The Supreme Court observed that, for the purpose of Rule 9(1)(a)(iii) of Haryana Civil Service (Executive Branch) Rules, 2008, the relevant date for determining if there was any disciplinary action contemplated or pending against a candidate “is the date of consideration,” (date on which the Committee had recommended names to the Commission under Rule 9(2)).

The court noted that the officers of the Haryana Civil Service must be free from both ongoing and contemplated disciplinary proceedings to be eligible funder Rule 9(1)(a)(iii).

The Court allowed a Civil Appeal filed by the State, contesting the decision of the High Court, which had directed the State to review one Dinesh Singh's eligibility for appointment from Register A-1. The Court noted the dual requirement to be eligible for promotion under Rule 9(1)(a)(iii) of the Haryana Civil Service (Executive Branch) Rules, 2008 (Rules).

The Court noted that the charge sheet under Rule 7 of the Rules against Dinesh Singh rendered him ineligible for promotion due to "contemplated" disciplinary action on the cut-off date.

To put it differently, what Rule 9 (1)(a)(iii) mandates is that not only there must be no pending disciplinary proceeding but there must also not be any action contemplated against the candidate as on date of consideration… It is now trite that a disciplinary proceeding is said to be pending when a formal charge-sheet is issued to the employee. The stage at which action can be contemplated has to, quite obviously, come before the time at which a disciplinary proceeding becomes pending (i.e. at the time of issuing a formal chargesheet)”, the Bench comprising Justice MM Sundresh and Justice Aravind Kumar observed.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati with Senior Additional Advocate General Alok Sangwan appeared for the State and Senior Advocate Rameshwar Singh Malik appeared for the Respondent.

Dinesh Singh, First Respondent, sought appointment to a position in the Department of Revenue and Disaster Management and was appointed as a Naib Tehsildar in 2008. At the time of filing the original Writ Petition, he held the position of Tehsildar. The Department, Third Appellant, found him ineligible for selection to Register A-1 under Rule 9 (a)(iii) of the Rules, stating that he was contemplated for disciplinary action.

Dinesh Singh contested this, asserting that no disciplinary proceedings or contemplated actions were underway. The Single Judge dismissed the writ petition, but the High Court, on appeal, set aside the order, directing the State to reconsider Dinesh Singh's case for appointment from Register A-1. Aggrieved, the State approached the Court by way of a Civil Appeal challenging the order of the High Court.

The Court framed the following issues:

Whether there were disciplinary proceedings contemplated or pending against Dinesh Singh, affecting his eligibility for selection to the Department of Revenue and Disaster Management

What does the word ‘contemplate’ entail in the context of Rule 9(1) (a)(iii)?

The Court noted the eligibility criteria for promotion to Register A-I of District Revenue Officers/Tehsildars under the relevant Rules. While acknowledging a two-year delay in filling vacancies despite prior requests, the Court emphasized the validity of Rule 9(1)(a)(iii), which renders candidates with pending disciplinary proceedings ineligible for selection.

Disagreement arose regarding the application of the cut-off date for this rule, with differing interpretations by the Single Judge and Division Bench. The Court favoured the interpretation of the Single Judge, clarifying that the cut-off date of November 1, 2018, applied only to age-related eligibility, not to the absence of disciplinary proceedings. The crucial date for determining disciplinary status, the Court observed, was the date of consideration, August 31, 2019.

Furthermore, the Court observed that the meaning of "contemplate" within the rule, signifies the existence of two interconnected conditions: (1) no ongoing disciplinary proceedings and (2) no action being contemplated against the candidate as of the date of consideration. The conjunction "and" underscores the mandatory nature of both conditions.

The Court noted that Dinesh Singh was deemed ineligible due to a decision to charge-sheet him under Rule 7. Applying the clarified cut-off date and interpretation of "contemplate," the Court observed that disciplinary action was indeed contemplated against him as of August 31, 2019, due to the pending charge sheet stemming from his alleged absence from duty. While subsequent events, including the dropping of the proceedings, were irrelevant to the eligibility determination, the Court upheld his disqualification under Rule 9(1)(a)(iii).

The Bench noted the importance of having no pending disciplinary proceedings for selection to Register A-I.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the Appeal and set aside the order of the Division Bench of the High Court.

Cause Title: State of Haryana and Others v Dinesh Singh and Another (2023 INSC 1070)


Appellants: Advocates Poornima Singh, Sumit Kumar Sharma, Samar Vijay Singh, Rajat Sangwan, Vaibhav Yadav, Anurag Kulharia, Vishnu Tallapragada, Vipul Dahiya, Apoorv Yadav, Keshav Mittal, Sabarni Som, A Shanti Ranjan, Bhavishya Ranjan, Shweta Pandey.

Respondent: Advocates Jitesh Malik, Beena, Gopal Das Verman, Budha Deo Prasad, Barnali Basak, Satish Kumar, D. S. Chauhan, Ruchi Singh, Prashant Kumar, Shikher Badial, Santosh Kumar Baitha.

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