Controversy erupts over seniority of Forest Guards in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla, June 2

In a recent development, the Himachal Pradesh forest department has come under scrutiny for failing to implement the decision of the High Court regarding the seniority of forest guards. The case revolves around a dispute concerning the seniority list of forest guards appointed in 2007 and subsequent promotions within the department.

In a  media communiqué Sandeep and Satish, two aggrieved in the matter stated that, according to the Recruitment and Promotion Rules of 1978, the seniority list was initially based on the date of joining, which remained unchallenged for over a decade. However, in 2019, an arbitrary decision was made by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, bypassing the established rules and altering the seniority order based on merit.

This controversial decision sparked a legal battle, and in 2022, a single bench of the High Court upheld the department’s decision, resulting in promotions for the forest guards concerned. Dissatisfied with the ruling, forest guards Sandeep, Yogesh, Intezar, Satish, and others filed an appeal before a double bench of the High Court.

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On March 23, 2023, the double bench, comprising Chief Justice Sabina and Justice Satyen Vaidya, overturned the decision of the single bench. They also nullified the promotions granted to the forest guards in September 2022 and ordered promotions based on the date of joining.

“Despite the High Court’s verdict, the Forest Department disregarded the court’s orders and proceeded to issue appointment orders to the promoted forest guards, which directly violated the court’s decision,” stated Sandeep one of the petitioner in the matter.

He said that subsequently, a review petition was filed by some forest guards against the double bench’s ruling. However, on May 31, 2023, the double bench, consisting of Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua and Justice Satyen Vaidya, rejected the petition, upholding the Forest Department’s decision to promote forest guards based on seniority.

“The Forest Department’s failure to comply with the court’s decision, even after two months have passed, amounts to a direct contempt of the Honorable High Court’s orders,” he stated.

Further adding that prominent advocate Deven Khanna brought this matter to the attention of the High Court of Himachal Pradesh. The continued non-compliance by the Forest Department raises concerns over the administration’s adherence to the rule of law, they rued.


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