Rights & Obligations Of Persons Serving Union And States Are To Be Sourced From Rules Governing Their Service: Clarifies Kerala HC
While noticing that the PSC Notification for recruitment to in-service quota was before the promulgation of the Kerala Water Authority Technical Service Rules on Jan 30, 2023, the Kerala High Court held that the petitioners cannot legally aspire for including their posts in PSC Notification without amending the Recruitment Rules.
The High Court held so while considering the petitions which have been filed seeking to direct the State of Kerala to finalize the Draft Technical Service Rules for the Kerala Water Authority (KWA) and to include the category of Operators also in PSC Notifications for recruitment to the posts of Assistant Engineers.
A Single Judge Bench of Justice N. Nagaresh observed that “the rights and obligations of the persons serving the Union and the States are to be sourced from the Rules governing their service. As the petitioners were not eligible for appointment as Assistant Engineers till 30.01.2023, the PSC cannot be directed to consider the candidature of the petitioners in any selection process conducted before 30.01.2023”.
Advocate K. Mohanakannan appeared for the Petitioner, whereas Advocate P.C. Sasidharan appeared for the Respondent.
The brief facts of the case are that the petitioners having B. Tech qualifications are working as Operator in the Kerala Water Authority. In 2012, the Kerala Public Service Commission invited applications for recruitment to the post of Assistant Engineer in the KWA. After the PSC examination and selections were over, the petitioners challenged the notification contending that KWA has omitted to include the category of Operators in the notification along with LDCs and Overseers. As the Draft Technical Service Rules have not been implemented by the KWA so far, the petitioners are incapacitated to apply for appointment to the post of Assistant Engineers in the in-service quota, and hence they contended that their exclusion offended Article 14 of the Constitution.
This was opposed by the Kerala Public Service Commission (PSC) contending that recruitment notification for the post of Assistant Engineers was published as per the Special Rules of Kerala Public Health Engineering Subordinate Service Rules (PHED), which are framed by the respective Departments of the Government in consultation with the Commission. The Kerala Water Authority (KWA) also filed a counter affidavit stating that the Kerala Water Authority Engineering Service Rules, 2021 and the Rules do not provide provision for an Operator to be appointed or promoted to the post of Assistant Engineer. Hence, the petitioners approached the High Court.
After considering the submission, the Bench found that as there were no Special Rules for recruitment to the post of Assistant Engineer, the KWA has been following the PHED Rules for direct recruitment of in-service employees to the cadre of Assistant Engineers.
The Bench noted that under the PHED Rules, only Draftsman Grade-I and II, Water Works Inspectors, Drainage Inspectors, Overseers Grade-I, II and III, Works Superintendents Grade-I and II and Clerks having certain minimum periods of service were made eligible for direct recruitment as Assistant Engineers against the 10% in-service quota, and the petitioners, who are Operators having B. Tech qualifications are not included in the feeder categories.
Referring to the Apex Court ruling in the case of State of Himachal Pradesh and others v. Raj Kumar and others [2022 SCC Online 680], the Bench reiterated that when the subsequent Rules come and there is no provision in the said Rules to enable any employee to be considered as per old Rules, the matter must end there.
Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the petition and refused to direct the KWA or PSC to consider the petitioners for appointment to the in-service quota vacancies of Assistant Engineers against the vacancies notified by the PSC before the promulgation of the Kerala Water Authority Technical Service Rules.
Cause Title: Varghese Vijesh and Ors. v. State of Kerala and Ors.