LETKHOMANG KHONGSAI Vs. STATE OF MANIPUR
HIGH COURT OF MANIPUR
STATE OF MANIPUR
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KH.NOBIN SINGH, J. -
(1.) Heard Shri Ajoy Pebam, learned Advocate appearing for the petitioner; Shri N. Kumarjit, learned AG, Manipur appearing for the State respondents and Shri N. Ibotombi, learned Senior Advocate appearing for the private respondent.
(2.) By the instant writ petition, the petitioner has prayed for issuing a writ of quo warranto to declare the appointment/ extension of service of the private respondent to the post of OSD as well as Ex-Officio Chief Engineer, Water Resources Department, Manipur as illegal and unconstitutional and consequently, to quash the order dated 02/02/2018 issued by the Under Secretary (WR), Government of Manipur; order dated 23.07.2018 issued by the Commissioner (WR), Government of Manipur and order dated 11.01.2019 issued by the Secretary (WR), Government of Manipur and also to direct the State respondents to cancel the said orders.
(3.) Facts and circumstances as narrated in the writ petition, are that the petitioner is a Village Chief of S. Bongjang Village and that the instant writ petition is being filed by him after making a thorough inquiry and collecting relevant materials.
3.1. In respect of the appointment of the Chief Engineers of all Engineering Departments under the Government of Manipur, the Governor of Manipur, in exercise of power conferred under proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution of India, made the rules to regulate the method of recruitment to the post of Chief Engineer vide Notification dated 20.10.2016 (hereinafter referred to as "the Recruitment Rules, 2016") and as per the said Recruitment Rules, 2016, the method of recruitment to the post of Chief Engineer (WRD/IFCD), Manipur is by way of promotion from the post of Additional Chief Engineer with 3 (three) years of regular service in the grade, failing which Addl. Chief Engineer with 3 years regular service in the grade including the period on in-charge basis and 20 years of regular service in group 'A' posts in the service failing which 20 year of regular service in group 'A' service. It has later been contended in the rejoinder that as per the Recruitment Rules, 1994, the method of recruitment by promotion from the post of Addl. Chief Engineer with 3 years of regular service in the grade in the Department concerned, failing which the Addl. Chief Engineer with 7 (seven) years of regular service in the grades of Addl. Chief Engineer and Superintending Engineer or its equivalent put together. But the Recruitment Rules, 1994 have no relevance, as the same have been superseded by the Recruitment Rules, 2016.
3.2. The private respondent, at the relevant time, was serving as the Chief Engineer in the Water Resources Department, Manipur and had retired from service on attaining the age of superannuation vide order dated 1.12.2017 w.e.f. 31.12.2017. On his retirement, Shri Ksh. Pritam Singh, the Addl. Chief Engineer (WR) of the Water Resources Department, Manipur was directed to act on in-charge basis in addition to his normal work without any extra remuneration with immediate effect as an interim arrangement and until further orders. Pursuant to a cabinet decision taken in its meeting held on 04.01.2018, the private respondent was engaged as the OSD of the Water Resources Department, Manipur on contract basis for a period of 6 (six) months w.e.f. 02.01.2018 to 30.06.2018 vide order dated 02.02.2018 issued by the Under Secretary (WR), Government of Manipur. On 12.07.2018, the existing Water Resources Department was bifurcated into 2 (two) Divisions, viz. (i) Management of Projects and Barrages (WR-I) and (ii) Flood Control (WR-II) with the creation of one additional post of Chief Engineer in the Water Resources Department. The term of engagement of the private respondent was extended for another period of 6 (six) months w.e.f. 02.07.2018 to 31.12.2018 vide order dated 23.07.2018 by appointing him as the Ex-Officio Chief Engineer of the Management of Project and Barrage Division (WR-I) of the Water Resources Department, Manipur subject to the terms and conditions mentioned therein. The service of the private respondent was extended again as the OSD as well as the Ex-Officio Chief Engineer of the Water Resources Department, Manipur vide order dated 11.01.2019 by which the private respondent was vested with full financial and administrative power as the Chief Engineer.
3.3. Being aggrieved by the said orders, the instant writ petition has been filed by the petitioner on the inter-alia grounds that the appointment or the engagement of the private respondent was/is in violation of Rule 56(d) of the Fundamental Rules and the provisions of Recruitment Rules, 2016; that it is well settled that the writ petition praying for a writ of quo warranto, can be filed by any citizen; that if the appointment of the private respondent is allowed to continue, the people will certainly lose their faith and confidence in the democratic system of the country and that the extension of the private respondent was/ is against the public policy. ;
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