Supreme Court Reiterates the Principles Set in BSNL Case Differentiating Upgradation and Promotion

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Determination of the nature of deployment requires holistic consideration of facts. A reorganization of cadre with a higher pay scale and criteria for selection can be considered a promotion. However, it needs to be examined in the backdrop of the principles set in the BSNL case.

Brief Facts Of the Case

The case relates to the reorganization of the wireless communication system. 96 Radio Telephone Operators (“RTOs”) posts were created vide letter dated 29.08.1983. The Appellants were working as Telephone Operators with Delhi Fire Services. Among the Telephone Operators, 27 were sought to be deployed as RTOs. They had to undergo training and 5 years of regular service. Additionally, a high pay scale was granted to them. This was approved by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

Thereafter, the Department of Personnel and Training introduced an Assured Career Progression Scheme (“ACP”). Wherein financial up-gradation was undertaken. This was applicable for persons who had completed 12 and 24 years of regular service. The Appellants claimed financial up-gradation under ACP. However, it was rejected by the Respondents. It was rejected on the ground that the Appellants were promoted vide letter dated 29.08.1983.

The issue is, “Whether deployment of the Appellants as RTOs would amount to promotion?”

Proceedings

In the Central Administrative Tribunal, the Tribunal held that the appellants were not promoted. This was challenged before the High Court in a Writ Petition. The Writ Petition was allowed, and the deployment was treated as promotion.

Court’s View

The Court observed that the ACP scheme was a result of the 5th Central Pay Commission Report. It was a safety net. It dealt with the hardship faced by employees due to a lack of promotional avenues. The Court then referred to the circular of deployment. It was observed that the appellants had to undergo training for 2 months. Further that the reorganization was given technological changes. Additionally, the 27 RTOs were given higher pay with an essential condition of 5 years of experience.

The Court referenced Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited v. R. Santhakumari Velusamy and Others., (2011) 9 SCC 510. Therein, the Court differentiated up-gradation and promotion. The principle set out in the said case is reproduced in para 16. The Court observed that the reorganization did not merely re-describe the post. The Appellants were granted higher pay scale based on selection criteria. Thus, not all Telephone Operators were eligible for RTO posts. The Court in the BSNL case clarified that promotion may include advancement to higher pay. Even though the different post is not involved. Therefore, even if not deployed to a different post, one could be promoted by way of increasing pay.

Court’s Decision

The triple criteria of the deployment circular fulfill the principle in the BSNL case. The Court thus dismissed the appeal. It held that the Appellants were not entitled to up-gradation of pay in the ACP Scheme.


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