3 Aug 2023 4:00 AM GMT
The Kerala High Court recently affirmed the State's authority to validly integrate different services under the Public Service Commission and held that such integration is usually legally sound as long as it is derived from its source of power.A Division Bench of Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Sophy Thomas added that the order of integration can only be challenged if there is a lack...
The Kerala High Court recently affirmed the State's authority to validly integrate different services under the Public Service Commission and held that such integration is usually legally sound as long as it is derived from its source of power.
A Division Bench of Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Sophy Thomas added that the order of integration can only be challenged if there is a lack of fair play, but this applies only to those appointed to different streams before the integration took place.
"The authority of the state to integrate different services cannot be questioned, especially, when it is found out that the order of integration is valid, referable to its source of power. The order of integration can be questioned only when there is no fair play but that would be applicable only to those who have been appointed to different streams prior to the integration."
The Court was dealing with a batch of petitions challenging a common order of the Kerala Administrative Tribunal.
The dispute involved the integration of the General Executive Branch and the District Armed Reserve, which was implemented in April 2010. This integration resulted in the formation of a new cadre called the Kerala Civil Police Subordinate Service (KCP).
The main contention of the State and the Sub Inspectors from the General Executive Branch was that the two services remained separate even after integration, and therefore, the inclusion of the District Armed Reserve personnel in the Seniority List for promotion was inappropriate.
However, the Tribunal rejected this argument, ruling that there was no integration of the services. It sustained the challenge against the Special Rules by finding that the two services continue to be separate and the post for the Inspector General will have to be filled treating it as though no integration has taken place. As a result, the Special Rules formulated to allow recruitment by transfer from the integrated service for the appointment of Inspector of Police were struck down.
Aggrieved by the Tribunal's decision, the Sub Inspectors from the District Armed Reserve and the State approached the High Court.
They argued that the executive order integrating the services was valid, and the newly recruited Sub Inspectors belong to the Kerala Civil Police Subordinate Service. They also challenged the striking down of the Special Rules for appointment by transfer.
The Kerala Police Subordinate Service consists of three main cadres: Armed Police Battalion, District Armed Reserve, and General Executive Branch. An Executive Order on 10/12/2010 integrated personnel in the General Executive and District Armed Reserve to form the Kerala Civil Police Subordinate Service (KCP) in each district, excluding technical and special categories, effective from 1/4/2010.
The High Court discovered that the conflict arose because there were separate notifications for Sub Inspector of Police appointments in both branches before integration. The seniority list was prepared based on the dates of joining duty, resulting in a challenge from Sub Inspectors of Police appointed through the General Executive Branch notification.
It was also added that appointments and recruitments in the General Executive Branch and the District Armed Reserve were not governed by any special rules but by executive orders and that the government has the authority to issue executive orders modifying its earlier orders.
"There is no difficulty for the Government in issuing executive orders modifying or altering earlier executive orders. In the absence of any Special Rules, the power of the Government to issue an executive order, integrating both services cannot be questioned."
The Division Bench found that integration did occur for personnel appointed after 1/4/2010 and that the appointments were being made to the Kerala Civil Police Subordinate Service. Therefore, it was held that the issue of seniority must be reckoned based on the date of appointment, as laid down in the Kerala State and Subordinate Service Rules.
The Court thus observed that the Tribunal's reasoning to strike down the Special Rules was legally flawed since it did not have the authority to do so without a challenge from personnel governed by those Rules.
The Bench accordingly set aside the Tribunal's order.
Case Title: Shaju A.N v Rahoof P.K and connected matters
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 368
Click Here To Read/Download The Order