The Supreme Court ruled that the service regulations prevail over advertising statements in case of any conflict.
The appellant, Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) is a statutory body constituted under the Employees’ State Insurance Act 19483 . The recruitment and promotion of its teaching staff are governed by the Employees’ State Insurance Corporation (Medical Teaching Faculty Posts) Recruitment Regulations 2015. Respondents joined the appellant as Assistant Professors at ESIC Model Hospital, Bengaluru. The Central Government, through the Central Health Service Division of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, had issued the DACP Scheme through an Office Memorandum. The DACP Scheme contemplated promotion as Associate Professor upon completion of two years of service in the post of Assistant Professor as an officer under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. After two years of service as Assistant Professor, the contesting respondents sought promotion under the DACP Scheme and instituted proceedings before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Bengaluru.
Advocate Santhosh Krishnan, appearing on behalf of the appellant, contended that the terms and conditions of service of Assistant Professors are governed by the ESIC Recruitment Regulations 2015. These regulations stipulate that a minimum of five years of qualifying service as Assistant Professor is mandatory for promotion as Associate Professor. The ESIC Regulations 2015 cannot be overridden by the DACP Scheme.
Advocate Yatindra Singh and Advocate Anand Sanjay M Nuli, appearing on behalf of the contesting respondents, urged that the Office Memorandum extended the DACP Scheme to all Medical doctors, whether belonging to Organized Services, or holding isolated posts. It also directed all Ministries/Departments to implement the DACP Scheme. By another Office Memorandum, the Government of India extended the DACP Scheme to various sub-cadres of the Central Health Service, including the teaching cadre. Under Section 17(2)(a) of the ESI Act, the DACP Scheme is binding on the appellant.
The division bench of Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice A S Bopanna noted that it is a settled principle of service jurisprudence that in the event of a conflict between a statement in an advertisement and service regulations, the latter shall prevail.
The court said that the CAT and the High Court failed to notice the applicability of the ESIC Recruitment Regulations 2015 to the promotions of the Teaching Cadre in the appellant corporation. The ESIC Recruitment Regulations 2015 have precedence over the Office Memorandum which implemented the DACP Scheme in respect of officers of the Central Health Service under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The court while allowing the appeal set aside the impugned judgment and order of the Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court and held that the revised seniority list of the Teaching Cadre at the appellant corporation should reflect the promotions of the contesting respondents in accordance with the ESIC Recruitment Regulations 2015 and not the DACP Scheme.
Case title: The Employees’ State Insurance Corporation v/s Union of India & Ors.
Citation: Civil Appeal No. 152 of 2022