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The ‘Seniority’ question between Promotees and Direct Recruits settled by upholding the


The bench encompassing Justice R. Banumathi, Justice A.S. Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy collectively pronounced the judgment pertaining to an inter-se seniority dispute in the Manipur Police Service Grade II officer’s cadre. The appellants petitioned by way of Special Leave Petition (C) No.19565-67 of 2019 to challenge the decisions of the High Court and the judgment order of this Hon’ble court came out in favour of  the appellees upholding justice.

The Rule 28 of the MPS Rules, 1965 shows that seniority in the service shall be determined based on the date of appointment to the service. In particular Rule 28(i) of the MPS Rules, 1965 which is applicable to both promotees and direct recruits, provides that seniority shall be determined by the order in which the appointments are made to the service. If seniority under Rule 28(i) is to be determined based on the date of appointment, it cannot be said that for the purpose of Rule 28(iii), the seniority of direct recruits should be determined on the basis of the date of initiation of the recruitment process. The term “Recruitment Year” does not and cannot mean the year in which, the recruitment process is initiated or the year in which vacancy arises. The contrary declaration in N.R. Parmar in our considered opinion, is not a correct view.

A brief background of the case will justify the above statement. The parties in the present case are referred as ‘direct recruits’ and ‘promotees.’ Direct recruits are personnel who were appointed by seniority in accordance with the year of vacancy and promotees are personnel who were appointed by seniority in accordance with the year of appointment and not vacancy.  Their appointment and seniority in the Manipur Police Service is governed by the Manipur Police Service Rules, 1965 (hereinafter referred “the MPS Rules, 1965”).

The direct recruits, who are the appellants in the present case were the respondents in the W.P.(C) No. 366 of 2013 and the promotes, who  are the appellees in the instant case were the Writ Petitioners in the High Court who were appointed on promotion to the MPS Grade II Cadre.  The promotees were granted promotion on the basis of a duly constituted Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) and the direct recruits were directly recruited into the MPS Grade II Cadre, vide the respective orders dated 14.08.2007 and 24.11.2007.  After considering the claims and objections and upon the court’s direction by applying the principle of dovetailing between the concerned parties, the Govt. of Manipur issued an Order on 17.5.2013 and  published the final seniority list (as on 01.04.2013), of the MPS Grade II Officers by placing the direct recruits in a superior position. The promotees challenged this through the Writ Petition (C) No. 366 of 2013 in the High Court of Manipur. The contentions of the promotes and the direct recruits are highlighted below to arrive at the judgment delivered by the High Court of Manipur.

The promotees contended that they entered the MPS Grade II Cadre on 01.03.2007 whereas the private respondent nos.3 to 33 were appointed subsequently (on 14.08.2007 and 24.11.2007 respectively) and, therefore, they should be regarded as senior to the direct recruits.

The direct recruits on the other hand claimed seniority over the promotees by contending that seniority has to be decided in accordance with the year of the vacancy and not by the fortuitous date on which, the appointment could be finalized for the direct recruits.

The learned single judge of the Manipur High Court interpreted the word “year” in all dimensions  to conclude that it meant only financial year and not calendar  year. The ratio in Jadish Chandra patnaik V State Of Orissa was also relied to mark the end of judgment and it is quoted below.

The learned Judge heard the parties, applied his mind to the Office Memorandums produced before him and by the common judgment dated 07.07.2017 quashed the impugned orders as null and void. It is seen that single Judge directed that the batch of promotees appointed on 01st of March 2007 must be given seniority above the direct recruits appointed on 14th August, 2007 and he justified this by stating that a direct recruit can claim seniority only from the date of his regular appointment and cannot claim seniority from a date when he is not borne in the service. There being no overlap between the promotes and direct recruits as far as the year of recruitment is concerned, applying Rule 28(iii) to dovetail the two streams using the principle of rotation of quota, would not arise. It was accordingly determined that the impugned seniority lists are bad in law and all action taken there under are rendered null and void.

Aggrieved by this declaration, the direct recruits filed a Writ Appeal No. 49 of 2017. This Appeal  was transferred from Manipur High Court to Gauhati High Court and was re-numbered as Writ Appeal 66 of 2018. The Division Bench upheld the conclusion of the Single Judge Bench. It however did not ponder into the interpretation of the word “year.”  They again filed a Review petition which was dismissed for non- prosecution on 10.04.2019 and another I.A Petition was also dismissed on 24.05.2019 owing to the reason of it being unmerited.  And now, they have approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court to challenge further.

Mr. P.S. Patwalia, the learned Senior Counsel for the appellants assailed the impugned judgment and contended that the date of actual appointment of the appellants on later dates (14.08.2007 and 24.11.2007), shouldn’t impact the inter-se seniority of the direct recruits vis-à-vis the promotees, who were promoted to the cadre on 01.03.2007. The holing in Union Of India and Others  Vs. N.R. Parmar was cited by the senior counsel to argue that when action was initiated for filling up the 2005 vacancies, the administrative delay in finalization of the recruitment leading to delayed appointment should not deprive the individual of his due seniority. By referring to the rotation of quota principle, the counsel argues that initiation of action for recruitment in the year of the vacancy would be sufficient, to assign seniority from that year. He also opined that the Learned Single Judge had erroneously interpreted “recruitment year” as “financial year”.  He further referred to to Rule 28(iii)of the MPS Rules to highlight that seniority of the direct recruits and promotees are to be determined on the principle of rotation of vacancies under Rule 5 for that year and therefore, the promotees cannot be placed en-bloc above the direct recruits merely because, they were promoted on an earlier date.

Mr. Shri Jaideep Gupta, the learned Senior Counsel for the respondents referred to Rules 28 and 16 of the MPC Rules 1965 and argued that the provisions made it abundantly clear about the inter-se seniority in cadre which was to be determined by the order in which the appointments were made to the service and only on being appointed  he shall be deemed to have been appointed to the service from the date of encadrement. He questioned the applicability of the ratio in N.R. Parmar’s case since it does not lay down the correct law in determination of seniority and the subject matter is also different. He further argued that the 2005 requisition for the direct recruit vacancies, can have no bearing on the inter-se seniority of those who were borne in the cadre on an earlier date vis-à-vis those who entered service later, like the direct recruits.

The court then considered the following:

  1. The ratio in Jagdish Chandra Patnaik vs. State of Orissa, “person cannot be said to have been recruited to the service only on the basis of initiation of process of recruitment but he is borne in the post only when, formal appointment order is issued,” was taken into consideration.

  2. Specific reference is made to the Arunachal Pradesh Rules which are pari materia to the MPS Rules, 1965 as stated in Nani Sha & Ors. Vs. State of Arunachal Pradesh & Ors. Thereby, the court held that retrospective seniority should not be granted from a day when an employee is not even borne in the cadre so as to adversely impact those who were validly appointed in the meantime.

  3. The Judgment in State of Uttar Pradesh and others vs. Ashok Kumar Srivastava is brought into light since it was rendered after the N.R. Parmar (Supra) decision. Here the Court approved the ratio in Pawan Pratap Singh and Ors. Vs. Reevan Singh & Ors. And concurred with the view that seniority should not be reckoned retrospectively unless it is so expressly provided by the relevant service Rules.

The Hon’ble court then delivered the following Judgment,

The Judgment in N. R. Parmar (Supra) relating to the Central Government employees cannot in our opinion, automatically apply to the Manipur State Police Officers, governed by the MPS Rules, 1965. We also feel that N.R. Parmar (Supra) had incorrectly distinguished the long-standing seniority determination principles.The law for determination of seniority makes it abundantly clear that under Service Jurisprudence, seniority cannot be claimed from a date when the incumbent is yet to be borne in the cadre. In our considered opinion, the law on the issue is correctly declared in J.C. Patnaik (Supra) and accordingly, the decision in N.R. Parmar is overruled. However, it is made clear that this decision will not affect the inter-se seniority already based on N.R. Parmar and the same is protected.In view of the foregoing, as it appears the seniority list published on 29.06.2019 could not be an independent exercise but its purpose should be to give effect to the judgments passed by the High Court. Since the judgment of the learned single Judge was affirmed by the Division Bench, the seniority list must be prepared in accordance with the High Court’s direction. In consequence, the appeals arising out of SLP (C)No.19565-67 of 2019 filed by the direct recruits are dismissed. On the same reasoning, the appeals arising out of SLP (C)No. 19568-69 of 2019, filed by the State of Manipur are not entertained and the same shall stand dismissed. The orders of the High Court in the Writ Petition and the Writ Appeal are upheld. The State of Manipur is accordingly directed to prepare a revised inter-se seniority list in the MPS Grade-II. This shall be done within 8 weeks from today. All consequential actions will follow from this judgment. It is ordered accordingly.

View/Download Judgment: K.Meghachandra Singh v. Ningam Siro

Jumanah Kader

– Photo: Sruthi R Manikam



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