CHENNAI: In an unusual development, the Tamil Nadu government demoted 45 deputy collectors to tahsildars and promoted 110 others through the implementation of the MBC/BC quota in promotions based on a 2018 Supreme Court order. The demoted officers, who have served various roles such as revenue divisional officer, personal assistant to collector, assistant commissioner (Excise), for five to nine years have now been assigned to positions designated for tahsildars, according to an official order dated July 22.
The demoted officers contended that the move contradicts several SC rulings declaring reservation in promotions as illegal. However, on September 11, 2018, the apex court interpreted the elevation from the position of revenue inspector to deputy tahsildar as a “transfer” rather than a “promotion” as per TN State and Subordinate Services Rules. Consequently, the court ruled that employees from BC/MBC category were eligible for reservation in the recruitment of deputy tahsildars.
As a result of this ruling, the seniority of officials, who were appointed as deputy tahsildars, between 2004 and 2019 underwent a revision, leading to the categorisation of their current positions. A revenue official, who was demoted to tahsildar said, “It is a well-settled law that quotas will not be applicable in promotions. According to the SC order, legislation should be enacted to allow reservation in promotions for the purpose of revising the seniority list.
‘Without any legislation, the issued order is illegal’
“Without any legislation, the order of the revenue commissioner is illegal. We will approach the court,” the official said. “When a person receives a higher salary, higher responsibilities, and a higher grade, it cannot be considered a transfer. The TN subordinate service rules will not applicable to revenue assistants, who are recruited through TNPSC. Another order of the SC clearly stated that seniority list should be prepared based on merit, not on quota,” said another tahsildar.
The officer was referring to an SC ruling from this April in which the apex court, hearing a contempt case, declared the 200-point communal roster system, which provides horizontal quota to reserved communities (BC/MBC/SC/ST) in promotions, as illegal.
The court had further ordered the revision of the seniority list based on Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission rules, with March 10, 2003, as the cutoff date. This date was determined from the time when the court first declared the roster system illegal in the case of Bimlesh Tanwar vs. State Of Haryana.
Sources said that Chief Secretary Shiv Das Meena had issued a circular to Secretaries of various departments last week instructing them to prepare a revised list of seniority based on the SC judgment on 200-point roster system.
“The departments and TNPSC have been revising the seniority list in 54 departments with retrospective effect from March 10, 2003,” an official said. Similarly, last year, the SC upheld the TN government’s 1995 GO, which gives preference to direct recruitment of revenue assistants with graduate degrees over non-graduates when promoting them to the rank of deputy tahsildar.