SL CoA | Writ of Mandamus to be issued only in case of public or statutory duty; Court rejects appeal

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: A Division Bench of Janak De Silva and N. Bandula Karunarathna, JJ., dismissed an appeal.

The Petitioners were holding the post of “Clerk” of the Clerical & Allied Services at the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) in the ‘M’ salary scale and sought to assail certain actions of the CEB to promote ineligible individuals internally to the post of Accounting Assistant contrary to the scheme of recruitment of the CEB. They had prayed for issuing a writ of mandamus compelling any one or more of the Respondents to summon the Petitioners for interviews based on their results for the Competitive Examination for Recruitment of Accountants 2011 and duly appoint the Petitioners as Accounting Assistants with all pecuniary benefits due. There was no dispute that even the 2nd to 4th Petitioners have been appointed as Accountant Assistants subsequent to the filing of this application, but they were seeking to get their appointments backdated to 2011.

The counsel for the respondents Mr Milinda Gunetilleke, relying on the letters of appointment submitted that the relief prayed for in the petition was futile as petitioners had in their letters of appointment accepted their appointments with effect from 03-09-2016.

The Court while dismissing the appeal disagreed to the petitioners view that they had invoked a constitutional remedy and that they should not be disentitled simply because they had sought to accept the later appointment since the jurisdiction of this Court was constitutional and writ of mandamus being a discretionary remedy there are several grounds that it could be refused. Also, it was not disputed that petitioners were given this appointment consequent to them sitting for an exam subsequent to the filing of this application. This was a tacit admission on the part of these petitioners that they were not entitled to promotion based on the competitive examination held in 2011 and writ of mandamus could be issued only if there was a public or statutory duty. [T.M. Premadasa v. Ceylon Electricity Board, Case No. CA (Writ) 129 of 2013, decided on 22-01-2020]

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