Says Fixing Cut-Off Date For Policy Decision Executives Domain
SRINAGAR The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday dismissed a challenge thrown to the policy decision of the Government regarding Non-Functional (Monetary) Scheme for KAS officers.
A bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey also said fixing of cut-off date by the government regarding any policy decision was well within the domain of the Executive Authority.
Financial and economic implications are very relevant and germane for any policy decision touching the administration of the Government, the court added.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Itrat Hussain Rafiqi and others, appointed to the Kashmir Administrative Service in 2005 and 2008 respectively. In their plea, they said that the final seniority list of officers of the J&K Administrative Service was notified on 24 June 2011 and the order became the subject matter of the petitions which are sub-judice in Court. On account of the pendency of these petitions and the orders passed by the Court, the officers could not be placed in the seniority scale. They said government took a policy decision and notified the Non-functional (Monetary) Scheme .
By notifying the effective date of application of the scheme from 1 January this year, they said, the government has lost sight of the fact that the petitioners have suffered on account of the dispute with regard to their seniority.
Coming to the contention of the petitioners as regards the fixing of the cut-off date, what has to be noted is that not only in matters of extending monetary benefits to the employees, but even in respect of revision of scales of pay, a cut-off date on some rational or reasonable basis, has to be fixed for extending the benefits, the court said, adding, By way of illustration, in case the Government decides to revise the pay scale of its employees and fixes the 1st day of January of the next year for implementing the same or the 1st day of January of the last year, in either case, a big section of the employees are bound to miss the said revision of the scale of pay, having superannuated before that date.
In this behalf, the court further said, no scheme can be held to be foolproof, so as to cover and keep in view all persons who were, at one time, in active service.
In that backdrop, the concern of the Court should only be, while examining any such grievance, to see as to whether a particular date for extending a particular benefit or scheme, has been fixed, on objective and rational considerations.
In the case on hand, the court said, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir, after examining the matter from all angles and having regard to the various considerations viz., financial, administrative, etc., notified its policy decision vide SRO 198 dated 25th of April, 2018, to be operative from 1st of January, 2018, which can, in no way, be termed as arbitrary or based on any malafide consideration.
Referring to Ramrao& Ors. v. All India Backward Class Bank Employees Welfare Association, reported in (2004) 2 SCC 76, the court said that apex court has held that even for the purpose of effecting promotion, fixing of a cut-off date was neither arbitrary, unreasonable nor did it offend Article 14 of the Constitution.
Moreover, the Court held that possible hardship to be endured by a person, as a result of fixing of cut-off date in respect of a policy decision, did not make the cut-off dates violative of Article 14, the high court added.