P&H HC | Whether in absence of enabling power in the Service Rules, the period of tenure posting could be extended by the State or its instrumentalities? Court explains

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Anil Kshetrapal, J., addressed the validity of the order granting extension in the service to respondent 6 on the post of General Secretary Haryana in Indian Red Cross Society for a period more than 3 years. The Court stated,

In absence of enabling powers in the Service Rules, the President had no inherent power to travel beyond the Service Rules. Once, the Service Rules have been framed, notified and adopted then the State or its instrumentalities are required to follow the same. The Rules are framed/notified in order to regulate. If the authorities at the highest level do not adhere to the Rules, then the Court is left with no choice but to intervene.”

 The President of the society (Haryana Branch) on 02-12-2013 appointed respondent 6 as General Secretary on a tenure post of three years, the appointment had been made under Rule G(b) Chapter III of the proposed IRCS-Uniform Rules, State/UT Branches Male/Circulated by National Headquarter, New Delhi under Section 5 of the Indian Red Cross Society Act, 1920. Thereafter, vide Notification dated 15-12-2017, the Managing Body of the Red Cross Society with the previous approval of the President of the Society notified Rules known as “Indian Red Cross Society Branch Committee Rules, 2017”. The petitioner completed his tenure of three years on 04-12-2019 and on 02-06-2020, an order had been issued, extending the tenure of the petitioner till his superannuation i.e. 30-04-2022. The petitioner contended that the authorities had no power to extend the tenure.

The Court observed, as per Rule 6, the President was the appointing authority for the post of General Secretary. Rule 9, provided that all direct recruitment shall be made through advertisement in the newspaper. Rule 10 provided that the post of General Secretary can be filled up from two sources i.e. either by direct recruitment or by promotion. However, the appointment shall be subject to ratification by the Managing Committee of Indian Red Cross Society, Haryana. The tenure of respondent 6 came to an end on 04-12-2019. At that stage, the competent authority had two options; either to appoint through direct recruitment and therefore constitute a selection committee or decide to fill up the post by promotion. The authority did not choose to go by what was provided in the Rules. Rather, the tenure of the respondent was extended arbitrarily and the same was not even ratified by the managing committee.

Therefore, it was held that, extension given in the service was beyond the scope of the Staff Rules, 2017 and was liable to be set aside. [Sumer Singh v. Indian Red Cross Society,  2021 SCC OnLine P&H 59, decided on 06-01-2021]

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