HC quashes 2016 seniority list of food supplies officers in Punjab
Gives govt a month to finalise a fresh seniority list of promote and directly recruited officers
The Punjab and Haryana high court has quashed the 2016 seniority list prepared by the Punjab government of food and supplies officers in which promotee officers were placed above the directly recruited officers.
The high court bench of justice Jaswant Singh has directed that fresh orders on promotions of promotee officers be passed keeping in consideration their quota and minimum experience. The court gave a month to the government to finalise a fresh seniority list of both the streams.
“There is no power to relax the provisions relating to the educational qualification and experience. There is no justification in the reply which could demonstrate the urgency to deviate from the said rule due to administrative exigencies or expediency by relaxing the experience condition for promotion,” the high court bench said on promotions to some promotee officers in which it has now come to Light that certain rules on minimum experience and educational qualifications were ignored by the state.
The court also said that the promotees were given promotions in excess to their promotional quota of 60% and against posts meant for direct quota (40%) in 2012.
The petitions were filed in January 2017 by 20-odd directly recruited officers alleging that department of food, civil supplies and consumer affairs, Punjab, rejected their objections to seniority list and elevated 43 promotee officers in violation of service rules. The seniority list was released in July 2016 for the officers recruited or promoted after 2011. The objections to seniority list by some officers were rejected in January 2016. In all, dispute was about 43 officers promoted by state since 2011.
The government had argued that relaxation in experience was given to the promotees after due approval from the state cabinet, being the competent authority. It was done to meet out the exigencies of shortage of field supervisory staff on procurement and Public Distribution Scheme, the state had argued.
However, senior advocate Gurminder Singh had pointed that promotions were in violations of service rules and the department tried to mislead the court. The 2012 documents show that the department promoted four persons against direct quota posts and in the court. Initially, the state admitted that five officers were promoted but later in 2018, total number rose up to 17, he had told the court.
“…there is no reasonable explanation to justify the same (discrepancy in number) and the apology is tendered in the affidavit in a very casual manner. This court could not Expect from the state to file an affidavit with wrong facts in the judicial proceedings that too on the aspect which constitutes the core of the controversy,” the court said.