A two-judge Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice BV Nagarathna has held that merely because rules permit relaxation, no Writ of Mandamus can be issued directing the competent authority to grant relaxation in qualifying service.
Senior Advocate Mr. Sakha Ram Singh appeared for the Appellants, while Senior Advocate Mr. Rana Mukherjee appeared for the Respondents-Writ Petitioners during the proceedings before the Court.
An appeal was preferred assailing the judgment of the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court which had dismissed the appeal of the Appellant and upheld the judgment of the Single Judge which had quashed and set aside the eligibility lists prepared of the Superintendent Engineers (Civil) for the promotion to the post of Civil Engineer – Level II.
The High Court had also issued a Writ of Mandamus commanding the Appellants – competent authority to prepare the eligibility list including the name of Respondents- Writ Petitioners for promotion to the post of Civil Engineer Level II by granting them relaxation in the minimum length of service as per U.P. Government Servants Relaxation in Qualifying Service for Promotion Rules, 2006.
In this case, three eligibility lists were prepared by the competent authority of Superintendent Engineers (Civil) for the promotion to the post of Civil Engineer – Level II. However, the names of the Respondents-Writ Petitioners were not specified in any of the lists. Since they had not completed 25 years of service, which was the requirement as per Rules 1990, their cases for promotion were not considered.
This was followed by a Writ Petition being filed by the Respondents-Writ Petitioners before the High Court. The Respondents contended before the High Court that they were entitled to relaxation in minimum qualifying service as per Relaxation Rules, 2006.
It was contended by the Appellants before the Supreme Court that the grant of relaxation was discretionary and no Writ of Mandamus can be issued directing the competent authority to grant relaxation. It was further argued that the word used in Rule 4 of 2006 Rules, is 'MAY' and only in a case where the required number of eligible persons was not available in the field of eligibility, can that rule be resorted to. Hence no employee can claim relaxation as a matter of right.
While the Respondent contended that solely on the technical ground of not completing 25 years of service, the names of the Respondents were excluded; hence they were entitled to claim relaxation under the Relaxation Rules, 2006.
The Apex Court after hearing the contentions of the parties at length held that the High Court ought not to have set aside the eligibility lists which were prepared absolutely in consonance with the Rules, 1990.
Further, the Bench observed, "The relaxation may be at the discretion of the competent authority. The relaxation cannot be prayed as a matter of right. If a conscious decision is taken not to grant the relaxation, merely because Rule permits relaxation, no writ of mandamus can be issued directing the competent authority to grant relaxation in qualifying service."
Additionally, the Court added that the High Court committed a grave error in issuing the Writ of Mandamus commanding the competent authority to grant relaxation in the qualifying service. Also, the Court held that High Court erred in quashing and setting aside the eligibility lists.
"The impugned judgments and orders passed by the learned Single Judge as well as the Division Bench of the High Court are not sustainable in law," the Bench asserted.
In the light of these observations, the Court set aside the impugned judgment and order passed by the Division Bench of the High Court, dismissed the Writ Petition filed by the Respondents – Original Writ Petitioners, and allowed the appeal.