New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has set aside the allocations of Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and Indian Police Service (IPS) officers of 2018 batch by the Centre and ordered a fresh cadre allocation.
A Division Bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli allowed the petitions by four petitioners who participated in the Civil Service Exam (CSE), 2017.
They had challenged IAS Officers vide communication dated December 3, 2018, and the IPS Officers vide Office Memorandum (OM) dated December 19, 2018.
The petitioners said that the interpretation and implementation of the Cadre Allocation Policy-2017 is unreasonable as the more meritorious candidates have been denied the allocation of cadre.
"We agree with the petitioners that the interpretation and implementation of the Cadre Allocation Policy - 2017 resorted to by the respondents (Centre) is unreasonable and arbitrary since the more meritorious candidates have been denied the cadres to which they were otherwise entitled to according to their preference, and the same have been allocated to the less meritorious candidates," the bench said.
"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," the court said.
That principle has been clearly breached by the Centre due to the manner in which they have interpreted and implemented the office memorandum.
The four candidates were successful. But the the case of the petitioners is that the candidates who appeared in the CSE, 2017 had filled up the online forms giving their preferences for cadres under the preferred zones.
"These preferences were called for, before the declaration of the final results of the selection process, and when the petitioners were not aware of their merit positions," the petitioners told the court.
They added that in the matter of cadre allocation to the IAS and IPS Officers, the rules provide that the allocation of cadre officers to various cadres shall be made by the central government in consultation with the state government or the state government concerned.
The petitioners submitted that the IAS and IPS officers are under obligation to serve in any part of the country. The government is not bound to allocate any officer to any particular cadre of his choice.
They have also sought direction to the Centre to issue a new list on the basis of merit and preferences indicated in the online form, by correctly interpreting the Office Memorandum of September 5, 2017.
"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," the bench said.
The bench also observed that the petitioners 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 also accept the submission of the petitioners that cadre allocation is a matter which would affect their careers for all times to come, and re-allocation of cadres by the respondents should not take much time considering that the same is done electronically, i.e. through the computer program or software," the court said.