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Monday, September 30, 2013

Service matter - promotion = Appellants were absorbed in the RD Department as Overseers. Their previous service in Highways Department was also on the post of Overseers. In Rooplal’s case (supra), the Appellants were Sub- Inspectors of Boarder Security Force who were initially taken on deputation in Delhi Police as Sub- Inspectors (Executive) and were later on absorbed in Delhi Police in the same capacity. While fixing their seniority in Delhi Police, service already rendered by them as Sub-Inspectors in BSF was not taken into consideration. - The Appellants herein claimed the benefit of the previous service on the lower post of Overseer for determining the seniority on the higher post of Assistant Engineer. The aforesaid submission cannot be accepted for the simple reason that the Appellants had voluntarily accepted and given the option to be absorbed in the RD Department on the post of Overseer. No claim was made at that stage to be either absorbed or promoted as Assistant Engineer or to be given the benefit of the service already rendered by them in the Highways Department. Having considered the entire matter, we see no reason to differ with the view taken by the High Court. 32. The appeals are accordingly dismissed.

            published in

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.8758 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 20986 of 2007)

           Tamil Nadu Rural Development
           Engineers                                       Association


           The Secretary to Government Rural
           Development          Department          &           Ors.


                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.8759 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 15918 of 2007)

           Tamil Nadu Rural Development
           Engineers                                       Association


           The Secretary to Government Rural
           Development          Department          &           Ors.


                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.8762 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 15988 of 2007)

           Tamil Nadu Rural Development
           Engineers                                       Association


           The Secretary to Government Rural
           Development          Department          &           Ors.

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.8763 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 16064 of 2007)

           Tamil Nadu Rural Development
           Engineers                                       Association


           The Secretary to Government Rural
           Development          Department          &           Ors.


                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.8764 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 18310 of 2007)

           Tamil Nadu Rural Development
           Engineers                                       Association


           The Secretary to Government Rural
           Development          Department          &           Ors.


                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.8765 OF 2013
                 (Arising out of SLP (C.) No. 20987 of 2007)

           Tamil Nadu Rural Development
           Engineers                                       Association


           The Secretary to Government Rural
           Development          Department          &           Ors.

                               J U D G M E N T

           1. Leave granted in all the Special Leave Petitions.

           2. These appeals are directed against the  common  judgment
              and final order dated 29th January, 2007 passed  by  the
              High Court of Judicature  at  Madras  in  Writ  Petition
                         Nos. 26990 and 26973 of 2005; 36096 of  2004,
              Writ Appeal No.500 of 2005, Writ Petition Nos. 31416  of
              2004 and 9460 of 2005. By this  order,  the  High  Court
              dismissed the Writ Petitions and the Writ  Appeal  filed
              by the Appellant-Association.

           3. Since the facts involved in the controversy in  all  the
              appeals are common, we shall make  a  reference  to  the
              facts as narrated by  the  High  Court.  This  shall  be
              supplemented by any additions made  by  the  parties  in
              this Court.

           4. The facts noticed by the High Court are that the members
              of  the  Tamil   Nadu   Rural   Development   Engineers'
              Association (hereinafter referred  to  as  'Appellants')
              were initially appointed  as  'Overseers'  by  the  then
              Highways  and  Rural   Works   Department   and   posted
              exclusively to various Panchayat  Unions  for  executing
              all the Civil works  /  Rural  works  in  the  Panchayat
              Unions of Tamil Nadu. Since they were earlier under  the
              administrative control of  the  erstwhile  Highways  and
              Rural Works Department, they had no  proper  avenues  of
              promotion especially for the post of Assistant  Engineer
              (for short ‘AE’) and many of them  were  languishing  in
              the same  post,  i.e.,  as  Overseers,  for  nearly  two

           5. By  virtue  of  G.O.  Ms.  No.  263,  Rural  Development
              Department  (in  short  ‘RD  Department’),  dated   27th
              December, 1996, the Government of Tamil Nadu decided  to
              set  up  a  separate  ‘Engineering  Wing’  for  the   RD
              Department itself so as  to  exercise  adequate  control
              over various Central and  State  sponsored  Schemes  and
              accordingly  several  new  posts   such   as   Assistant
              Engineers (AE).  Assistant  Executive  Engineers  (AEE),
              Executive Engineers (EE)  and  Superintending  Engineers
              (SE), were created.

           6. By virtue of G.O. Ms.  No.  102,  RD  Department,  dated
              25th May, 1998, the Government directed  that  the  then
              Highways  and  Rural  Works  Department   should   cease
              forthwith from exercising control  over  the  promotions
              and appointments in the RD  Department.  The  Government
              Order also recognised the rights of the Overseers, whose
              entire  service  is  only  in  the  RD  Department,  for
              promotion to the  posts  of  AEs  and  Junior  Engineers
              (JEs). Finally, the Government framed Service Rules  for
              various  technical  posts  in  the  RD  Department   and
              notified the  same  in  G.O.  Ms.  No.  15,  dated  25th
              January, 2000, by invoking the powers under  proviso  to
              Article 309 of  the  Constitution  of  India.  On   14th
              December, 2001 G.O. M.S.       No. 295  (RD)  Department
              was issued to amend the service rules with  effect  from
              25th May, 1998

           7. As soon as the Engineering Wing was created  in  the  RD
              Department,  the  posts  were  filled  up   by   drawing
              personnel from other technical Departments of Government
              of Tamil  Nadu  on  'deputation  basis'  as  an  interim
              arrangement. However, the Tamil Nadu  Highway  Engineers
              Association  opposed  the   creation   of   a   separate
              Engineering   Wing   under    the                     RD
              Department and filed Original Application  in  O.A.  No.
              253  of  1997  before  the  Tamil  Nadu   Administrative
              Tribunal (in short  'Tribunal').  This  Application  was
              dismissed by the Tribunal by order dated 12th  November,
              1997. Aggrieved  by  the  order  of  the  Tribunal,  the
              Association filed W.P.  No.  6513  of  1998  before  the
              Madras High Court. By order dated 2nd April,  2002,  the
              Madras High Court upheld the order of the Tribunal.

           8.  The  constitutional  Validity  of  G.O.  Ms.  No.   15,
                         dated 25th January, 2000, and  G.O.  Ms.  No.
              102,                   dated   25th   May,   1998,   was
              challenged before the Tribunal by a group of individuals
              and  by  the  Association  of  Tamil  Nadu   Engineering
              Graduates in O.A. Nos. 5338 and 7766 of 2000.  Both  the
              Government Orders were upheld by the Tribunal  by  order
              dated 3rd June, 2002.

           9. A group of AE - Direct Recruits, on completion  of  five
              years of  service  in  the  RD  Department,  filed  O.A.
              Nos.1068 to 1081 of 2004 before  the  Tribunal,  praying
              that they be considered for promotion to the post of AEE
              in the RD Department under Rule 39 of General  Rules  of
              the Government of Tamil Nadu.  The  Tribunal,  by  Order
              dated 16th March, 2004, directed the Government and  the
              Director, RD Department, to consider and grant promotion
              to the applicants under Rule 39 of the General Rules. It
              was also held that regular promotion and  selection  can
              be  done  after  preparing  a  Panel.  This  order   was
              challenged by the Appellants in Writ Petition Nos. 34029
              and 34040 of 2004 and 1174 of 2005.

          10.  Appellant-Association  made  representations   to   the
              respondent to fix  a  ratio  of  1:1  among  AE-  direct
              recruits and AE- Promotees, for promotion to the post of
              AEE. The above ratio was requested to be fixed based  on
              the cadres strength in  category  of  AEs,  between  AE-
              direct    recruits    and                            AE-
              promotees, which is 1:1. The same ratio was sought to be
              maintained for the promotional post of AEE as well.

          11. It  is  stated  that  without  reference  to  the  ratio
              envisaged in G.O. Ms. No. 15, respondent No.2 sought  to
              make a common Seniority List  for  direct  recruits  and
              promotees.  The  Appellant-Association  challenged   the
              common  Seniority  List  in  W.P.No.26276  of  2004.  An
              interim stay  was  granted  in  the  said  W.P.  on  2nd
              September, 2004. Later, the Writ Petition was  withdrawn
              by the Appellant-Association  with  liberty  to  file  a
              fresh Writ Petition.

          12. Shortly thereafter respondent No.1  effected  promotions
              of a group of direct recruits who had completed 5  years
              of service as AEE by issuing  G.O.(2D)  NO.116  on  29th
              October, 2004. This was followed by  G.O.  (D)  No.  966
              (RD) (E1)                   dated  16th  November,  2004
              issuing posting orders of  these  promotees.  Appellant-
              Association then filed W.P. No. 36096           of  2004
              challenging the promotions and  posting  of  the  direct
              recruits as AEE.

          13. Appellant-Association also filed W.P. No. 31416 of  2004
              seeking a writ of Mandamus directing the respondents  to
              effect promotions to the  post  of  Assistant  Executive
              Engineers, RD Department, from  the  post  of  Assistant
              Engineer on 1:1 ratio between ‘Assistant Engineer-Direct
              Recruits’ and ‘Assistant Engineers -Promoted by transfer
              of service’ in the RD Department.

          14. In the meantime, the High Court passed  an  order  dated
              2nd December,  2004  in  Writ  Petition  35315  of  2004
              directing the Government to implement the order  of  the
              Tribunal in O.A.            No.  1799  of  2004  and  to
              consider the case of the Promotees who had been absorbed
              from the Highways Department, if  there  were  no  other
              impediments. Appellant-Association filed Writ Appeal No.
              500 of 2005 against the order of the Single Judge.

          15. The Government vide letter  dated  29th  December,  2004
              rejected the request of the Appellant-Association to fix
              a ratio of 1:1, on the ground  that  the  promotions  of
              both the categories have to be made on the basis of  the
              date of joining as Assistant Engineer,  irrespective  of
              the source. This led the Appellant-Association  to  file
              W.P. No. 9460  of  2005  praying  for  quashing  of  the
              rejection    letter    issued    by    the    Government
                      on 29th December, 2004.

          16. Appellant-Association also filed W.P. No. 26973 of  2005
              seeking issuance of a writ  of  Mandamus  directing  the
              respondents  to  give  retrospective   effect   to   the
              promotions given to  Overseers  as  Assistant  Engineers
              from 25th May, 1998,  i.e.,  the  date  from  which  the
              Service Rules for ‘AE-Promotees’  as  notified  in  G.O.
              M.S. No.295 Rural Development (E1) Department dated 14th
              December, 2001, came into effect.

          17. Aggrieved  by  the  non-fixation  of  ratio  for  ‘AE  -
              Promotees’  inspite  of  various  representations,   the
              members  of  the  Appellant-Association,  filed  a  Writ
              Petition No. 26990 of  2005  seeking  issuance  of  writ
              declaring Rule 3(2) of Notification-III of G.O. Ms.  No.
              15, RD Department, dated 25th January,  2000,  as  ultra
              vires in  the  absence  of  fixation  of  quota  between
                         AE- Direct Recruits and Promotees to the post
              of AEE.

          18. By the impugned judgment, the Division Bench of the High
              Court has held that Service of the Appellants in the  RD
              Department before absorption and immediately  after  the
              absorption  was  in  a  lower  post,   i.e.,   Overseer.
              Therefore, they could not be  equated  with  the  direct
              recruits who  joined  the  RD  Department  as  Assistant
              Engineers. The post of Overseer was a  feeder  post  for
              promotion on the post  of  Assistant  Engineer.  It  was
              further noticed  that  admittedly,  the  Appellants  had
              voluntarily  given  the  option  to   be   absorbed   as
              Overseers. Hence, they cannot claim to be  equated  with
              the Assistant Engineers. Further, the Appellants,  after
              absorption, were given benevolent treatment  by  way  of
              being considered for promotion and, in fact, promoted as
              AEs. The High Court opined that it cannot lightly ignore
              the specific stand of the Government  that  the  minimum
              qualifying service of 5 years in  the  post  of  AE  for
              promotion to the post of AEE has been prescribed for the
              reason that the incumbents  should  acquire  the  needed
              practical   experience   before   taking   up    'higher
              responsibilities'  so  as  to   achieve   administrative
              efficiency in the Engineering services.  The  Appellants
              cannot claim that the services rendered by them  in  the
              Highways Department as Overseers for 20 years  be  taken
              into account for promotion in the  RD  Department.  They
              cannot make use of the currency that is extinct and  not
              in vogue. Already, they were rewarded well  inasmuch  as
              their past services had been  taken  into  account  much
              prior to their  absorption,  i.e.,  from  1997  onwards;
              whereas,  the  services  of  the  direct  recruits  were
              counted from the date on which they  entered  Government
              Service; therefore, benefit in fact  has  been  extended
              only to the Appellants and not to the  direct  recruits.
              In equity also, the claim of the Appellants was  without
              any merit as after being absorbed in the RD  Department,
              they have been given promotion and made to stand on  par
              with  the  direct  recruits.  Therefore,  there  is   no
              justification   at   all   in   asking    for    further
              classification in the integrated cadre and relaxation of
              five years experience for the purpose of  promotion.  It
              was  made  clear  that  once  the  direct  recruits  and
              promotees are absorbed in one cadre, they form one class
              and they cannot be further classified for the purpose of
              promotion. It is not the case of the Appellants that the
              requisite experience as provided in the Rules is applied
              only in respect of their case and  the  direct  recruits
              are let free to climb the ladder to reach the zenith. In
              fact, though the Appellants’  voice  that  retrospective
              promotions should have been given to  them,  admittedly,
              they are not qualified for promotion till date, in that,
              their absorption in the RD Department with their consent
              as overseers was on            8th  March,  1999;  their
              promotion as AEs was on 2nd September,  2002;  and  they
              would be completing the 5 years of service as AEs.  only
              on 2nd September, 2007. As on date, they are all juniors
              to the direct recruits, hence, they cannot unfairly  ask
              for a relief contrary to  the  procedure  and  statutory
              provisions so as to destroy the right accrued  to  their
              seniors/direct recruits. It  is  reiterated  that  rules
              having been made in exercise of the power under  proviso
              to Article 309 of  the  Constitution,  being  statutory,
              cannot be impeached for whimsical and flimsy reasons. In
              service law, it is settled principle  that  fixation  of
              quota between various feeder categories  is  prerogative
              of the employer/authority. No valid ground was raised or
              invincible  argument  made  before  the  High  Court  to
              sustain the claim that the orders of the Tribunal suffer
              from infirmities  warranting  interference.  With  these
              reasons, the High Court has held that the impugned  part
              of the Government Order  does  not  in  any  way  offend
              Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution and  no  Mandamus
              can be issued  as  prayed  for.  Resultantly,  the  Writ
              Petitions and the Writ Appeal were dismissed.

          19. We have heard the learned counsel  for  the  parties  at

          20. The submissions made by the Appellants are as follows :

                 It  is  submitted  that  the  State  Government   has
           proceeded arbitrarily in filling up the post  of  Assistant
           Engineer created in  1996  by  initiating  the  process  of
           direct recruitment in 1997 when the Appellants  (Overseers)
           being more qualified  and  experienced  as  well  as  being
           available for recruitment by transfer in terms of G.O.  Ms.
           No.15 dated 25th January, 2000.  It  is  further  submitted
           that the recruitment rules in  respect  of  direct  recruit
           Assistant Engineers were notified  with  effect  from  26th
           September, 1997 retrospectively, facilitating the  en-masse
           promotion  of  direct  recruits  to   Assistant   Executive
           Engineer.  The  Appellants   further   claimed   that   the
           provisions of G.O. Ms. No. 15 dated 25th January, 2000 have
           been wrongly interpreted to impose the condition that  even
           the Overseers who possessed the degree in Civil Engineering
           need to                  have 5  years  service  for  being
           promoted as Assistant Engineers. Imposing such a  condition
           has deprived the members of the  Appellant-Association  and
           their previous service  as  Overseers  over  the  last  two
           decades. The Appellants also claimed that G.O.  Ms.  No.295
           dated 14th December, 2001 would not be applicable to  them,
           it would result in depriving them of their best  at  rights
           retrospectively.  The  Appellants  claimed  that  they  are
           entitled to be  transferred  as  Assistant  Engineers  with
           effect from 25th May, 1998 the date on  which  the  service
           rules for the Assistant  Engineers  were  notified.  It  is
           further submitted that the ratio of 1:1 which  is  provided
           between  the  direct  recruits  and  the   Appellants   for
           recruitment on the post of Assistant Engineer has  also  to
           be maintained for the next promotional  post  of  Assistant
           Executive Engineers.

          21. The respondents on the other  hand  submitted  that  the
              Appellants have no legal cause to challenge  the  direct
              recruitment which was initiated in 1997. They  were  not
              even eligible for absorption in the RD  Department  till
              the issuance of G.O. Ms.No.102  dated  25th  May,  1998.
              According to the respondents, various posts were  filled
              under G.O. Ms. No. 263  dated  27th  December,  1996  on
              deputation and transfer from other Departments. But this
              was a temporary arrangement which was made for a  period
              of 3 years.  There  was  no  scheme  providing  for  the
              absorption and recruitment of the Engineering  Personnel
              drawn     from     other     Departments     in      the
               RD Department till the issuance of  G.O.  Ms.  No.  102
                           dated  25th  May,  1998.   There   was   no
              impediment to  the  post  being  filled  by  the  direct
              recruitment of the post created under G.O. Ms.  No.  263
              dated 27th December, 1996. It is further submitted  that
              the Appellants are  wrongly  claiming  that  the  direct
              recruits  have  been  given  any  undue   benefit   with
              retrospective effect  from  26th  September,  1997.  The
              aforesaid date  was  given  only  for  regularising  the
              recruitment of the Assistant Engineer  direct  recruits.
              For all other purposes, the  services  rendered  by  the
              Assistant Engineer direct recruit have been  taken  into
              account from 1998. The respondents claimed that in  fact
              the Appellants have been given benefit  of  the  service
              from the date much  prior  to  their  absorption,  their
              services have been taken into account from 1997  onwards
              whereas they were not absorbed in the RD  Department  in
              1998. Learned counsel for the respondents then submitted
              that the Appellants did not raise before the High  Court
              the issue that G.O. Ms. No.15 dated 25th  January,  2000
              should not be interpreted to impose the condition  of  5
              years service as Overseers for the holders of degree  in
              Civil  Engineering  for  being  promoted  as   Assistant
              Engineers. The only submission before the High Court was
              that the appointment on the post of Assistant  Executive
              Engineer should also be made in the ratio of 1:1 and not
              in the ratio of 6:2:1 as mentioned  in  notification  of
              G.O. Ms. No.15 dated 25th  January,  2000.  It  is  also
              pointed out by the respondents that even otherwise  G.O.
              Ms. No. 15 was amended by G.O.  Ms.  No.295  dated  14th
              December,  2001  which  amended  the  qualification  for
              recruitment by transfers and provided that the candidate
              “must possess a BE degree in Civil Engineering” or “must
              have passed AIME” and (ii) “must have  rendered  service
              as Overseer for not less than 5 years.” G.O. Ms. No. 295
              was never challenged by the Appellants.

             22. Learned counsel for the respondents further submitted
                 that the Appellants cannot claim any benefit  on  the
                 basis of the previous service  as  Overseers  for  20
                 years. They were well aware that  their  services  in
                 the Highways Department would not be counted for  the
                 purpose of seniority in the RD Department as early as
                 on 8th March, 1999 when they had given their  consent
                 to be absorbed as Overseers  in  the  RD  Department.
                 Having given the option, they  cannot  now  make  the
                 grievance that they have lost the benefit of 20 years
                 service.  With  regard  to  the  submission  of   the
                 Appellants that G.O. Ms. No. 295 dated 14th December,
                 2001  cannot  affect  the  vested   rights   of   the
                 Appellants. It is submitted by the  respondents  that
                 this submission of the petitioner is contrary to  the
                 prayer made by them in W.P. No. 26973 of 2005 wherein
                 the  Appellants   had   relied   on   the   aforesaid
                 notification. In the  aforesaid  writ  petition,  the
                 Appellants  had  specifically  prayed  to  be   given
                 retrospective promotion on the basis of G.O. Ms.  No.
                 295. The respondents claimed that the  submission  of
                 the  Appellants  that  they  are   entitled   to   be
                 transferred as Assistant Engineers with  effect  from
                 25th May, 1998 cannot be accepted  as  on  that  date
                 they were working on the lower post of  Overseer  and
                 further they were members of the Highways Department.
                 It was only on the basis of their  option  that  they
                 were absorbed as Overseers in the  RD  Department  in
                 1998.  On the other hand, Assistant Engineers  direct
                 recruit had entered into service in 1998 itself.  The
                 respondents further submitted that the claim  of  the
                 Appellants with regard to maintaining the  ratio  1:1
                 for the promotional post of Executive Engineer cannot
                 be considered as it was given up  by  the  Appellants
                 before the High Court.

             23. We  have  considered  the  submissions  made  by  the
                 learned counsel for the parties.

             24. In essence, the grievance of  the  appellant  is  two
                      i) They  can  not  be  deprived  of  their  past
                     ii) Their ought to be  a  ratio  of  1:1  between
                         Direct Recruits / Promotees for promotion  on
                         the post of A.E.E.
             25. In our opinion, the Appellants can not now claim that
                 the past service in the Highways Department should be
                 recognised in the RD Department. It has been  noticed
                 earlier that the members of the Appellant-Association
                 were initially appointed as  Overseers  by  the  then
                 Highways  and  Rural  Works  Department  and   posted
                 exclusively to various Panchayat Unions for executing
                 all the Civil  works/Rural  works  in  the  Panchayat
                 Unions of Tamil Nadu. Since they were  earlier  under
                 the administrative control of the erstwhile  Highways
                 and  Rural  Works  Department,  they  had  no  proper
                 avenues of promotions especially for the post of A.E.
                 Many of them were languishing in the same post  i.e.,
                 as  Overseers,  for  nearly  two  decades.  On   27th
                 December, 1996, the  Government  set  up  a  separate
                 Engineering Wing (GOMs.No.263;  RD  Department  dated
                       27th December,  1996)  for  the  RD  Department
                 itself.  This  was  necessary  to  exercise  adequate
                 control over the various Central and State  sponsored
                 scheme. 384 posts of Assistant Engineers were created
                 for a period of three years. These posts were  filled
                 up on a purely temporary basis on deputation/transfer
                 of service basis  by  drawing  engineering  personnel
                 from other Departments like Highways and Rural Works,
                 Public Works  Department,  Agricultural  Engineering,
                 Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board etc.   The
                 Appellants  although  belonging   to   the   Highways
                 Department were already discharging the functions  of
                 Overseers in the Rural Development Department  for  a
                 number of  years.                On  26th  September,
                 1997, Tamil Nadu Public  Service  Commission  invited
                 application for the posts of Assistant  Engineers  in
                 the   RD   Department.   The    respondents-Assistant
                 Engineers were directly recruited from 24th November,
                 1998 to November, 1999. Drawing of technical staff on
                 deputation  basis  from  different  Departments   was
                 causing administrative difficulties  in  implementing
                 various pivotal schemes of the State as well  as  the
                 Centre.  It  was  noticed   that   the   implementing
                 authority did not have adequate  powers  to  exercise
                 control  over  the   engineering   staff   of   other
                 departments. Therefore, it had become imperative need
                 from a purely administrative point of  view  that  RD
                 Department should have an  Engineering  Wing  of  its
                 own. It was further noticed that as a first  step  GO
                 Ms. No.263 RD Department dated  27th  December,  1996
                 had  been  issued.   Government   had   created   384
                 additional  posts  of  Union   Engineers   i.e.   one
                 Assistant Engineer for each  block,                15
                 additional posts of  Assistant  Executive  Engineers,
                 and         28  posts  of  Executive  Engineers.  The
                 Engineers required for these posts  were  drawn  from
                 Highways and Rural  Works  Department,  Public  Works
                 Department,  Agricultural  Engineering,  Tamil   Nadu
                 Water Supply and Drainage Board and  other  technical
                 Departments.  On 25th May,  1998,  the  State  issued
                 orders  for  absorption  and   recruitment   of   the
                 Engineering  Staff   through   GO   Ms.   No.102   RD
                 Department, which provided as follows :
                 “III. Although the posts of overseers are found only in the
                 panchayat unions, the incumbents cannot be promoted against
                 a part of the posts of Block Engineers/Assistant  Engineers
                 (RD)  because  they  are  presently   staff   of   Highways
                 Departments. They need to be permanently absorbed  into  RD
                 Department  by  getting   individual   options   and   only
                 thereafter can the question of their  promotions  be  taken
                 up. …the Chief Engineer (H&RW) may be requested  to  obtain
                 options from all those personnel  and  place  them  at  the
                 disposal of Rural Development Department.
                 IV. 209 posts in the category of Block  Engineers/Assistant
                 Engineer  (RD)  will  be  earmarked  to  be  filled  up  by
                 promotion from  the  feeder  categories  of  Overseers  and
                 Junior Draughtsman. But this route would be  open  to  them
                 only after they exercise their option and  are  permanently
                 absorbed in RD Department……”

             26. It also deserves to be noted here that on  25th  May,
                 1998, the Appellants  were  occupying  the  posts  of
                 Overseer in the Highways Department, but on temporary
                 service in the RD Department under the GO Ms.  No.263
                 dated 27th December, 1996. The Appellants were  given
                 an opportunity to be permanently absorbed in  the  RD
                 Department, by seeking their  option  as  to  whether
                 they were willing to be absorbed. On the basis of the
                 above  exercise  of  option,  the   Appellants   were
                 absorbed in the RD Department  on  8th  March,  1999.
                 Thereafter, the Government issued ad  hoc  rules  for
                 the  Engineering  Wing  for  the  RD  Department   by
                 notification GO Ms. No.15                  dated 25th
                 January, 2000. The four notifications (I  to  IV)  in
                 the GO Ms.No.15 providing the qualification and  mode
                 of  recruitment  on  the   post   of   Superintending
                 Engineer,  Executive  Engineer,  Assistant  Executive
                 Engineer and  Assistant  Engineer  respectively.  The
                 first three categories  of  Superintending  Engineer,
                 Executive Engineer and Assistant  Executive  Engineer
                 did not admit of any direct  recruitment.  Therefore,
                 these notifications were given effect from 25th  May,
                 1998,  the  date  on   which   the   absorption   and
                 recruitment of  engineering  personnel  belonging  to
                 other Departments were notified. It  was  only  under
                 Notification IV in  respect  of  Assistant  Engineers
                 that  provided  for  direct  recruitment.  Since  the
                 process  of  direct  recruitment  to  the   post   of
                 Assistant Engineer in RD Department was initiated  by
                 TNPSC vide notification dated 26th  September,  1997,
                 the  rules  under  notification  IV  in  respect   of
                 Assistant Engineer were declared to be deemed to have
                 come into force on 26th  September,  1997.  This  was
                 necessary to regularise the action taken  to  recruit
                 Assistant  Engineer  for  RD   Department,   directly
                 through TNPSC on the basis of the executive order. It
                 is,  however   necessary   to   clarify   that   such
                 retrospective operation of the rules did  not  confer
                 any benefit whatsoever on the direct recruits in  the
                 matter of seniority. The seniority of the respondents
                 has been reckoned  with  reference  to  the  date  of
                 appointment on the post. This is  a  well  recognised
                 general  principle  of  computing  seniority  and  no
                 exception can be taken to it. In fact, the service of
                 the Appellants has been counted form 1997  i.e.  from
                 the time when they started serving  as  Overseers  in
                 the RD Department on  deputation  from  the  Highways
                 Department     under     GO     Ms.      No.      263
                  dated 27th December,1996.

             27.  The  Appellants  having  voluntarily  opted  to   be
                 absorbed in the RD Department, without any protection
                 of their previous service, can not now  be  permitted
                 to make a grievance that they have not  been  treated
                 at par with the Direct  Recruits.   We  have  noticed
                 above that the Direct Recruits joined on the post  of
                 AE.  Appellants, even though some of  them  possessed
                 the degree qualification, were absorbed on  the  post
                 of Overseer.   They  were  working  on  the  post  of
                 Overseer  in  the  Highways  Department,  the  parent
                 Department, even though they were degree holders.  As
                 noticed earlier, they were stagnating in the Highways
                 Department   without   any   prospect    of    career
                 advancement. They, therefore, willing gave the option
                 to be absorbed in the  RD  Department  as  Overseers,
                 even though they possessed the degree  qualification.
                 Having  given  the  option  to  be  absorbed  in   RD
                 Department on the post of Overseer, their  claim  for
                 absorption as AE is  without  any  legal  or  factual

             28. It would also be relevant to  notice  here  that  the
                 Appellants were promoted as  Assistant  Engineers  on
                 2nd September, 2002, having been given the benefit of
                 service as Overseers in the RD  Department  from  the
                 year 1997. The  Appellants  did  not  question  their
                 appointment as Assistant Engineers  since  they  were
                 well  aware  that  they  had  been  so  appointed  on
                 completion of five years service as Overseers in  the
                 RD Department by virtue of GO Ms.  No.15  dated  25th
                 January, 2000 as amended by GO Ms. No.295 dated  14th
                 December, 2001. On the other hand,  the  respondents-
                 Assistant Engineers  (Direct  Recruits)  had  started
                 discharging their functions as Assistant Engineers in
                 RD Department from 24th November, 1998  to  November,
                 1999.  Therefore,  they  had  completed  five   years
                 service as Assistant Engineers for the period between
                 November, 2003 to November, 2004 under  the  relevant
                 rules (Notification III in GO Ms.  No.15  dated  25th
                 January,  2000)  eligible  under  the  rules  to   be
                 promoted   as    Assistant    Executive    Engineers.
                 Consequently, they were duly  promoted  as  Assistant
                 Executive Engineer. In our opinion, the action  taken
                 by the State cannot be said to be either arbitrary or
                 violative of Article 14 or 16 of the Constitution  of

             29. The claim of the Appellants that the promotion on the
                 post of Assistant Executive Engineer ought to be made
                 in the ratio of 1:1 is  also  wholly  devoid  of  any
                 merit. The Appellants claimed such ratio on the basis
                 that the direct recruits-respondents are much younger
                 in age. The Appellants  had  already  spent  over  20
                 years  in  the  Highways  Department   before   their
                 absorption in the RD Department. Therefore,  in  case
                 the promotions are to be based purely on the basis of
                 seniority, the Appellants would never get a change to
                 be promoted on the higher ranks. They would  have  to
                 retire  as   Assistant   Engineer   only   as   their
                 promotional avenues to the post of AEE and above will
                 be completely choked by AE-Direct  Recruits  who  are
                  atleast 8 years  younger  than  the
                 Assistant Engineer Promotees. It is also the case  of
                 the Appellants that the ratio of 1:1 which  is  fixed
                 for appointment on the  post  of  Assistant  Engineer
                 ought to be maintained for the next promotional  post
                 of  Assistant  Executive  Engineer.  It   cannot   be
                 disputed that for promotion to the post of  Assistant
                 Executive Engineer (RD) Notification No. III  GO  Ms.
                 No.15,  more  than  one  mode  of  recruitment   i.e.
                 promotion   from   Assistant   Engineer   (RD)    and
                 recruitment by transfer from the feeder  category  of
                 Junior Engineer and Senior  Draughting  Officer  have
                 been recognised and stipulated. Further more,  it  is
                 also a matter of record that on the post of Assistant
                 Engineer  (RD)  there  is  more  than  one  mode   of
                 recruitment i.e. direct recruitment  and  recruitment
                 by transfer from the  feeder  category  of  Overseers
                 only. Therefore, the rules have provided a  ratio  on
                 appointment  to  the  post  of  Assistant   Executive
                 Engineer (RD) as 6:2:1 (promotion from AE  (RD);  JE;
                 SDO). The  Appellants,  however,  claimed  that  this
                 ratio ought to be 1:1, on the ground  that  otherwise
                 they  would  stagnate  on  the  position  of   Junior
                 Engineer. We are unable  to  accept  the  submissions
                 made by the learned counsel for the Appellants. Prior
                 to  the  absorption  of  the  Appellants  in  the  RD
                 Department admittedly they had  no  chance  of  being
                 promoted on the post of Assistant Executive Engineer,
                 Executive Engineer or Superintending Engineer. It  is
                 only upon their absorption  that  they  now  enjoy  a
                 chance of being promoted on the higher posts. We  are
                 unable to agree with the submissions of  the  learned
                 counsel for the Appellants that the  aforesaid  ratio
                 is, in any manner, violative of Article 14 or  16  of
                 the Constitution of India.

             30. Even otherwise, the fixation of  the  quota/ratio  is
                 the prerogative of the executive. It is not  disputed
                 that the ratio of 6:2:1 has been fixed in the service
                 rules in exercise of the powers of the governor under
                 proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution of  India.
                 In the absence  of  the  Appellants  placing  on  the
                 record material to establish that fixation of such  a
                 ratio  is  patently  arbitrary,  the  action  of  the
                 Government   cannot   be   nullified.   Fixation   of
                 rota/quota on the  basis  of  qualification  is  well
                 accepted in service jurisprudence. We, therefore, see
                 no merit in the submissions of  the  Appellants  that
                 the ratio of 6:2:1 ought  to  be  replaced  with  the
                 ratio by 1:1.

             31.  The  Appellants,  thereafter,  submitted  that   the
                 Overseers possessing the degree  qualification  ought
                 to be exempted from rendering five years  service  in
                 the RD Department for being  considered  for  further
                 promotion  on  the  basis  of   Assistant   Executive
We are unable to accept this submission, as
                 the Appellants had willingly given the option  to  be
                 absorbed as Overseers.
In case the submission made by
                 the Appellants is accepted, it would  mean  that  the
                 Appellants were actually  absorbed  on  the  post  of
                 Assistant   Engineer   which   would   be   factually
Under the rules, an Assistant Engineer can
                 only  be  considered  for  promotion   as   Assistant
                 Executive  Engineer  on  completion  of  five   years
                 service in the RD Department. 
Therefore, it would not
                 be  possible  to  accept  the   submission   of   the
                 Appellants  that  the  services   rendered   by   the
                 Appellants in the Highways  Department  ought  to  be
                 substituted for the service to be rendered in the  RD
In fact, the Appellants have already been
                 given benefit of two years service  in  the  Highways
                 Department on the basis that they had  actually  been
                 functioning in the RD Department since 1997. 
But such
                 concession would not create a legal right  in  favour
                 of the Appellants to claim that the services rendered
                 in the Highways Department ought  to  be  treated  as
                 service rendered in the RD Department. We, therefore,
                 see no merit  in  the  submissions  that  the  degree
                 holder Overseers ought to  be  exempted  from  having
                 rendered five years service  in  the  RD  Department,
                 before they can be  eligible  to  be  considered  for
                 promotion  as  Assistant  Executive   Engineer.  
                 Appellants  had  relied  on  the  judgment  of   Sub-
                 Inspector  Rooplal  and  Another  Vs.  Lt.   Governor
                 through  Chief  Secretary,  Delhi  and  Others[1]  in
                 support of the submission that their past service  of
                 20 years cannot obliterated.
The aforesaid submission
                 cannot be accepted for the  simple  reason  that  the
                 Appellants were absorbed  in  the  RD  Department  as
                 Overseers.  Their  previous   service   in   Highways
                 Department was also on  the  post  of  Overseers.
                 Rooplal’s case  (supra),  the  Appellants  were  Sub-
                 Inspectors  of  Boarder  Security  Force   who   were
                 initially taken on deputation in Delhi Police as Sub-
                 Inspectors (Executive) and were later on absorbed  in
                 Delhi Police in the same capacity. While fixing their
                 seniority in Delhi Police, service  already  rendered
                 by them as Sub-Inspectors in BSF was not  taken  into
This Court, therefore, held that there
                 is no reason why the Appellants on being absorbed  in
                 equivalent cadre in the transferred post  should  not
                 be permitted to count their  service  in  the  parent
The Appellants herein claimed the benefit
                 of the previous service on the lower post of Overseer
                 for determining the seniority on the higher  post  of
                 Assistant Engineer. 
The aforesaid  submission  cannot
                 be accepted for the simple reason that the Appellants
                 had voluntarily accepted and given the option  to  be
                 absorbed  in  the  RD  Department  on  the  post   of
No claim was  made  at  that  stage  to  be
                 either absorbed or promoted as Assistant Engineer  or
                 to be  given  the  benefit  of  the  service  already
                 rendered by them in the Highways  Department.  
                 considered the entire matter, we  see  no  reason  to
                 differ with the view taken by the High Court.

             32. The appeals are accordingly dismissed.

                                                     [Surinder Singh Nijjar]

           New Delhi;
           September 27, 2013.
[1]    2000 (1) SCC 644


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