Union of India vs Mukesh Kumar Meena

Union of India and Ors vs Mukesh Kumar Meena

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3468 OF 2022
Union of India and Ors. …Appellants
Versus
Mukesh Kumar Meena …Respondent
J U D G M E N T
M.R. SHAH, J.
1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment
and order dated 20.02.2015 passed by the High Court of Judicature for
Rajasthan at Jodhpur in DBCWP No. 1542 of 2015, by which the High
Court has allowed the said writ petition preferred by the respondent
herein – original writ petitioner and has set aside the judgment and order
passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Jodhpur Bench, Jodhpur
(hereinafter referred to as the “Tribunal”) in O.A. No. 155 of 2014 by
which the learned Tribunal dismissed the said application preferred by
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the respondent herein – original applicant (hereinafter referred to as
“original applicant”) and has directed to extend the grace marks in the
subject of “Other Taxes” by treating him as a person belonging to
general category, Union of India and Others have preferred the present
appeal.
2. That the original applicant belongs to Scheduled Tribes (ST)
category. He entered in services of the Department of Income Tax being
appointed as Lower Division Clerk (LDC). He was promoted to the posts
of Tax Assistant, Sr. Tax Assistant and Office Superintendent. With a
view to regulate the departmental examination for Income Tax
Inspectors, the competent authority introduced modified rules for
Departmental Examination for Income Tax Inspectors – 1998 (hereinafter
referred to as the “Rules, 1998”). The said Rules were made applicable
for the departmental examination to be held in 1998 and onwards. The
departmental examination under the Rules, 1998 consisted of six papers
namely viz. Income Tax Law and Assessment, Other Taxes, Book
Keeping, Office Procedure, Examination of Accounts and Hindi Test. A
candidate securing minimum 45% marks in five subjects except in Hindi
was entitled to be declared as pass. For the members of Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled Tribes the minimum marks required to qualify the
examination was 40% of the maximum marks.
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2.1 For the benefit of those candidates, who marginally failed to
secure minimum marks/percentage irrespective of their category on
falling short of passing, upto five marks, the Central Board of Direct
Taxes introduced policy of awarding grace marks. The original applicant
secured the marks in different subjects as under:-
a. Income Tax Law (I & II)
Combined aggregate of
45% (40% in the case of
SC/ ST candidate)
41 +57=98 49
b. Other Taxes 43 43
c. Book Keeping 45 45
d. Office Procedure 71 71
e. Examination of accounts 83 83
Total 340 56.67
2.2 Thus, the original applicant secured more than 45% marks in each
subject except the subject of "Other Taxes". According to the original
applicant, he was entitled for grace marks in the subject of “Other
Taxes”, but the same were not given to him as he was treated qualified
in the category of Scheduled Tribes. Therefore, it gave cause to him to
approach the Central Administrative Tribunal, Jodhpur Bench, Jodhpur
by way of filing O.A. No. 155 of 2014.
2.3 Before the Tribunal, it was the case on behalf of the original
applicant that though he belongs to ST category and he passed in the
examination with relaxed standards of marks provided for SCs and STs
category, but he actually got 43 marks in one of the subjects and had he
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been given two grace marks in the “Other Taxes” paper in the
departmental examination, he would have been declared passed in 2007
itself on his own merit and would have been eligible to get the benefit of
promotion against general vacancies.
2.4 The learned Tribunal by a reasoned and detailed judgment and
order dismissed the said application by observing that the CBDT circular
providing grace marks cannot be interpreted to mean that a person, who
has passed in his own category can be given further grace marks to
enable him to move in the general category on his own merit. The
learned Tribunal also considered the object and purpose of introducing
the grace marks policy, namely with the purpose of enabling marginally
failing candidates to pass the examination.
2.5 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and order
passed by the learned Tribunal dismissing the O.A., the respondent
herein – original applicant preferred the writ petition before the High
Court. By the impugned judgment and order, the Division Bench of the
High Court relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of Rajesh
Kumar Daria Vs. Rajasthan Public Service Commission and Ors.,
(2007) 8 SCC 785 has allowed the said writ petition and has quashed
and set aside the judgment and order passed by the learned Tribunal
and has directed the Department to extend grace marks to him in the
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subject of “Other Taxes” by treating him as a person belonging to
general category.
2.6 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment
and order passed by the High Court, the Union of India and others have
preferred the present appeal.
3. Shri Nachiketa Joshi, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
appellants – Union of India and others has vehemently submitted that
the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court is beyond
the grace marks policy declared by the Central Board of Direct Taxes.
3.1 It is submitted that while passing the impugned judgment and
order, the Hon’ble High Court has not at all appreciated the object and
purpose of allowing the grace marks. It is submitted that as rightly
observed by the learned Tribunal, the grace marks were to be provided
only for the purpose of enabling marginally failing candidates to pass the
examination.
3.2 It is submitted that as rightly observed by the learned Tribunal, the
grace marks policy was not applicable in favour of a person, who has
passed in his own category. It is submitted that it was not meant to give
further grace marks to enable a person, who has passed in his own
category to move to the general category on his own merit.
3.3 It is further submitted that the Hon’ble High Court has as such
erred in applying the decision of this Court in the case of Rajesh Kumar
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Daria (supra). It is submitted that the said decision shall not be
applicable to the facts of the case on hand.
3.4 Making above submissions, it is prayed to allow the present
appeal.
4. Present appeal is vehemently opposed by Dr. Sumant Bhardwaj,
learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent – original
applicant.
4.1 It is vehemently submitted that in the facts and circumstances of
the case and relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of
Rajesh Kumar Daria (supra), the Hon’ble High Court has rightly
directed the Department to give grace marks to the original applicant in
the subject of “Other Taxes” so that he may switch over to general
category and/or get the promotion in the general category. It is
submitted that if the grace marks are given to the original applicant, in
that case, he may get the promotion in the general category.
4.2 It is submitted that some other employees belonging to reserved
categories were awarded five grace marks despite the fact that they
were having the requisite minimum passing marks of 40% meant for
SC/ST category.
4.3 Making above submissions and relying upon the decision of this
Court in the case of Rajesh Kumar Daria (supra), it is prayed to dismiss
the present appeal.
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5. We have heard the learned counsel for the respective parties at
length. We have also considered and gone through the grace marks
policy declared by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
6. The CBDT introduced the grace marks policy with the purpose of
enabling marginally failing candidates to pass the examination. At this
stage, it is required to be noted that as per the Rules, 1998, the
minimum marks provided for general category candidate was 45% and
in the case of SC/ST category candidate, it was 40%. In the present
case, the respondent – original applicant secured more than 45% marks
in each subject except the subject of “Other Taxes”. In the subject of
“Other Taxes”, he secured 43% marks. However, the minimum
requirement was 40% so far as the respondent – original applicant is
concerned, as he belonged to ST category and so he passed in his own
category. However, it is the case on behalf of the original applicant that
as the minimum marks required for general category candidate was 45%
and if he would have been awarded two marks by way of grace in the
subject of “Other Taxes”, in that case, he would have secured the
minimum 45% marks required for general category candidate and
therefore, he would have got the promotion in the general category. The
aforesaid was rightly not accepted by the learned Tribunal. The benefit
of the grace marks was not to allow the reserved category candidate to
switch over to general category.
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6.1 At the cost of repetition, it is observed that the CBDT introduced
the grace marks policy with the purpose of enabling the marginally failing
candidates to pass in the examination. Once the respondent – original
applicant passed in his own category, there was no question of
allowing/granting him any further grace marks. If the contention on
behalf of the respondent – original applicant is accepted, in that case,
granting the grace marks in the aforesaid case would be beyond the
object and purpose of granting grace marks and beyond the policy
declared by CBDT. Only in a case where any candidate belonging to
any category is marginally failing to pass the examination, he is/was to
be allowed the grace marks so as to allow him to obtain the minimum
passing marks required and that too by allowing upto five grace marks.
By passing the impugned judgment and order, the High Court has not at
all appreciated and/or considered in its true spirit the object and purpose
of grace marks policy introduced by CBDT. It was never meant for a
person, who has passed in his own category and still to allow him further
grace marks to enable him to move to the general category. That was
not the object and purpose of the grace marks policy.
7. Now, so far as the reliance placed upon the decision of this Court
in the case of Rajesh Kumar Daria (supra) followed by the High Court
is concerned, the said decision is not appliable to the facts of the case
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on hand. The specific grace marks policy was introduced by the CBDT,
which was for marginally failing candidates so as to enable them to pass
the examination. Therefore, the said decision relied upon by the
respondent herein – original applicant is not applicable at all.
8. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the
impugned judgment and order passed by the Division Bench of the High
Court is unsustainable and the same deserves to be quashed and set
aside and is accordingly quashed and set aside. The judgment and
order passed by the learned Tribunal dismissing the O.A. stands
restored.
Present appeal is accordingly allowed. However, in the facts and
circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to costs.
…………………………………..J.
[M.R. SHAH]
NEW DELHI; …………………………………..J.
APRIL 28, 2022. [B.V. NAGARATHNA]
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