Roop Chand Adlakha & Ors. v. Delhi Development Authority & Anr.

After reading this judgement you will be able to learn how the Apex Court handled the inequality faced by Graduates and Diploma Holders in matters of promotion. The court also held that rules shall not be held as violative unless provision of it is shown as arbitrary
COURTSupreme Court of India
JUDGES/CORAMJustice M.N. Venkatchallian


In the present petition, constitutional validity of Articles 14 and Article 16 was in question. The High Court upheld and declared different experience prescribed for Degree-Holders and Diploma-Holders in respect of both cadres as violative of Articles 14 and 16 of Constitution. Hence, this Appeal was made to the Supreme Court.


The facts of the case are as follows: The D.D.A. by its resolution No. 574 dated 13.11.1963 adopted, pro-tanto, and the rules of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) in regard to the mode of recruitment- both by direct recruitment and by promotion-to the posts of Asst. Engineers. The rules, so adopted, in substance, stipulate and provide that 50% of the posts be filled by direct recruitment or by deputation and that the other 50% is filled-up by promotion from the cadre of Junior-Engineers. The cadre of Junior-Engineers itself comprises of both Graduates in Engineering and Diploma-Holders in Engineering. The two categories of officers in the cadre of Junior-Engineers were provided with promotional opportunities to the post of Asst. Engineers in the equal ratio (50%:50%) of the promotional-posts. Half of it, i.e., 25% was to be filled up by promotion of Graduate-Engineers with three years’ service-experience as Junior-Engineers; the other 25% to be filled-up from Diploma-Holder Junior-Engineers who were diploma holders who had 8 years’ service-experience as Junior-Engineers.

The principal question that arises in these appeals is whether, where, as here, recruitment to a particular cadre of posts is made, from two different sources, different conditions, based on the differences in educational qualifications, can be prescribed conditioning the eligibility for further-promotion to a higher cadre in service.

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The main issue in the case was: Whether the Rules prescribing different conditions of eligibility for Diploma-Holders and Graduates for promotion from the cadre of Junior-Engineers to that of Assistant-Engineers and from the cadre of Assistant-Engineers to that of Executive-Engineers in the Public Works Department of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) is violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution and would, therefore, require to be declared void?

Summary of court decision and judgment

The High Court, in the writ petitions filed by the Diploma-Holders, has held that such differential treatment of Diploma-Holders and Graduates by the prescription of different standards of service-experience for purposes of eligibility for promotion to the higher cadres is unconstitutional. The High Court has held that such prescription of differential standards-based even on the differences in technical, educational qualifications-is violative of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

Unless the provision is shown to be arbitrary, capricious, or to bring about grossly unfair results, judicial policy should be one of judicial-restraint. The prescriptions may be somewhat cumbersome or produce some hardship in their application in some individual cases; but they cannot be struck down as unreasonable, capricious or arbitrary. The High Court, in our opinion, was not justified in striking down the Rules as violative of Articles 14 and 16.


In the present appeals, the Graduates and Diploma-Holders were not treated equal in the matter of eligibility for promotion. What is, therefore, assailed is not the aspect of the mere fixation of a quota as between the Diploma-Holders and the Graduates in the promotional posts, but the very prescription of different standards or conditions of eligibility. The different prescriptions for conditioning eligibility are themselves questioned which need to be decided on the basis whether the discrimination contemplated and brought about in the matter of promotional-opportunities between graduates and non-graduates, based on the differences in the quality of their technical qualifications, were relatable to, and justified on the basis of, the requirements of the promotional-posts. It is relevant to mention here that the different standards and conditions for eligibility were prescribed with a view to injecting a higher technical quality in the promotions-cadre based on the recommendations of a committee, called Vaish-Committee, constituted for the purpose.

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            In the present case, eligibility-determination was made by a cumulative-criterion of a certain educational qualification plus a particular quantum of service experience. It cannot be said as postulated by the High Court, that the choice of the State was either to recognize Diploma-Holders as “eligible” for promotion or wholly exclude them as “not-eligible”. If the educational qualification by itself was recognized as conferring eligibility for promotion, then, the super-imposition of further conditions such as a particular period of service, selectively, on the Diploma-Holders alone to their disadvantage might become discriminatory. This does not prevent the State from formulating a policy which prescribes as an essential part of the conditions for the very eligibility that the candidate must have a particular qualification plus a stipulated quantum of service-experience. It is stated that on the basis of the Vaish Committee report, the authorities considered the infusion of higher academic and technical quality in the personnel requirements in the relevant cadres of Engineering Services necessary. These are essentially matters of policy.


It was held that mere possession of a diploma without more was not confer eligibility and diploma for purposes of promotion was not considered equivalent to degree. However, eligibility-determination was made by a cumulative-criterion of a certain educational qualification plus a particular quantum of service experience and moreover, State was not prevented from formulating a policy which prescribed as an essential part of conditions for very eligibility. The ratio of the case was Rules shall not be held as violative unless provision of it is shown as arbitrary.