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Between the two principles of seniority and merit, the criterion of “seniority­ cum merit” lays greater emphasis on seniority: Supreme Court

The SC on July 29, 2021 {TEK CHAND AND OTHERS vs. BHAKRA BEAS MANAGEMENT BOARD (B.B.M.S.) AND OTHERSheld that it cannot be countenanced that even if a junior is more meritorious by way of possessing an appreciable initiative certificate which the senior does not, irrespective of the same, the senior shall march ahead on the seniority ­cum ­merit principle.

It was also held by the Bench, comprising of Justice Navin Sinha and Justice R. Subhash Reddy that as between the two principles of seniority and merit, the criterion of “seniority­ cum merit” lays greater emphasis on seniority.

It   was  further held that     where   the promotion is based on seniority ­cum­ merit, the officer cannot claim promotion as a matter of right by virtue of   his   seniority   alone   and   if   he   is   found   unfit   to discharge the duties of the higher post, he may be passed   over   and   an   officer   junior   to   him   may   be promoted. 

The SC concluded that the   High   Court completely lost sight of the objection of the management that there were many others senior to respondent no.3 in the category of Fireman in the present case. It was held that a writ petition by respondent no.3 could not become a springboard for out of turn promotion superseding his seniors, taking them by surprise without an opportunity to contest even. It was held that the   impugned   order   directing   promotion   of   respondent   no.3, causes discrimination by a judicial order leaving the aggrieved remediless as observed in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ex-employees   Association   vs.   Bharat   Petroleum   Corporation Ltd.   (1995) 2 SCC 15. The appeal therefore was allowed by the SC holding that the appellants were   eligible   to   be   considered   for   promotion.

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