Supreme Court: Retrospective Seniority Cannot Be Claimed From A Date When An Employee Is Not Even Borne In Service

Retrospective Seniority Cannot Be Claimed From A Date When An Employee Is Not Even Borne In Service: Supreme Court

Retrospective seniority cannot be claimed from a date when an employee is not even borne in service, the Supreme Court observed in a judgment today.

The bench of Justices R. Subhash Reddy  and Hrishikesh Roy observed that seniority benefit can accrue only after a person joins service and to say that benefits can be earned retrospectively would be erroneous.

In this case, the authorities rejected the claim of an employee who sought seniority from 5.12.1985 on the ground that he was appointed on 27.2.1996 on direction of the Supreme Court and that he was not borne in service as on 5.12.1985. The rejection order was then challenged and the Patna High Court which directed the authority to consider the his seniority from 5.12.1985.

Retrospective Seniority Cannot Be Claimed From A Date When An Employee Is Not Even Borne In Service: Supreme Court

Before the Supreme Court, the issue raised was whether the employee is entitled to claim seniority in service from a retrospective date i.e. 20.11.1985 as was ordered by the High Court or whether he is entitled for seniority from the date he entered service?

Referring to some earlier judgments [Shitla Prasad Shukla vs. State of UP (1986)(Supp.) SCC 185 ; Ganga Vishan Gujrati And Ors. Vs. State of Rajasthan (2019) 16 SCC 28, the court observed that seniority benefit can accrue only after a person joins service and to say that benefits can be earned retrospectively would be erroneous. It added:

Retrospective Seniority Cannot Be Claimed From A Date When An Employee Is Not Even Borne In Service: Supreme Court

10…The jurisprudence in the field of service law would advise us that retrospective seniority cannot be claimed from a date when an employee is not even borne in service. It is also necessary to bear in mind that retrospective seniority unless directed by court or expressly provided by the applicable Rules, should not be allowed, as in so doing, others who had earlier entered service, will be impacted.

Retrospective Seniority Cannot Be Claimed From A Date When An Employee Is Not Even Borne In Service: Supreme Court

Referring to the facts of this case, the court said that the action of the authorities in determination of the employee’s seniority from the date of entering service is consistent with the applicable laws.

“14….There could be individual cases where a bunch of applicants are recruited through a common competitive process but for one reason or another, one of them is left out while others get appointed. When the denial of analogous appointment is founded to be arbitrary and legally incorrect, the benefit of notional seniority may be conferred on the deprived individual. However, the present is not a case of that category.”, the court observed while setting aside the High Court judgment.

Retrospective Seniority Cannot Be Claimed From A Date When An Employee Is Not Even Borne In Service: Supreme Court

Citation: LL 2021 SC 510

Case no.: State of Bihar vs. Arbind Jee

Case no. | Date: CA 3767 OF 2010 | 28 September 2021

Coram: Justices R. Subhash Reddy and Hrishikesh Roy

Counsel: Adv Abhinav Mukerji for appellant, Adv Satvik Misra for respondent

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