JUDGEMENT

Sanjeev Kumar,J. - (1.)The dispute raised in this petition pertains to the seniority of Inspectors of Excise and Commercial Taxes Department as reflected in the final seniority list issued by the respondent No.1 vide Govt. Order No.159-F of 2012 dated 04.06.2012. By virtue of the aforesaid Govt. Order, the respondents have settled the seniority of Inspectors in the Excise and Commercial Taxes Department as it stood on 31.03.2002. The challenge to the seniority list is premised on the plea that the seniority of Inspectors appointed by way of direct recruitment could not have been framed/determined otherwise than on the basis of inter-se merit of the candidates in the selection preceding the appointments. Rule 24 of the J&K Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1956 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Rules of 1956) has been invoked to strengthen the plea.
(2.)Briefly stated the facts as narrated by the petitioners in the petition are that, the petitioners as also the private respondents came to be selected as Inspectors by the J&K Service Selection Board after following the due process of selection which commenced with the issuance of Advertisement Notification. 27 candidates were selected in the general category, 10 in RBA category, 05 in ST category, 04 in SC category, 01 in OBC category and 02 in ALC category. The petitioner No.1 claimably had applied under the ALC category, the petitioner No.2 under SC category and petitioner No.3 under OBC category and they were, thus, selected in their respective categories. Further case of the petitioners is that they were entitled to be assigned the serial numbers in the order of appointment, according to the merit secured in the selection process conducted by the J&K Service Selection Board, but, the respondent No.1 acting contrary to the spirit of Rule 24 of Rules of 1956 issued Govt. Order No.68-F of 2002 dated 12.04.2002 whereby all the selectees including the petitioners and private respondents were appointed in the order of merit determined by the J&K Service Selection Board, but, category-wise. Though in the orders of appointment of the petitioners and the private respondents selected under different reserved categories, the serial number was assigned not on the basis of the merit of the candidates in the selection, but, as per the serial numbers indicated in the selection list forwarded by the J&K Service Selection Board. It is contended that the tentative seniority list was not finalized for petty long time and it was only in the year of 2012, the respondent No.1 vide Order No. 159-F of 2012 dated 04.06.2012 issued the final seniority list of the Inspectors as it stood on 31.03.2002. It may also be noticed that this Court at the motion hearing stage while issuing notice to the respondents has specifically observed that the issue of delay and laches shall be considered by the Court after the objections are filed by the respondents.
(3.)The pith and substance of the case set up by the petitioners is that the seniority of the candidates selected in different reserved categories ought to be prepared on the basis of the merit obtained by the candidates in the selection preceding the appointments. However, the respondents acting in ignorance of the provisions of Rule 24 of the Rules of 1956 have assigned the position to the petitioners and the private respondents in the manner it has been done by the Service Selection Board while issuing the select list pertaining to different categories.
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