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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A.P. Fire Subordinate Service Rules and A.P. State and Subordinate Service Rules. In our view, these Rules do not empower the State to make the classification as was sought be done by the State for determining the inter se seniority of SFOs in this case. 31) In our opinion, taking into account the three undisputed facts mentioned above and the Rules governing the probation and the seniority, there was neither any justifiable basis for creation of such classification nor it satisfied the requirement of the Rules which governed determination of their inter se seniority. In other words, firstly, when the respondents successfully cleared their probation, secondly, when the respondents cleared two tests, thirdly, when the Government itself exempted the respondents from appearing in the third test, and lastly, when the Rules did not provide for creation of two classes between the employees working in one Cadre (SFO), then in our view, there was no justification on the part of the Government to have issued G.O. dated 22.05.2012 for determination of inter se seniority by making classification. 32) Our view also finds support from the view recently taken by this bench in the judgment rendered in Civil Appeal No.9856-9860 of 2016 R. Venkata Ramudu and Another Etc. vs. State of A.P. & Ors. decided on 27.09.2016.

                                                                  REPORTABLE
                            IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                             CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                             CIVIL APPEAL No.  795  OF 2017
                       (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No.35697/2013)

S. Sreedhar Reddy & Ors.                …….Appellant(s)

                             VERSUS

Government of Andhra Pradesh
& Ors.                                  ……Respondent(s)

                                    WITH

                        CIVIL APPEAL No. 796 OF 2017
                       (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No.36680/2013)
K. Madhusudhan Rao & Ors.         …….Appellant(s)

                             VERSUS

Government of Andhra Pradesh
& Ors.                                  ……Respondent(s)

                     CIVIL APPEAL Nos. 797-798  OF 2017
                    (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) Nos.1134-1135/2014)
A.A.F. Vijay Kumar & Ors.         …….Appellant(s)

                             VERSUS

Government of Andhra Pradesh
& Ors.                                  ……Respondent(s)

                      CIVIL APPEAL Nos. 800-801 OF 2017
                    (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) Nos.7931-7932/2014)
Munduri Srihari Jagannath         …….Appellant(s)

                             VERSUS

Government of Andhra Pradesh
& Ors.                                  ……Respondent(s)

                                     AND
                        CIVIL APPEAL No. 802 OF 2017
                       (ARISING OUT OF SLP (C) No.12804/2014)
  T. Purna Chander                      …….Appellant(s)

                             VERSUS

Government of Andhra Pradesh
& Ors.                                  ……Respondent(s)

                               J U D G M E N T
Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.
1)    Applications for impleadment are allowed.
2)    Leave granted.
3)    These appeals are filed against the common final  judgment  and  order
dated 20.09.2013 passed by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad  in
Writ Petition Nos. 5161 and 7297 of 2013 whereby the High Court allowed  the
writ petitions and  set  aside  the  order  dated  01.02.2013  of  the  A.P.
Administrative Tribunal, Hyderabad in O.A. No. 4283 of 2012  and  batch,  in
consequence thereof,  quashed memorandum No. 83/E1/2001 dated 22.05.2012  of
the Director General of the State  Disaster  Response  and  Firer  Services,
Andhra Pradesh, Hyderabad.
4)    Facts of the case need mention, in detail,  infra  to  appreciate  the
controversy involved in the appeals.
5)     The  dispute  in  these  appeals  essentially  relates  to  inter  se
seniority of the Station Fire Officers (for short, “SFOs”).
6)    In the year 1993, the appellants  and  the  private  respondents  were
appointed as SFOs by direct recruitment, which is a multi-zonal post,  after
passing the  test  conducted  by  the  Andhra  Pradesh  State  Level  Police
Recruitment Board (hereinafter referred to as “the Board”).   By  virtue  of
that examination, 59 candidates were selected in the Multi Zone-I and  Multi
Zone-II.   The said post is covered by the Andhra Pradesh  Fire  Subordinate
Service Rules (for short, “the Rules”) issued under G.O. Ms. No.  568,  Home
(Prisons-A) Department, dated 24.11.1992.   According  to  Rule  12  of  the
Rules, an SFO appointed through direct recruitment must  pass  three  tests,
namely, (i) Accounts Test  for  Subordinate  Officers  Part-I;  (ii)  Andhra
Pradesh Fire Service Manual; and (iii) A certificate  course  of  competence
in wearing and instructions on Breathing Apparatus,  within  the  period  of
probation which, in turn, described in Rule 9 of the Rules.
7)    The first and second tests were conducted from time to  time  but  the
Government did not conduct the third test for years together for one  reason
or the other.
8)    According to the appellants, they cleared the first and  second  tests
and taking note of the fact that the third test was  not  conducted  by  the
Government itself, the Fire Services  Department  vide  Rc.  No.  83/E1/2001
dated 31.07.2003 issued a provisional Seniority List of SFOs in Multi  Zone-
I and Multi Zone-II.  In this provisional  Seniority  List,  the  appellants
were placed below the private respondents  based  on  select  list  ranking.
The Department called for the objections to the said  Seniority  List.   The
appellants objected to the said Seniority List by filing representations.
9)    The Fire Services Department vide Rc. No. 83/E1/2001 dated  15.11.2007
issued revised Seniority List of SFOs in Multi  Zone-I  and  Multi  Zone-II.
In this Seniority List also, the  appellants  were  put  below  the  private
respondents.
10)   According to the appellants, the Government of A.P. vide G.O. Ms.  No.
454 of 2009 dated 06.11.2009 exempted  59  SFOs  of  1993  batch  of  direct
recruits belonging to Multi Zone-I and Multi  Zone-II  from  undergoing  the
third  test,  i.e.,  certificate  course  of  “competence  in  wearing   and
instructions on Breathing Apparatus test” as prescribed in Rule  12  of  the
Rules, as a special case, as the training  in  Wearing  Breathing  Apparatus
Set is included in the syllabus  of  Refresher  Course  and  will  meet  the
requirements of certificate  course  and  all  the  SFOs  have  successfully
undergone and passed the similar training during the year 2006.
11)   The Fire Services Department vide Memo No. 8206/PRI.A/A2/2009-8  dated
27.01.2010  issued  certain  clarifications  regarding  the  completion   of
probation of SFOs mentioning that the penal provisions of Rule 16(h) of  the
A.P. State and Subordinate Service Rules 1996 (for  short  “the  Subordinate
Rules”) shall not be applied to the SFOs of 1993 batch but  the  same  shall
apply on the employees, who failed to acquire the qualifications within  the
period of probation due to their lapse.  As per this memorandum,  the  penal
provision of Rule 16(h) of the Subordinate Rules shall be applicable to  the
private respondents only.
12)   Though Seniority List was  not  finalized  based  on  the  provisional
Seniority List, the appellants and the  private  respondents  were  promoted
from SFOs to the post of Assistant District Fire Officers on 14.10.2010.
13)   The Fire Services Department vide Rc. No.83/E1/2001  dated  23.12.2011
issued revised provisional Seniority List of SFOs in Multi  Zone-I  and  II.
In this list also, the appellants were placed below the private  respondents
and again objections were called for.
14)   On 03.04.2012, the Fire Services Department vide  memorandum  Rc.  No.
83/E1/2001, after quoting the legal opinion of the  Government  Pleader  for
Home (Services), A.P. High Court received, mentioned that the  decision  was
taken to decide the dates of commencement and completion of  initial  period
of two years for passing the tests as the basis for the seniority.   It  was
also mentioned that the penal provisions of Rule 16(h)  of  the  Subordinate
Rules should also be taken into consideration and the final  Seniority  List
would be prepared on that basis.
15)   The Fire Services Department vide Rc. No. 83/E1/2001 dated  22.05.2012
issued final Seniority List of SFOs in Multi Zone-I and II taking the  dates
of commencement and completion of initial period of two  years  for  passing
the tests as the basis for the  seniority.   The  penal  provision  of  Rule
16(h) of the Subordinate Rules was also  applied  in  preparing  this  final
Seniority List.  In the said list, the  appellants  were  placed  above  the
private respondents on the basis  that  they  passed  the  prescribed  tests
(other than exempted test) within the period of probation.
16)   Aggrieved by the final Seniority List dated  22.05.2012,  the  private
respondents filed O.A. No. 4283  of  2012  before  the  A.P.  Administrative
Tribunal  at  Hyderabad  (for  short,  “the  Tribunal”)  for  quashing   the
memorandum No. 83/E1/2001 dated 22.05.2012.
17)   The Tribunal, vide its judgment and order  dated  01.02.2013  in  O.A.
No. 4283 of 2012 and connected matters dismissed all the O.As filed  by  the
private respondents.
18)   Aggrieved by the said judgment/order, the  private  respondents  filed
petitions being W.P.Nos. 5161 and 7297 of 2013 before the High Court.
19)   The High Court, by impugned judgment  dated  20.09.2013,  allowed  the
writ petitions and set aside the judgment and order dated 01.02.2013  passed
by the Tribunal in O.A. No. 4283 of 2012 and  batch   consequently,  quashed
the G.O./Seniority List dated 22.05.2013.
20)   On the basis of the impugned judgment,  the  Director  General,  State
Disaster Response and Fire  Services,  Hyderabad  (respondent  No.2  herein)
issued revised seniority list on  10.11.2013  whereby  the  appellants  were
placed below the rank of private respondents herein.  Further 15 days’  time
was given to raise objections.
21)   Before the expiry of the period of raising objections, the  appellants
have filed these appeals by way  of  special  leave  before  this  Court  on
21.11.2013.
22)   This Court issued notice to the respondents and  directed  that  until
further orders, the appellants shall not be reverted.
23)    Heard  Mr.  B.  Adinarayana  Rao,  learned  senior  counsel  for  the
appellants and Mr. S. Gururaj Rao, learned senior counsel  for  the  private
respondent, Mr. G. Prabhakar, learned counsel, for the  State  of  A.P.  and
Mr. S. Udaya Kumar Sagar, learned counsel for the State of Telangana.
 24)  Mr. B. Adinarayana Rao,  learned  Senior  Counsel  appearing  for  the
appellants reiterated the submissions which were  urged  by  the  appellants
before the High Court  while  opposing  the  writ  petitions  filed  by  the
private respondents against the appellants.
25)   In reply, learned counsel for the respondents supported  the  impugned
order and prayed for dismissal of the appeals and,  in  consequence,  prayed
for upholding of the order of the High Court, which had set aside the  order
of the  Tribunal  and  quashed  the  memorandum  dated  22.05.2012  and,  in
consequence, the seniority list.
26)    Having heard the learned counsel for the parties and  on  perusal  of
the record of the case, we find no merit in these appeals.
27)   In our considered  opinion,  the  High  Court  was  justified  in  its
reasoning and the conclusion in allowing the  writ  petition  filed  by  the
private respondents (original applicants before the Tribunal)  and  quashing
of Memorandum No. 83/E-1/2001 dated 22.05.2012 impugned  in  OA  before  the
Tribunal out of which the aforementioned writ petitions arose.
28)   It is not in dispute that the  private  respondents  herein  (original
applicants before the Tribunal) being the direct recruits  had  cleared  two
tests as provided in Rule 12 (i) and (ii) of the Rules though late but  with
the permission of  the State.  It is also not in dispute that so far as  the
third test, as provided in Rule 12 (iii) was concerned, the respondents  and
all others alike them in the same cadre  were  exempted  from  passing  vide
G.O.Ms No. 454 of 2009 dated 6.11.2009 issued by the  State  Government.  It
is further not in dispute that the private respondents  had  also  completed
their probation successfully.
29)   In the light of these undisputed facts, the question before  the  High
Court was whether Rc.  No.83/E1/2001  dated  22.05.2012  which  created  two
classes amongst SFOs for determination of their inter se seniority,  namely,
one class which cleared the two tests in time and other class which  cleared
the tests late, was legally justifiable  and,  if  so,  whether  it  was  in
conformity with the Rules for giving  effect  to  it  for  determination  of
their inter se seniority.  The two classes created by the impugned GO  dated
22.05.2012 for determination of inter se seniority of SFOs had  resulted  in
disturbing the seniority list.
30)   We have perused the  relevant  Rules,  which  have  bearing  over  the
controversy at hand, namely, A.P. Fire Subordinate Service  Rules  and  A.P.
State and Subordinate Service Rules.   In  our  view,  these  Rules  do  not
empower the State to make the classification as was sought be  done  by  the
State for determining the inter se seniority of SFOs in this case.
31)   In our  opinion,  taking  into  account  the  three  undisputed  facts
mentioned above and the Rules governing the  probation  and  the  seniority,
there was neither any justifiable basis for creation of such  classification
nor it satisfied the requirement of the Rules which  governed  determination
of their inter se seniority.  In other words, firstly, when the  respondents
successfully  cleared  their  probation,  secondly,  when  the   respondents
cleared  two  tests,  thirdly,  when  the  Government  itself  exempted  the
respondents from appearing in the third test, and  lastly,  when  the  Rules
did not provide for creation of two classes between  the  employees  working
in one Cadre (SFO), then in our view, there  was  no  justification  on  the
part  of  the  Government  to  have  issued  G.O.   dated   22.05.2012   for
determination of inter se seniority by making classification.
32)   Our view also finds support from  the  view  recently  taken  by  this
bench in the judgment rendered in  Civil  Appeal  No.9856-9860  of  2016  R.
Venkata Ramudu and Another  Etc.  vs.  State  of  A.P.  &  Ors.  decided  on
27.09.2016.
33)   We are, therefore, not impressed  by  the  submissions  urged  by  the
learned counsel  for  the  appellants  which,  in  our  view,  were  rightly
repelled by the High Court while allowing the writ petitions  filed  by  the
private respondents herein which rightly quashed  the  GO  dated  22.05.2012
being irrational, unreasonable and contrary to the Rules.   We  concur  with
the findings of the High Court and find no good ground to interfere  in  its
reasoning.





34)   In view of foregoing discussion, we find no merit  in  these  appeals,
which  are  devoid  of  any  merit.   As  a  consequence,  the  appeals  are
dismissed.

                     ………...................................J.
                                [J. CHELAMESWAR]


                  …...……..................................J.
                               [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]     New Delhi;
January 23, 2017

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