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In layman’s language promotion means a step forward. Promotion under the ambit of service law means advancement in the position of the employee in the same organization. It is a common human trait that a person always wants higher pay scale, more responsibility and a better position at organizational level. All this can be achieved by way of promotion.

Promotion helps to provide a person higher level of satisfaction and is a great tool for motivating employees. It fulfils self-esteem needs of the employees.

In S.S. Ranade case, the scope and the meaning of promotion was considered. It was explained that promotion can be either to a higher pay scale or to a higher post or both.


The distinction between upgradation and promotion was explained by a Full Bench of the Kerala High Court in N.G. Prabhu vs. Chief Justice, Kerala High Court –

Promotion is to a different post carrying a higher scale of pay in the service, but if it relates to all the posts in a category naturally, there is no sense in calling it a promotion of all the persons in that category. That is because there is no question of appointment from one post to another. Parties continued to hold same posts but get a higher scale of pay. Thus, in short it can be said that in promotion the post or rather say position of a person changes, but in upgradation it remains the same, only pay scale changes.


Promotion is generally done on following two bases –

  • On the basis of merit:

When the promotion takes place on the basis of an employee’s performance in the current job. It is done on the basis of his skills, knowledge and ability.

  • On the basis of seniority:

When the promotion takes place on the basis of the time period of the service of the employee, means one who serves the longest gets promoted and there is no scope of favoritism.


Every company has its own rules, may be different from other companies. Therefore, laws related to promotion are also different in different companies. However, the basis of promotion remains these two only or any other, if provided.

Promotion of a person can be challenged by his colleagues or anyone else. This can be challenged by the way of filing a writ, namely, quo warranto which means by what authority. This writ helps to challenge the position of a person. This helps in getting the answer to the question – by what authority is a particular person given that position, in a way challenging its promotion.

As per the Supreme Court, promotion is the fundamental right of a person. In case law – Major General H.M. Singh, VSM v. Union of India and Anr., Bench of Justices AK Patnailk and JS Khehar ruled that ‘Eligible candidates have a fundamental right to be considered for promotion against the available vacancy and promoted if adjudged suitable’. Also it was ruled that there should be valid and reasonable promotion, or otherwise it will be against his fundamental right to equality provided by constitution under Article 14 and Article 16.

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