05 Feb 2121

The High Court cannot pass directions to carry forward a matter pending before the Administrative Tribunal - Supreme Court of India

Case : Gajanan Babulal Bansode & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors. Civil Appeal No. 104 of 2021

Court : Supreme Court of India

Bench : Justice L. Nageswara Rao, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Vineet Saran

Decided on : 05 Feb 2121

Relevant Statutes

Articles 14, 16 and 320 of the Constitution of India

Rules 3, 4 and 5 of the Police Sub-Inspector (Recruitment) Rules, 1995

Brief Facts and Procedural History

1. The Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) to conduct the Limited Departmental Competitive Examination (LDCE) for selection of candidates to the post of Police Sub-Inspector at the behest of the Government of Maharashtra.

2. The Home Department, Government of Maharashtra vide Government Circular dated 27.06.2016 notified 828 vacancies for promotion to the post of Police Sub-Inspector through the Limited Departmental Competitive Examination-2016.

3. The selection was governed by the provisions of the Police Sub-Inspector (Recruitment) Rules, 1995.

4. The Maharashtra Public Service Commission recommended 642 names from the open category securing 253 marks and above, and 186 names from the reserved categories securing 230 marks and above.

5. The Home Department, Government of Maharashtra vide a Government Resolution dated 22.04.2019 notified that the Cabinet had taken a policy decision to accommodate 636 additional candidates who had secured more than 230 marks in the examination.

6. The Directorate General of Police issued a direction for conducting the medical test and other formalities to send the additional 636 candidates for training to the Maharashtra Police Academy, Nasik, as a part of the process of their appointment to the post of Police Sub-Inspector.

7. The Deputy Secretary of the Maharashtra Public Service Commission addressed a letter dated 11.07.2019 to the Additional Chief Secretary (Appeal and Security) Government of Maharashtra to state that as per Article 320 of the Constitution, the Maharashtra Public Service Commission has the power to appoint candidates to various posts in the State. The post of Police Sub-Inspector being a Class III post was required to be filled up following The Police Sub-Inspector (Recruitment) Rules, 1995. The list of 636 additional was notified by the Government on its official website without consulting the Maharashtra Public Service Commission, which was a serious irregularity, and would hamper the functioning of the Commission.

8. Various Original Applications were filed by candidates to challenge the Policy decision contained in the Government Resolution dated 22.04.2019. In the present case, an Original Application was filed by a group of In-service candidates who were working as Police Constables and was aggrieved by the impugned Government Resolution, since it would adversely affect their promotional prospects. They added that the recruitment of additional 636 candidates to the post of Police Sub-Inspector, was contrary to the Recruitment Rules, and would have the inevitable effect of distorting the ratio for recruitment through the Limited Departmental Examination.

9. Rule 4 of the Police Sub-Inspector (Recruitment) Rules, 1995 provides a quota of 25% for promotion through the Local Departmental Examination. The appointment of 636 additional candidates would have the effect of distorting the quota of 25% prescribed by Rule 4, and curtail the future promotion opportunities of candidates who had either failed in the Limited Departmental Competitive Examination-2016, or who were not eligible on account of age, experience, and educational qualification. The denial of promotional avenues to the Petitioners in the foreseeable future would be violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.

10. The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal passed an interim Order dated 18.10.2019 directing that Status Quo be maintained concerning the 636 additional candidates whose list was appended to the Government Resolution.

11. The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal by an Order dated 30.11.2019 vacated the interim Order dated 18.10.2019. Aggrieved by this, the Original Applicants or Petitioners filed a Writ Petition before the Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court to maintain the aforesaid Status Quo, which got rejected.

12. The High Court declined to determine whether the Government Resolution had been issued in extraordinary circumstances as provided by Rule 5 since the Original Application was pending adjudication before the Tribunal. The High Court however issued a direction to the State Government to send the additional 636 candidates for the training of 9 months; and, requested the Tribunal to dispose of the pending Original Application within the same period, so that before the posting or appointment orders being issued in favour of the additional candidates the Original Application would be decided.

13. Appellants challenged this decision before the Honourable Supreme Court.

Issues of the Case

1. Whether the Order passed by the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal vacating the interim Order was valid?

2. Whether the directions passed by the High Court of Bombay were valid?

The Observations of the Court

The Honourable Supreme Court observed that:

1. Article 320(3)(a) of the Constitution of India provides that the Union Public Service Commission or the State Public Service Commission shall be consulted on all matters relating to methods of recruitment to civil services, and for civil posts.

2. In the present case, the State of Maharashtra has issued the impugned Government Resolution dated 22.04.2019, without any consultation or prior approval by the Maharashtra Public Service Commission; the letter dated 11.07.2019 issued by the Maharashtra Public Service Commission to the Government, expressing its disapproval of the decision taken by the Government unilaterally to make these appointments without any consultation makes it evident.

3. Rule 5 of the Police Sub-Inspector (Recruitment) Rules, 1995 provides that notwithstanding anything contained in these rules, if in the opinion of the Government, the exigencies of service required, the ratio prescribed for appointment by promotion, based on Limited Departmental Examination or nomination may be relaxed with the prior consultation of the Commission. The Government would be required to establish before the Tribunal existence of extra-ordinary circumstances which warranted the exercise of power under Rule 5, which may be resorted to only in rare and exceptional circumstances.

4. The impugned Government Resolution sought to fill up double the number of vacancies that were notified for the Limited Departmental Competitive Examination–2016. It is well-settled in service jurisprudence that the authority cannot fill up more than the notified number of vacancies advertised, as the recruitment of candidates over the notified vacancies, violates Articles 14 and 16(1) of the Constitution of India.

5. The Tribunal had vacated the Order of status quo, on the ground that two of the Applicants had participated in the examination, but failed to qualify. This was not a justifiable ground to vacate the interim Order, since the promotional prospects of the Petitioners would be seriously prejudiced since a block of 636 additional candidates would be appointed as Police Sub-Inspectors over and above the Applicants.

6. The other ground on which the Tribunal vacated the Interim Order was that the Applicants had not challenged the Government Resolution. This was an erroneous observation that would be evident from the prayers in the Original Applications.

7. The third ground on which the Tribunal has vacated the Interim Order was that in similar Original Applications the Applicants had withdrawn their respective cases since they were desirous of pursuing their representations with the State Government. This was also not a justifiable ground.

8. The High Court in the present Writ Petition has issued a direction to the State to send the additional list of 636 candidates for the training of 9 months during the pendency of proceedings before the Tribunal. Such a direction ought not to have been passed.

 The Decision Held by the Court

The Honourable Supreme Court allowed the appeal and held that:

1. The Government Resolution dated 22.4.2019 will remain stayed during the pendency of proceedings before the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal.

2. The Order passed by the Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal vacating the interim Order, and the Order passed by the Bombay High Court in Writ Petition were set aside.

3. The Maharashtra Administrative Tribunal, Nagpur Bench was directed to decide the pending Original Applications within six months from the date of receipt of this Order. The Tribunal will ensure that the additional 636 candidates are given notice of the pending Original Applications through the State, to enable them to appear and participate in the proceedings. The Tribunal will club all pending Original Applications challenging the impugned Government Resolution, and pass a common Judgment.

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