GOVT NOT BOUND BY UNDERTAKINGS IN RECRUITMENT RULES: SC
PRESS TRUST OF INDIA
New Delhi, Apr 17: The Supreme Court has ruled that the government has absolute constitutional power to amend recruitment rules with retrospective effect, including age of superannuation, irrespective of any undertaking given to employees.
A bench of Justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra in a judgement said even if the government had given any undertaking to the employees, the same was not binding as recruitment rules' powers emanating from Article 309 of the Constitution were absolute.
"A rule made under the proviso to Article 309 is a legislative act. It is not a piece of delegated legislation like a rule made under a statute. Hence it can be amended retrospectively.
"When rules are framed under Article 309 of the Constitution, no undertaking need be given to anybody and the rules can be changed at any time. For instance, if the retirement age is fixed by rules framed under Article 309, that can be changed subsequently by an amendment even in respect of employees appointed before the amendment," Justice Katju observed.
The apex court passed the ruling while setting aside an Allahabad High Court judgement which held that public sector firm BSNL cannot change the rules of recruitment if the organisation had given any prior undertaking to the employees.
In this case, the BSNL in 2005 had brought in certain amendment to the recruitment rules vis-a-vis appointment of Hindi language officers that all posts should be filled up by 'Limited Competitive Examinations.'
The amended rules according to the aggrieved employees were contrary to the written assurance given by the government an year before that the rules would not be changed for the next three years.
The BSNL defended the move saying it was required to fill up the posts through competent and suitable candidates.
However, the high court struck down the amended rule saying the government cannot retract on its own undertaking given to the employees. Aggrieved BSNL appealed in the apex court.
Upholding the appeal, the apex court said a conscious decision was taken in 2005 providing that all the posts in question should be filled up by the Limited Internal Competitive Examination.
"This was a policy decision and we cannot see how the High Court could have found fault with it. It is well settled that the court cannot ordinarily interfere with policy decisions.
"Hence, we cannot accept the view taken by the high court. There is no question of equity in this case because it is well settled that law prevails over equity if there is a conflict. Equity can only supplement the law, and not supplant it. As the Latin maxim states 'Dura lex sed lex' which means The law is hard, but it is the law," the apex court said.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Apr 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 17 Apr 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 18 Apr 2011 00:00:00 IST
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