Constitutional Validity of the Order
A brief break-up of the letter of the Railway Board Letter -
A Probationary Officer selected in the different departments of Indian Railways will be asked to sign Declaration A or Declaration B upon joining their respective Institutes across the country. Under Declaration A the Probationary Officer will decalre that he will appear for the next Civil Services Exam and for that he will take one year Extr Ordinary Leave and not join the training course. After taking the Leave the Probationary Officer will either join back the services with no effect on his seniority or he will join the new services after the exam next year. In case he does not join back then his services will be terminated with due process.
In Decalaration B the Probationary Officer will declare that he will not appear for the Civil Services Exam again and will join the training immediately.
Possible avenues for challenging the Letter -
Restriction on the number of attemps by signing Declaration A & Declaration B
Declaration A – only 1 attempt allowed
Declaration B – no more attempts allowed
Next attempt allowed only in the first year
Similar provisions exist for different services. IAS and IFS officers have been barred to give the exam again or restriction is imposed on the IPS officeres and Group A officers to appear for the exam. In the landmark judgment of Mohan Kumar Singhania v. Union Of India (1992 AIR, 1 1991 SCR Supl. (1) 46 ) the Supreme Court identfied that Rule 4 of the Indian Administrative Service (Appointment by Competitive Examination) Regulations, 1955 allows the Central Government to restrict the number of attempts of officers. The point of contention in this case was that restricting the number of attempts restricts the officers from improving their career. The Supreme Coourt in this case relied on the provision of the Indian Administrative Service (Appointment by Competitive Examination) Regulations, 1955 to identify that the Central Government has the power to restrict the number of attempts of a person who is already selected as the the Act allowed the Central Government to formulate such rules. The Court in this case emphasized on the importance of training and appreciated the importance of introducing a policy which would ensure that the training work of probationary Officers is properyl conducted.
Here the Court looked into the Regulation formed by the Government for the Indian Administrative Serives to confirm whether the new Rule resticting the number of attempts is valid or not. The specific rule allowed the Central Government to modify the number of attempts which led the Court to the conclusion that the Rule formulted was valid.
Considering the decision of the Supreme Court, it seems challenging the order fo the Railway Board will be difficult as the focu of the notification is to ensure the training process of the young recruits is more effexctive. There can be a small window for challenging the notification for for forcing the recruits to take one year leave if they sign Declaration A. It must be pointed out that evn this seems to a policy decisionof the Government and the Court in all probability may refrain from deciding on this matter.