The High Court of Jharkhand Clarifies Seeking Promotion Comes Under Fundamental Rights

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Case: D.P. Sinha, Ramesh Jha, S.K Jha, Rajesh Mohan and R.C. Mishra vs Coal India Limited W.P. (S) No. 235 of 2020

Introduction

The Jharkhand High Court ruled that there were no estoppels to Fundamental Rights; hence the Petitioners were to be reconsidered to get a retrospective promotion.

Facts of the case

The Petitioners worked in Coal India Ltd. They used to work in the post of e-6, which is the post of a senior manager. The Complainants were supposed to be raised from Grade E-6 to Grade E-7, i.e. from Senior Manager to Chief Manager. However, for promotion from Grade E-6 to E-7, a new promotional scheme was adopted, which focused on the concept of merit cum-seniority, instead of the previous system based on seniority-cum-merit. Due to this, the Petitioners did not get the promotion. They moved to Calcutta High Court, and the Court ruled in their favour; the promotion to the others stood cancelled. The Respondents then moved in appeal before the Hon’ble Division Bench of Calcutta High Court, which upheld the precedent decision with some modifications, where the similarly situated persons got promoted. However, they wanted a retrospective promotion.

Arguments of the petitioners

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The Appellant’s Counsel argued that promotion based on equal opportunity and seniority is the rule, and retrospective promotion is required as given to others in e-7. They further argued that since there was a pause in preparing the panel and the earlier provision was already in effect, it had to be carried out in compliance with the law’s unamended regulation. They claimed that if third-party rights were not affected, there is no pause in asserting Fundamental Rights.

Arguments of the respondents

According to the learned Counsel, few Petitioners were posted at different places, and this Court had no territorial jurisdiction. Other Complainants who the DPC considered were considered by the DPC were granted promotion to E-7; at which point, they joined without any protest. Now after several years, they seek a retrospective promotion. He further stated that there is no Fundamental Right to promotion. The qualified authority also agreed to grant notional advancement to bring an end to the lawsuits. The Petitioners were also much below in terms of merit and seniority.

Court’s opinion

The Court observed that DPC was not done earlier in compliance with the Standard Coal Cadre Rules. Even after the order of Calcutta High Court, the Petitioners were left out from retrospective promotion. The candidates were not treated on the same footings, and the seats were not filled according to year wise vacancy scheme. Court referred to the case of Ajit Singh (supra)”, in which it was established that the Right to Consideration for Promotion was a Fundamental Right. Additionally, there are no estoppels to Fundamental Rights. It can be safely said that part of the cause of the action is within the territorial jurisdiction of the court.

Conclusion

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Considering both sides, the Court gave its decision favouring the Petitioners, and Coal India was directed to reconsider the Petitioners’ name to grant retrospective promotion within eight weeks. Hence the writ petition was granted and dismissed.

Click here to view the Judgment.


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