Petition to unsettle the seniority list dismissed for being ‘hopelessly belated’

Delhi High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Hima Kohli and Rekha Palli, JJ., dismissed a writ petition filed seeking directions to the respondent to promote the petitioner to the post of Sub Inspector and Inspector along with consequential benefits from the dates on which his junior, Respondent 2, was promoted to the said ranks.

The undisputed facts of the case were that the petitioner was appointed as a Constable in respondent Force. He was promoted on a couple of occasions by successfully completing the departmental tests. However, at the relevant time, the petitioner was not eligible for appearing in the examination held for promotion to the rank of Sub Inspector. The respondent, along with other personnel junior to the petitioner, having completed 18 years of service, were eligible to appear in the said examination. The said juniors, on successful completion of the examination, got promoted and became seniors of the petitioner. This incident dates back to the year 2007. The petition, seeking to disturb the seniority list, was filed after a lapse of about 10 years.

The High Court relied on Union of India v. Chaman Rana, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 294, to hold that in present circumstances,  the petitioner was not entitled to any relief. The cause of action arose in the year 2007 or latest in 2010. The petitioner chose to sit quiet for about 10 years. In the case mentioned, Supreme Court said that in matters regarding promotion in service, there is always an urgency. The aggrieved person must approach the Court at the earliest opportunity or within a reasonable time thereafter, as, in the meantime, a third party right accrues to those who are subsequently promoted. The High Court held that the petition was liable to be dismissed as the seniority list could not be unsettled at such a belated stage. [Shamsher Singh v. ITBP Force, 2018 SCC OnLine Del 9639, dated 03-07-2018]

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