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HC upholds Canara Bank promotion policy for middle management

Our Legal Correspondent

CHENNAI, July 5

THE Madras High Court has upheld the promotion policy framed by the Canara Bank for the middle management officers, saying that the policy was in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Government of India besides it met the aspirations of majority of the offices of the bank.

Mr. Justice P. Sathasivam, while dismissing a writ petition by the Canara Bank Officers Union, challenging the legality of the promotion policy for officers, held that the policy was fair and reasonable.

Also, the bank had considered the aspect of experience of officers in rural service, and the bank had been strictly following the Government of India guidelines in accordance with the policy of promotion of SC/ST officers and employees.

The petitioner said that the respondent bank (Canara Bank), in consultation with the Reserve Bank of India and with the previous consent of the Central Government, framed the Canara Bank Officers Service Regulations.

Clause 17 of the regulations provided that promotion to all the grades of officers in the bank shall be in accordance with the policy laid down by the board from time to time having regard to the guidelines of the Government of India, if any.

Under the promotion policy, there were two channels of promotion from junior management grade scale I to middle management scale II.

The first channel of promotion was called the `test channel' and the second was known as the `interview channel'. The officers could opt for only one channel. All officers who had been appointed as probationary officers on or before 1981 were eligible f or consideration of promotion from the junior management scale I to middle management scale II.

Similarly, for promotion from middle management scale II to middle management scale III, only officers who had been recruited/promoted to Scale II on or before December 31, 1984 were eligible for consideration.

The petitioner contended that this eligibility clause was in complete contravention of the policy under Regulation 17 which provided that officers who had completed seven years in scale I and five years in scale II were eligible for promotion.

For promotion to scale II on account of the compartmentalisation of the channels of promotions, an officer had to confine his choice to one of the two channels. Thus, there was a discrimination in the matter of promotion to scale III and to scale II.

Further, there was no justification for compelling the officers eligible for promotion to scale II to restrict their choice either to `test channel' or `interview channel'. On the contrary, both the channels should be made available to all eligible offic ers.

The respondent submitted that the promotion policy was formulated in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Government of India and in a manner best suited to its requirements. The promotion was by selection.

When once it was accepted that promotion could be by selection, then the method of selection so long as it was not arbitrary or capricious, was not subject to any other scrutiny.

The petitioner union was also a party and it had signed the agreement with the Indian Banks Association at the time of wage revision, agreeing for promotion in banks without any weightage for seniors and promotion to be only based on merit.

Holding that the bank had fully complied with the guidelines of the Government of India pertaining to promotion, more particularly with regard to rural service and given due regard to reservation for the SC and the ST, the judge said that the promotion p olicy of the bank was based on the regulations as well as the Government guidelines.

It was also not disputed that prior to the formulation of the promotion policy, majority of the recognised officers' association were consulted.

The respondent bank had also asserted that the petitioner union was also a party and it had signed the agreement with the IBA. The promotion policy was similar to the one declared in 1990. That promotion policy was approved and upheld by this court in it s order dated July 11, 1991.

In these circumstances, the judge said that the impugned promotion policy was fair, reasonable and in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Government. No merit could be found in the writ petition, and, hence, the same was dismissed.

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