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SC: Vacancies must not necessarily be filled based on rules which existed on date which they arose

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By: Sakunjay Vyas

Published on: May 22, 2022 at 12:42 IST

The Two Judge Bench of Justice S. Ravindra Bhat and Justice PS Narasimha of the Supreme Court overruled its judgment in Y.V. Rangaiah v. J. Sreenivasa Rao which held that the appointments to the public posts that fell vacant before the amendment of the Rules would be governed by the old rules and not by the amended rules.

The Apex Court stated that the issue at hand is whether the vacancies which arose before the promulgation of the new rules are to be filled only as per the old rules and not as per the amended rules?

The Apex Court mentioned the Judgment of Rangiah Case, relying on which the High Court gave its judgment, it stated that it was observed that

(1) The vacancies which occurred before the amended rules would be governed by the old rules and not by the amended rules

(2) the posts which fell vacant before the amended rules would be governed by the old rules and not by the new rules.

The Apex Court while relying on the judgment in Roshan Lal Tandon v. Union of India, described the status of the persons serving the Union and the States:

(i) Except as expressly provided in the Constitution, every person employed in the civil service of the Union or the States holds office during the pleasure of the President or the Governor (Article 310). Tenure at pleasure is a constitutional policy for rendering services under the state for public interest and the public good, as explained in Tulsiram Patel (supra).

(ii) The Union and the States are empowered to make laws and rules under Articles 309, 310 and 311 to regulate the recruitment, conditions of service, tenure and termination. The rights and obligations are no longer determined by consent of the parties but by the legal relationship of rights and duties imposed by statute or the rules. The services, thus, attain a status.

(iii) The hallmark of status is in the legal rights and obligations imposed by laws that may be framed and altered unilaterally by the Government without the consent of the employee.

(iv) Given the dominance of rules that govern the relationship between the Government and its employee, all matters concerning employment, and conditions of service including termination are governed by the rules. There are no rights outside the provision of the rules.

(v) In recruitment by State, there is no right to be appointed but only a right to be considered fairly. The process of recruitment will be governed by the rules framed for the said purpose.

(vi) Conditions of service of a public servant, including matters of promotion and seniority are governed by the extant rules. There are no vested rights independent of the rules governing the service.

(vii) With the enactment of laws and issuance of rules governing the services, Governments are equally bound by the mandate of the rule. There is no power or discretion outside the provision of the rules governing the services and the actions of the State are subject to judicial review.

That the proposition formulated within the judgment of Rangaiah is so broad that this court has been carving out numerous exceptions, the court came to this conclusion after reviewing fifteen cases.

The Apex Court stated that as determined in these fifteen decisions, Rangaiah’s case must be considered in the light of the facts as they exist on the date that the vacancies arose, along with the declarations that there is no universal rule requiring that vacancies be filled following rules in effect on the date that the vacancies arose, compel us to conclude that the decision in Rangaiah is impliedly overruled.

The consistent findings in these fifteen decisions that Rangaiah’s case must be seen in the context of its own facts, coupled with the declarations therein that there is no rule of universal application to the effect that vacancies must necessarily be filled on the basis of rules which existed on the date which they arose, compels us to conclude that the decision in Rangaiah is impliedly overruled.”, The Court Said.

The Apex Court further stated that there is no provision in the 2006 rules governing the Respondents’ services that allows them to be treated according to the 1966 Rules.

That the matter shall end here and that the Respondents cannot claim any other rights to such consideration.

The 2006 rules, governing the services of the Respondents came into force immediately after they were notified. There is no provision in the said rules to enable the Respondents to be considered as per the 1966 Rules. The matter must end here. There is no other right that Respondents no. 1 to 3 can claim for such consideration.”, The Court said.

As a result, the Apex Court overturned the impugned judgment of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh by stating that the rights and obligations of persons serving the Union and the States are to be sourced from the rules governing the services and that that there is no right for an employee outside the said rules.

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