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In the absence of any rule for determining inter-se seniority of direct recruits and promotees, the date of appointment/promotion can be taken into account for fixing seniority: The Supreme Court of India

Realising that the principle of continuous officiation is well settled, especially where inter-se seniority is not dealt with in the Rules, the Full Court of the High Court correctly approved the resolution of the Special Committee. After the introduction of the 2017 Rules, seniority inter-se direct recruits and promotees shall be determined on the basis of Roster. The aforesaid has been established by The Supreme Court of India while adjudicating the case of Anand Kumar Tiwari & Ors v. High Court of Madhya Pradesh & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No.675 of 2018] which was decided upon by a single judge bench comprising Justice Nageswara Rao on 12 August 2021.

The facts of the case are as follows. The Petitioners in Writ Petition (C) No. 675 of 2018 were appointed as District Judges (entry level) by direct recruitment on 10.09.2009. A provisional gradation list of the District Judges was issued by a notification dated 15.02.2010. In the said provisional gradation list, the Petitioners were shown as seniors to those District Judges who were promoted through LCE. A representation was made on behalf of the District Judges promoted through LCE for altering the gradation list and showing them as seniors to the direct recruits. The Administrative Committee accepted the representation and resolved to give seniority to three promotees through LCE over direct recruits. On 18.05.2013, the Full Court accepted the recommendations of the Special Committee for granting seniority to the District Judges promoted through LCE over direct recruits. According to the 1994 Rules, the method of appointment to the post of District Judges (entry level) was either by direct recruitment or promotion. On 21.03.2002, this Court approved the recommendations of Justice Shetty Commission.

The court perused the facts and arguments presented. It was of the opinion that “On 19.07.2014, the Full Court of the Madhya Pradesh High Court requested the Special Committee to examine the dispute of inter-se seniority of direct recruits and promotees through LCE in light of Rule 11 of 1994 Rules and Rule 12 of 1961 Rules. After giving an opportunity to all stakeholders, the Special Committee resolved to follow the 1961 Rules according to which the relative seniority of direct recruits and promotees was determined according to the date of appointment/ promotion order. Taking note of the absence of any provision for determining inter-se seniority of direct recruits and promotees, the Special Committee suggested amendment to the Rules. Realising that the principle of continuous officiation is well settled, especially where inter-se seniority is not dealt with in the Rules, the Full Court of the High Court correctly approved the resolution of the Special Committee. After the introduction of the 2017 Rules, seniority inter-se direct recruits and promotees shall be determined on the basis of Roster.”

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