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The relaxation cannot be prayed as a matter of right.: Supreme Court

If a conscious decision is taken not to grant the relaxation, merely because Rule permits relaxation, no writ of mandamus can be issued directing the competent authority to grant relaxation in qualifying service as held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court through the learned bench led by Justice M.R. Shah in the case of State of U.P. & Ors. v. Vikash Kumar Singh & Ors. (CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6868 OF 2021)

The Brief Facts of the case are that Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment and order dated 24.07.2020 passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad (Lucknow Bench) by which the Division Bench of the High Court has dismissed the Special Appeal (Defective Complaint No.187 of 2020) filed by the appellants herein- State of U.P. and Others confirming the judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge quashing and setting aside the eligibility lists dated 18.03.2019 and 10.05.2019 of the Superintending Engineers (Civil) for promotion to the post of Chief Engineer (Civil) Level-II from the department and further issuing a writ of mandamus, commanding the appellants – competent authority to prepare the eligibility list of the 1 Superintending Engineer (Civil) including the names of the respondents – original writ petitioners for promotion to the post of Chief Engineer (Civil) Level – II by granting them relaxation in minimum length of service in accordance with the U.P. Government Servants Relaxation in Qualifying Service for Promotion Rules, 2006, the State of U.P. and others have preferred the present appeal.

Shri Sakha Ram Singh, learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the State has vehemently submitted that admittedly the original writ petitioners did not fulfil the eligibility criteria as contained in Rule 5(iii) of the Rules, 1990. It is submitted that therefore the names of the original writ petitioners were rightly excluded from the eligibility list of Superintending Engineer (Civil) for the promotion to the post of Chief 5 Engineer (Civil). It is submitted that grant of relaxation under the Relaxation Rules, 2006 is discretionary and no writ of mandamus can be issued directing the competent authority to grant the relaxation. The word used in Rule 4 of Relaxation Rules, 2006 is ‘MAY’ and only in a case where the required number of eligible persons are not available in the field of eligibility. It is submitted that no employee can claim the relaxation as a matter of right. It is therefore submitted that as admittedly the original writ petitioners did not fulfil the eligibility criteria of having completed 25 years of service, their names were not required to be included in the eligibility list for promotion to the post of Chief Engineer.

Shri Rana Mukherjee, learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the respondents – original writ petitioners, submitted that in the facts and circumstances of the case and on giving cogent reasons the learned Single Judge rightly issued the writ of mandamus commanding the appellants – competent authority to grant relaxation to the original writ petitioners. It is submitted that the learned Single Judge rightly considered that the eligibility list has to be prepared applying the ratio of 1:3 so as to have more meritorious candidates. It is therefore submitted that as solely on technical ground of not completing 25 years of service, the names of the original writ petitioners were excluded and there are specific Relaxation Rules, 2006, which provide for relaxation in qualifying service, the High Court has not committed any error in issuing the writ of mandamus to grant the relaxation as per Rule 4 of the Relaxation Rules, 2006.

After the perusal of the facts and arguments by the learned counsels, the Hon’ble Court held, “The word used in the Rule 4 of Relaxation Rules, 2006 is “MAY”. Therefore, the relaxation may be at the discretion of the competent authority. The relaxation cannot be prayed as a matter of right. If a conscious decision is taken not to grant the relaxation, merely because Rule permits relaxation, no writ of mandamus can be issued directing the competent authority to grant relaxation in qualifying service. Therefore, the High Court has committed a grave error in issuing the writ of mandamus commanding the competent authority to grant relaxation in the qualifying service. Consequently, the High Court has also erred in quashing and setting aside the eligibility lists dated 18.03.2019 and 10.05.2019, which as such were prepared absolutely in consonance with the Rules, 1990 and Rules, 2006. The impugned judgments and orders passed by the learned Single Judge as well as the Division Bench of the High Court are not sustainable in law. 8. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the present appeal succeeds.”

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Judgment Reviewed by – Vandana Ragwani

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