V.R. Krishna Iyer, J.
1. These two appeals and the sister writ petition raise the same point of law, seeking to derive succour from a ruling of this Court la the State of Gujarat v. CG. Desai and Ors. : (1974)ILLJ252SC , which we are inclined to think is distinguishable because uaiike in that decision the weightage which is objected to as violative of Article 14 is based upon a rule framed under proviso to Article 309 which we regard as reasonable and in the circumstances fair.
2. We are upholding the decision of the High Court in P. Bhayanarayana and Ors. v. D.V. Prabhakarsarma and Ors. Latters Patent Appeals Nos. 942 of 1974 and 193,194 and 858 of 1975. where there is an elaborate discussion of the questions of law raised and reference to the precedents which have a bearing on the paint debated before us. We wholly agree with the reasoning and conclusion of the High Court and that is why we are not inclined to elaborate over again the reasons for rejecting the submissions of the appellants.
3. Briefly, the case turns on the validity of a certain rule in the Andhra Pradesh Engineering subordinate Service Rules. There are two sources of initial recruitment to the service, those who possess diplomas are recruited to the posts of Supervisors, those who possess engineering degrees are recruited to the posts of Junior Engineers. The fact is that by and large they discharge the same functions and it is wrong to say that there is no functional party as between Supervisors and Junior Engineers. However, the academic superiority of the Junior Engineers is also a reality and has been recognised in the rules framed. The promotion to the next higher rank is to the post of Assistant Engineers in the State Engineering service and for the purpose of promotion to that rank, according to the rules, it was necessary for a degree holder like a Junior Engineer to put in five years of service while for a non-degree holder, that is a diploma holder like a Supervisor, a minimum service of ten years was prescribed. This caused considerable hardship to the Supervisors and, therefore, having a second look at the whole situation, Government by G.O.Ms. No. 893 framed the following rule which may read here :
Note (2) Supervisors who acquire, while in service, B.E.M.I.E. (India) qualification shall be entitled to count 50% of their service rendered as Supervisor prior to acquisition of such qualification, subject to a maximum limit of 4 years as if it had been in the post of Junior Engineers for the purpose of consideration for appointment by transfer to the post of Assistant Engineer from Junior Engineers and subject to the following conditions :
(1) They should render a minimum service of one year after acquisition of B.E. or A.M.I.E. (India) qualification:
(2) They should be considered to have been placed below the list of the Junior Engineers of the year after giving weightage as indicated above.
(3) They should put in a total service of 5 years as Junior Engineer inclusive of the period given as weightage.
(4) The benefit of weightage given above shall be given effect for the purpose of all selections that are made by Public Service Commission pertaining to the years from 2nd January, 1968 onwards till 28th February, 1977.
4. It is apparent from this new rule that nothing unreasonable or shocking, nothing arbitrary or violative of fair play is done because what has been prescribed is that if a Supervisor acquires A.M.I.E while in service and renders service as Supervisor he is given credit as Junior Engineer for half the period of his service as Supervisor subject to a maximum of four years. It is common ground that A.M.I.E. is equal to an engineering degree. This virtually the Supervisor acquires a engineering degree and discharges functions which are substantially similar to that of a Junior Engineer yet there is inequality of opportunity. The Government has tried to mitigate the hardship by framing this rule which accords to such now Junior Engineers or upgraded Supervisors the benefit of half the length of service as SupervisOrs. This weightage is challenged as arbitrary, unjust and, therefore, violative of Article 14.
5. It is contended by Counsel for the Junior Engineers who are the appellants before us, relying on the decision we have earlier referred to, namely, The State of Gujarat v. C.G. Dssai and Ors. supra that, if the date of upgradation is prior to the date of commencement of probation of the regular Junior Engineers, such upgraded Junior Engineers cannot bs treated as seniors to the directly recruited Junior Engineers the promotions cannot be ordered on that footing. This grievance may be or may not be but it is impossible to bold that there is anything arbitrary or violative of Article 14.
6. After all, we must remember that Supervisors and Junior Engineers discharge substantially similar functions. We must further remember that Supervisors get the special weightage only if they acquire A.M.I.E., which is equivalent to an engineering degree. Furthermore the weight age given is only for half the period they have served as SupervisOrs. In the light of their wide experience and basic qualification, we are unable to say that there is anything capricious in given them the limited benefit or weightage under the new rule. We, therefore, do not agree that there is merit in the appeal.
7. Ultimately it is a matter of government policy to decide what weightage should be given as between two categories of Government servants rendering somewhat similar kind of service. In the present case, there may be truth in the case of the appellants that they are hit hard because of the new rule. Dr. Chitale tried to convince us of the hardship that his client sustain consequent on this rule and weightage conferred thereby. But more hardship without anything arbitrary in the rule does not cal1 for judicial intervention, especially when it flows out of a policy which is not basically illegal. However, government must be interested in keeping its servants specially in strategic areas like engineering contended and efficient. In so producing contentment, it may have to evolve a flexible policy which will not strike a group as inflicting hardship on them. A sense of justice must permeate both the groups. Perhaps there is force in the submission of Dr. Chitale that the Junior Engineers have to face adversity in the matter of promotions. All that we can do is to emphasise that his being a matter of government policy, the State will receive any representation that may be made for change of policy from the Junior Engineers and consider whether any such change in the policy is justified in the circumstances of the case. In so doing, there is no doubt that the other affected groups will also be heard because administrative fair play is basic to satisfaction of government servants as a class. We say no more nor do we indicate that in our view there is any hardship. We only mean to say that government will remove hardship if by modification of policy it can achieve this result. Undoubtedly, in this process, both sides will have to be heard not is a rule of law but as a part of administrative fair play. Subject to these observations, we dismiss the appeals and the writ petition.