3 Oct 2023 5:15 AM GMT
The Allahabad High Court has upheld an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal granting notional promotion to employees of railways from the date of their application on the ground that delay caused by one arm and arbitrary action of other arm of the Railways cannot take away the benefits accruing to the employees. A bench comprising of Justices Saumitra Dayal Singh and Rajendra...
The Allahabad High Court has upheld an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal granting notional promotion to employees of railways from the date of their application on the ground that delay caused by one arm and arbitrary action of other arm of the Railways cannot take away the benefits accruing to the employees.
A bench comprising of Justices Saumitra Dayal Singh and Rajendra Kumar-IV held,
“Seen, thus both ICF and CMLRW are two arms of the same department of the Union of India. Delay caused by one and arbitrary action taken by another may not be relied any benefit accruing to the respondents. Ultimately, it is the department of the Railways, under the Union of India that remains primarily responsible and liable for the mistake committed either by ICF or CMLRW or both.”
Respondents were appointed and served at Integral Coach Factory, Chennai (ICF). Pursuant to letter issued by Coach Mid Life Rehabilitation Workshop (CMLRW), Jhansi, the respondents applied for deputation from ICF to CMLRW and were accepted on deputation in 2013. In 2018 they applied to CMLRW to be repatriated at ICF, Chennai, however, it was rejected by ICF on no grounds that no valid or substantive reason had been disclosed for repatriation.
Consequently, respondents moved another application stating the reason that their promotion was due in ICF, parent department. However, before the said application could be decided the cadre was closed at ICF and the respondents continued on their posts in CMLRW. While the proceedings were pending before the Central Administrative Tribunal, respondents were granted promotion in 2021. The Tribunal granted notional promotion to the respondents from 2018 along with all consequential benefits, which was challenged before the High Court.
Counsel for petitioner, Union, argued that Tribunal erred in attributing the delay caused in promotions to the Union. The request for repatriation were rejected by ICF and not CMLRW, and the order of rejection was never challenged by the respondents.
Per Contra, counsel for respondents contended that condition of deputation did not include any stipulation that they could not be repatriated back to their parent department. Since there was no prohibition in law or contract, they should have been repatriated in 2018, when they first sought it. Further, it was submitted that both ICF and CMLRW are departments of Railways which fall under the Union Government, therefore delay in transferring the applications from department to another will be attributable to Union of India.
High Court Verdict:
The Court observed that “the Indian Railways does not have a separate entity or existence distinct from the Union of India. It is an inseparable part of the Union of India.” ICF Chennai and CMLRW are two of the various departments that come under it.
Further, the Court observed that the clause stating that “those serving on deputation may not be normally returned to their parent establishment” was merely to prevent frequent switch from one cadre to another based on their preferences. However, the noted that there was no absolute rule against promotions or repatriations.
The Court held that the lien was in favor of the employee at ICF till existence of the cadre. Existence of cadre ceased after the application had been made. Right to promotion in parent cannot be taken away due to delay on the part of the authorities in transferring the applications from one department to another, Court said.
Dismissing the writ petition preferred by the Union of India, the Court held it was merely a ‘ministerial act’ which had to be performed by ICF to allow its employees to join back before the cadre was closed. The Court held that “to that extent, the denial offered to the respondents to join back and being forced to wait till the cadre itself closed, was an act wholly arbitrary and indefensible at the hands of the Indian Railways, a department of Union of India.”
Case Title: Union Of India And 4 Others v. Ashutosh Kumar And 5 Others [WRIT - A No. - 15197 of 2023]
Counsel for Petitioner: Vivek Kumar Singh
Counsel for Respondent: Sudhanshu Kumar, Alok Kumar Dave
Click Here To Read/Download Order