Date Of Joining Irrelevant In Fixing Seniority Of Direct Recruits
Seniority is a concept that determines the relative position of an employee in an organization. It is often used for deciding promotions, transfers, postings, and other service-related matters. Seniority can be determined by various factors, such as date of appointment, date of joining, length of service, merit, etc. However, different rules may apply for different categories of employees, such as direct recruits and promotees.
Direct recruits are those who are selected through a competitive examination or interview conducted by a recruiting agency, such as UPSC or SSC. Promotees are those who are appointed to a higher post from a lower post by way of promotion. The issue of fixing seniority between direct recruits and promotees has been a contentious one, as it involves the question of balancing the interests of both groups.
Quota and Rota Principle
One of the principles that has been adopted by the government for fixing seniority between direct recruits and promotees is the “quota and rota” principle, also called the “rotation of quotas” principle. According to this principle, the relative seniority of direct recruits and promotees is determined according to the rotation of vacancies between them, which is based on the quotas of vacancies reserved for direct recruitment and promotion respectively in the recruitment rules.
For example, if the recruitment rules prescribe that 50% of the vacancies in a post are to be filled by direct recruitment and 50% by promotion, then the seniority list will be prepared by alternating direct recruits and promotees in the ratio of 1:1. The first vacancy will be filled by a direct recruit, the second by a promotee, the third by a direct recruit, and so on. This principle ensures that both direct recruits and promotees get equal representation in the seniority list.
Date of Joining Irrelevant
However, a question that arises in applying this principle is what date should be considered for determining the seniority of direct recruits and promotees. Should it be the date of appointment, which is the date on which the appointment order is issued, or the date of joining, which is the date on which the employee actually joins the post?
The Supreme Court has held in several cases that the date of joining is irrelevant for fixing seniority between direct recruits and promotees. The Court has held that the relevant date for direct recruits is the date of appointment, which is based on the order of merit in the selection process. The relevant date for promotees is also the date of appointment, which is based on the date of occurrence of vacancy.
The Court has given several reasons for rejecting the date of joining as a criterion for seniority. Some of them are:
- The date of joining may vary due to various factors beyond the control of the employee, such as delay in issuance of appointment order, delay in relieving from previous post, delay in joining formalities, etc. These factors should not affect the seniority of an employee who has been duly appointed.
- The date of joining may create anomalies and distortions in the seniority list, as it may result in junior employees becoming senior to their seniors or vice versa. This may affect their career prospects and morale.
- The date of joining may encourage manipulation and malpractice by some employees who may try to delay or advance their joining to gain an advantage over others.
- The date of joining may defeat the purpose and spirit of the quota and rota principle, which is to ensure equal opportunity and representation for both direct recruits and promotees.
Some of the important case laws where the Supreme Court has held that the date of joining is irrelevant for fixing seniority between direct recruits and promotees are:
- N.R. Parmar v. Union of India (2012) 13 SCC 340: In this case, the Court was dealing with the issue of seniority between direct recruit income tax inspectors and promotee income tax inspectors. The Court held that inter se seniority between them was based on the “quota” and “rota” principle, also called the “rotation of quotas” principle. It was held that the date of joining would not be a relevant factor for determining seniority1.
- Pran Krishna Goswami v. State of West Bengal (2004) 12 SCC 377: In this case, the Court was dealing with the issue of seniority between direct recruit assistant engineers and promotee assistant engineers in West Bengal Public Works Department. The Court held that the date on which an officer joined service was not material2.
- Amit Singh v. Union Of India (2018) 11 SCC 1: In this case, the Court was dealing with the issue3 of3 seniority3 between3 direct3 recruit3 assistant3 commandants3 and3 promotee3 assistant3 commandants3 in3 the3 Central3 Reserve3 Police3 Force3. The Court held that the principle of determination of inter se seniority amongst direct recruits and promote officers made it clear that for the purpose of fixation of inter se seniority, the date to be reckoned for the direct recruits is “the date of appointment.” It was held that the date of joining was not a relevant factor for determining seniority3.
From the above discussion, it can be concluded that the date of joining is irrelevant for fixing seniority between direct recruits and promotees. The relevant date for both categories is the date of appointment, which is based on the order of merit or the date of occurrence of vacancy. This is in accordance with the quota and rota principle, which ensures equal opportunity and representation for both direct recruits and promotees.