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Courts don’t have power to interfere in the selection procedures for promotions made to the IA

In the Supreme Court case of UNION PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISION V. JAWAHAR SANTHKUMAR AND OTHERS CIVIL APPEAL NO.4628 OF 2009

The bench comprising of  JUSTICE R.Banumathi, JUSTICE A.S.Bopanna and JUSTICE Hrishikesh Roy held that high court holding that the selection committee failing to assess the proper perspective of the promotions made to the IAS for the vacancies of the year 2004 to be set aside and reviewed.

The appeal was filed before the High Court of Madras to set aside the order of the tribunal for reviewing the promotions made to the Indian administrative service for the year 2004 and promote the respondent to the IAS from the date when his juniors were promoted with the benefits.

The respondent in the case for promotion in the year 2004. However, on the basis of overall relative assessment, the respondent could not be included in the selected list in 2004 due to the statutory limit of the list. The respondent’s application was dismissed by the tribunal, holding that the selection committee made its own assessment of all officers under consideration. The first respondent then filed a writ petition, which the high court held that the tribunal by its order directed for fixation of the first respondent’s seniority in the cadre of a district revenue officer. But the seniority was not refixed within a reasonable time by the state government which refixed it only after an unexplained delay of 39 months. The high court also held that as per the regulation 5(5), the classification of an individual by the selection committee is very crucial and in the year 2003, the first respondent was adjudged as “very good” by the committee and in 2004 select list he was downgraded in his overall rating without no specific reasons.

It was argued that the selection for the state civil service was based on merit, ability and suitability of the candidates and seniority is considered only when the other factors are met with. It was further submitted that the mere fact that the first respondent was eligible and there was no case pending against him does not ipso facto imply that his name should have been included in the Select List. Placing reliance upon UPSC V. K. RAJAIAH AND OTHERS (2005) 10 SCC 15, the learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the selection committee can evolve its own classification which may be at variance with the gradation given in the ACRS and the high court could not have faulted the classification of the first respondent for the year 2004 as “good”.

In the present case, we find that neither the decision of the Selection Committee nor the decision-making process suffers from any arbitrariness. Since there was down-grading of the first respondent for the assessment year 2004, the first respondent was not included in the Select List.  On overall assessment of service records, the name of the first respondent was not included in the Select List due to the statutory limit of its size and as officers with higher grading in the Select List were available as per the provisions of Regulation 5(5) of the Regulations.  The High Court was not right in holding that the Selection Committee has miserably failed to assess all the aspects of the case in their proper perspective and that the promotions made to the IAS for the vacancies of the year 2004 is vitiated and the same is to be reviewed.  The impugned judgment of the High Court cannot be sustained and is liable to be set aside.

The court observed that the power to classify the candidates is the function of the selection committee and the selection committee is not required to record the reasons by assigning overall relative assessment in respect of the eligible officer or for selecting a junior officer, having higher merits in preference over that senior officer. In the case R.S.DASS V. UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS 1986 (Supp) SCC 617, the supreme court held that when any senior officer is superseded, the amended regulation 5(5) does not require the committee to record reasons for supersession and amend regulations does not require the committee to record reasons. Thus in the present case, it was held that the High court was not right in holding that the selection committee has miserably failed to assess all the aspects of the case in their proper perspective.

View/Download the judgment: UPSC v. Jawahar santhkumar

Pranav M Varma

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