Promotion Dispute: Seniority-cum-Merit Principle

The legal case delves into the intricate realm of promotion disputes, particularly focusing on the seniority-cum-merit principle. Through a thorough legal analysis, the court assesses the criteria for promotions based on a combination of seniority and merit. Stay tuned to unravel the nuances of promotion criteria in the realm of legal proceedings.


  • Respondent no.3 was appointed as Fireman on 09.01.1992, while the appellants were appointed on 09.02.1991.
  • The appellants were promoted to the post of Leading Fireman on 09.02.2012 under the Regulations.
  • The appellants’ promotions were protected during the pendency of the writ petition.
  • The High Court annulled the promotions of the appellants, deeming them ineligible under the Regulations.
  • The post of Fireman acts as a feeder post for Leading Fireman.
  • The appellants have uninterruptedly served as Leading Fireman.
  • The appellants are senior to respondent no.3.
  • The High Court erred in treating two requirements as conjunctive for promotion eligibility
  • Promotion was supposed to be based on seniority-cum-merit as per Regulations
  • Appellants with good service records and seniority to respondent no.3 were rightfully promoted on 09.02.2012
  • Departmental Promotion Committee considered their candidature and promoted them as Leading Fireman on 09.02.2012
  • High Court granted relief to respondent no.3 not sought by them and annulled the promotion of appellants who have retired since then

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  • Appellants are senior to respondent no.3, as acknowledged.
  • Promotion is based on seniority-cum-merit principle.
  • Possession of appreciation certificate is not an independent requirement, but a facet of good service record.
  • Respondent, though junior, is more meritorious than the appellants.
  • Promotion from Fireman to Leading Fireman is based on seniority-cum-merit principle.
  • Requirement for appreciable initiative and good reports are separate.
  • Respondent no.3 promoted amidst 21 other seniors raises need to examine all claims.


  • The High Court erred in annulling the promotion of the appellants based on the writ petition by respondent no.3.
  • Seniority-cum-merit principle is well established in service jurisprudence and must be considered for promotion.
  • Appreciable initiative and good service record are both important but may not always be mandatory together.
  • The Regulations clearly state that appointment by promotion is based on selection and not as a matter of right.
  • The High Court exceeded its jurisdiction by mandating a promotion for respondent no.3 without considering other senior candidates.
  • Regulations provide for promotion by selection based on seniority-cum-merit, with different categories of eligibility for promotion.
  • Minimum necessary merit can be assessed based on standards set by the competent authority.
  • Language of the Regulations should be interpreted literally to understand the criteria for promotion.
  • In the case of State of Mysore v. Syed Mahmood, the criteria for promotion was based on seniority-cum-merit.
  • The rule required promotion to be made by selection on the basis of seniority subject to the fitness of the candidate to discharge the duties of the post.
  • B.V. Sivaiah and Ors. vs K. Addankl Babu and Ors. explained that when promotion is based on seniority-cum-merit, the officer cannot claim promotion as a matter of right based on seniority alone.
  • The principle of seniority-cum-merit means that given the minimum necessary merit for efficiency, the senior, even if less meritorious, should have priority.
  • The appellants were found eligible for promotion.
  • The Court allowed the appeal, indicating that the promotion of respondent no.3 will not be interfered with.
  • The High Court should have directed the consideration of respondent no.3 for promotion as per the law.


  • Orders of promotion restored
  • Subject to principle of seniority-cum-merit
  • Discussion on seniority-cum-merit principle provided


Case Number: C.A. No.-004482-004482 / 2021

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