Decided on September 30,1982

RAM RAKHA MAL Respondents


- (1.) This Court pronounced judgment in Paramjit Singh Sandhu and others, etc. v. Ram Rakha, and others, etc. on March 22, 1979, now reported in (1979) 3 SCR 584: (AIR 1979 SC 1073).
(2.) One Jashpal Singh Dhaliwal has filed the present Civil Miscellaneous Petition styling it as one for clarification/directions but in substance one for quashing the seniority list prepared by the State of Punjab and published on June 4, 1981, in respect of the cadre of Deputy Superintendents of Police in Punjab Police Service. The contention is that the seniority list prepared by the State is not in conformity with the judgment but in contravention of the same and that it is likely that the State may have committed an error in drawing up the seniority list on account of its misunderstanding or lack of understanding of the ratio of the judgment and, therefore, this Court may clarify the relevant portion of the judgment and in order to make the judgment effective, give direction to prepare a fresh seniority list in accordance with the clarification which would necessarily require quashing of the seniority list already published. It is this fact situation which provoked Mr. Tarkunde, learned counsel for the respondent-State to contend that this application for clarification/dircetion is a camouflage and that a substantive petition ought to have been flied and in fact has been tiled in the High Court of Punjab and Haryana and, therefore, this Court should refrain from entertaining the application. Alternatively, it was contended that the judgment is clear and unambiguous and that the seniority list has been drawn up in conformity with the direction contained in the judgment.
(3.) The judgment in respect of which clarification is sought was concerned with the construction of Rules 3, 6, 8 and 10 of Punjab Police Service Rules, 1959 ('Rules' for short). The Rules provided for the constitution of Punjab Police Service concerning the cadre of Deputy Superintendents of Police. Recruitment to the service was to be made from two sources as directed in Rule 6 in the proportion of 80% by promotion from the rank of Inspector and 20% by direct recruitment. The special feature of the relevant rules was to be found in R. 10 which provided that the seniority of members of the service shall be determined by the date of confirmation in the service. There was thus a quota rule for recruitment and seniority was to be determined by the date of confirmation in the service. Ordinarily, when recruitment is from two sources after recruitment is made according to the quota rule, recruits from both the sources have to he integrated into one service. This always raises the thorny question of how to regulate seniority inter se amongst recruits from two independent sources. The Rules sought to solve the problem by making it obligatory to fix seniority of the members of the service with reference to the date of confirmation in the service. This, however, raised another question as to in what manner confirmation is to be given. That brought in for construction R. 8 which provided that the members of the service shall be on probation for two years which shall include the period of training at the Police Training School, Phillaur, and in the districts and in the case of members promoted the Government may by a special order in each case, permit periods of officiating appointment to the service to count towards the period of probation. Thus, recruits from both the sources were to be on probation for a period of two years. However, clause (b) of R. 8 provided that the services of a member' recruited by direct appointment may be dispensed with by Government on his failing to pass the final examination at the end of his period of training, or on his being reported on, during or at the end of his period of probation, as unfit for appointment. The proviso to sub-rule (b) of R. 8 enables the Government to extend the period of probation by not more than one year. On a conspectus of these rules the Court came to the conclusion that at the end of three years a direct recruit, if not found unfit for appointment, would automatically stand confirmed. That led to the other consequences that once the direct recruit either at the end of two year, or by the maximum extended period of probation by one year would automatically get confirmation and from that very date his seniority would be reckoned. Now there was no provision for such automatic confirmation of the promotees to the service. A grievance was made that the promotees hangs on for a long period and gets confirmation later than the direct recruit with the result that he is adversely affected in seniority in comparison to a direct recruit who gets automatic confirmation and once by the operation of rules the direct recruit on account of automatic confirmation becomes senior he obtains an advantage of being considered for nomination to the I. P. S. earlier than the promotee. The bone of contention between the parties flows from the following two paragraphs in the judgment. They may be extracted: "Where recruitment to a cadre is from two sources and the Service Rules prescribe quota for recruitment for both sources a question would always arise whether the quota rule would apply at the initial stage of recruitment or also at the stage of confirmation. Ordinarily, if quota is prescribed for recruitment to a cadre, the quota rule will have to be observed at the recruitment stage. The quota would then be correlated to vacancies to be filled in by recruitment but after recruitment is made from two different sources they will have to be integrated into a common cadre and while so doing, the question of their inter se seniority would surface. Seniority is ordinarily determined from the date of entry into cadre on the principle of continuous officiation. Confirmation in a post would ordinarily depend upon such circumstances as satisfactory completion of probationary period, efficiency in the discharge of duty, capacity to discharge functions of the post, availability of permanent vacancy, etc. Now, if seniority is to be determined according to the date of confirmation and the quota rule is not made relatable to confirmation in various posts falling vacant in the cadre it would directly impinge upon the seniority of members of the service.";

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