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Rama Nand and Ors. Vs. Chief Secretary, Govt. of NCT of Delhi and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (06 Aug 2020)

Promotion includes advancement to a higher pay scale without moving to a different post



The Appellants were all working as Telephone Operators with the Delhi Fire Service ("DFS"). On account of reorganisation of the wireless communication system, ninety-six posts of Radio Telephone Operators were sought to be created in terms of a letter dated 29th August, 1983. Six Radio Operators were already operating as such, while twenty-seven Telephone Operators, in the pay scale of Rs. 260-400 were sought to be deployed as Radio Telephone Operators ("RTOs") in a higher pay scale. The reorganisation scheme was approved on 10th October, 1983 by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

The Telephone Operators had to go through a training and to be deployed as RTOs, a further condition was imposed of 5 years regular service, though it is alleged by the Appellants that the same was not part of the letter dated 29th August, 1983. An important development took place on 9th October, 1999 whereby the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India issued an Office Memorandum introducing an Assured Career Progression ("ACP") Scheme, by which a decision was taken to grant two financial upgradations after completion of 12 and 24 years of regular service respectively. It is the case of the Appellants that, they were entitled to get their first financial upgradation as on 9th August, 1999 or on completion of 12 years of service in the DFS as Telephone Operators/RTOs, but that the same were denied to the Appellants since the Respondents treated their conversion of the aforesaid posts as a promotion.

The limited controversy which arises for adjudication in the present case is whether the deployment of the Appellants as RTOs would amount to a promotion or whether it was a mere reorganisation and the Appellants were entitled to the ACP separately in terms of the ACP Scheme.

The benefits of ACP Scheme cannot be held applicable to the Appellants and consequently, the High Court was right in interfering with the order of the CAT. The consequence of reorganisation of the cadre resulted in not only a mere re-description of the post but also a much higher pay scale being granted to the Appellants based on an element of selection criteria. At the threshold itself, there is a requirement of a minimum 5 years of service. Thus, all Telephone Operators would not automatically be eligible for the new post. Undoubtedly, the financial emoluments, are much higher. The Appellants had to go through the rigorous of a specialised training. All these cannot be stated to be only an exercise of merely re-description or reorganisation of the cadre.

In view of decision of Supreme Court in case of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited v. R. Santhakumari Velusamy and Ors., and as per sub-para (i) of para 29 of same, promotion may include an advancement to a higher pay scale without moving to a different post. In the present case, there is a re-description of the post based on higher pay scale and a specialised training. It is not a case covered by sub-para (iii), as canvassed by learned Counsel for the Appellants, where the higher pay scale is available to everyone who satisfies the eligibility condition without undergoing any process of selection. The training and the benchmark of 5 years of service itself involve an element of selection process. Similarly, it is not as if the requirement is only a minimum of 5 years of service by itself, so as to cover it Under Sub-para (iv). Appeals dismissed.

Relevant : Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited v. R. Santhakumari Velusamy and Ors. MANU/SC/1037/2011


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