.2 The writ petitioners were initially appointed as Consolidators in the Consolidation Department in various districts. They were promoted to the post of ACOs on various dates in the year 1997. The respondents in the writ petitions, i.e. direct recruits were directly appointed to the post of ACOs, on the basis of the recommendation of the Uttar Pradesh Subordinate Services Selection Commission and as per the recruitment process under the Uttar Pradesh Revenue Consolidation Service Rules, 1992 (hereinafter referred to as “the 1992 Rules”). The direct recruits were appointed on 18th August 1997. As such, both the promotees as well as the direct recruits came in the cadre of the ACOs in the recruitment year of 1997-1998, i.e. between 1st July 1997 and 30th June 1998.
3.3 The claim of the writ petitioners was resisted by the State as well as by the direct recruits. It was contended on behalf of the State as well as the direct recruits that the seniority has to be assigned on the basis of the year of vacancy. It was submitted that, in the case of direct recruits, though for an earlier year there existed vacancy for them, they were appointed subsequently and as such, they were given seniority in the quota available in the earlier years.
3.4 The learned Single Judge of the High Court came to the conclusion that the direct recruits were appointed on 18th August 1997, whereas the writ petitioners were promoted on 16th December 1997. The learned Single Judge found that both the promotees as well as the direct recruits became members of the cadre of ACOs in the same recruitment year, i.e. 1997-1998, and, therefore, in accordance with Rule 8 of the 1991 Rules, they had to be placed in the seniority list in a cyclic order. It was found that the said exercise was carried out in the year 2003; however, the same had been abruptly changed through the seniority list dated 29th July 2005, impugned before the High Court. The learned Single Judge found that in the recruitment year 1997-1998, there were requisite number of posts available for promotees and as such, the action of the State in denying the seniority to the promotees was not sustainable. The learned Single Judge, therefore, allowed the writ petitions and quashed and set aside the impugned seniority list dated 29th July 2005. The learned Single Judge further directed that the promotees of 1997 to be placed above the direct recruits of that year.
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