The case is related to the interpretation of some of the paras of Indian Railway Establishment Manual, 1989 namely paras 180, 189 and 320. It pertains to the preparation of seniority lists and promotion of railway employees from one group to another and from one grade to another within the group. Railway services and in any other Government of India services, have been mainly classified in four groups A, B, C & D. The instant case is concerned with services included in different grades in groups C and D. In each group, there are different grades and the employees working in the lowest grade in one group get promotion to the higher grade within the group. When an employee is in the highest grade in a group, he would get promotion to the higher group and the promotion is given on different criteria. The persons working in a particular grade would be having same pay scale, might be working in different departments or different branches with different qualifications and different nature of work. For the purpose of service conditions and for the purpose of higher promotion, persons belonging to one grade are treated equally.
In the instant case, all 3 respondents were initially working in group D. Out of this, respondent nos.2 and 3 were promoted to a higher post of Pointsman ‘B’ in group C, whereas respondent no.1, who was having the longest service in group D, had not been promoted and therefore, he had approached Central Administrative Tribunal with a grievance that he had been denied benefit of promotion. The Tribunal had directed that the applicant should be considered for promotion on the basis of his seniority.
Aggrieved by the order passed by the Tribunal, Union of India approached the High Court of Kerala. Vide judgment dated 27th November, 2007, the High Court dismissed the Petition filed by the Union of India and hence the present appeal was filed before the Supreme Court.
It is an admitted fact that so far as length of service in group D is concerned, respondent no.1 was having longer service than respondent nos.2 and 3. But the question here is whether a person working in one grade of a lower group can get promotion on the basis of his seniority in his group irrespective of the length of service rendered in a particular grade. For example, a person working in the lowest grade i.e. in grade IV would get promotion to grade III, then to grade II and then to grade I. After he has been placed in grade I of group D, he would get promotion to the lowest grade in group C, which is a higher group.
In this case, Respondent no.1 was having longer service in group D but was in a lower grade than respondent nos.2 and 3 in group D service. That is why he was not promoted to a group C post. To be able to get promoted to a post in group C, one must be in the highest grade of group C and admittedly respondent no.1 was not in the highest grade of group C and being in a lower grade than respondent nos.2 and 3, respondent no.1 could not have been promoted along with respondent nos.2 and 3.
Hence the Supreme Court opined that the Tribunal as well as the High Court committed an error while coming to the conclusion that simply because respondent no.1 had a longer service in group D, he should also have been promoted along with respondent nos.2 and 3, who were working in a higher grade in group D.
Therefore, Supreme Court set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court affirming the order of the Tribunal. The Court also directed that according to the provisions of the above stated paras contained in the Manual, the appellants i.e., the Union of India/Railway should prepare different seniority lists for employees working in different grades.
The direction of the Court to the Union of India to prepare different seniority lists for employees working in different grades indicates that the absence of such system created the whole confusion and such a long litigation from Tribunal, High Court, and then to the Supreme court.
(Reference:- SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPEAL NO.2532 OF 2010 Union of India & Ors. ... Appellants V/s V.K. Krishnan & Ors. ... Respondents, Judgement dated, FEBRUARY 17, 2015.)