M P JUNIOR ENGINEERS ASSOCIATION AND SANGARSH SAMITI Vs. STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: MADHYA PRADESH)
MADHYA PRADESHJUNIOR ENGINEERS ASSOCIATION AND SANGARSH SAMITI
STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH
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(1.)THE controversy in this Special Leave Petition arises out of the merger, with effect from 1-10-1982, of the staff of the Madhya Pradesh Lift Irrigation Corporation (hereinafter referred to as 'the. Corporation') with that of the Irrigation Department of the State Government consequent on the abolition of the Corporation. We have heard counsel on both sides and we are of opinion that these matters should be disposed of finally even at this stage. We therefore grant leave in the Special Leave Petition and proceed to dispose of the appeal.
(2.)APPELLANTS 2 to 17 and certain other writ petitioners in the High Court were serving as Senior Technical Assistants (S.T. A.) in the Corporation. The cadres of S.T.As. and the lower cadre of Junior Technical Assistants (J.T.As.) in the Corporation were equivalent respectively to the cadres of Junior Engineer (J.E.) and Sub-Engineers (S.E.) in the Irrigation Department of the State. It is common ground that the qualifications for appointment to the two sets of posts were the same and that their pay scales were also the same. The appellants claim that they are entitled, after the merger of the Corporation into the Irrigation Department, to be treated as Junior Engineers and considered for promotion as Assistant Engineers on completion of two years of service but that this avenue of promotion is being denied to them by the State.
To appreciate the above contention, it is necessary to set out some historical background of the cadres in the State Department. Initially the Junior Engineer's. post in the State Government was a non-gazetted post, governed by the Madhya Pradesh Irrigation Department (Non-Gazetted) Service Recruitment Rules, 1969. The Junior Engineers, on completion of two years' minimum service, were entitled to consideration for promotion to the gazetted post of Assistant Engineer, a post governed by the Madhya Pradesh Irrigation Engineering Service (Gazetted) Recruitment Rules, 1968. On, 17/03/1973 the posts of Junior Engineers were declared to be gazetted posts. 75 Per Cent of the posts of Assistant Engineers could be filled up by promotion from amongst Junior Engineers. On 1/01/1978 the Junior Engineer's post was once again converted into a non-gazetted post. The quota for such of those Junior Engineers as were working as gazetted officers immediately before the issue of this order was retained at 75 Per Cent as before for a period of two years by which time it was expected that all of them would get promoted as Assistant Engineers. But for this, the posts of Assistant Engineers were to be filled up equally by promotion from subordinate cadres and direct recruitment. The promotion quota was distributed among the subordinate cadres in the following proportion:
In July, 1979 the Government decided to abolish the post of Junior Engineers in the State Irrigation Department. The relevant cabinet order set out the following terms therefor:
"1. The posts of Junior Engineer in the three works departments should be abolished. The Junior Engineers presently working in these departments shall continue to work in their existing pay-scales under the existing service conditions till their promotion. (Emphasis added).
2. The quota of recruitment for the post of Assistant Engineer, which is at present 60 Per Cent should be raised to 75 Per Cent .
3. 25 Per Cent posts in the Sub-Engineer cadre be converted into selection grade posts and selection for the selection grade post should be made on the basis of merit-cum-seniority.
4. The quota prescribed for promotion of the Draftsmen should be reduced from 5 Per Cent to 3 Per Cent . Promotion quota of 2 Per Cent should be reserved for those Sub-Engineers/ Draftsmen who obtain degree while in service.
(3.)THE post of Junior Engineer cadre, which presently exists, should be converted into the posts of Assistant Engineers and Sub-Engineers with the concurrence. of the finance department."
Eventually, the State Government decided on 27/05/1980 that the 941 posts of Junior Engineers in the Irrigation Department should be abolished by converting 65 Per Cent of those posts into posts of Assistant Engineers .and 233 posts into posts of Sub-Engineers (Overseers). It must be, however, pointed out that, though the existing posts of J.Es. or S.Es. stood abolished from 27-5-1980, in fact, a number of Junior Engineers appointed earlier continued to function as before, under the memorandum of July 1979, until they received promotions as Assistant Engineers ,(A. Es.) in due course.
5. We now come to the details of the merger between the Corporation and the State Department. In August, 1982 a decision was taken to abolish the Corporation. THE Government decided on the merger of the surplus staff of the Corporation in the Irrigation Department and 8-10-82 was decided upon as the effective date of merger for all purposes. We are concerned here with the formula for transition set out in the opening para of a memorandum of the above date regarding the merger of the posts of S.T.As. and J.T.As. It read thus:
The memorandum of 8-10-1982 was followed up by a communication dated 10-11- 1982. The enclosures to this letter described the absorptions as "ad hoc" but this word was deleted on 29-1-1983 with reference to the posts with which we are concerned, making it .clear that the absorption was to be permanent. The letter set out three conditions for the merger which admittedly are fulfilled by the appellants:
(i) The staff will be absorbed only subject to their fulfilling the qualifications prescribed for the posts against which they are to be absorbed;
(ii) The inter se seniority of the employees of the Corporation shall be in accordance with the seniority list cleared by the Managing Director. The inter se seniority of the departmental employees and the employees of the Corporation shall be determined in accordance with the orders of the Government; and
(iii) It was open to an employee of the Corporation to join the Government department or not to do so, for the employees were to be required to join duties at the place of their posting within 20 days from 10-11-1982, failing which it was to be deemed that the appointment was not acceptable to them.
The seniority rule was announced much later, on 16-4-1984. It said:
"The regular officers/ employees of the Corporation shall, in the event of merger in the Irrigation Department, be considered as Junior to the permanent officers employees of the Department and their seniority in the lists of the temporary officers/employees of the department, shall be fixed on the basis of the dates of assuming Office, without affecting the inter se seniority of the Corporation."
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