SRINAGAR: Modifying its 19-month-old order, the J&K High Court has allowed the government to post ‘eligible’ candidates to man position of chief engineers on temporary basis in the state.
Even as the direction comes as a relief to the government, the court made it clear that such arrangements shall not in any case be continued beyond six months and asked the concerned authorities to take steps for making promotions on the substantive basis.
The directions by a single bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur followed after government counsel urged the court to vacate the July 8, 2014, order which had directed maintenance of ‘status quo’ vis-a-vis further promotion.
The counsel stated that on account of the order, the government was suffering administrative difficulties and was also preventing the consideration of ‘eligible’ candidates to work against the higher posts of Chief Engineer even as a temporary arrangement.
The counsel referred to Rule 25 (4) of Civil Services (CC&A) Rules 1956, which gives power to the Government to make any interim arrangement in public interest owing to an emergency and where promotion in accordance with these rules involves undue delay or expenditure.
However, counsel for petitioners, Moksha Kazmi resisted the plea and brought court’s notice to the Supreme Court’s order in case titled Mohammad Haneef Lone and Ors Vs Ashok Kumar Sharma and Ors), saying the apex court has stayed order regarding benefit of reservation in promotions.
The High Court had in October last year held that there shall be no benefit of reservation in promotions in the state and also struck down Section 6 of Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Act 2004, and Rules 9, 10 and 34 Jammu and Kashmir Reservation Rules 2005 as ultra vires to contitution.
“The Full Bench Judgment of this Court, holding there was no right of an employee to claim reservation in matters of promotion, has been diluted by passing the order of ‘status quo’ by the apex court,” Kazmi added.
After hearing both the sides, the court observed that the issue appears to be not so much with regard to making substantive promotions against the post of Chief Engineer but for purposes of making interim arrangement.
“It was brought to the notice that the Public Service Commission and the Government had cleared promotions up to the level of Executive Engineers and it would take some time to finalize the promotions at the stage higher than the said post,” Justice Thakur said, observing that the right of the Government to make an interim arrangement as envisaged in the Rules cannot be taken away.
At the same time, the court underlined that under the guise of interim arrangement, it cannot permit the government to defeat the legitimate rights of consideration of officers against the higher post on substantive basis.
“With a view to prevent prejudice to other side, it is deemed appropriate to modify the order dated 8th July, 2014,” the court said and directed that the government is at liberty to make interim arrangement from all the eligible candidates to man the post of Chief Engineer.
“The arrangement so made shall not in any case be continued beyond the period of six months. Within this period Government shall take steps for making promotions on substantive basis,” it added.