Rashid Paul

HC invalidates J&K Wildlife (Gazetted) Service Recruitment Rules 1994

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Says Assistant Wildlife Wardens deserve career progression through promotions

Srinagar, Feb 23: In a landmark judgment, the High Court has invalidated the J&K Wildlife (Gazetted) Service Recruitment Rules 1994 and directed the government to consider the Assistant Wildlife Wardens (AWWs) for promotional avenues.

The petitioners, a group of AWWs, pleaded that their post is a single cadre post having no promotional avenues, and the State is legally obliged to create promotional avenues for them under constitution.

The J&K Wildlife (Gazetted) Service Recruitment Rules, 1994, put a complete embargo on their future promotion and seals their fate for all time to come.

Hearing the petition, Justice Rashid Ali Dar directed the respondent  state to “notify ‘State Forest Service’ as required in terms of Rule 2(g) (i) of the Indian Forest Service (Recruitment) Rules, 1966, read with Regulation 5 of the Indian Forest Service (Appointment By Promotion) Regulations, 1966 and to consider the petitioners as members of said Forest Service.”

He further directed the respondents to “prepare a list of suitable officers for induction into Indian Forest Service by promotion in accordance with Indian Forest Service (Appointment by Promotion) Regulations, 1966 after notification of State Forest Service.”

The exercise has been directed to be completed within eight weeks.

The petitioners submitted that they are deemed to be the members of a service connected with the forestry in view of the nature of duties attached to them.

“The action of the government in not notifying the State Forest Service as defined in Section 2 (g) of the Indian Forest Service (Recruitment) Rules, but on the contrary restricting the zone of consideration for induction by promotion to the members of J&K Forest (Gazetted) Services only, renders the entire process of induction into IFS by considering only members of J&K Forest (Gazetted) Services, illegal and unconstitutional,” they pleaded.

The court while adjudicating the matter observed that the state has to look into the welfare of its employees. This objective has its roots in the concept of good governance, optimum utilization of talent and human resource employed by the state.

Aspirations of being considered for promotion are certainly legitimate one and have not to end in despair, it further said.

It said the respondent state cannot adopt a policy of status-quo, adding “if permitted has propensity of visiting civil consequences for the petitioners besides being militating their right of career advancement”.

The court made it clear that the mechanism adopted by the respondents for promoting only the members of Forest Gazetted Service to Indian Forest Service appears to be wholly arbitrary, illogical and unjust.

No justification is left with the respondents to deprive other wings of the Forest Service including the petitioners from consideration zone, it said.

The court turned down the plea by the respondents that the petitioners cannot agitate their grievance now when they were conscious of the fact that there were no promotion avenues available when the rules were framed in 1994, saying the argument is “without any merit and legal force”.

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