The Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal as per the Kerala State and Subordinate Services Rules, 1958 against the order that confirmed the seniority given to the respondents from the back date. It said that the appellant undisputedly falls under the category of the Graduate Engineer.

A civil appeal was filed against the order passed by the Division Bench of the High Court by which the judgment of the Single Judge was set aside. The challenge was to the order of the Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Administration, Thiruvananthapuram vide which the respondents were given seniority from back date.

The two-Judge Bench comprising Justice Hima Kohli and Justice Rajesh Bindal held, “The 2010 Rules have been placed on record by the appellant along with IA No. 02 of 2017 in terms whereof separate quotas have been prescribed for Degree Holders and Diploma Holders in the ratio of 8:2. The appellant undisputedly falls in the category of Graduate Engineer, whereas the private respondents fall in the category of Diploma Holders. Both are different streams with different quotas.”

Senior Advocate K.P.kylasanatha Pillay represented the appellant while Senior Advocate Jayanth Muth Raj with Advocates P. A. Noor Muhamed and Nishe Rajen Shonker represented the respondents.

Brief Facts -

The appellant was appointed as Overseer Grade-III in the Irrigation Department, on compassionate basis and as he was an Engineering Graduate, he represented to the Government for appointment as Assistant Engineer (Mechanical). His representation was rejected and an application was filed, praying for setting aside the order of rejection of his representation with a further prayer that he should be appointed as Assistant Engineer with retrospective effect, from the date he was appointed as Overseer Grade-III. The High Court directed the respondents to appoint the appellant as Assistant Engineer instead of Overseer Grade-III from the date he was appointed on that post. The said judgment of the Single Judge was challenged by the State by filing an intra-court appeal which was disposed of, directing the Government to appoint the appellant as Assistant Engineer against the existing vacancy or on the next arising vacancy.

In compliance to the aforesaid judgment of the High Court, the appellant was appointed as Assistant Engineer (Mechanical) in the Irrigation Department and the private-respondents who joined service as Overseer Grade-I were promoted as Assistant Engineer (Mechanical). The cases of the Assistant Engineers coming from three different categories namely Graduate Engineer, Diploma Holders, and Certificate Holders were to be considered for further promotion as Assistant Executive Engineer. Before even re-assigning the date of promotion of the private-respondents from a back date, which had adversely affected the chances of promotion of the appellant, he was not afforded any opportunity of hearing by the Chief Engineer. The appellant filed a writ petition before the High Court challenging the aforesaid order which was allowed by the Single Judge. However, the Division Bench set aside the order of the Single Judge, aggrieved by which the appellant was before the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case observed, “In our view, if the impugned order is examined on the principles laid down by this Court regarding a challenge laid to a seniority list, the same may not be legally sustainable. The judgment of this Court in R.M. Ramual’s case (supra) will not be applicable as it was a case on its own facts where this Court found that there was no unreasonable delay in challenging the seniority. In the said case, though the seniority list was prepared in 1971, however, on acceptance of the representation made by some of the employees later on, it was changed, as a consequence of which cause of action arose in favour of the appellant therein and reckoned from that date onwards, there was no unreasonable delay.”

The Court said that in this case, the seniority list as such was not challenged by the private respondents and that they only made representations for correction of their dates of promotion as Assistant Engineer, which was finally accepted by the State. It further did not find that any case has been made out for interference in the appeal for the reason that the appellant has not been able to demonstrate that for the purpose of promotion from the post of Assistant Engineer to that of Assistant Executive Engineer, he was likely to be affected by ante-dating the date of promotion of the private respondents as separate quotas had been prescribed for promotion to the next higher post for the categories of Graduate Engineers and Diploma Holders.

Accordingly, the Apex Court dismissed the appeal.

Cause Title- C. Anil Chandran v. M.K. Raghavan and Others (Neutral Citation: 2023 INSC 962)

Click here to read/download the Judgment