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Abul Khair and Ors. Vs. Hon'ble Chief Justice, High Court of Judicature at Allahabad and Ors. (25.02.1970 - ALLHC) - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectService;Constitution
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Misc. Writ No. 1388 of 1969
Judge
Reported inAIR1971All44
ActsConstitution of India - Articles 226 and 229; ;High Court Rules; High Court Orders; Allahabad High Court (Conditions of Service of Staff) Rules - Rule 9
AppellantAbul Khair and Ors.
RespondentHon'ble Chief Justice, High Court of Judicature at Allahabad and Ors.
Appellant AdvocateR.A. Sharma, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateStanding Counsel
Excerpt:
constitution - writ of mandamus - article 226 of the constitution of india - writ can be issued against the chief justice - for acts performed and administrative order passed by him in the matter unconnected with the high court - when he exercise the power conferred on him from some other enactment. - cantonments act[c.a. no. 41/2006]. section 346 & cantonment fund (servants rules, 1937, rules 13, 14 & 15: [h.l. gokhale, ag. cj, p.v. hardas, naresh h. patil, r.m. borde & r.m. savant, jj] jurisdiction of school tribunal constituted under maharashtra employees of private schools (conditions of service) regulations act, (3 of 1978) held, school run by the cantonment board is a primary school and it is not a school recognised by any such board comparable to the divisional board or.....orderw. broome, j.1. this writ petition, filed by eight upper division assistants of the general office of the high court at allahabad, is directed against an order of the chief justice dated 1-3-1969, by which the petitioners' objections against a draft gradation list prepared by the additional registrar were rejected and the seniority of mahesh prasad srivastava and sushil kumar (respondents 4 and 5), who were originally translators but had been absorbed in the cadre of upper division assistants in 1964 and 1967 respectively, was fixed in such a manner as to make them senior to the petitioners. the first prayer set forth in the petition asks for the quashing of certain earlier orders of the chief justice as well, but mr. s. n. kacker, who appears for the petitioners, has stated that it.....
Judgment:
ORDER

W. Broome, J.

1. This writ petition, filed by eight Upper Division Assistants of the General Office of the High Court at Allahabad, is directed against an order of the Chief Justice dated 1-3-1969, by which the petitioners' objections against a draft gradation list prepared by the Additional Registrar were rejected and the seniority of Mahesh Prasad Srivastava and Sushil Kumar (respondents 4 and 5), who were originally Translators but had been absorbed in the cadre of Upper Division Assistants in 1964 and 1967 respectively, was fixed in such a manner as to make them senior to the petitioners. The first prayer set forth in the petition asks for the quashing of certain earlier orders of the Chief Justice as well, but Mr. S. N. Kacker, who appears for the petitioners, has stated that it is not necessary to quash those earlier orders and that he confines this prayer to the quashing of the last order dated 1-3-1969. In addition, the petitioners challenge the promotion of Mahesh Prasad Srivastava to the post of Assistant Superintendent in the Administrative Department on 23-4-1969 and of Sushil Kumar as Assistant Superintendent in the Copynig Department on 25-4-1969, on the basis of their seniority fixed by the aforementioned order of 1-3-1969.

2. Before coming to the merits of this petition, it is necessary to dispose of the preliminary objection raised on behalf of the respondents regarding the maintainability of this petition. It is contended that the High Court cannot issue a writ against its own Chief Justice or his nominee the Registrar, for the purpose of quashing orders passed in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 229 of the Constitution, the relevant portions of which run as follows:--

'229. (1) Appointment of officers and servants of a High Court shall be made by the Chief Justice of the Court or such other Judge or Officer of the Court as he may direct 3 ... ... ...

(2) Subject to the provisions of any law made by the Legislature of the State, the conditions of service of officers and servants of a High Court shall be such as may be prescribed by rules made by the Chief Justice of the Court or by some other Judge or officer of the Court authorised by the Chief Justice to make rules for the purpose:

Provided that the rules made under this clause shall, so far as they relate to salaries, allowances, leave or pensions,require the approval of the Governor of the State.'

Article 226 empowers the High Court to issue directions, orders or writs to 'any person or authority' within its jurisdiction; and it has to be admitted that the very phraseology used in this clause implies that the 'person or authority' to whom the directions, orders or writs are to be issued must be some one other than the High Court itself. But can it be said as the respondents contend, that a writ to quash an order passed under Article 229 is a writ issued to the High Court itself? Learned counsel for the respondents have tried to argue that the powers exercised by the Chief Justice under Article 229 are exercised by him as a representative of the High Court, acting on its behalf; but this does not seem to be a correct interpretation. It is to be noted that those Articles of the Constitution which confer powers on the High Court (Articles 226, 227, 228 and 235), as well as those which provide for consultation with the High Court (Articles 233 and 234), refer not to the Chief Justice but to the High Court itself.

Article 229 on the other hand specifically mentions the Chief Justice as the person entitled to exercise the powers of appointment and of framing service rules; and due weight must be given to this fundamental difference between the wording of Article 229 and that of the other Articles mentioned above. It appears to me that in view of this distinction there is no justification for treating the specific conferment of powers on the Chief Justice by Article 229 as equivalent to the conferment of powers on the High Court, with the Chief Justice named merely as the High Court's representative. Had this been the intention, one would reasonably have expected a different phraseology to be used.

3. The history of the powers exercised by the Chief Justice in relation to the High Court staff also supports the view that these powers are personal to the Chief Justice and are not exercised by him as a representative of the High Court as a whole. Clause 6 of the Letters Patent, by which these powers were first conferred, runs:

'And we do hereby authorize and empower the Chief Justice of the said High Court of Judicature at Allahabad from time to time as occasion may require and subject to any rules and restrictions which may be prescribed by the Lieutenant-Governor of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh to appoint so many and such Clerks and other Ministerial Officers as shall be found necessary for the administration of justice and the due execution of all the powers and authorities granted and committed to thesaid High Court by these Our LettersPatent.'

This shows that from the very inceptionthe powers were given not to the HighCourt but to the Chief Justice. Nextcame the Government of India Act, 1915,which contained the following provisions.

'106 (1) The several high courts are courts of record and have such jurisdiction, original and appellate, including admiralty jurisdiction, in respect of offences committed on the high seas, and all such powers and authority over or in relation to the administration of justice, including power to appoint clerks and other ministerial officers of the court, and power to make rules for regulating the practice of the court, as are vested in them by letters patent, and, subject to the provisions of any such letters patent, all such jurisdictions, powers and authority as are vested in those courts respectively at the commencement of this Act.'

Learned counsel for the respondents lay stress on this recital as showing that the power to appoint clerks and other ministerial officers was one of the powers of the High Court. But the section has obviously to be read in conjunction with the clause of the letters patent quoted earlier, since it merely describes the powers already vested in the various High Courts by their respective letters patent; and the letters patent themselves, as already pointed out, show that the power to appoint clerks was given not to the High Court but to the Chief Justice. Viewed in this light, the recital in Section 106 is obviously only a loosely expressed summary, which lumps together the totality of powers exercised by the Chief Justice and by the High Court itself; and it cannot be said that the section alters the legal position established by the letters patent themselves. The subsequent Government of India Act, 1935, has clarified the situation by enacting as follows:

'241 (1) Except as expressly provided by this Act, appointments to the civil services of, and civil posts under the Crown in India, shall, after the commencement of Part III of this Act, be made-

... ... ...

(b) in the case of services of a Province, and posts in connection with the affairs of a Province, by the Governor or such person as he may direct.

(2) Except as expressly provided by this Act, the conditions of service of persons serving His Majesty in a civil capacity in India shall, subject to the provisions of this section, be such as may be prescribed-

... ... ...

(b) in the case of persons serving inconnection with the affairs of a Province, by rules made by the Governor of the Province or by some person or persons authorised by the Governor to make rules for the purpose.

242. (4) In its application to appointments to, and to persons serving on......the staff attached to a High Court, the said section (i.e. Section 241) shall have effect ............... as if, in the case of aHigh Court, for any reference to the Governor in paragraph (b) of Sub-section (1), in paragraph (b) of Sub-section (2) ............... they were substituted a reference to the Chief Justice of the court.'

These provisions make it clear that the Chief Justice has been invested with the powers of appointment and of regulating the conditions of service of the High Court staff not as a representative of the High Court but in his individual capacity, for the functions which he has been called upon to discharge are shown to be primarily functions of the Governor, not of the High Court. Normally the Governor makes all appointments to civil posts in the province or State and regulates the conditions or service attaching thereto, but in view of the special status of the High Court, these powers of the Governor has been transferred, so far as the High Court staff is concerned, to the Chief Justice. The history of these powers, which are now enshrined in Article 229 of the Constitution, therefore, lends support to the view that they are exercised by the Chief Justice in his individual capacity, not as a representative of the High Court as a whole.

4. Judicial precedents do not afford much assistance in the determination of this question of whether writs can be issued to the Chief Justice in respect of orders passed in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 229, as the Supreme Court has hitherto declined to express any definite opinion on the subject -- vide Pradyat Kumar Bose v. Chief Justice of Calcutta, AIR 1956 SC 285, para 14 and Himansu Kumar Bose v. Jyoti Prokash Mitter, AIR 1964 SC 1636, para 18. In Parmatma Sharan v. Chief Justice of Rajasthan, AIR 1964 Raj 13 also the question was left unanswered. Reference has been made in the course of arguments to In re Babul Chandra Mitra, AIR 1952 Pat 309 (FB). Pramatha Nath Mitter v. Chief Justice of Calcutta, AIR 1961 Cal 545 (SB). T. N. Devasahayam v. State of Madras, AIR 1958 Mad 53 and K. Prabhakaran Nair v. State of Kerala, AIR 1970 Ker 27 (FB); but those rulings are concerned with the issue of writs against decisions taken or orders passed by the High Court as a whole and have nothing to do with orders passed by a Chief Justice under Article 229

5. Learned counsel for the respondents have conceded that writs may issue against a Chief Justice for acts performed and administrative orders passed by him in matters unconnected with the High Court, when he exercises powers conferred on him by some separate enactment. Such a writ was actually issued in Kashi Nath Misra v. Chancellor University of Allahabad, AIR 1967 All 101 to quash an order of nomination passed by the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court under Section 11 (4) (i) (b) of the Allahabad University Act. And if orders of this kind, passed by a Chief Justice acting ex officio with regard to matters unconnected with the High Court, are open to challenge in a writ petition, I see no sufficient reason why the administrative or executive orders of a Chief Justice (acting in his individual capacity, not as a representative of the High Court) with regard to the High Court staff should not also be amenable to the writ jurisdiction. As pointed out by learned counsel for the petitioners, to hold otherwise would mean depriving the staff of this Court of the constitutional safeguards and the efficacious and speedy remedies enjoyed by all other civil servants in the State of U.P.; and in the absence of any compelling reason, no interpretation should be placed on Article 229 that would have this disastrous effect.

6. An attempt has been made to argue on behalf of certain respondents that no writ of mandamus can issue to the Chief Justice, because it cannot be enforced. Disobedience of a mandamus, it is urged, can only be checked by resorting to proceedings for contempt; but under Rule 19 of Chapter XVII of the Rules of Court, every application for the taking of such proceedings has to be laid before the Chief Justice for orders; and consequently any Chief Justice bent upon disobeying the writ could stifle the contempt proceedings and thus prevent the writ from being enforced. This suggestion, to my mind, however, is so farfetched that it scarcely deserves consideration. I find it impossible to conceive of any Chief Justice acting in such an arbitrary and irresponsible manner and disobeying the directions and orders issued to him by the High Court acting on the judicial side in the exercise of its writ jurisdiction.

7. My conclusion regarding the preliminary objection raised by the respondents, therefore, is that it is without force. I am fully satisfied that the High Court has the power to issue writs against the Chief Justice and the Registrar in respect of action taken or orderspassed in exercise of the powers conferred by Article 229.

8. I now turn to a consideration of the merits of the petition. The grievance of the petitioners is that the impugned order of the Chief Justice dated 1-3-1969 constitutes a radical departure from the settled practice previously followed in the High Court, whereby every Translator who was transferred to the cadre of Upper Division Assistants was placed at the bottom of the seniority list for that cadre, with the result that the Assistants already in the cadre had a better chance for promotion to higher posts, as compared with the newly absorbed Translator; for by this latest order the seniority of Mahesh Prasad Srivastava and Sushil Kumar (respondents 4 and 5) in the Upper Division Assistants' cadre has been fixed on the basis of the dates when they were confirmed as Translators while working in the Translation department and they have become senior to the petitioners, who had already been working for years as Upper Division Assistants before the respondents joined that cadre. Such a departure from the practice previously followed, it is argued, is illegal as well as arbitrary, unreasonable and unfair.

9. It is doubtful, however, whether it can be said that there was ever any 'settled practice' regarding the fixation of the seniority of Translators transferred to the cadre of Upper Division Assistants. Admittedly, up to 1947, each of the posts in the Translation Department carried its own particular pay; and every Translator who was transferred in that period was given seniority among the Upper Division Assistants according to the pay which he had been drawing. Up to 1947 therefore there was no practice of putting a transferred Translator at the very bottom of the seniority list of Upper Division Assistants. No doubt, this practice appears to have been followed in 1955, when 4 Translators were transferred and again in 1961, when 5 Translators were transferred (vide the list given in Annexure A to the petition); but paragraph 17 of the counter-affidavit filed on behalf of the Chief Justice asserts that this was done because the Translators concerned were 'transferred at their own request, after giving an undertaking for being placed at the bottom'. That allegation has been denied in paragraph 15 of the main rejoinder affidavit; but here we are faced with a disputed question of fact, which cannot be resolved in a petition of this nature, and the result is that I am not in a position to give a finding that the fixation of the seniority of those Translators who were transferred in 1955 and 1961 at the bottom of the Upper Division Assistants' list was done on the basis of 'settled practice' rather than on the basis of special undertakings given by the Translators concerned.

10. As a matter of fact, the impugned order dated 1-3-1969, far from constituting a departure from previous practice, is in harmony with earlier orders passed by the Chief Justice in 1967 and 1968. On 6-9-1967 there was an order (quoted in paragraph 34 of the petition) which ran as follows:

'....... in determining the seniority as Upper Division Assistants vis-a-vis promotee from the general office and translator whose post is transferred to the general office, seniority shall be determined by length of service in officiating capacity as Upper Division Assistant, service as Translator being counted as that of Upper Division Assistant.'

The petitioners have tried to make out (in paragraph 35) that that order was kept secret by the Deputy Registrar (Establishment), K.L. Chaudhry (father of Sushil Kumar, respondent No. 5); but this allegation is effectively refuted in paragraph 33 of the counter affidavit filed on behalf of the Chief Justice. Again there was an order on 21-9-1968 (quoted in paragraph 41 of the petition as follows:

'It is expedient to have a uniform policy for fixing seniority of officials. For fixing seniority in any grade the criterion should be the date of confirmation of the official in that grade. Subject to any directions from me or the Registrar, seniority of officials in all grades should be fixed accordingly.'

And on 19-10-1968 there was a third order of the Chief Justice (quoted in paragraph 42 of the petition), laying down:

'It appears that formerly, translators and officials of Upper Division Assistants grade has the same scale of pay. So, for purposes of operation of the order dated 21-9-1968, the two grades can be regarded as equivalent for fixing seniority of translators upon their merger into the cadre of upper division assistants.'

As already pointed out, none of these earlier orders is now challenged in this writ petition (nor could they with propriety be so challenged, since the writ petition was not filed until May 1969). The impugned order of 1-3-1969 (Annexure K to the petition) is clearly based on them and cannot be treated as a new departure, since it openly states:

'As regards translators, I directed on 19-10-1968 that for purposes of operation of the order dated 21-9-1968, the two grades of translators and upper division assistant (in the old scales) shouldbe regarded as equivalent for fixing seniority of translators upon their merger into the cadre of upper division assistants- Bearing that principle in mind. I find that Sri Mahesh Prasad Srivastava and Sri Sushil Kumar (formerly translators) are senior to Sri L. J. Raphael and others in the regular line. Sri Mahesh Prasad Srivastava was confirmed as translator on 1-3-1954; Sri Sushil Kumar was confirmed as translator on 1-5-1955; and Sri L. J. Raphael was confirmed as upper division assistants on 4-2-1957. It appears that Sri Mahesh Prasad Srivastava and Sri Sushil Kumar were brought into the regular office in public interest, and not upon their request. Since they were brought into the regular line in public interest, they should not lose their initial seniority as translators.'

11. It is clear, therefore, that the petitioners have failed to establish that there was any definite settled practice in the fixation of the seniority of Translators who were converted into Upper Division Assistants or that the impugned order of 1-3-1969 introduced any radical change in the principles formerly followed. But even if the Chief Justice's order had changed any previous practice, I fail to see how it could be struk down merely on that score, without it being shown that the order in question either infringed some statute or rule or was fundamentally arbitrary and unfair.

12. An attempt has been made to argue that there is some kind of basic legal principle that whenever a person is transferred from one cadre to another, he cannot be allowed to claim seniority on the basis of his service in the first cadre but must be placed at the bottom of the cadre into which he is absorbed, as though he were a new entrant. The argument has little force, for the only principles that could be considered binding would be the principles of natural justice and this is not one of those. Support is sought in the decision given by Desai, J. in State of U.P. v. Sudarshandeo, AIR 1963 All 358, in which it was held that a person who had occupied the post of Supervisor of Agricultural Schools could not count his service in that post for fixing his seniority when the post was merged in the cadre of Assistant Masters of Government Higher Secondary Schools. That ruling, however, does not help the petitioners at all, for it is merely based on a refusal to interference with the discretion of the appointing authorities in such matters. It was observed:--

'The respondent has not pointed out any law under which his seniority in the cadre was to be fixed with reference to the date of his appointment, or the date of hisconfirmation, as Supervisor, Agricultural Schools ........... It was for the respondent to show the rules, if any existed, and I do not understand how the opposite-parties could be required to fix the respondent's seniority 'as the rules may permit' without any rules being referred to or brought to their notice. The opposite-parties were not bound by any provision having the force of law to treat him as senior to those Assistant Masters who were appointed after 1-3-1941 or were confirmed after 1-3-1942. If the matter was not covered by rules, it was at the discretion of the opposite parties and no mandamus could lie to compel them to exercise it in a particular manner.'

If this principle is applied to the present case, it is obvious that the petitioners cannot succeed, unless they can show that some statutory provision or rule has been infringed. If the appointing authority has full discretion to fix seniority as it thinks fit, it is open to that authority, while fixing the seniority of a person transferred from one cadre to another, to take into account the period spent by such person as a confirmed employee in the cadre where he first served.

13. My attention has been drawn to the opening clause of Rule 7 of the Allahabad High Court (Conditions of Service of Staff) Rules, which runs as follows:

'7(1). Subject to these rules, the rules and orders for the time being in force and applicable to servants of the Crown of corresponding classes in the service of the United Provinces Government shall regulate the conditions of service of persons serving on the staff attached to the High Court.'

Clause (1) of this Rule means that if there is no provision in the Allahabad High Court (Conditions of Service of Staff) Rules regarding a particular matter affecting the High Court staff's conditions of service, such matter shall be regulated by the Government rules and orders applicable to the corresponding classes of U.P. Civil servants. The fixation of seniority of persons transferred from one section of the High Court office to another is one such matter, regarding which there are no specific provisions in the aforementioned High Court Rules; and learned counsel for the petitioners argues that, this being the case, the Government orders on the subject must be held to regulate this question. The particular Government order on which reliance is placed is No. 49/1/65 Appointment (B) Department dated 25-9-1968, addressed by the Deputy Secretary to all heads of departments and principal heads of offices in the State, regarding the absorption of surplus employees. Therelevant portion of this G.O. may be translated as follows:

'Government has decided that the seniority of such employees in their new departments or new service or new posts shall be fixed in accordance with the rules of that department, service or post. Where there are no service rules, seniority will be fixed according to the principles that are followed in that particular department, service or post. For the purpose of fixation of seniority in the new department, the benefit of the period of service spent in the old department shall not be given. For example, if an employee of the office of the Transport Commissioner has been declared surplus and thereafter has been appointed in the office of the Excise Commissioner, the seniority of that employee in the office of the Excise Commissioner will be fixed in accordance with the principles that are applicable in the case of those employees who are appointed by direct recruitment.'

But this G.O. can scarcely be interpreted as regulating the seniority of a member of a High Court staff who is transferred from one section of the office to another. It deals with an entirely different kind of problem, viz. the fixation of the seniority of a person who on being thrown out of employment due to retrenchment in one department has become unemployed and then is offered employment in a different department. Strictly speaking, such a person has no right to demand re-employment by the Government; and his absorption in the second department is an act of charity on the part of the Government, which feels obliged to take measures to mitigate the hardships brought about by the retrenchment. In the case with which we are dealing at present, on the other hand, respondents 4 and 5 were never thrown out of employment for a single minute, nor was it ever contemplated that they would become unemployed or that there would be any break in their service. And they were appointed in the cadre of the Upper Division Assistants not by way of charity on the part of the appointing authority but purely in order to secure greater efficiency (the demand for Translators having declined and the need for more Assistants in the general office of the High Court having increased).

The transfer of respondents 4 and 5 from one section of the High Court to another, therefore, was fundamentally different from the absorption in various Government departments of persons thrown out of employment by retrenchment in other departments; and no analogy can be drawn between the two. I am satisfied that the G.O. relied uponby learned counsel for the petitioners has no applicability to the present case; and the argument based on Rule 7(1) of the High Court (Conditions of Service of Staff) Rules thus falls to the ground.

14. The petitioners have thus failed to show that there was anything illegal about the impugned order. Nor am I prepared to hold that the order was arbitrary or inherently unfair. The principle followed applies not only to respondents 4 and 5 but also to any other Translator who may be transferred to the cadre of Upper Division Assistants in future. And as pointed out in the order itself, the decision is based on the equitable around that a Translator who is brought into the regular line in the public interest (not at his own request) should not thereby be made to forfeit the seniority which he has gained by working in the High Court office as a confirmed Translator. The petitioners have suggested in their petition that the Chief Justice was somehow deceived by interested parties in the office (especially K. L. Chaudhry the father of respondent No. 5); but whatever the machinations of the office staff may have been, there is nothing in the material before me to show that the Chief Justice did not apply his own mind to the problem of seniority or that he was affected by any extraneous considerations when he passed the impugned order. It is important to note that no mala fides whatsoever have been imputed to the Chief Justice himself in this matter.

15. Stress has been laid on thefact that in the beginning both Mahesh Prasad Srivastava (respondent No. 4) and Sushil Kumar (respondent No. 5) were placed at the bottom of the gradation list of Upper Division Assistants; and the argument has been advanced that once their seniority had been fixed in this manner, it ought not to have been subsequently changed. There is nothing to show, however, that any considered decision was taken by the Chief Justice regarding the seniority of these two particular respondents before the impugned order was passed on 1-3-1969. In para 24 of the petition it is stated that Mahesh Prasad had made three representations, asking for his seniority in the Upper Division Assistants' cadre to be re-fixed on the basis of his confirmation as Translator, and all these representations were rejected. But in his counter-affidavit (para 6) Mahesh Prasad, though admitting that he made representations, has denied that they were ever rejected; and there is no material before me to substantiate the petitioner's allegation in this respect.

As regards Sushil Kumar, my attention has been drawn to Annexure E tothe petition, a letter addressed by the Registrar to the Government on 8-8-1967, in which it was said that 'the Court is reducing one permanent post of Translator and absorbing the incumbent in the general office in the Upper Division grade, placing him at the bottom of permanent assistants, pending further orders of Government'. But this was obviously not meant to be the final word on the subject of his seniority, even by the Registrar, let alone the Chief Justice. It is clear therefore that no factual basis has been established for the argument that the seniority of respondents 4 and 5 was originally fixed by the Chief Justice, after due deliberation, at the bottom of the Upper Division Assistants' cadre. Moreover, even if that had been the case, I fail to see what there was to prevent the Chief Justice from altering that seniority later on, on his deciding to apply different principles, for no question of res judicata can arise in respect of such administrative orders.

16. My conclusion is that no case has been made out by the petitioners for any interference with the impugned order of 1-3-1969 by means of a writ. It is neither opposed to any statutory provision or rule, nor is it arbitrary or inherently unfair. It does not constitute a radical change from any 'settled principle' previously followed in the matter of the fixation of seniority, nor does it appear to have reversed any previous decision of the Chief Justice with regard to respondents 4 and 5. And even if it had changed the prinicples or reversed an earlier order, it would still not have been open to challenge, since the powers exercised by the Chief Justice when passing administrative orders are wide enough to permit him to introduce such changes (provided they do not run counter to any rule and are not arbitrary, unreasonable or unfair).

17. There remains to be considered the orders of promotion passed in respect of Mahesh Prasad Srivastava and Sushil Kumar after their seniority had been fixed by the order of 1-3-1969. Only two such orders were passed before the writ petition was filed; one on 23-4-1969, when Mahesh Prasad was promoted to the post of Assistant Superintendent in the Administrative Department; and the second on 25-4-1969, when Sushil Kumar was promoted to the post of Assistant Superintendent in the Copying Department. After the filing of the writ petition, a third order was passed on 24-5-1969 (subject to the decision of this petition), promoting Sushil Kumar to the post of Assistant Superintendent in the Administrative Department, but I am not concerned with that -- it will be for theRegistrar or the Chief Justice to decide how far it is affected by the findings arrived at by me in relation to the orders which are directly challenged in this petition.

18. Two objections have been raised against the impugned orders of promotion (a) that they were passed by the Chief Justice, instead of by the Registrar and (b) that they were passed on the basis of seniority, instead of merit, as required by the Rules.

19. Both the impugned orders (reproduced in Annexures R 1 and R 2 to the rejoinder filed against the counter affidavit of Mahesh Prasad) consist of a proposal put up by the Additional Registrar, an endorsement thereon addressed to the Chief Justice by the Registrar in the words 'As proposed?' and a final order by the Chief Justice in a single word 'Approved'. Learned counsel for the petitioners argue that these promotions should have been made by an order of the Registrar, in view of Rule 10 of the Allahabad High Court (Conditions of Service of Staff) Rules, and that it was illegal for the Chief Justice to pass the orders himself, when he had delegated the power of appointment to the Registrar under those Rules. An attempt has been made to counter this argument by referring to the clause in Rule 10 which says that the promotions shall be made in the manner provided 'subject to any general or special order passed by the Chief Justice'; but there is a Division Bench decision in Ram Singh Jauhary v. Hon'ble the Chief Justice. Spl. Appeal No. 33 of 1908, D/- 24-1 1909 (All), in which it has been held that these words are not applicable to promotions to selection posts (under Rule 9) and in any case merely empower the Chief Justice to regulate the procedure of selection, not to pass orders of promotion himself.

I do not consider it necessary to enter into this controversy in the present case, however, as in my opinion, even if the signing of the impugned orders of promotion by the Chief Justice was irregular, that irregularity is not of such a nature as to vitiate the orders or to justify their being quashed. It is perfectly clear from the endorsement made by the Registrar that he too approved of the Additional Registrar's proposals and that had he chosen to pass orders himself, instead of just recommending the proposals and obtaining the orders of the Chief Justice thereon, he would have parsed precisely the same orders as the Chief Justice has done. No useful purpose, therefore, would be served by issuing a writ to quash the orders of promotion signed by the Chief Justice, merely to get them replaced by identicalorders passed and signed by the Registrar.

20. The other objections raised by the petitioners, viz. that the impugned orders of promotion were passed on the basis of seniority instead of merit, is valid only in the case of order promoting Mahesh Prasad. The promotion of Sushil Kumar on 25-4-1969, not being a promotion to one of the selection posts enumerated under Rule 9 of the High Court (Conditions of Service of Staff) Rules, was governed by Rule 8, which lays down that ''promotion ............... shallordinarily be made according to seniority'; and consequently he was rightly chosen for promotion to the post of Assistant Superintendent of the Copying Department, because he was the senior-most Upper Division Assistant available for promotion according to the final gradation list settled in accordance with the Chief Justice's orders about seniority.

21. The promotion of Mahesh Prasad, however, was to a selection post and clearly fell under Rule 9, which runs:

'Promotion to the following posts of responsibility or trust or which require special qualifications shall be made by selection, irrespective of seniority; (viii) Assistant Superintendent, Administrative Department.'

'Selection irrespective of seniority' obviously implies that the person promoted must be chosen out of a number of eligible candidates, after their respective merits have been compared. But the actual order passed in Mahesh Prasad's case (Annexure R 1 to the rejoinder) shows that quite a different procedure was followed. The note put up by the Additional Registrar contains the following remarks:

'There is a vacancy in the post of Assistant Superintendent consequent on the transfer of Sri K. N. Srivastava to Lucknow. This is a selection post. Both seniority and merit have to be taken into consideration in making the appointment. According to the latest orders of Hon'ble C. J. Sri Mahesh Prasad Srivastava is the seniormost Upper Division Assistant entitled to this promotion. He is a graduate and has a good record of service.'

These remarks are followed by the proposal itself, without further comment; and then comes the endorsement by the Registrar ('As proposed?') and by the Chief Justice ('Approved'). It is noteworthy that in the Additional Registrar's remarks, seniority, far from being disregarded as required by Rule 9, is given the greatest prominence, being mentionedbefore merit. And although there is some reference to merit ('He is a graduate and has a good record of service'), there is no selection on the basis of merit, for Mahesh Prasad's record has not been compared with that of anyone else. During the hearing of arguments, I inquired whether any character rolls or records of service had been placed before the Chief Justice at the time when the proposal was put up for orders; and the reply given on behalf of the Chief Justice was that, as far as he could recollect, nothing was placed before him except the Additional Registrar's note, which is incorporated in Annexure R 1. I am satisfied therefore that the promotion of Mahesh Prasad to the post of Assistant Superintendent of the Administrative Department was not made by 'selection irrespective of seniority', as required by Rule 9.

22. Learned counsel appearing for the Chief Justice has tried to show that even though the impugned order or promotion (Annexure R 1) is not in conformity with Rule 9, it is nevertheless valid, as it is covered by a general order passed by an earlier Chief Justice in the year 1964. In this connexion reliance is placed on the concluding phrase of R. 10, which runs as follows:

'Promotion to the post of Deputy Registrar and Assistant Registrar shall be made by the Chief Justice in his discretion, promotion to posts mentioned in Rule 9 shall be made by the Registrar by selection and promotions to all other posts shall be made by Registrar by transfer from one department of the office to another in accordance with these rules, subject to any general _ orspecial order passed by the ChiefJustice.'

The order in question was set forth ina note drawn up by the then Registraron 17-7-1964, the relevant portion ofwhich runs:

'These selection posts are enumerated in Rule 9 of the Allahabad High Court (Conditions of Service of Staff) Rules. The same rule also lays down the criteria on which promotions to such posts are to be made. It says that promotions to such posts shall be made by selection irrespective of seniority. That means that the criteria is not so much seniority as merit which is to be judged by the past record of service and it is in the discretion of the Registrar to judge the suitability of an assistant. But sometimes it happens that good and capable assistants do not get a chance of showing their merit because of having always been posted on less important posts for no fault of theirs. It would,therefore, be proper to give the seniors a chance before putting a junior above them unless of course, they themselves have declined to work on the selection post. If on such trial an assistant is found to be not up to the mark he should be declared unfit and condemned for future promotion. On the other hand, the assistant who after his selection has justified the appointment and is found to be up to the mark during the probation, should be confirmed irrespective of seniority.'

But there is absolutely no indication that the principle laid down in the above quoted passage was ever sought to be applied in the present case. There was no suggestion in the Additional Registrar's note of 23-4-1969 that Mahesh Prasad had not had a chance of showing his merit because he had always been posted on less important posts or that it would be proper to give him a chance before putting a junior above him. I am satisfied in the circumstances that the argument based on the 1964 order, which was not put forward till the concluding stage of arguments had been reached, is a mere afterthought and that the 1964 order was never in the minds of the Additional Registrar, the Registrar and the Chief Justice when the impugned promotion order was passed on 23-4-1969.

23. My conclusion regarding the promotion orders passed before this writ petition was filed is that the order of 25-4-1969 promoting Sushil Kumar was properly passed in accordance with Rule 8 and cannot be challenged, but the order of 23-4-1969 promoting Mahesh Prasad is invalid for non-compliance with Rule 9 and must be struck down.

24. The result is that this writ petition fails as regards the order of 1-3-1969 fixing seniority and the promotion order of 25-4-1969. The petition succeeds, however, with regard to the order of 23-4-1969 (promoting Mahesh Prasad) and a writ is granted to quash that order. The Registrar is directed to pass a fresh order to fill the vacancy in the post of Assistant Superintendent, Administrative Department, in strict conformity with the provisions of Rule 9. The writ petition is decided accordingly. In view of their partial success and failure the parties shall bear their own costs.


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