is settled that exercise of discretion by the selection committee, in the matter
of recruitment, is not required to be interfered with by the Courts, unless it
is found contrary to the rules or is otherwise arbitrary or suffers from
malafide. The Hon’ble Apex Court in Union
Public Service Commission v. M. Sathiya
Priya, (2018) 15 SCC 796, has
observed as under:
Court has repeatedly observed and concluded that the recommendations of the Selection
Committee cannot be challenged except on the ground of mala fides or serious
violation of the statutory rules. The Courts cannot sit as an appellate
authority or an umpire to examine the recommendations of the Selection
Committee like a Court of Appeal. This discretion has been given to the
Selection Committee only, and the Courts rarely sits as a Court of Appeal to
examine the selection of a candidate; nor is it the business of the Court to
examine each candidate and record its opinion. Since the Selection Committee
constituted by the UPSC is manned by experts in the field, we have to trust
their assessment unless it is actuated with malice or bristles with mala fides
or arbitrariness.” Lokendra Kumar Tiwari
v. Union of India, 2019 (2) ESC 712.
In English parlance, the word
“suitable” is assigned the meaning as “appropriate, fitted for the purpose or
acceptable”. Concise Oxford Dictionary defines the word “suitable” as
“well fitted for the purpose; appropriate”. This ordinary meaning is to be
given effect to as a general guide, unless this expression is given special
meaning in a statute or rule in administrative instructions. In R.
(Quintavalle) v. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority,
(2005) 2 AC 561 : (2005) 2 WLR 1061 : 2005 UKHL 28, the House of Lords remarked
that “the word “suitability” is an empty vessel which is filled with meaning by
context and background”.
In service jurisprudence, where the
word “suitable” is normally examined from the point of view as to whether a
particular person is suitable to hold a particular post, it is construed as
“fit” to hold that post. It would mean that the job profile and job requirement
of a particular post would be seen and then, going by the calibre, competence,
attributes, skill and experience of the candidate, it would be ascertained as
to whether such a person would be able to discharge the duties of the post i.e.
whether he is suited to carry out the functions of the post, to the
satisfaction of his employer.
The prefix “inter se” has also to be
given some meaning as it cannot be rendered otiose. Therefore, whereas while
assessing “suitability”, it has to be seen that a particular officer is not
unfit for the post, when it comes to “inter se suitability”, it has reference
to assessing the suitability of all eligible officers and thereafter finding
who is more suitable to occupy such a post. Union of India v.
Manomoy Ganguly, (2018) 9 SCC 65.
The expression ‘year of recruitment’ is used in several legislative enactments in the area of service jurisprudence and has been the subject of judicial precedent. In Harish Chandra Ram v. Mukh Ram Dubey, 1984 Supp (2) SCC 490, it was held that as and when recruitment takes place, the cases of all the candidates including the reserved candidates must be considered according to rules which would arise only when the recruitment takes place. In that context the court observed as under:
“So, as and when recruitment takes place the cases of all the candidates including reserved candidates must be considered according to rules which would arise only when recruitment takes place. Take for instance an hypothetical case. A and B are eligible for consideration and were considered in 1980 for two vacancies and B was found suitable and was appointed to one vacancy in 1982. One more vacancy arose in 1983. In the year 1983, A, C and D were considered. A and D were promoted in 1984. The recruitment years are 1982 and 1984, and not 1980 when one vacancy existed or 1983 when two vacancies existed. So each year is not the year of recruitment. As and when recruitment takes place in a particular year, it would be the year of recruitment.
It is thus clear that the recruitment year is the year in which the recruitment takes place, but not each three successive years in which the vacancy exists. Raeesul Hasan v. State of U.P., (2015) 2 UPLBEC 1441 (FB).
Chances of promotion are not conditions of service, but negation of even the chance of promotion certainly amounts to variation in the conditions of service attracting infraction of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. No employee has a right to particular position in the seniority list but all employees have a right to seniority since the same forms the basis of promotion.
An employee has always an interest to seniority and a right to be considered for promotion. If after integration, only the chances of promotion are affected, it would have been only a case of heartburn of an individual or a few individuals which is only to be ignored, as held by the Hon’ble Apex Court in T.N. Education Department Ministerial and General Subordinate Services Association v. State of Tamil Nadu, (1980) 3 SCC 97.
In S.S. Bola v. B.D. Sardana, (1997) 8 SCC 522, it was held as under:
“A distinction between the right to be considered for promotion and an interest to be considered for promotion has always been maintained. Seniority is a facet of interest. The rules prescribe the method of recruitment/selection. Seniority is governed by the rules existing as on the date of consideration for promotion. Seniority is required to be worked out according to the existing rules. No one has a vested right to promotion or seniority. But an officer has an interest to seniority acquired by working out the rules. The seniority should be taken away only by operation of valid law. Right to be considered for promotion is a rule prescribed by conditions of service. A rule which affects chances of promotion of a person relates to conditions of service. The rule/provision in an Act merely affecting the chances of promotion “would not be” regarded as varying the conditions of service. The chances of promotion are not conditions of service. A rule which merely affects the chances of promotion does not amount to change in the conditions of service. However, once a declaration of law, on the basis of existing rules, is made by a constitutional court and a mandamus is issued or direction given for its enforcement by preparing the seniority list, operation of the declaration of law and the mandamus and directions issued by the court is the result of the declaration of law but not the operation of the rules per se.” Panchraj Tiwari v. Madhya Pradesh State Electricity Board, (2014) 5 SCC 101.
A Division Bench of the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court in Dr. Rajeev Ranjan Mishra and others v. State of U.P. and others, 2008 (1) AWC 810, held as under:
“The distinction between rule of “recruitment” and “condition of service” is no more res integra having already been settled by the Apex court in catena of cases. In State of M.P. v. Shardul Singh, (1970) 1 SCC 108, the Apex Court held that the term “conditions of service” means all those conditions which regulate the holding of a post by a person right from the time of his appointment till retirement and even pension etc. It was reiterated in I.N. Subbareddy v. State of A.P., (1997) 1 SCC 554. In Syed Khalid Rizvi v. Union of India, 1993 Supp (3) SCC 575, the Apex Court held that where a rule permits relaxation of provisions pertaining to “conditions of service”, the same would be applicable to the condition after appointment to the service in accordance with rules. It also held that “conditions of recruitment” and “conditions of service” are distinct and the latter is preceded by an appointment according to rules, the former cannot be relaxed.”
In a Full Bench Judgment of the Gujarat High Court in A.J. Patel and others v. State of Gujarat and others, AIR 1965 Guj 23, with reference to Article 309 of the Constitution of India, it was held as under:
“From this Article it is evident that rules relating to the recruitment of persons to public services and posts are distinct from rules relating to the conditions of service. The conditions of service are conditions applicable to persons who have been appointed to public services and posts. The terms and conditions relating to recruitment and relating to appointment to public services and posts must, therefore, be regarded as distinct and different from the conditions of service governing persons on their appointment to public services and posts.” Raj Kumar Pandey and others v. State of U.P. and Others, (2014) 1 UPLBEC 224.