'Government employee has fundamental right to be considered for promotion'
The Supreme Court has ruled that a Government employee has a fundamental right to be considered for promotion and it is mandatory for the Centre and States to carry out cadre review of eligible officers for promotion to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS).
"The right of eligible employees to be considered for promotion is virtually a part of their fundamental right guaranteed under Article 16(Equality of opportunity in matter of public employment) of the Constitution," a bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and A K Ganguly held in a recent judgement.
The apex court passed the judgement while directing the Centre and the UP Government to consider the promotion of two State cadre officers-Hemraj Singh Chauhan and Ramnawal Singh to the IAS.
"We hold that the statutory duty which is cast on the State Government and the Central Government to undertake the cadre review exercise every five years is ordinarily mandatory subject to exceptions which may be justified in the facts of a given case," the bench said.
Both the Centre and the UP government had challenged the direction of the Delhi High Court to consider the two officials' promotion due to them in 2003 since the cadre review exercise was undertaken by the State government only in 2005. This was done despite repeated reminders from the Centre.
The guarantee of a fair consideration in matters of promotion under Article 16 virtually flows from guarantee of equality under Article 14(Equality before Law) of the Constitution," the apex court said while upholding the high court's judgement.
The apex court ruled that state governments are under obligation to recommend names of its administrative officers every five years to the Centre for their promotion to the IAS and pulled up the UP government for failing to do so despite several reminders from the Union Government.
The court said that a government cannot deny an eligible state officer from being promoted due to the delay on its part in conducting such exercise and pulled it up for "lethargic" approach resulting in two state officers being denied promotion.
"It is clear that legitimate expectations of the state officers of being considered for promotion has been defeated by the acts of the government and if not of the Central Government, certainly the unreasonable inaction on the part of the state government stood in the way of the officers' chances of promotion," the court said.
"The Court is satisfied that in this case for the delayed exercise of statutory function the Government has not offered any plausible explanation. The state officers cannot be made in any way responsible for the delay," the court added.