SC Denies Seniority To Those Who Opted To Be Absorbed On Deputation [Read Judgment]
The Supreme Court bench of Abbhay Manohar Sapre and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, on July 10, dismissed the pleas of erstwhile Junior Engineers (Electrical) of All India Radio, New Delhi, who were on deputation to the Electrical Wing of the Postal Department, and who opted to be absorbed permanently in the latter, that they were entitled to preserve their previous seniority and service in their current department.
The appellants, who stood to lose their seniority, contended that the terms and conditions imposed on them for absorption in the new department violated Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution, and the consent obtained from them was tainted by compulsion, as the option to go back to the parent cadre remained.
The respondents, Union of India, however argued that in it is in furtherance of their career prospects that the appellants preferred to be absorbed in the DoP forgoing their seniority rather than go back to their parent department.
In Paragraph 31, the bench held that the terms and conditions were categorical that the absorbees would be deemed to be new recruits and the previous service would be counted for all purposes “except his/her seniority in the cadre”. The appellants, the bench observed, accepted this with open eyes, and never even challenged the same. Their representations to give them the benefit of their past seniority was also turned down, and thereafter also, they did not agitate the matter in any judicial forum.
“The controversy was thus not alive, and it was not open for them to challenge the same after a long lapse of period of time”, the bench concluded.
The position of the appellants in the seniority list was a sequitur to the terms and conditions of their absorption, and unless those terms and conditions were to be set aside, the seniority list was in conformity with the same, the bench reasoned. Having accepted those terms and conditions, they could not plead otherwise, the bench pointed out.
Read the Judgment Here