Kania, J. -
(1.)The question raised in the Special Leave Petition is of some importance and hence we grant Special Leave, as prayed for.
(2.)We have heard Counsel for both the parties and we propose to dispose of the appeal at this stage.
(3.)The appellants before us are the Union of India, Chief of Air Staff and the Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Defence, respectively. Respondent No. 1 was commissioned in the Indian Air Force on July 17, 1954 and had an unblemished service record. In course of time he was promoted to the post of Air Vice-Marshal. He belonged to the Navigation Stream of the Indian Air Force. When he was due to be considered for promotion to the post of an Air Marshal, the policy for promotion to the posts of Air Marshals in the Indian Air Force was changed by the Ministry of Defence Government of India, by its Memo dated October 9, 1987. As per this revised policy which we shall consider in some detail a little later, the prospects of an officer in the Navigation Stream of the Air Force earning a promotion to the post of an Air Marshal were substantially reduced. At the relevant time respondent No. 1 was the seniormost Air Vice-Marshal in the Navigation Stream. Probably, on account of the change in the policy, respondent No. 1 was unable to secure promotion to the post of an Air Marshal and he retired as an Air Vice Marshal on October 31, 1988. Before he retired, respondent No. 1 filed a writ petition in the Gauhati High Court on September 5, 1988, challenging the new promotion policy in respect of the posts of Air Marshals. On September 16, 1988, an interim order was made by the Gauhati High Court directing the Union of India to constitute a Selection Board and consider the case of respondent No. 1 for promotion on merits without reference to the new policy. The appellants challenged this order by way of a Special Leave Petition. This Court granted Special Leave and allowed the appeal of the. appellants on October 4, 1988, holding that the interlocutory order passed by the High Court was erroneous and setting aside the same. On October 31, 1988, respondent No. 1 retired as an Air Vice-Marshal. On February 15, 1990, a Division Bench of the Gauhati High Court allowed the writ petition filed by respondent No. 1 holding, inter alia, that the new promotion policy was not framed after an in depth study and directed that the case of respondent No. 1 be considered on the basis of the previous policy. It is this decision which is assailed before us in this appeal.