S K NAUSAD RAHMAN & ORS. V. UNION OF INDIA & ORS. (2022)
COURT: The Supreme Court of India
CORAM: Dr Dhanjaya Y Chandrachud; Vikram Nath, JJ
DATE OF JUDGEMENT : 10 March 2022
The appellants are inspectors of the Central Excise and Land Customs or, as the case may be, Goods and Services Tax Administration, who were allocated to different Cadre Controlling Authority. Sec.4 of the Customs Act 1962 as well as Sec. 4 of the GST Act and the Revenue Act, 1963 contains provisions that provides that the Central Boards stated in these Acts may appoint such persons as it thinks fit to be officers of customs.
Rule 5 of the Recruitment Rule, 2016 states “Each Cadre Controlling Authority (CCA) shall have its own separate cadre, unless otherwise directed by the Central Board of Excise and Customs.” In which an express provision for Inter-Commissionerate Transfers (ICTs) are not incorporated as compared to Rule 4(ii) of the Recruitment Rule 2002, which was substituted by Recruitment Rule 2016.
On 20 September 2018, the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) issued a circular stating that since Recruitment Rule 2016 do not contain any provision for recruitment by absorption, no application for ICTs could be considered after the enforcement of those rules. And on the basis of this circular this case has been arisen.
The validity of the circular dated 20 September 2018 was challenged before the Central Administrative Tribunal. The challenge was upheld by the Tribunal. The High Court, in the exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 226, reversed the decision of the Tribunal
Whether the Circular dated 20-09-2018, by the CBIC is valid or not?
The SC while upholding the judgment of the Division Bench of the Kerala High Court, left it open to the Respondents to revisit the policy to accommodate posting of spouses, the needs of the disabled and compassionate grounds.
The Bench recommended formulation of a policy by the Respondents for its employees such that the importance of protecting family life as an element of the dignity of the person and a postulate of privacy is given due consideration while upholding basic constitutional values such as Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty). The Bench called for considering the posting of spouses, the needs of the disabled and compassionate grounds, responding to the challenge against the circular based on gender equality and the need for equal treatment of disabled persons. The Bench further stated that the policy has to fulfil the test of legitimacy, suitability, necessity and of balancing the values which underlie a decision- making process informed by constitutional values.
Citing previous judgement Lt. Col. Nitisha and Others v. Union of India (2021), the Bench emphasized the need to ensure substantive equality of opportunity through policy.
Further, it noted that Article 15(3) of the Constitution calls for adopting special provisions for women and children, and spousal posting should also be considered in this manner. With respect to persons with disabilities, the policy must ensure their right to live with dignity as stated in case Akshay N. Patel v. Reserve Bank of India (2021). It also stated that the interference of the State in the rights of privacy, dignity, and family life of persons must be proportional.