P.B. Sawant, J.
1. The petitioner, who hails from the State of Kerala, had applied for one of the posts of the Auditors (U.D.C.) advertised by the Director of Audit, Defence Services, in June 1971. He appeared for the written test held for the said post in May, 1972 and having successfully passed in the same, received a call for interview on the 29th September, 1972. Admittedly, the petitioner had secured higher marks than respondents 5 to 20 who hail from States other than Kerala. It however appears that although respondents 5 to 20 were appointed to the posts of Auditors with effect from 24th September, 1973, the petitioner's appointment was delayed till 13th March, 1974 on which date, for the first time, he joined his duties as such Auditor in the office of the Senior Deputy Director of Audit, Pune-respondent No. 4 herein. The scale in which the petitioner was appointed was Rs. 330-10-380EB-12-500EB-15 560. It must be stated however that although the petitioner was appointed on and from 13th March, 1974, since he stood above respondents 5 to 20 in the order of merits, he was given seniority over them in the list of seniority.
2. When the petitioner noticed that he was not given appointment with effect from 24th September, 1973 on and from which date respondents 5 to 20 were given the appointments, he made representation and claimed benefit of salary and all other benefits on the basis that he be deemed to have been appointed on and from 24th September, 1973. The said representation being of no avail, he has filed the present petition for the said reliefs.
3. In the affidavit-in-reply to the petition which has been filed by one Ramakant Anant Borkar, Joint Director of Audit, Defence Services on behalf of respondents Nos. 1 to 4, some startling statements have been made which reinforce the contentions of the petitioner. While not disputing the fact that the petitioner stood above Respondents 5 to 20 in the order of merits and further that the said respondents were appointed on the 24th September 1973, the following statements have been made there :--
'Paragraph 3.---According to the extent orders of Government of India, in the case of candidates who belonged to the State of Kerala or who had resided in that State for more than one year during the preceding five years, before joining the Government Service character verification had to be done, both through the Local District Authorities and the Government of India. I say that such procedure was obligatory in respect of posts for which detailed verification was obligatory under the existing orders.
xx xx xx xx xx'Paragraph 4.---I further say that in pursuance of these instructions, the character and antecedents of the candidates belonging to the State of Kerala were verified through the Local District Authorities and the Government of India. This caused some delay in respect of the candidates belonging to the State of Kerala so far as their appointments were concerned.'
'Paragraph 5.---I say that the candidates at Serial Numbers 5 to 20 listed in the petition were candidates who hailed from States other than Kerala (for them verification through the Government of India was not necessary).'
'Paragraph 6.---I say that as far as the candidates from the States other than Kerala were concerned they were appointed provisionally when they reported for duty and their character and antecedents were verified through Local District Authorities. As far as candidates belonging to the State of Kerala were concerned, the character and antecedents of such candidates were verified through both these agencies viz., the Local District Authorities and the Government of India. After the verification resort was received and nothing adverse was noticed, such candidates were given a formal offer of appointment.'
4. In paragraph 7 of the petition, the petitioner has in terms alleged that the candidates belonging to the State of Kerala are not appointed in the order of their merits and they are appointed only after their character and antecedents are verified whereas the candidates belonging to the other States are appointed first and their character and antecedents are verified later. The petitioner in that paragraph has also referred to a comparative list of the candidates from the State of Kerala and from the other States to bring home his said contention. In the affidavit-in-reply filed by Shri Borkar while dealing with this avernment in the said paragraph, Shri Borkar has merely stated that no discrimination has been practised against the petitioner as his seniority had been properly protected. In other words there is no denial of the averments made by the petitioner that such a discriminatory practice was followed against the candidates from Kerala. In paragraph 8 of the petition, the petitioner has further stated that the procedure adopted for verification of the character and the antecedents of the candidates belonging to the State of Kerala and of the candidates from the other States is not similar. He has again emphasised the fact that whereas the candidates from the other States are appointed first and the verification of their character is done later, as far as the candidates from the Kerala are concerned, the verification of their character is done first and their appointments are made later. With reference to this paragraph again, Shri Borkar has in paragraph 13 of his affidavit-in-reply taken a shelter behind the instructions of the Government of India and has in terms admitted the said practice by asserting that the department had only followed and carried out the instructions of the Government of India in respect of the candidates from Kerala.
5. This therefore shows that in respect of candidates from Kerala such as the petitioner a special procedure is followed, namely, they are not appointed till their character is verified whereas in respect of candidates from other States the verification of their character is made after their appointment. What is more, it will appear that whereas the verification of the character of the candidates from other States is made from the local authorities, in the case of the candidates from the State of Kerala, in addition to the verification from the local authorities, the Government of India itself carries out the verification through its own agencies. Shri Rege for respondents 1 to 4 contended that this was done because in the case of States like Kerala and some other States there is no co-operation from the local Government, and hence, a second agency has to be employed, namely, the agency of the Government of India to verify the characters. There is not a word in the affidavit filed on behalf of the respondents that there is no co-operation extended by the State of Kerala or some other States in this behalf requiring the Government of India to make the verification of the character through its own agencies over again. However that by itself has no bearing on the result of the present petition. What is relevant for the purpose of the present petition is the discrimination in procedure practised while making appointment of the candidates from the State of Kerala and the candidates from the other States. Admittedly in the case of candidates from other States they are given appointments without verification of their character whereas the candidates from Kerala are kept waiting till their character is verified whether through one agency or two agencies. The result, therefore, always is that the candidates from Kerala get their appointments much later that candidates from the other States. As has happened in the present case the petitioner had to wait for about six months although the candidates who had scored less marks got their appointments six months earlier merely because they hailed from other States. This is obviously discriminatory and without any justification. It is this discrimination practised by respondents 1 to 4 which was responsible for delay in the petitioner's appointment and for denial to him of the salary and other benefits to which he was otherwise entitled. I have therefore no hesitation in allowing the petition and making the rule absolute.
6. The petition is therefore allowed and it is directed that respondents 1 to 4 will pay to the petitioner his salary from 24th September, 1973 till 12th March, 1974 on the basis that he was in their employment for the said period. He will also be entitled to all other benefits including the increment/s on the said basis. The Rule is made absolute accordingly with costs against respondents 1 to 4.