The Delhi High Court has quashed the Centre’s cadre allocations of IAS and IPS officers of 2018 batch under the new policy and ordered a fresh cadre allocation.
A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli accepted the submission of the officers, who had approached the court challenging the process, that cadre allocation is a matter which would affect their careers for all times to come.
It noted that re-allocation of cadres by the authorities should not take much time as it is done electronically, that is through computer programme or software, and the authorities already possess the requisite data in this regard.
“For all the aforesaid reasons, we are inclined to allow these writ petitions and to quash the cadre allocations made by the respondents of the IAS officers vide communication dated December 3, 2018, and the IPS officers vide OM dated December 19, 2018. We, accordingly, direct so,” the bench said.
It said the court was inclined to grant relief to the petitioners considering that they have approached the court at the very earliest and at a stage when neither the IAS officers nor the IPS officers of the 2018 batch have commenced their on-site training which are cadre specific.
“We, therefore, direct the respondents to undertake fresh cadre allocation of the successful candidates allocated to the IAS and IPS, according to their merit and by taking into consideration the preferences given by the candidates irrespective of whether they have filled ‘99’ in any of the zones or cadres.
“If a candidate is not able to get any of the preferred cadres according to his rank, cadre allocation in respect of such a candidate may be resorted to in the manner set out in…. ,that is, he may ‘be allotted along with other such candidates in the order of rank to any of the remaining cadres, arranged in alphabetical order, in which there are vacancies in his category if allocation of all the candidates who could be allotted to cadres in accordance with their preference’,” the bench said and disposed of four petitions.
For no preference in zones and cadres, the candidates had to enter “99”.
The court’s verdict came on four petitions filed by various officers challenging the notification of Central government allocating the cadres to candidates of Indian Police Service (IPS) on the basis of the results of the Civil Services Examination (CSE), 2017.
They sought direction to the Centre to issue a new list allocating the respective cadres to the selected IPS candidates in the CSE, 2017, purely on the basis of merit and preferences indicated in the online form, by correctly interpreting the Office Memorandum (OM) of September 5, 2017.
The pleas claimed that the interpretation of Cadre Allocation Policy 2017 adopted by the authorities was unreasonable and grossly unfair, unjust and arbitrary.
“The same is violative of the principle of equality in as much, as, the more meritorious candidates, who have ranked higher in CSE, 2017, have been denied allocation to cadres for which they had given their preferences, and less meritorious candidates have been allocated to the said cadres,” the officers’ counsel had argued.
As per the 2017 office memorandum on cadre allocation policy, the states and joint cadres were divided into five zones.
According to that policy, the candidates were required to first give their choice in the descending order of preference from amongst the various zones. Thereafter, the candidates will indicate one preference of cadre from each preferred zone.
The candidates will indicate their second cadre preference for every preferred zone thereafter. Similar process will continue till a preference for all the cadres is indicated by the candidate.
If a candidate does not give any preference for any of the zones/cadres, it will be presumed that he has no specific preference for those zones/cadres and accordingly, if he is not allocated to any one of the cadres for which he has indicated the preference, he shall be allotted along with other such candidates in the order of rank to any of the remaining cadres, arranged in an alphabetical order, in which there are vacancies in his category after allocation of all the candidates who can be allotted to cadres in accordance with their preference, it had stated.
The petitioners’ grievance was that the authorities have not allocated the cadres to them as per their declared policy of merit-cum-preferences.
The bench agreed with the officers that the interpretation and implementation of the Cadre Allocation Policy, 2017 resorted to by the respondents is unreasonable and arbitrary, since the more meritorious candidates have been denied the cadres to which they were otherwise entitled according to their preference and the same have been allocated to the less meritorious candidates.
“There can be no gain saying that the common thread running in the said Cadre Allocation Policy, 2017 is to reward merit. The more meritorious candidates are entitled to consideration for allocation of cadres before the less meritorious candidates are considered.
“This is clear from the overall scheme/policy… That principle has been clearly breached by the respondents due to the manner in which they have interpreted and implemented the OM dated September 5, 2017,” it said.