Decided on September 30,2003



Jawahar Lal Gupta, C. J. - (1.) IS the Forest Ranger who has passed the Account Test (Lower) not eligible for promotion to the post of Assistant Conservator of forests? This is the short question that arises for consideration in this case. The Petitioner, who is working as Assistant Conservator of Forests, had approached this Court for a declaration that the prescribed test qualification for the post of Assistant Conservator in the Kerala Forest Service is the account Test for Executive Officers for the Kerala State alone as per the special Rules for the Kerala Forest Service. The prayer having been declined, he has filed the present appeal. The relevant facts may be briefly noticed.
(2.) THE appellant was recruited as a Forest Ranger in the year 1976. He completed the training in the year 1978-79. He was promoted as assistant Conservator of Forests with effect from April 1, 1996. THE appellate states that this promotion was provisional. There are a number of respondents. It is not necessary to notice the facts regarding all of them. By way of illustration, the factual position in respect of respondent No. 3 alone may be briefly noticed. This would be illustrative of the factual position. The 3rd respondent was recruited as Ranger in the year 1968. On November 5, 1984, his name was approved for promotion to the post of assistant Conservator of Forests. On November 23, 1990, he was promoted with effect from November 17, 1984. He had passed the Account Test (Lower) before the preparation of the select list by the Departmental Promotion Committee. The name of the third respondent was included in the final seniority list of assistant Conservators of Forests as on December 31, 1985. He was placed at sl. No. 63. Vide order dated April 8, 1994, he was confirmed as Assistant conservator with effect from September 1, 1989. In February 2003, a proposal for his appointment to the Indian Forest Service was made. The matter is still pending. He has already retired from service.
(3.) THE appellate asserts that the provisions of the kerala Forest Service Rules as issued on November 22, 1966 govern the recruitment to the post of Assistant Conservator of Forests. Rule 4 prescribes the qualifications for direct recruitment as well as for appointment by transfer. THE government can make an appointment by transfer of a Forest Ranger only if he has passed the Account Test for the Executive Officers of Kerala. Since the Statutory Rule prescribes passing of the test as a condition precedent, no Forest Ranger can be legally promoted or transferred as Assistant conservator till he passes the test. On this basis, the appellant claims that he was entitled to the declaration as prayed for by him. The respondents contest the claim. It has been pointed out that the test was introduced by an executive order dated January 13, 1961. The Government had ordered that the Commission will hold an Account Test for executive Officers in the State. On April 3, 1962, it was provided that officers who have passed the Account Test (Lower) will be deemed to have passed the Account Test for the Executive Officers. The position was further clarified vide Government Order dated October 23, 1963. Copies of these three orders are exts. P1 to P3 on record.;

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