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The State Of Bihar & Ors Vs Arbind Jee: Seniority Benefit Can Accrueonly After A Person Joins Service And To Say That Benefits Can Be Earned Retrospectively Is Erroneous

Prahalad B ,
  29 October 2021       Share Bookmark

Court :
Supreme Court
Brief :

Citation :
Civil Appeal No. 3767 of 2010

Date of Judgement:
27.09.2021

Coram:
Justice R Subash Reddy
Justice Hrishikesh Roy

Parties:
Appellants – The State of Bihar &Ors.
Respondent – Arbind Jee

Subject

Seniority amongst members of the same grade has to be considered from the date of initial entry into the grade. A late entrant cannot demand benefit of seniority retrospectively when he was not even in service.

Overview

  • The father of the respondent who was working as a home guard died and subsequently,the respondent applied for compassionate appointment. The respondent was shortlisted for appointment. The appointment was on condition that the candidate must be physically fit and a certificate must be issued in conformation of the same. It was made clear that appointment will be made only after satisfaction of necessary capabilities.
  • The respondent was denied appointment as he was found deficient with regards to physical capabilities. Being aggrieved by this decision, the respondent moved and obtained a relief before the Supreme Court by a special leave petition. The Supreme Court directed the appellant to appoint the respondent to the post of “Adhinayak Lipik” within one month of receipt of this order. Complying with the order the respondent was appointed on 27.02.1996. An application was made by the respondent on 10.09.2002 claiming seniority from 05.12.1985 but it was rejected on the ground that he was appointed only on 27.02.1996.
  • This rejection was challenged before the Patna High Court which directed the appellants to consider the application of seniority. An appeal was preferred before this court.

Issue

  • Whether the respondent is entitled to seniority in service from are trospective date?

Judgement Analysis

  • This court after hearing to the contention of the parties and the relevant facts of the case noted that after the appellant was directed to appoint respondent within one month by the High Court order, the respondent accepted the appointment and there was no objection regarding retrospective seniority benefit until a representation made on 10.09.2002, after six years of joining service.
  • Even in the High Court order, there was no mention or consideration of retrospective benefit as claimed by the respondent. It is also necessary to note that retrospective seniority, unless directed by court or expressly provided by the applicable Rules, should not be allowed, as others who had earlier entered service, will be affected.
  • The court did not accept the submission made by the respondent claiming retrospective seniority benefit by citing Jayachandran V. State of Kerala (2020). This is because in this case, the candidates were selected by a common competitive entrance exam and the retrospective benefit was claimed within one year. Whereas in the present case, the respondent was appointed under compassionate grounds.
  • Hence, the court held that the state has done its duty properly without any errors and the appointment was found to be within the applicable laws. The court also conveyed that it was very disappointed of the respondents ignoring his rights and never really addressed this grievance before the High Court and Supreme Court before which the case was heard initially. Therefore, the appeal was allowed.

Conclusion

The jurisprudence in the field of service law would reveal that retrospective seniority cannot be claimed from a date when an employee was not even in service.When a denial of appointment is founded to be arbitrary and legally incorrect, the benefit of seniority may be conferred on the deprived individual. However, the case in hand does not fall in this category.

Click here to download the original copy of the judgement

Questions:
1. If an applicant was selected through a competitive exam and was not appointed later due to administrative reasons, can the applicant claim retrospective seniority with other who had qualified with the applicant?

 
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