Rama Nand vs Chief Sec.Govt.Of Nct Of Delhi on 6 August, 2020


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Supreme Court of India

Rama Nand vs Chief Sec.Govt.Of Nct Of Delhi on 6 August, 2020

Author: Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Bench: Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Ajay Rastogi

                                                                                     REPORTABLE

                                      IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                       CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                   CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 5829-5830 OF 2012



         RAMA NAND AND ORS.                                                     ….APPELLANTS

                                                    VERSUS


         CHIEF SECRETARY, GOVT. OF NCT OF DELHI & ANR.                          ….RESPONDENTS



                                                  JUDGMENT

SANJAY KISHAN KAUL, J.

1. 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 29.8.1983. 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
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
reorganisation scheme was approved on 10.10.1983 by the Municipal
ASHA SUNDRIYAL
Date: 2020.08.06
19:10:37 IST
Reason:

Corporation of Delhi.

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2. 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 29.8.1983. An important development took place on

9.8.1999 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 9.8.1999 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.

3. The appellants filed OA No. 983/1995 before the Central Administrative

Tribunal (“CAT”), Principal Bench, New Delhi and succeeded in terms of the

judgment dated 6.10.1999 granting them the pay scale of RTOs, i.e., Rs.380-

560 on the principle of “equal pay for equal work”.

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4. One of the RTOs made a representation on 31.5.2001 on the non-grant

of the benefits of the ACP Scheme. Thereafter, the respondents sought a

clarification from the Government of India, Department of Personnel and

Training as to whether placement/appointment in higher pay scales is a

promotion/financial upgradation and is to be offset against the financial

upgradations per the ACP Scheme. It is a case of the appellants that the

clarification issued in this behalf, through an Office Memorandum dated

18.7.2001, would have no application to the appellants in view of the

statutory recruitment rules (though stated to be not notified as per the

appellants and thus inapplicable) and on account of the

restructuring/reorganisation which had come to prevail.

5. OA No. 1224/2003 was filed in May 2003 before the CAT, Principal

Bench, New Delhi seeking relief for the first financial upgradation in terms of

the ACP Scheme, which was opposed by the respondents. The Tribunal

decided the issue vide judgment dated 29.10.2003 opining that promotion

and merger of cadres operated in different spheres and the requirement to

be categorised as ‘promotion’ is that it must specify certain basic

qualifications. On the other hand, conversion of the posts was in exercise of

the powers of the Government in the given exigencies. Hence, what was

granted to the appellants was not a promotion and the Tribunal consequently

opined that the appellants were entitled to the benefits of the ACP Scheme.

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6. The aforesaid order was assailed by the respondents before the Delhi

High Court by filing writ petition being WP (C) No. 8406-07 of 2004. The High

Court called for the records and, on the pleadings being completed, passed

the impugned judgment dated 8.5.2009 allowing the writ petition filed by the

respondents. The gravamen of the reasoning of the High Court is that the

conversion of posts of Telephone Operators to RTOs was with a condition of

completion of 5 years of regular service, with the benefit of the higher pay

scale from Rs. 260-400 to Rs. 380-560 and consequently, was liable to be

treated as promotion, thus disentitling the appellants to the benefits of the

ACP Scheme.

7. We have considered respective submissions of learned counsel for the

parties.

8. On an examination of the Office Memorandum dated 9.8.1999 bringing

forth the ACP Scheme, it is apparent that the same was a consequence of the

Fifth Central Pay Commission Report recommending such a Scheme for

civilian employees, and was to be viewed as a safety net to deal with the

problem of genuine stagnation and hardship faced by the employees due to

lack of adequate promotional avenues. The moot point, thus, which arises

for consideration is whether the benefits accruing to the appellants as a

consequence of the reorganisation scheme of wireless and communication

systems could be said to give them the benefit of a promotion and whether

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they were still entitled to a financial upgradation on account of the ACP

Scheme.

9. Our attention has been drawn to the circular dated 24.2.1984 that

provided for a training to be conducted at the headquarters of DFS for a

period of two months. Such training had to be carried in two batches under

the supervision of the Wireless Officer. In fact, the reference of the

reorganisation of the wireless and communication system in the DFS as per

item no. 137 contained in the Commissioner’s letter dated 29.8.1983, sets

out the reasons for the same as an endeavour to increase the efficiency of

the original wireless communication system introduced in 1961 and the

requirement of reorganisation in view of the change in the technology itself.

It is clearly stated that the existing twenty-seven Telephone Operators would

be in the higher pay scale as set out aforesaid “after necessary training of

short duration”. There was also a requirement of the fulfilment of the

essential condition of 5 years of experience in the post of Telephone Operator

as even set out in the writ petition filed before the High Court.

10. Mr. Balbir Singh Gupta, learned counsel for the appellant as well as Ms.

Madhavi Divan, learned ASG have both relied in support of their respective

submissions on the judgment of this Court in Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited

v. R. Santhakumari Velusamy and Others.1

1 (2011) 9 SCC 510

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11. Learned counsel for the appellant sought to refer us to para 29 which

sets out the principles as under:

“29. On a careful analysis of the principles relating to
promotion and upgradation in the light of the aforesaid
decisions, the following principles emerge:

(i) Promotion is an advancement in rank or grade or
both and is a step towards advancement to a higher
position, grade or honour and dignity. Though in the
traditional sense promotion refers to advancement to a
higher post, in its wider sense, promotion may include an
advancement to a higher pay scale without moving to a
different post. But the mere fact that both—that is,
advancement to a higher position and advancement to a
higher pay scale—are described by the common term
“promotion”, does not mean that they are the same. The
two types of promotion are distinct and have different
connotations and consequences.

(ii) Upgradation merely confers a financial benefit by
raising the scale of pay of the post without there being
movement from a lower position to a higher position. In an
upgradation, the candidate continues to hold the same
post without any change in the duties and responsibilities
but merely gets a higher pay scale.

(iii) Therefore, when there is an advancement to a
higher pay scale without change of post, it may be referred
to as upgradation or promotion to a higher pay scale. But
there is still difference between the two. Where the
advancement to a higher pay scale without change of post
is available to everyone who satisfies the eligibility
conditions, without undergoing any process of selection, it
will be upgradation. But if the advancement to a higher
pay scale without change of post is as a result of some
process which has elements of selection, then it will be a
promotion to a higher pay scale. In other words,
upgradation by application of a process of selection, as
contrasted from an upgradation simpliciter can be said to
be a promotion in its wider sense, that is, advancement to
a higher pay scale.

(iv) Generally, upgradation relates to and applies to all
positions in a category, who have completed a minimum
period of service. Upgradation can also be restricted to a
percentage of posts in a cadre with reference to seniority
(instead of being made available to all employees in the

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category) and it will still be an upgradation simpliciter. But
if there is a process of selection or consideration of
comparative merit or suitability for granting the
upgradation or benefit of advancement to a higher pay
scale, it will be a promotion. A mere screening to eliminate
such employees whose service records may contain
adverse entries or who might have suffered punishment,
may not amount to a process of selection leading to
promotion and the elimination may still be a part of the
process of upgradation simpliciter. Where the upgradation
involves a process of selection criteria similar to those
applicable to promotion, then it will, in effect, be a
promotion, though termed as upgradation.

(v) Where the process is an upgradation simpliciter,
there is no need to apply the rules of reservation. But
where the upgradation involves a selection process and is
therefore a promotion, the rules of reservation will apply.

(vi) Where there is a restructuring of some cadres
resulting in creation of additional posts and filling of those
vacancies by those who satisfy the conditions of eligibility
which includes a minimum period of service, will attract the
rules of reservation. On the other hand, where the
restructuring of posts does not involve creation of
additional posts but merely results in some of the existing
posts being placed in a higher grade to provide relief
against stagnation, the said process does not invite
reservation.”

He submitted that in terms of sub-para (iii) and (iv), when there is an

advancement to a higher pay scale without change of post, it may be

referred to as upgradation or promotion to a higher pay scale. But there is a

difference between the two. In case such change of post is available to

everyone who satisfies the eligibility condition without undergoing any

process of selection, it will be upgradation. While, if it is a result of some

process which has element of selection, then it will be a promotion to the

higher pay scale. Sub-para (iv) is stated to further clarify this aspect that if

there is process of selection or consideration of comparative merit or
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suitability for granting the upgradation or benefit of advancement to a higher

pay scale, it will be a promotion.

12. On the other hand, learned ASG submitted that the aforesaid principle

have to be read in the context of what has been set out before in paras 27

and 28. The law explaining the difference between upgradation and

promotion was set out in Union of India v. Pushpa Rani2 and those principles

have been extracted in para 27, the relevant portion of para 27 reads as

under:

“27. In Union of India v. Pushpa Rani [(2008) 9 SCC
242 : (2008) 2 SCC (L&S) 851] this Court examined the entire
case law and explained the difference
between upgradation and promotion thus: (SCC pp. 244h-

245h)
“In legal parlance, upgradation of a post involves
transfer of a post from lower to higher grade and
placement of the incumbent of that post in the
higher grade. Ordinarily, such placement does not
involve selection but in some of the service rules
and/or policy framed by the employer for
upgradation of posts, provision has been made for
denial of higher grade to an employee whose service
record may contain adverse entries or who may have
suffered punishment. The word ‘promotion’ means
advancement or preferment in honour, dignity, rank,
grade. Promotion thus not only covers advancement
to higher position or rank but also implies
advancement to a higher grade. In service law, the
word ‘promotion’ has been understood in wider
sense and it has been held that promotion can be
either to a higher pay scale or to a higher post.”

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx”

2 (2008) 9 SCC 242

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13. The posts in the case of Pushpa Rani (supra) was held to be promotion

for the reasons set out in para 28.

“28. In Pushpa Rani [(2008) 9 SCC 242 : (2008) 2 SCC (L&S)
851], this Court while considering a scheme contained in the
Letter dated 9-10-2003 held that it provided for a restructuring
exercise resulting in creation of additional posts in most of the
cadres and there was a conscious decision to fill up such posts
by promotion from all eligible and suitable employees and,
therefore, it was a case of promotion and, consequently, the
reservation rules were applicable.”

14. The submission of learned ASG was that the conclusions will have to be

read in the aforesaid context. Thus, a promotion is an advancement in rank

or grade or both and is a step towards advancement to a higher position,

grade or honour and dignity – “in its wider sense, promotion may include an

advancement to a higher pay scale without moving to a different post.”

15. Learned counsel in the aforesaid context, while turning to the factual

matrix of the present case, submitted that there are three aspects which are

material in the present case:

(i) prequalification of minimum of 5 years of service;

(ii) higher financial emoluments;

(iii) rigorous of a specialised training

These make a candidate eligible. It was, thus, a submission that if all these

three are considered together, there can be no doubt that the present case is

one which should be considered as the promotion for the purpose of ACP

Scheme.

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16. We have examined the aforesaid contention and we are of the view

that 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.

17. The reasons for coming to this conclusion is based on the principles set

out in the BSNL case (supra). No doubt, sometimes there is a fine distinction

which arises in such cases, but, a holistic view has to be taken considering

the factual matrix of each case. 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. We say so as, 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, as stated above, are much higher. The third important

aspect is that 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. On applying the test in BSNL case

(supra), as per sub-para (i) of para 29, 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

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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).

18. We have already observed that the complete factual contours of the

difference between the two posts would have to be examined in the given

factual situation and the triple criteria of minimum 5 years of service, a

specialised training and much higher financial emoluments leaves us in no

manner of doubt. What was done has to be considered as a promotion

disentitling the appellants to the benefits of the ACP Scheme. As the very

objective of the ACP Scheme, as set out, is “to deal with the problem of

genuine stagnation and hardship faced by the employees due to lack of

adequate promotional avenues.”

19. Appeals are, accordingly, dismissed leaving the parties to bear their

own costs.

……..……………………………….J.

[SANJAY KISHAN KAUL]

……..……………………………….J.

[AJAY RASTOGI]

……..……………………………….J.

[ANIRUDDHA BOSE]

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NEW DELHI.

AUGUST 06, 2020.

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