Seniority Determination in Uttarakhand Pey Jal Nigam: Regulation 23 vs Government Order

The Supreme Court of India issued a significant judgement regarding the seniority determination in Uttarakhand Pey Jal Nigam. The case involved a dispute between the applicability of Regulation 23 and the Government Order dated 31 August 2001. Stay tuned to learn more about this complex legal battle.


  • The High Court directed the Uttarakhand Pey Jal Nigam to determine the seniority of Junior Engineers as per Regulation 23 of the Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam Subordinate Engineering Service Regulations, 1978.
  • An advertisement was issued by the Nigam on 29 November, 2004 for filling up vacancies of Junior Engineers under various categories.
  • The State Government permitted the Nigam to make appointments to the posts of Junior Engineer and Assistant Engineer based on a prescribed roster and Government orders.
  • The selection process was completed based on a merit list from written tests and interviews.
  • The High Court allowed a writ petition filed by certain candidates who ranked higher in merit but were appointed later than others.
  • Regulations stipulate reservations for candidates belonging to SC, ST, and Backward Classes as per Government orders in force during recruitment.
  • High Court upheld that seniority should be determined based on the date of appointment in accordance with Regulation 23.
  • The order dated 11 July, 2018, passed by the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital is challenged in the present appeals.
  • Tentative seniority list published on 14 September, 2010 based on written test and interview marks
  • Objections filed against tentative seniority list
  • Appointment orders given proportionate to quota reserved for different categories
  • Seniority to be determined later as per appointment letter condition
  • Final seniority list published on 28 November, 2014 based on merit list during result declaration
  • Tribunal dismissed petition on 10 October, 2017
  • Review petition filed and dismissed on 23 November, 2017
  • Seniority list challenged before Uttarakhand Public Services Tribunal
  • Result declared separately for General category, OBC, SC, and ST candidates
  • Five different sets of appointment orders issued from May 2005 to December 2005

Also Read: The Case of Circumstantial Evidence: Conviction Upheld by Supreme Court of India


  • Mr. Raju Ramachandran argued that the High Court erred in law by upsetting the seniority list based on Regulation 23 alone.
  • Regulation 23 should be read along with Regulations 16, 17, and 20, ensuring appointments are made in the order of merit list.
  • Seniority rightfully fixed from the date of appointment based on Regulation 23.
  • Being appointed earlier does not give juniors an advantage over higher-merit candidates.
  • Mr. Nidhesh Gupta argued that the petitioners were appointed earlier than the appellants and did not raise any grievances at that time.
  • The Government order dated 31 August 2001 determines seniority as per the roster fixed in Regulation 6, making Regulation 23 applicable with Regulation 20.

Also Read: High Court’s Ruling on Quashing of Proceedings in the Case of Sri K. Sampath Kumar


  • Regulation 20 mandates appointments to be made in order of candidates’ standing in the list prepared under Regulations 16(2), 17, or 18.
  • Appointments made in contravention of regulations cannot defeat appellants’ rights.
  • Regulation 23 dictates seniority be based on substantive appointment.
  • Seniority should be determined by Selection Committee merit, regardless of appointment date.
  • Reservation for SC, ST, BC, and other categories should follow government orders at time of recruitment.
  • Nigam’s counter affidavit states 241 Junior Engineer vacancies were advertised on 29 November, 2004.
  • Seniority not framed in accordance with roster circulated on 31 August, 2001.
  • Rules approved by Nigam Board in 2007 were only applied in 2011, not applicable to a creation under a Statute.
  • Seniority to be based on 31 August, 2001 roster, not Rules adopted by Nigam.
  • Appointment of senior-most person in each category a coincidence, not based on merit.
  • Seniority should be determined as per 31 August, 2001 roster, not by Uttarakhand Government Servant Seniority Service Rules, 2002 or rules adopted by Nigam.
  • State’s argument of seniority as per Rule 5 of 2002 Rules rejected, as reservation should follow 100 points roster from 31 August, 2001 circular.
  • State Government’s sanction for 88 posts of Junior Engineer explicitly mentioned reservation as per 31 August, 2001 roster.
  • Written examination in December 2004, interviews conducted, seniority undecided as per appointment letter clause (9) in May 2005.

Also Read: Equivalency of Educational Qualifications in the Case of Instructors’ Appointments


  • The High Court and Tribunal’s orders are not sustainable in law.
  • The seniority list was not prepared in accordance with the required roster circulated on 31 August, 2001.
  • The seniority list and the High Court’s order dated 11 July, 2018 are set aside.
  • Respondent No 5 is directed to recast seniority according to the roster points given in the Circular dated 31 August, 2001.
  • The appeals stand disposed of with these directions.


Case Number: C.A. No.-009247-009247 / 2019

Click here to read/download original judgement

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