लंबे संघर्ष के बाद अंततः महेश कुमार गुप्ता को मिला न्याय

    11 अक्टूबर को गुप्ता ने मेंबर इंजीनियरिंग, रेलवे बोर्ड का पदभार संभाला

    रेलमंत्री और सीआरबी ने लिया ‘रेलवे समाचार’ के सुझाव का उचित संज्ञान

    एसडीजीएम बी.एम.लाल एवं जीएम/म.रे. एसपीएस जैन ने गुप्ता को फंसाया

    पैनल में नं.1 पर होते हुए भी विवेक सहाय ने गुप्ता को नहीं बनाया था डीआरएम

    कोर्ट की अवमानना करते हुए तत्कालीन मेंबर इंजीनियरिंग ने निर्णय लेने में की देरी

    विनय मित्तल द्वारा गुप्ता की एसीआर में की गई टिप्पणी को हाईकोर्ट ने अनुचित माना

    कैट के आदेश की अवमानना करते हुए अरुणेंद्र कुमार ने गुप्ता को डीआरएम नहीं बनने दिया

    ‘स्टोरकीपर’ ने कैट की अवहेलना करके गुप्ता से पहले ‘कदाचारी’ को बनाया जीएम/ओएल

    तत्कालीन सीआरबी अरुणेंद्र कुमार के विरुद्ध अदालत की अवमानना की हो सकती है कार्रवाई

    ‘स्टोरकीपर’ ने रेलमंत्री एवं पीएमओ को गुमराह किया, नहीं बनाना चाहते थे गुप्ता को जीएम

    गुप्ता को अनावश्यक प्रताड़ित करने के लिए सभी संबंधितों के विरुद्ध होनी चाहिए कड़ी कार्रवाई

    सुरेश त्रिपाठी

    18 साल की बुरी तरह थका देने वाली लंबी कानूनी लड़ाई लड़ने के बाद अंततः महेश कुमार गुप्ता को आखिर उचित न्याय की प्राप्ति हो ही गई. इससे वह अत्यंत आत्म-संतुष्टि महसूस कर रहे होंगे. वरना उनके कई साथियों को इस बात की आशंका सता रही थी कि कहीं उनका भी हस्र राजीव भार्गव जैसा न हो जाए. हालांकि श्री गुप्ता को अंततः जो न्याय प्राप्त हुआ है, उसकी कल्पना उनके साथियों को नहीं थी. तथापि, यह संभव हुआ है तो सिर्फ रेल मंत्रालय में शीर्ष पर हुए बदलाव के कारण ही. शीर्ष पर रेलमंत्री के रूप में पीयूष गोयल और चेयरमैन, रेलवे बोर्ड के रूप में अश्वनी लोहानी का आगमन होना श्री गुप्ता के लिए अत्यंत शुभ साबित हुआ. हालांकि इसके लिए श्री गुप्ता के कुछ पूर्व पुण्य-कर्मों का भी पर्याप्त योगदान माना जाना चाहिए, जिसके कारण ही रेल मंत्रालय के शीर्ष पर उक्त बदलाव तब ही हुआ, जब वास्तव में उनको अपने साथ हुए अन्याय के लिए न्याय की वास्तविक दरकार थी.

    इसी दरम्यान ‘रेलवे समाचार’ ने प्रधानमंत्री, पीएमओ और रेलमंत्री सहित नए सीआरबी से भी अपील करते हुए यह सुझाव दिया था कि श्री गुप्ता जैसे ईमानदार, कर्तव्यपरायण, अनुभवी एवं समर्पित रेल अधिकारी के साथ ही नहीं, बल्कि उन सभी ईमानदार अधिकारियों के साथ न्याय होना चाहिए, जिनके साथ विवेक सहाय, विनय मित्तल, अरुणेंद्र कुमार और ए. के. मितल ने भारी अन्याय किया है. प्रधानमंत्री और पीएमओ द्वारा ‘रेलवे समाचार’ के सुझाव का उसी प्रकार संज्ञान लिया गया और श्री गुप्ता को न्याय मिला, जिस प्रकार मरणासन्न स्थिति को पहुंच रही भारतीय रेल को पुनर्जीवित करने के लिए अश्वनी लोहानी को सीआरबी के पद पर लाए जाने के ‘रेलवे समाचार’ के सुझाव का संज्ञान लिया था. तथापि, इसमें सर्वाधिक योगदान श्री गुप्ता की कानूनी लड़ाई और उनके अथक परिश्रम का ही रहा है. रेलवे बोर्ड द्वारा 11 अक्टूबर को जारी किए गए आदेश के तत्काल बाद श्री गुप्ता ने मेंबर इंजीनियरिंग का पदभार ग्रहण कर लिया.

    ज्ञातव्य है कि सभी कानूनी स्थितियां राजीव भार्गव के भी पक्ष में थीं. उनके पक्ष में तो पीएमओ ने भी चार बार आदेश निकाला था, मगर रेल मंत्रालय के शीर्ष पर विराजमान तत्कालीन भ्रष्ट एवं कुटिल प्रबंधन ने उन्हें जीएम/ओपन लाइन और मेंबर इंजीनियरिंग बनने में सफल नहीं होने दिया था. इसी प्रकार सभी कानूनी परिस्थितियां महेश कुमार गुप्ता के भी पक्ष में होने के बावजूद पूर्व ‘असफल’ सीआरबी ए. के. मितल उर्फ ‘स्टोरकीपर’ आज भी यदि रेलवे बोर्ड के शीर्ष पर विराजमान होते, तो संभवतः वह श्री गुप्ता को न तो एसीसी द्वारा जीएम/ओपन लाइन के लिए फिट दिलवाते, और न ही मेंबर इंजीनियरिंग (एमई) बनने देते. अतः श्री गुप्ता का एमई बनाना सिर्फ रेलमंत्री के रूप में पीयूष गोयल के आने और सीआरबी के पद पर अश्वनी लोहानी के विराजमान होने के कारण ही संभव हो पाया है.

    श्री गुप्ता को लंबे समय तक प्रताड़ित करने में क्रम से कई भ्रष्टों, विषधरों, कदाचारियों और बीवी के गुलामों का समावेश रहा है, जो कि मुंबई हाई कोर्ट द्वारा 4 सितंबर 2017 को दिए गए अंतिम निर्णय से भी प्रमाणित हो गया है. हालांकि हाई कोर्ट के लिखित निर्णय में यह सब बातें दर्ज नहीं की गई हैं, परंतु मामले की संपूर्ण पृष्ठभूमि से वाकिफ जानकार लोग उक्त निर्णय को ‘बिटवीन द लाइंस’ पढ़कर समझ सकते हैं कि हाई कोर्ट ने उक्त कड़ी टिप्पणियां किस-किस भ्रष्ट या कोताही करने वाले अधिकारी के विरुद्ध की हैं. हाई कोर्ट ने अपने निर्णय में तत्कालीन मेंबर इंजीनियरिंग एस. के. विज, तत्कालीन अकर्मण्य सीआरबी विनय मित्तल, बीवी के गुलाम सीआरबी अरुणेंद्र कुमार और ‘स्टोरकीपर’ सीआरबी ए. के. मितल की कुटिलताओं और कोताहियों के लिए कड़ी खिंचाई की है. यदि इस निर्णय का समय पर संज्ञान लिया गया होता, तो इन शीर्ष अधिकारियों को न सिर्फ उनके पदों से बर्खास्त किया जाना चाहिए था, बल्कि इनके द्वारा जानबूझकर की गई कोताहियों के लिए इनके समस्त रिटायरमेंट लाभ जप्त किए जाने चाहिए थे.

    गुप्ता की प्रताड़ना और उत्पीड़न के लिए जिम्मेदार सभी संबंधितों के विरुद्ध कड़ी कार्रवाई करे सरकार

    उल्लेखनीय है कि श्री गुप्ता का उत्पीड़न मध्य रेलवे के तत्कालीन ‘मिथ्याचारी महाप्रबंधक’ एस.पी.एस. जैन और तत्कालीन ‘शराबखोर’ एसडीजीएम/म.रे. बी. एम. लाल के समय में शुरू हुआ था. मध्य रेलवे के विश्वसनीय सूत्रों और कई वरिष्ठ अधिकारियों के हवाले से प्राप्त विश्वस्त जानकारी के अनुसार तत्कालीन एसडीजीएम/म.रे. बी. एम. लाल ग्रुप ‘बी’ की एक विभागीय परीक्षा (एलडीसीई) में अपने एक भ्रष्ट चहेते को पास करवाना चाहते थे. उक्त परीक्षा की उत्तर पुस्तिकाएं तत्कालीन सीई/प्लानिंग/म.रे. महेश कुमार गुप्ता ने जांची थीं. बी. एम. लाल ने उन पर काफी दबाव बनाया था कि वह उनके चहेते उम्मीदवार को पास कर दें, मगर श्री गुप्ता द्वारा चाहते या न चाहते हुए भी उत्तर पुस्तिकाओं की जांच में उक्त उम्मीदवार फेल हो गया. तब बी. एम. लाल ने श्री गुप्ता द्वारा जांची गई उत्तर पुस्तिकाओं में छेड़छाड़ करवाकर उक्त परीक्षा को रद्द करवा दिया था. अपने इस कुकृत्य के लिए उन्होंने जीएम एस.पी.एस. जैन के साथ मिलकर श्री गुप्ता को उक्त झूठे मामले में फंसा दिया था.

    इसके लिए बतौर महाप्रबंधक एस. पी. एस. जैन ने श्री गुप्ता को पहले मेजर पेनाल्टी चार्जशीट दी थी और बाद में बतौर मेंबर इंजीनियरिंग उन्होंने ही श्री गुप्ता को सेवा से मुअत्तल किया था. लाल एवं जैन के यह सभी कुकृत्य बाद में प्रशासन द्वारा की गई जांच में सही साबित हुए थे.

    मुंबई हाई कोर्ट ने अपने निर्णय में बार-बार तत्कालीन मेंबर इंजीनियरिंग एस. के. विज को श्री गुप्ता के विरुद्ध चल रहे अनुशासनिक मामले (डीएएंडआर) में जानबूझकर देरी करने का उल्लेख किया है. इसके लिए हाई कोर्ट ने श्री विज को अदालत की अवमानना का दोषी भी माना है. हालांकि उनके विरुद्ध हाई कोर्ट ने कोई सजा नहीं सुनाई है, क्योंकि इसके लिए वादी श्री गुप्ता को एक अलग मामला दायर करने की जरूरत होगी.

    तत्कालीन कुटिल-कुचालक और जोड़तोड़ में माहिर रहे सीआरबी विवेक सहाय उर्फ ‘विषधर’ ने न सिर्फ एक साल तक मेंबर ट्रैफिक की पोस्ट को अपने नीचे दबाकर रखा था, बल्कि कुलदीप चतुर्वेदी को उस पर पदस्थ भी नहीं होने दिया था. इसके अलावा उन्होंने डीआरएम पोस्टिंग में भी तमाम घपले किए थे. अप्रैल 2011 में डीआरएम पैनल में क्रम सं.1 पर महेश कुमार गुप्ता का नाम होते हुए भी ‘विषधर’ ने उनको इसलिए डीआरएम नहीं बनने दिया था, जिससे कि आगे चलकर वह जीएम/ओपन लाइन और रेलवे बोर्ड में मेंबर इंजीनियरिंग न बन सकें.

    इसके साथ तत्कालीन अकर्मण्य सीआरबी विनय मित्तल ने महेश कुमार गुप्ता की एसीआर में अनुचित रूप से टिप्पणी की थी, जिसको मुंबई हाई कोर्ट ने अपने निर्णय में न सिर्फ गलत माना है, बल्कि विनय मित्तल को कड़ी फटकार भी लगाई है. रेलवे बोर्ड को चाहिए कि वह विनय मित्तल के विरुद्ध निर्धारित नियमों के अंतर्गत कार्यवाही करे.

    बीवी के गुलाम पूर्व सीआरबी अरुणेंद्र कुमार ने भी कैट/मुंबई के आदेश की अवमामना की थी. कैट के आदेश के बावजूद उन्होंने महेश कुमार गुप्ता को डीआरएम नहीं बनाया था. इस पर अरुणेंद्र कुमार के खिलाफ अदालत का आदेश न मानने के लिए रेलवे बोर्ड द्वारा कार्यवाही की जा सकती है. इसके साथ ही यदि श्री गुप्ता चाहें तो उनके विरुद्ध अदालत की मानहानि की कार्यवाही भी शुरू कर सकते हैं.

    असफल और रेलवे बोर्ड से बड़े बेआबरू होकर निकले ‘स्टोरकीपर’ सीआरबी ए. के. मितल ने भी कैट के आदेश की अवमानना की तथा जीएम पैनल में सबसे ऊपर होते हुए भी महेश कुमार गुप्ता को जीएम/ओपन लाइन नहीं बनाया, बल्कि उनके स्थान पर उनके जूनियर घनश्याम सिंह की पोस्टिंग उनसे पहले पूर्व रेलवे में जीएम/ओपन लाइन में कर दिया, जबकि श्री गुप्ता को यह मानकर उत्पादन इकाई (एमसीएफ/रायबरेली) के जीएम पद पर भेजा था कि जिससे वह बोर्ड मेंबर बनने के दावेदार न रह जाएं.

    जाहिर है कि ‘स्टोरकीपर’ ए. के. मितल कतई नहीं चाहते थे कि महेश कुमार गुप्ता मेंबर इंजीनियरिंग बनें. इसके लिए उन्होंने न सिर्फ उनके विरुद्ध पूर्व रेलमंत्री सुरेश प्रभु के कान भरे थे, बल्कि पीएमओ को भी गुमराह किया था. इसके लिए ए. के. मितल के खिलाफ अभी-भी अदालत की मानहानि का मामला कोर्ट में चल रहा है, जिसमें उनके विरुद्ध कड़ी अदालती कार्रवाई हो सकती है और वह जेल की सलाखों के पीछे भी जा सकते हैं. ‘रेलवे समाचार’ का भी मानना है कि श्री गुप्ता को अनावश्यक रूप से प्रताड़ित एवं उत्पीड़ित करने के लिए रेलवे बोर्ड द्वारा भी अरुणेंद्र कुमार और ए. के. मितल के विरुद्ध कड़ी कार्यवाही की जानी चाहिए.

    एमसीएफ/रायबरेली के जीएम पद पर रहते हुए इंडियन रेलवे इंजीनियरिंग सर्विस, 1979 बैच के वरिष्ठ अभियांत्रिकी अधिकारी महेश कुमार गुप्ता ने न सिर्फ वहां का उत्पादन लगभग दोगुना तक बढ़ाया था, बल्कि अपने कार्यकाल के दौरान उन्होंने वहां कई नए एवं शोधपूर्ण कार्य (इन्नोवेशन) भी किए. इन्हीं में से एक काम एसी कोचों की साइड बर्थ को अत्यंत सुविधजनक बनाते हुए उन्होंने उसके बगल में उसकी लंबाई के बराबर एक फ्लैप भी जोड़ा, जिसे ऊपर करके साइड की बर्थ भी अन्य सामान्य बर्थों जैसी सुविधाजनक हो गई है. जबकि इसका ख्याल भी अब तक आरसीएफ, कपुरथला के तमाम प्रबंधकों को नहीं आया था.

    पाठकों की सुविधा और श्री गुप्ता के साथ लंबे समय तक उपरोक्त शीर्ष अधिकारियों द्वारा किए गए उनके उत्पीड़न को समझने के लिए ‘रेलवे समाचार’ द्वारा मुंबई हाई कोर्ट की वेबसाइट से डाउनलोड करके उसका पूरा निर्णय यहां प्रकाशित किया जा रहा है. इसे पढ़कर सर्वसामान्य पाठक की भी समझ में यह आ जाएगा कि श्री गुप्ता ने 18 साल की लंबी कानूनी लड़ाई के दौरान कितनी भारी मानसिक, शारीरिक और आर्थिक प्रताड़ना सही है और उनके साथ वर्तमान रेलमंत्री एवं सीआरबी द्वारा किया गया न्याय क्यों उचित है.

    IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE OF BOMBAY APPELLATE CIVIL JURISDICTION

    WRIT PETITION NO. 6851 OF 2014
    WITH WRIT PETITION NO.8942 OF 2014
    WITH WRIT PETITION NO.12241 OF 2015

    RESERVED ON: 15th February 2017.
    PRONOUNCED ON: 4th September 2017.

    JUDGMENT

    1. Heard. Rule. Rule made returnable forthwith and heard finally by consent of learned Counsel for respective parties.

    2. Writ Petition No. 6851 of 2014 has been presented by the Union of India through the Secretary, Railway Board and other 3 petitioners seeking a writ of certiorari or any other appropriate writ, order or direction for quashing the order dated 14.02.2014 passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal in Original Application No. 522 of 2013. Whereas, Writ Petition No. 12241 of 2015 has been presented by the Union of India seeking to quash the order dated 06.11.2015, passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal in Misc. Application No. 779/2015 in Original Application No. 425/2015.

    3. Respondent No.1­-employee, in the petition presented by the Union of India, has approached this Court by presenting Writ Petition No. 8942 of 2014, praying to quash and set aside impugned para 9(vi) of the order dated 14.02.2014, passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal. Respondent No.1 is also questioning the validity of the orders dated 27.08.2013 and 07.08.2013, passed by the petitioner - ­Railways. Respondent No.1 has also sought for a declaration that he is eligible for promotion to the post of General Manager (Open Line) and that working on the post of Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) is not an eligibility condition under 1986 Rules. Respondent No.1 further seeks to quash the declaration 'not eligible' recorded in the impugned ACR/APAR forms of the petitioner with regard to eligibility for consideration to the post of General Manager (Open Line) and to direct the Respondents to replace the remark 'not eligible' with a remark 'eligible or fit' for the said post. Respondent No.1 has also made a prayer to quash the order dated 12.09.2014, passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal in Review Petition No. 22 of 2014 in O.A. No. 522 of 2013.

    4. Parties herein are referred to as per their status recorded in Writ Petition No. 6851 of 2014 presented by the Union of India.

    5. Respondent No.1 was appointed as a Group ­A Officer on the basis of Combined Engineering Services Examination conducted in 1979 by the Union Public Service Commission. After successful declaration in the selection process, Respondent No.1 joined Indian Railways on 16.01.1981. Respondent No.1, as on the date of presentation of the petition, is functioning as Chief Administrative Officer (Construction) in Central Railways, which is a Higher Administrative Grade (HAG) post. Respondent No.1, while functioning as Chief Engineer (TP), Central Railways, was issued a major penalty charge sheet. The Inquiry Officer, during the course of the inquiry, exonerated him of all the charges. However, he was issued a disagreement note by the employer and was compulsorily retired vide order dated 21.04.2005.

    6. Respondent No.1­-employee objected to the adverse order by presenting Original Application to the Central Administrative Tribunal bearing No. 315 of 2005, which came to be allowed by the Tribunal and the order directing imposition of penalty was quashed and set aside on 12.02.2007.

    7. The Railway administration presented Writ Petition No. 12395 of 2007 challenging the judgment and order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Mumbai. The petition presented to this Court was heard and disposed of on 19.04.2007. While dealing with the petition, the Division Bench has observed that the impugned order of the Tribunal, not for the reasons recorded, but otherwise on account of procedural infirmities in the inquiry proceedings, the memo dated 31.10.2003 and the order dated 21.04.2005 are quashed and set aside. The matter came to be remanded to the Member, Engineering Railway Board, to take steps in accordance with the procedure applicable to Respondent No.1 from the stage of findings recorded by the Inquiry Officer. This Court directed the petitioner-­Railways to complete disciplinary proceedings and pass order, according to law, within six months.

    8. The employer, however, did not adhere to the time frame and took action only after about 44 months. The charge sheet issued by the employer was dropped and Respondent No.1 was exonerated of all the charges. In the meanwhile, juniors of respondent no.1 were posted as Divisional Railway Manager (DRM). Respondent No.1 was not posted as DRM only on account of pendency of inquiry proceedings against him. Respondent No.1 made several representations to the employer requesting to give him posting as DRM. It is only after the exoneration of the petitioner of all the charges in the year 2010, he was shortlisted for posting as a Divisional Railway Manager (DRM) in and around April 2011. However, his name was not included in the posting order dated 07.04.2011. Respondent No.1 made representation agitating his non-selection as DRM. He was, however, adjudged 'not eligible' for consideration to the post of GM (OL) and such an entry has been recorded in his ACR/APAR for the year ending March 2013. Respondent No.1, however, was adjudged fit for another post of General Manager. The request of Respondent No.1 made through representations for holding him eligible for the post of General Manager (Open Line), has been turned down by the employer by orders dated 27.08.2013 and 07.08.2013. Respondent No.1 approached the Tribunal seeking to quash adverse entries in ACR/APAR recording his ineligibility for promotion to the post of General Manager (Open Line) and Assistant General Manager. The Tribunal passed an interim order on consideration of application tendered by Respondent No.1 directing the employer to consider the claim of Respondent No.1-­employee for posting him as DRM so as to make him eligible for consideration of his claim for promotion to the post of General Manager (Open Line). The interim order passed by the Tribunal on 21.10.2013 was not complied with and a letter was issued to Respondent No.1 rejecting the contentions raised while granting interim relief. The Central Administrative Tribunal, after hearing the parties, proceeded to decide the Original Application and allowed the same partly by an order dated 14.02.2014. The Tribunal directed the employer to offer posting as DMR to Respondent No.1 so as to give him exposure required to be considered for the post of General Manager (Open Line). It is further ordered that in case the employer do not post him as DMR, it will not stand in his way for claiming the post of General Manager (Open Line). It is further directed that this particular handicap will not be held against him since the Railways are squarely responsible for not finalizing the disciplinary proceedings against Respondent No.1 and thereby depriving him an opportunity of working as DMR as per his turn. An application seeking review of the order was presented by Respondent No.1. However, an application seeking review came to be rejected by the Central Administrative Tribunal.

    9. It is the principal stand of the petitioner-railways that, the respondent is ineligible for consideration for promotion to the post of General Manager (OL), as he has not worked as DRM. According to the petitioner, an officer in the cadre of SAG can be posted as DRM; whereas, since the petitioner was being considered for promotion to HAG, he was not posted as DRM as on 7.4.2011. The respondent/employee was listed at Sr. No.1 as per the panel, prepared in January/February 2011 for consideration of posting as a DRM. However, since the railway administration had taken a decision to consider the respondent for promotion to HAG, as he was not posted as DRM. It must be noted that, in fact, the respondent received his HAG promotion only in August/September 2011 and the process of consideration for posting as DRM was initiated in the month of April 2011. The respondent could not have been denied posting as DRM, which is crucial for his consideration for promotion to the post of General Manager (OL), on the ground that, he is being considered for promotion to HAG. In fact, even the DPC for HAG was not held on 7.4.2011, so far as the respondent is concerned. Thus the stand adopted by the Railway administration does not appear to be sound.

    10. Another contention raised by the petitioner-railway is that, the posts of AGM/GM(OL) are not promotional posts and that the post of General Manager (OL) is an ex­cadre post. The respondent employee, according to the petitioner, cannot claim posting/promotion to an ex­cadre post. The petitioner, at the same time, contends that the posting of an employee as a DRM is crucial for his consideration for promotion to the post of General Manager (OL). On one hand, the respondent has not been considered for posting as DRM on the pretext that he is being considered for promotion to HAG and in fact, is being denied promotion as General Manager (OL) merely because the petitioner does not have the experience to function as DRM. The defence of the petitioner thus appears to be contradictory.

    11. Another contention raised by the petitioner-railway is that the age limit prescribed for the posting as DRM is 52 years and the respondent is over­aged. It must be recorded that, in the year 2007, the High Court, while allowing the petition presented by the Railway authority, directed to take a decision within a period of six months from the date of the order. The decision was rendered by the High Court on 19.4.2007. The railway administration took about 44 months for taking a decision and ultimately, dropped charges levelled against the respondent. In the meanwhile, juniors to the respondent were promoted. Though the respondent insisted for his posting as DRM since 2010, his claim was not considered and ultimately, he was denied posting as DRM on the ground that he is being considered for promotion to higher administrative grade. The department thus, by not posting the respondent as DRM has taken away his chance of being considered for the post of AGM/GM(OL). Firstly, the petitioner-railway administration took 44 months for taking a decision and secondly, denied the respondent posting as DRM on the ground that he is being considered for the higher post. Now, it would not be appropriate for the Railway administration to take a stand that respondent could not be considered for posting as DRM since he has crossed 52 years of age.

    12. So far as the requirement under the relevant Rules, framed by the railway administration for promotion to the post of General Manager (OL) is concerned, there is no mandate under the a scheme that for consideration of promotion to the post of General Manager (OL) and equivalent in the railways, an employee shall mandatorily be posted as DRM. The eligibility criteria for making promotion to the post of GM and equivalent in the railways is laid down in Rule No.7 which reads thus:­

    "7. Eligibility Criteria
    7.1 Officers belonging to the Railway Services listed in Appendix­-II will be eligible for consideration by the Selection Committee.
    7.2 For being considered every such officer should on 1st July of the year in which selection is made:
    (i) Be less than 58 years of age;
    (ii) have put in not less than 25 years of regular continuous service including the period of probation, if any, in a Group ‘A’ Service listed in Appendix-­II
    (iii) have put in a minimum of five years service in the Senior Administrative Grade, including service rendered in higher grade posts, if any
    7.3 Only such of the empanelled officers would be considered for appointment to the post of General Manager/equivalent who are left with a minimum service of 2 years or more from the date of occurrence of the vacancy falling in their turn and for which they have been cleared."

    13. There is no mandate under the Rules that a candidate shall have the experience of DRM before he can be considered for promotion to the post of General Manager (OL). Appendix-­I prescribes various posts of GM and equivalent which also includes the post of General Manager (OL) for which, there is no separate or different or distinct criteria laid down or set out for the post of General Manager (OL) as opposed to other GMs listed in Appendix-I. The method for consideration for promotion to the post is listed in Appendix­-I. It is provided that the selection committee set up in accordance with paragraph 5 of the scheme will consider on merit eligible officers of the Railway Services listed in Appendix-II, their interse seniority and prepare a panel of officers considered suitable in all respects for promotion to the post of General Manager and equivalent. The Selection Committee may also recommend the specific type/types of assignment for which a particular officer mentioned in the panel may be considered suitable.

    14. Paragraph 6 of the Rules deals with the assessment of the suitability of the candidate. Further on adjudging the suitability of the officers, it is provided that due consideration will be given to the performance of the candidates as DRM and as Principal Head of the Department. According to the respondent, it is not mandatory for being judged as eligible for an officer to work as DRM before being considered for the post of General Manager (OL) or any other GM’s post or equivalent. The respondent has been declared fit and eligible for consideration for the post of General Manager (OL). The respondent was listed at Sr.No.1 for consideration of his posting as DRM. However, he was not considered. The respondent is also declared fit and eligible for consideration to the post of GM and at one point of time, the superior authority of the railway department had declared the respondent fit and eligible for being considered for the post of General Manager (OL). However, at the later point of time, the reviewing authority recorded endorsement on the ACR/APAR that since the respondent has not worked as DRM, he is not eligible for the post of General Manager (OL). According to the respondent, the decision of petitioner, adjudging respondent as ineligible for the post of General Manager (OL) only because he has not worked as DRM is de­-horse the rules.

    15. Even if the stand taken by the railways that the long-standing practice of promotion as General Manager (OL) from amongst the officers, who have gained experience to function as DRM has to be considered, it must be noted that, on one hand, Railway department did not extend an opportunity to the petitioner to function as DRM and on the other hand, the respondent is being denied promotion to the post of General Manager (OL) merely on the said ground. The High Court, while disposing of the Writ Petition, directed the petitioner Railways to take a decision within a period of six months and the department took about 44 months to take a decision. In the meanwhile, employees junior to the respondent were promoted to the post of DRM and the respondent was denied opportunity. Even after reinstatement of the respondent in the year 2010, he was not posted as DRM on the ground that he was being considered for HAG promotion. The Tribunal, by an order dated 2.10.2013 directed the petitioner - Railway department to consider the claim of the petitioner for posting him as DRM to fulfill the criteria for promotion to the post of General Manager (OL) however, the Railway department did not comply with the directions of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and refused opportunity to the respondent to function as DRM on the ground that, he was then being considered for promotion to HAG. It also must be noted that the respondent was considered eligible for DRM and his name was enlisted by the selection panel. So far as promotion of respondent to the post of General Manager (OL) is concerned, the committee ought to have considered that the record i.e. APAR/ACR reveals that the respondent is declared to be fit for the post of DRM, AGM and General Manager (OL), though, in the peculiar circumstances, he could not be posted as DRM and got his HAG promotion. The higher authorities i.e. the Executive General Manager as well as the Member, Engineering Railway Board, while writing the ACRs, declared the respondent fit for the post of DRM, AGM, General Manager (OL). This finding as recorded by the Railway authorities, accepted by the accepting authority had also been confirmed by the Chairman, Railway Board on 25.12.2012. The annual confidential reports for the subsequent period, however, declared the respondent unfit for posting as GM(OL), since he had not worked as DRM. The accepting authority, the Chairman, Railway Board has recorded the endorsement on the relevant ACRs/APAR although the reviewing authority agreed, that the respondent has the merit and eligibility to work as General Manager (OL). It is further recommended by the Member, Engineering Railway Board that, in order to prepare the respondent for posting as General Manager (OL), he may be posted as AGM. The petitioner thus appears to have denied opportunity to the respondent to function as General Manager (OL), merely because the respondent was not posted as DRM. As has been recorded above, on one hand, the petitioner denied respondent to work as DRM and on the other hand, though he is found suitable to function as General Manager (OL) and though the authorities have found the respondent to be the most efficient employee, having required merit and eligibility to function as General Manager (OL), he is denied the opportunity of promotion. It would, thus be not open for the petitioner to deny the respondent promotion as General Manager (OL) on the ground that, he has not worked as DRM. In the circumstances, though the respondent was found eligible, for the posting as DRM and though his name was listed at Sr.No.1 by the selection committee, having failed to post him as DRM, it is not open for the petitioner to take a contradictory stand and to deny the benefits to the respondent. It is not a matter of doubt that, an officer functioning as General Manager (OL) can only be considered for the posting as the Member of the Railway Board. Thus, denying the respondent promotion to the post of General Manager (OL), will have an adverse impact in respect of his chances of becoming the Member of the railway board.

    16. It is also worthy to be noted that, though the respondent made representations, requesting the petitioner-Railway to post him as DRM, his request was not considered. Respondent though offered to function as DRM in spite of his promotion to HAG, has been denied the opportunity under the pretext that he is placed in HAG group. The interim order issued by the CAT directing the petitioner-Railways to post the petitioner as DRM so as to extend him an opportunity to gain experience in the post, has also been turned down on the flimsy ground that respondent is functioning as HAG. If the employee, who is functioning in the higher grade, voluntarily accepts, as in the instant case, to work on the lower post, there was no reason for denying the opportunity. It is not a matter of doubt that respondent was eligible for posting as DRM. He was placed at Sr. No.1 in the selection list at the relevant time, however, he was not considered. The respondent was also held eligible for posting as General Manager (OL) despite noticing the fact that he has not worked as DRM at one point of time. In the peculiar facts of the case, the finding that the respondent is otherwise fit for functioning as GM(OL) except for the reason that the respondent did not work as DRM, he cannot be denied the opportunity. It is recorded in the ACR/APR that the respondent is an efficient officer and is well ­suited to shoulder the responsibility of the post of General Manager (OL). In the peculiar facts of the case, therefore, it is logical that the respondent shall be directed to consider the respondent for promotion to the post of General Manager (OL).

    17. It is also interesting to consider that the seniority of the respondent has always been maintained and he does not lose the seniority merely because he has not worked as DRM. The appointment of the GM and equivalent is governed by paragraph No.4 of the Rules. It is provided under rule 4.1 as-­

    "4 Method
    4.1 A panel of names for consideration for appointment to the posts of General Manager and equivalent, listed in appendix-I to the Scheme, shall be prepared by a Selection Committee set up in accordance with para 5 of the Scheme. For this purpose, the Selection Committee shall consider on merit, eligible officers of each of the Railway Services listed in appendix­-II, having regard to their inter­se seniority as well as their seniority in the respective Services - officers working in Higher Administrative Grade (Rs.22,400 - 24,500) being placed above, those working in Senior Administrative Grade (Rs.18,400 - 22,40) being placed above those working in Senior Administrative Grade (Rs.18,400 - 24,500) being paced above those working in Senior Administrative Grade (Rs.18,400 - 22,400/­) in each respective Service and prepare a panel of officers considered suitable in all respects for appointment to the posts of General Manager and equivalent. The Selection Committee may also recommend the specific type/types of assignment for which a particular officer mentioned in the panel may be considered suitable."

    18. It thus appears that, for consideration for appointment to the post of General Manager and equivalent, under the scheme, seniority cum merit is the criteria. There is no doubt that respondent is the senior officer and is suitable for being considered for the post of G.M. (OL).

    19. It is tried to have contended that, since the respondent has accepted the promotion in HAG, he cannot now make a grievance about denial to post him as DRM. According to the petitioner, the respondent-employee is not eligible for being considered as General Manager (OL), since he has not worked as DRM. There arises no question of estoppel for the reason that before promoting the respondent in HAG, he requested the Railways to consider him for the post of DRM. Even in 2013, the respondent expressed his willingness to function as DRM in spite of his promotion in HAG. However, the request made by the respondent was not considered at the relevant time. Therefore, it would not be equitable to allow the petitioner to take a stand that respondent cannot be considered for promotion as General Manager (OL), since he has not functioned as DRM. It is the petitioner-Railway, which denied opportunity to the respondent to gain requisite experience as DRM and as such, it would be inappropriate for them to deny the promotional opportunity to the respondent. Apart from this, respondent is found to be fit and suitable for posting as AGM, GM(OL). The finding recorded by the Assessing Authority could not have been reviewed by the Chairman - Railway Board within a span of few months. On an earlier occasion, the Chairman, Railway Board has approved the report of the assessing authority as regards the suitability of the respondent for the post of General Manager (OL). There are no reasons recorded as to why, there is a shift in the stand by the Chairman, Railway Board. The petitioner having found the respondent suitable and fit for promotion to the post of GM (OL), denying the opportunity on the ground that the respondent has not functioned as DRM which opportunity was denied by the Railways on more than one occasion and without any fault on the part of the respondent does not appear to be bonafide.

    20. Reliance is placed on the Judgment in the matter of Union of India versus K. V. Jankiraman (1991 (4) SCC 109). The Honourable Supreme Court of India has held that if an officer is exonerated of all charges, then he would get his due promotion from the day his immediate junior came to be promoted.

    21. The argument of the petitioner that the respondent was not considered for promotion as DRM, since he was over­aged from 2011 onwards, is unacceptable for the reason, that the respondent ought to have been considered for posting as DRM in 2011 and until the year 2015, he was eligible for being considered. The right/entitlement was accrued to the respondent in the year 2011. There was sufficient time for the Railways to take a decision within four years till the date, the respondent crossed age bar of 52 years.

    22. In the matter of S. B. Bhattacharjee versus S. D. Majumdar and others (2007 (10) SCC 513), it is ruled that though a person has no fundamental right in terms of article 16 of the Constitution of India, he has every right to be considered thereof. An effective and meaningful consideration is postulated thereby the terms and conditions of service of an employee including his right to be considered for promotion indisputably are governed by the Rules framed under the proviso appended to Article 309 of the Constitution of India.

    23. In the instant matter, though the respondent may not have right to seek direction to post him as GM(OL), he is entitled to seek direction to the petitioner to consider him for the post of General Manager (OL). In the light of peculiar facts and circumstances of this case, the failure of the petitioner-Railway to post the respondent as DRM shall not come in the way of respondent for being considered for promotion to the post of General Manager (OL). The Tribunal issued directions to the petitioner-Railway to post the respondent as DRM to give him exposure required to be considered as General Manager (OL). It is further ordered that, in case the petitioner do not post him as DRM, it will not stand in the way of respondent for being considered for the post of General Manager (OL). The directions were issued by the Tribunal in 2013. The petitioner-railway, did not post the respondent as DRM in furtherance of the directions issued by the Tribunal. The Tribunal, by issuing directions at an interlocutory stage before the final decision, had also issued similar directions to the Railways, however, under the pretext that the respondent has crossed 52 years of age, he was not considered for posting as DRM. In fact, it ought to have been considered that the respondent became eligible, in terms of his seniority long back i.e. in 2007 itself. Even after conclusion of the departmental proceedings initiated against him in the year 2010, he could have been considered. The respondent-Railway took 44 months for taking decision in respect of the departmental proceedings and thereby diminished the chances of the respondent for further promotion which in itself cannot come in the way of the respondent and shall not be construed as a bar. The Tribunal had already issued directions to the Railways that in the event, the respondent could not be considered for posting as DRM as directed, that itself shall not come in his way of offering a promotion to the post of GM (OL).

    24. In the instant matter, at this stage, it would not be possible to issue directions to the petitioner to post the respondent as DRM, however, merely because he was not promoted as DRM, it shall not come in his way of being considered for the post of GM (OL). This view, we have taken, in the peculiar facts and circumstances, since the respondent was considered eligible at the relevant time for the post of DRM and was enlisted at Sr.No.1 by the selection panel. At one point of time, the superior authorities in the Railway department considered the respondent fit and eligible for promotion to the post of GM(OL) though he has not functioned as DRM. The service record of the respondent has not been doubted. The relevant service Regulations do not create any bar for consideration of the respondent for the post of GM (OL). Merely on the ground that he was not offered an opportunity to function as DRM, even if the established practice is of considering the officers who have functioned as DRM, the same cannot be pressed into service in the instant matter for the reason that it is the petitioner-railway took 44 months time for finalizing the departmental enquiry proceedings and did not consider the respondent at appropriate time for posting as DRM, though he was enlisted at Sr.No.1 by selection panel.

    25. For the reasons recorded above, we direct the petitioner-railway administration to consider the claim of the respondent for promotion to the post of GM(OL) and the endorsement in the service record by the Railways in respect of his in­eligibility on the ground that he has not functioned as DRM shall not be an impediment for his consideration to the promotional post, if he is otherwise found eligible. The Judgment & Order passed by the CAT stands modified to the extent as specified above. The Writ petition presented by the petitioner as well as the respondent-employee stand disposed of accordingly.

    26. Rule is made absolute to the extent as specified above. In view of disposal of W.P.No.6851/2014 and W.P.No.8942/2014, W.P.No.12241/2015 deserves no consideration and stand disposed of.

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