Data Entry Operators Grade ‘B’ vs. Central Excise Department: Promotions Dispute

A landmark case involving Data Entry Operators Grade ‘B’ and the Central Excise Department has been settled, addressing a promotions dispute. The Court recognized the legal rights of the petitioners under the pre-2003 Rules for promotions to Inspector vacancies. The case highlighted the restructuring of cadres and the eligibility criteria for promotions to higher positions. Stay tuned for more details on this important legal ruling.


  • The appellants in the mentioned Civil Appeal Nos. 1970-1975 of 2009 were initially recruited as Data Entry Operators Grade ‘A’ and later promoted to Grade ‘B’.
  • A total of 242 vacancies for Inspector in the Andhra Pradesh zone were at the center of the controversy.
  • The applicants challenged the limitation of promotion to certain categories in the Central Excise Department in relation to the post of Inspector.
  • The CAT allowed O.A. 1362 of 2002, directing the appellants to be considered for promotion to the post of Inspectors.
  • The reliefs sought by the appellants included setting aside intimation letters and draft recruitment rules with alleged unconscionable conditions.
  • The reply by official respondents highlighted the post of Inspector being covered by 1979 Rules and the feeder categories.
  • The cases were filed before the CAT, Hyderabad, and the High Court recognized the legal rights of the writ petitioners under the pre-2003 Rules for promotions to Inspector vacancies.
  • The Tribunal directed the applicants to be considered for promotion to the post of Inspector in accordance with the relevant rules.
  • The Data Entry Operators Grade ‘B’ were redesignated as Senior Tax Assistants Recruitment Rules, 2002, and their service rendered before the new rules shall be taken into consideration for promotion.
  • The Tribunal found that the restructuring of cadres came into effect from the date of issue of the letter dated 19.07.2001.
  • The Tribunal disagreed with the contention that the restructuring of the Cadre came into force only from 16.01.2003.
  • The pre-structured Cadre of Tax Assistants and U.D. Clerks were merged and redesignated as Senior Tax Assistants (STAs).

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  • Prior to the amendment of the Rules, two sources were available for appointment as Sub-Registrar, UDCs, and LDCs.
  • A restructuring took place with effect from the date the Statutory Rules were framed in 2003.
  • Subsequently, the Rules were amended, taking away the right of LDCs for appointment as Sub-Registrar.
  • Existing vacancies were governed by the erstwhile Rules of 1979.
  • The government decided to restructure the cadre after perceiving merit in the genuine grievances.
  • The representative decision supporting this view was from the case of K. Ramulu (Dr.) and another v. (Dr.) S. Suryaprakash Rao and others, and P. Ganeshwar Rao.
  • The Court directed the respondents to consider the applicants for promotion to the post of Inspector of Customs and Central Excise.
  • The appellants, who were Data Entry Operator Grade ‘B’, contended that they were eligible for promotion as Inspectors.
  • The restructuring effect was seen from the pay-scale changes on 20.01.2003.
  • The government’s decision not to fill vacancies until the amendment of the Rules was considered valid.
  • The Court emphasized the need to consider existing vacancies under the prevailing Rules before an amendment.
  • Different perspectives were presented on the rights and eligibility of Senior Tax Assistants based on service and grade changes.
  • Various judicial decisions were referred to regarding similar restructuring and promotion scenarios.

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  • Promotion can be made by selection from candidates working in restructured cadres
  • Promotion under this provision is only valid for two years from the date of restructured cadres coming into existence
  • Lower Division Clerks on regular basis falling within seniority list are eligible for promotion
  • Persons appointed to Grade of Assistant, Tax Assistant, Upper Division Clerk, Data Entry Operator Grade B and C are deemed to have been appointed as Senior Tax Assistants
  • The Rules prior to their amendment included them in the Feeder Category for the promotion to the post of Deputy Excise Commissioner.
  • The right to be considered for promotion accrues on the date of consideration of the eligible candidates.
  • Draft rules can be acted upon when there are no rules governing the matter and recruitment is governed by departmental instructions or executive orders under Article 162 of the Constitution.
  • The judgment in Gajraj Singh v. STAT [(1997) 1 SCC 650 : (1996) 7 Scale 31] held that posts vacant prior to the amended rules would be governed by the old rules and not by the new rules.
  • There are two lines of decisions relied upon, one regarding consciously keeping vacancies unfilled for good reasons and the other regarding preparation of a panel for the eligible candidates every year.
  • The principle is that a candidate has the right to be considered in the light of the existing rules on the date of consideration for promotion.
  • Certain additional posts have been included in the feeder cadre, expanding the zone of consideration for promotion.
  • The intention was to allow Data Entry Operators Grade ‘B’ and ‘C’ to tag their previous service before 20.01.2003 for calculating service under the 2002 Inspector Rules.
  • If both Inspector Rules and STA Rules were brought into force simultaneously, STAs could have counted previous service as Data Entry Operator Grade ‘B’.
  • Promotion under Clause (a) of Note 1 was to be operative for two years from the date the restructured cadre under Clause (b) came into existence.
  • There is little merit in the argument that Clause (a) had an exclusive right to promotion for two years under the 2002 Inspector Rules.
  • Clause (c) of Column 12 allows promotion from categories in the absence of persons falling in Clause (b), without any such rider in Clause (b).
  • If the STA Rules were in force from 07.12.2002, appellants would be eligible for promotion by adding two years as Data Entry Operator Grade ‘B’.

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  • The appellants are eligible for promotion from 20.01.2003 and entitled to add their service as Data Entry Operator Grade ‘B’ for consideration in vacancies for promotion that arose after 07.12.2002.
  • The appellants challenge the common judgment passed by the High Court in Writ Petition No 2378 of 2005 and Writ Petition No 45 of 2005.
  • Civil Appeals Nos. 1970-1975 of 2009 are disposed of with the appellants entitled to be considered for promotions based on the Inspector Rules from 07.12.2002 onwards.
  • In regards to vacancies of Inspector post-07.12.2002, the appellants have the right to be considered for promotion as per the rules.
  • The promotions granted shall be notional entitling parties to seniority and pension benefits.

Case Title: D.RAGHU Vs. R.BASAVESWARUDU (2020 INSC 130)

Case Number: C.A. No.-001970-001975 / 2009

Click here to read/download original judgement

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