Modified Voluntary Retirement … vs National Textile Corporation … on 26 October, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Modified Voluntary Retirement … vs National Textile Corporation … on 26 October, 2021

Author: M.R. Shah

Bench: M.R. Shah, A.S. Bopanna

                                                     // 1 //

                                                                            REPORTABLE



                                         IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                          CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION


                                      CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 6260-61 OF 2021



                         Modified Voluntary Retirement Scheme of 2002
                         of Azam Jahi Mill Workers Association             …Appellant(s)


                                                      Versus



                         National Textile Corporation Limited & Ors.    …Respondent(s)



                                                 JUDGMENT

M.R. SHAH, J.

1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned final

judgment and order dated 19.02.2020 passed by the High

Court for the State of Telangana, at Hyderabad in Writ Appeal

Signature Not Verified Nos.427 of 2016 and 431 of 2016 by which the Division Bench
Digitally signed by R
Natarajan

of the High Court has allowed the said Appeals preferred by
Date: 2021.10.26
16:59:51 IST
Reason:

the respondent Nos.1 and 2 herein – National Textile
// 2 //

Corporation Limited (hereinafter referred to as “NTC”) and the

Kakatiya Urban Development Authority, Warangal (hereinafter

referred to as “KUDA”) and has quashed and set aside the

judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge in

Writ Petition No.26642 of 2007, the original writ petitioner –

Modified Voluntary Retirement Scheme of 2002 of Azam Jahi

Mill Workers Association (hereinafter referred to as “Workers

Association”) has preferred the present Appeals.

2. The facts leading to the present Appeals in nut-shell are as

under:

2.1 That, all the members of the original writ petitioner – Workers

Association were working in Azam Jahi Mills owned and run by

the NTC. All the workers worked in the said Mill for more than

20 years. The said Mill was closed in the year 2002. That,

about 452 employees worked in the Mill for more than 20

years. It appears that during the period of service, all the

workers / employees working in the Mill were allotted

Employees’ Quarters constructed and owned by the Mill. That,

all the employees including the members of the Workers

Association and other employees of the Mill took voluntary

retirement pursuant to a Modified Voluntary Scheme of 2002.
// 3 //

At this stage it is to be noted that a large number of employees

voluntarily retired on one day i.e. 31.08.2002. That, all the

employees including the members of the Workers Association

were asked vide Notification dated 17.07.1986 to vacate the

quarters which were in the respective occupations of the

respective members / employees. In the said notice it was

stated that the quarters in which the employees were staying

were in dilapidated condition and became unfit for human

habitation. Approximately 318 employees including the

members of the Workers Association were forcefully evicted

from the quarters. Thereafter, the management of the Mill

demolished all the quarters vacated / evicted by 318

employees. However, some of the employees who were about

134 in number, continued to stay in their respective quarters

despite service of the notice dated 17.07.1986 asking them to

vacate the quarters. In the meantime, the Mill submitted an

application dated 30.05.2002 for closure of the Mill. On the

said application, proceedings were initiated by the Ministry of

Labour in which the management and representatives of the

Union participated. During the hearing, a request was also

made on behalf of the representatives of the Union to allot

quarters to the concerned workmen at reasonable rates. On
// 4 //

the aforesaid, it was submitted on behalf of the management

that the issue / request to allot the quarters is under

consideration by the management. Vide Notification dated

11.09.2002, the Government of India, Ministry of Labour

granted permission to close the Mill. That, thereafter, the NTC

sold away the machinery and infrastructure of the Mill and

allotted Acres 117.20 Gunthas out of 215 Acres to KUDA on

01.03.2007. A portion of the land owned by the Mill was sold to

Housing Board, KUDA and other institutions.

2.2 That, after allotment, 11 Acres of the land owned by the NTC /

Mill remained. It appears that thereafter KUDA submitted

proposal to the State to allot house sites of 200 Sq. Yards

each to 134 employees of the Mill, who continued to stay in

their respective quarters despite service of notice dated

17.07.1986 demanding them to vacate the quarters. The State

Government vide G.O. No.463 dated 27.06.2007, accepted

the proposal of the KUDA to allot 200 Sq. Yards developed

plot free of cost to each of 134 ex-employees of the erstwhile

Mill, as a rehabilitation and welfare measure. That, thereafter,

318 retired workers who also took voluntary retirement along

with other 134 workers made representation/s to allot to them
// 5 //

also 200 Sq. Yards plot as allotted to other 134 workers out of

the remaining land admeasuring Acres 10.24 Gunthas. The

Revenue Divisional Officer, Warangal directed the Tehsildar,

Warangal to inquire about the land to an extent of Acres 10.24

Gunthas situated at Laxmipura and Khila, Warangal. VRO of

Laxmipura, Warangal submitted the report to the Tehsildar

submitting that the land to extent of Acres 5 situated at

Laxmipura village and the land to an extent of Acres 5.24

Gunthas situated at village Khila, Warangal total admeasuring

Acres 10.24 Gunthas is in vacant possession and therefore,

the said land is able to allocate house plots to members of

Workers Association, who have been 318 employees, have

not been allotted the house plots. Thereafter, nothing further

was done to allot 200 Sq. Yards of developed plots each free

of cost to the remaining 318 ex-employees / workers of the Mill

who also took voluntary retirement along with other 134

workers who were allotted 200 Sq. Yards of developed plots

each free of cost and therefore, the Workers Association filed

the Writ Petition before the High Court being Writ Petition

No.26642 of 2007. That, by a detailed and reasoned judgment

and order the learned Single Judge allowed the said writ

petition and directed the respondents to allot house sites of
// 6 //

200 Sq. Yards each to all the eligible 318 members of the

Workers Association by observing that they are at par with

other 134 ex-employees of the Mill, who were already allotted

house sits of an extent of 200 Sq. Yards each as per the G.O.

No.463 dated 26.07.2007.

2.3 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and order

passed by the learned Single Judge, both, the NTC as well as

the KUDA filed Writ Appeals before the Division Bench and by

the impugned common judgment and order the Division Bench

of the High Court has allowed the said Writ Appeals and has

quashed and set aside the judgment and order passed by the

learned Single Judge.

Hence, the present Appeals.

3. Ms. Nitya Ramakrishnan, learned Senior Advocate has

appeared on behalf of the appellant, Mr. V. Giri, learned Senior

Advocate has appeared on behalf of the KUDA and Ms.

Aishwarya Bhati, learned ASG has appeared on behalf of the

NTC and the Union of India.

4. Ms. Ramakrishnan, learned Senior Advocate appearing on

behalf of the appellant – Workers Association has vehemently
// 7 //

submitted that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the

Division Bench of the High Court has committed a grave error

in quashing and setting aside the well-reasoned judgment and

order passed by the learned Single Judge and consequently

dismissing the writ petition filed by the Workers Association.

4.1 It is vehemently submitted by Ms. Ramakrishnan, learned

Senior Advocate that the High Court has not properly

appreciated and considered the fact that KUDA as well as the

NTC are State instrumentalities under Article 12 of the

Constitution amenable to Article 226 of the Constitution of

India and therefore, all of them must conduct themselves as

behooves a welfare state. It is submitted that the learned

Single Judge of the High Court rightly observed and held that

not allotting 200 Sq. Yards plots to the remaining 318 workmen

would be discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the

Constitution of India. It is submitted that as rightly observed by

the learned Single Judge the remaining 318 workmen were at

par with other 134 workmen who were allotted 200 Sq. Yards

plot free of cost. It is submitted that as such there is no

differentia between 134 workmen who also took voluntary

retirement and the remaining 318 workmen who also took the
// 8 //

voluntary retirement along with other 134 workmen who were

allotted 200 Sq. Yards plots free of cost.

4.2 It is submitted that in fact 318 workmen were compelled and/or

forced to vacate the quarters pursuant to the notice dated

17.07.1986. It is submitted that however despite the notice

dated 17.07.1986, 134 workmen / employees did not vacate

the quarters. It is submitted that assuming that 318 remaining

workmen vacated the quarters out of their own volition

pursuant to the notice dated 17.07.1986, merely because

other 134 workmen, who did not vacate the quarters despite

the service of notice dated 17.07.1986, cannot be said to be at

a higher pedestal than the law abiding workmen who vacated

the quarters pursuant to the notice dated 17.07.1986. It is

submitted that therefore as such the equals are treated

unequally and therefore, the learned Single Judge rightly

directed the original respondents – respondents herein to allot

200 Sq. Yards plots to remaining 318 workmen also.

4.3 It is further submitted that if 318 workmen would not have

vacated the quarters, in that case, they would have also been

allotted 200 Sq. Yards plots at par with 134 workmen who

were allotted 200 Sq. Yards plots free of cost.
// 9 //

4.4 It is submitted that as rightly observed by the learned Single

Judge, there was no difference at all between 318 remaining

workmen and 134 workmen who were allotted 200 Sq. Yards

plots.

4.5 It is submitted that as such not allotting 200 Sq. Yards plots to

remaining 318 workmen would tantamount to punishing them

for complying with the eviction notice while rewarding 134

workmen for defying it which is manifestly unjust.

4.6 It is further submitted that as such the purpose of allotment of

the plots was for rehabilitation and welfare of the workmen. It

is submitted that in fact right from very beginning even when

the proceedings were before the Ministry of Labour, while

considering the request of the Mill for closure, there was

already a demand on behalf of the workers to allot them

quarters at concessional rates. It is submitted that thereafter

even the Deputy Chairman of the KUDA made a request to

allot 200 Sq. Yards plots to 134 workmen on the ground of

rehabilitation and welfare of the workmen. It is submitted that

for the first time before the High Court and that too in the

affidavit in reply, the KUDA came out with a case that to avoid

litigation with encroachers a decision was taken to allot 200
// 10 //

Sq. Yards plots to those 134 workmen who continued to be in

occupation and possession of the quarters. It is submitted that

when the proposal was made by the KUDA for allotment of

200 Sq. Yards plots to 134 workmen, that was not the ground

pleaded.

4.7 It is submitted that even otherwise to allot the plots free of cost

to avoid litigation with encroachers had no rationale nexus with

the purpose and such a difference is absolutely irrelevant

more particularly when as per the initial case of KUDA the

plots were allotted for welfare and rehabilitation.

4.8 It is submitted that other 318 workmen not only lost their

livelihood but also a place of abode and therefore, in fact they

were much more in need of welfare and rehabilitation

measures.

4.9 It is submitted that mandamus can be issued to the

respondents who are State instrumentalities to provide

developed plots of land to 318 ex-workmen on parity with 134

ex-workmen, to enforce their constitutional right against

discrimination and obligation of the State and its

instrumentalities to be fair and non-discriminatory in
// 11 //

distribution of State largesse. Reliance is placed on the

decisions of this Court in the case of Ramana Dayaram

Shetty vs. International Airport Authority of India, (1979) 3

SCC 489 (Paras 11 and 12) and in the case of D.S. Nakara

vs. Union of India, (1983) 1 SCC 305 (Paras 36 and 42).

4.10 It is submitted that even 134 workers were allotted the plots

without having any legal right and without having any legal

relationship or privity of contract with the KUDA and the State.

It is submitted that therefore the benefit which was granted to

other 134 workers cannot be denied to remaining 318

workmen on the ground that there is / was no legal relationship

or privity of contract with KUDA and the State Government. It

is submitted that as such the right to equality guaranteed

under Article 14 of the Constitution of India is a right available

to the remaining 318 workers which as such is enforceable.

Making the above submissions, it is prayed to allow the

present Appeals.

5. The present Appeals are vehemently opposed by Mr. V. Giri,

learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the KUDA.

5.1 It is vehemently submitted on behalf of the KUDA that as such
// 12 //

as rightly observed by the Division Bench, a writ of mandamus

could not have been issued directly to allot land to the Workers

Association / members of the Workers Association in view of

the fact that the land in question is a private land and not a

government land.

5.2 It is vehemently submitted by Mr. Giri, learned Senior

Advocate appearing on behalf of the KUDA that KUDA is an

independent organization and KUDA purchased the land

belonging to the NTC / Mill on payment of full sale

consideration and as it was found that 134 employees

continued to occupy the quarters and therefore, it was not

possible for the KUDA to develop the land allotted / purchased

and therefore, to avoid any litigation it was decided to allot 200

Sq. Yards of plot free of cost out of 135.33 Acres of land

allotted to the KUDA. It is submitted that so far as the

remaining other 318 ex-employees are concerned, they had

already vacated the quarters and therefore, they were not in

possession of the quarters and therefore, their cases cannot

be compared with those who continued to be in occupation

and possession of the quarters. It is submitted that therefore

the remaining 318 ex-employees cannot be said to be at par
// 13 //

with those 134 workmen who were allotted 200 Sq. Yards of

plots free of cost being in occupation and possession of the

quarters and without removing them and/or without settling the

dispute with them it was not possible for the KUDA to develop

the land acquired / allotted to the KUDA. It is submitted that

therefore the Division Bench of the High Court has rightly set

aside the judgment and order passed by the learned Single

Judge and has rightly dismissed the writ petitions.

5.3 It is further submitted by Mr. Giri, learned Counsel appearing

on behalf of the KUDA that as such there was no privity of

contract and/or any relationship with/between the KUDA /

State and the ex-employees / workmen of the Mill. It is

submitted that therefore the KUDA was not obliged to allot the

plots to ex-workmen free of cost. It is submitted that therefore

as such there was no vested right in favour of the ex-

workmen / employees of the Mill to get 200 Sq. Yards plots

free of cost from KUDA.

5.4 It is submitted that as 134 ex-workmen / employees were

found to be in possession and occupation of the quarters and

therefore, it was found that without evicting them and/or

removing them and/or without resolving the dispute with them
// 14 //

it would not be possible for the KUDA to develop the land

acquired and therefore, it was under the said compulsion that

a conscious decision was taken to allot 200 Sq. Yards of plots

free of cost to those 134 ex-employees who continued to be in

occupation and possession of the quarters. It is submitted that

therefore in absence of any vested right in favour of 318 ex-

employees, no writ of mandamus could have been issued by

the learned Single Judge and therefore, the Division Bench

has rightly interfered with the order passed by the learned

Single Judge.

5.5 It is further submitted by Mr. V. Giri, learned Senior Advocate

that if any relief the remaining 318 ex-employees are entitled

to, the same can be only from the NTC and the Mill and/or out

of the remaining land admeasuring 11 Acres owned by the

NTC. It is submitted that however there shall not be any

liability of the KUDA to allot any plot free of cost to the ex-

employees from the land allotted to / purchased by the KUDA.

5.6 Mr. V. Giri, learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of the

respondent Nos.2 and 3 has vehemently submitted that as

such the writ petition preferred by the appellant – Workers

Association before the High Court itself was not maintainable.
// 15 //

It is submitted that in the writ petition it was prayed for

issuance of writ of mandamus directing the respondents to

allot the land to an extent of 200 Sq. Yards to each member of

the Workers Association. It is submitted that it is trite law that a

writ of mandamus is maintainable only if the person aggrieved

has a legal right and legal duty by the party against whom the

mandamus is sought. Reliance is placed on decisions of this

Court in the cases of Director of Settlements, A.P. & Ors vs

M.R. Apparao & Anr, (2002) 4 SCC 638; Lalaram and

Others vs. Jaipur Development Authority and Another,

(2016) 11 SCC 31 and Municipal Corporation of Greater

Mumbai and Others vs. Rafiqunnisa M. Khalifa (Deceased)

Through his Legal Heir Mohd. Muqueen Qureshi and Anr.,

(2019) 5 SCC 119.

5.7 It is further submitted that the appellant Association has

claimed the right on the basis of G.O. No.463 dated

27.06.2007. It is submitted that under the said Government

Order the State of Andhra Pradesh granted approval to KUDA

to allot 200 Sq. Yards of land to 134 ex-employees of the 4 th

respondent. It is submitted that the land where the 4 th

respondent was situated was taken over by the Central
// 16 //

Government under the Sick Textile Undertakings

(Nationalization) Act, 1974. That, thereafter, the Estate Sale

Committee constituted by the Central Government sold

different extent of the land to the Andhra Pradesh Housing

Board, KUDA and others. It is submitted that KUDA is

incorporated under a statute with the object to develop

infrastructure in the area. It is submitted that it was found by

KUDA that there were 134 persons remaining in unauthorized

occupation of a part of the land purchased by them. It is

submitted that as such there was no contractual relationship

between KUDA and said 134 persons. There was no other

relationship between the two as provided for by any law. It is

submitted that at no point of time was any legal obligation

imposed on KUDA to allot any land to 134 persons. That, their

only right was that they were erstwhile employees of the 4 th

respondent Mills and that they had voluntarily retired from the

services of the Mills in the year 2002. It is submitted that the

appellant Workers Association also does not have any case

that there was any legal obligation attached to the land

purchased by KUDA from which any person either 134

persons who continued to remain in unauthorized occupation

of the land or 318 members of the Workers Association could
// 17 //

enforce any legal right against the said land. It is submitted

that no covenant or obligation ran with the land at any point of

time. It is submitted that in fact as per the Sick Textile

Undertakings (Nationalization) Act, 1974, the vesting of the

land in the Central Government is free from any trust /

obligation / mortgage / charge / lien and all other

encumbrances affecting it. It is submitted that therefore the

two vital conditions requisite for a constitutional Court to issue

a writ of mandamus viz. a legal right with the person who

approaches the Court and a legal duty / obligation imposed on

the person against whom the relief is sought, are both absent

in the instant case.

5.8 It is further submitted that even the intelligible differentia can

be explained by way of an affidavit before this Court. It is

submitted that the Constitution Bench of this Court in the case

of Shri Ram Krishna Dalmia vs Shri Justice S. R.

Tendolkar & Others, 1959 SCR 279 rejected the contention

that affidavits cannot be looked into and differentia should be

forthcoming from the Notification only. It is submitted that the

G.O. No.463 shows that there was urgency for development. It

is submitted that KUDA would have had to undertake the
// 18 //

litigation process which was contrary to its commercial interest

and would defeat the purpose for which the land was bought

i.e. development for the city of Warangal and surrounding

areas. It is submitted that therefore the allotment in favour of

134 persons – erstwhile employees was moreover in the

nature of settlement, so that the work of development could be

undertaken at a quick pace.

5.9 It is further submitted that KUDA is an authority created under

the Telangana Urban Areas (Development) Act, 1975 to carry

out the development activities inter alia in Warangal District in

the State of Telangana. It is submitted that as such the

members of the Workers Association have no relation with the

2nd respondent, let alone that of employer – employee. It is

submitted that therefore as there exists no obligation on the 2 nd

respondent (KUDA) to allot plots of 200 Sq. Yards each to the

employees of the 4th respondent herein.

It is submitted that even being the statutory authority, the

assets of the 2nd respondent can be used only for the

fulfillment of the object laid down in that behalf by the statute in

question. It is submitted that allotment of sizable portion of

land to 318 erstwhile employees of the Mills is not a prescribed
// 19 //

objective. It is submitted that justification of G.O. No.463 in

question was only with the development of the land

undertaken by the 2nd respondent after its purchase was

seriously hampered by the continuous unauthorized

occupation by the erstwhile 134 ex-employees of the Mills. It is

submitted that the said G.O. No.463 obviously does not

involve the recognition of any legal right of the said 134

persons.

5.10 It is further submitted by Mr. V. Giri, learned Senior Advocate

that it is true that the allotment of 200 Sq. Yards of plot in the

year 2007 in favour of 134 persons took place only because

the said 134 persons refused to vacate the quarters and had

remained in unauthorized occupation. It is submitted that

however the allotment was not in recognition of any

unauthorized occupation and was not definitely in discharge of

any legal obligation on the part of KUDA. It is submitted that it

was simply on ground of expediting the process of

development of the land which was the reason why KUDA had

to get unencumbered and absolute unhampered possession of

the remaining extent of land at the earliest.

5.11 It is submitted that assuming that the allotment under the G.O.
// 20 //

No.463 was wrong and was a mistake, the same cannot be

offered a basis for legally enforceable claim at the instance of

the appellant Association. It is submitted that as held by this

Court in the case of the State of Odisha vs. Anup Kumar

Senapati, (2019) 19 SCC 626, two wrongs do not make a right

and there is no concept of negative equality contained in

Article 14 of the Constitution.

Making the above submissions, it is prayed to dismiss

the present Appeals

6. The present Appeals are also opposed by Ms. Aishwarya

Bhati, learned ASG appearing on behalf of the NTC as well as

the Union of India. It is submitted by Ms. Bhati that as such in

the process of implementation of Revival Scheme approved by

BIFR, the entire land admeasuring Acres 201.02 Cents

belonging to the Mill was put to sale by the Asset Sale

Committee constituted by the Government of India and on

23.01.2004, the sale was approved. It is submitted that

accordingly land admeasuring Acres 65.69 Cents was sold to

Andhra Pradesh Housing Board and Acres 135.33 Cents to

KUDA. It is submitted that thereafter the Committee was

dissolved vide BIFR Order dated 20.08.2014. It is submitted
// 21 //

that as per Section 3 of the Sick Textile Undertakings

(Nationalization) Act, 1974, the right, title and interest of Azam

Jahi Mills shall stand transferred to and shall vest absolutely in

the Central Government. It is submitted that the NTC and the

Mills thereafter are only the custodian of the Azam Jahi Mills

and its properties on behalf of the Central Government who is

the absolute owner.

6.1 It is further submitted by Ms. Bhati that out of the total Acres

135.33 Cents sold to KUDA, only Acres 117.20 Cents was

available for registration as Acres 14.88 Cents was under

encroachment. It is submitted that as such as on date, around

5 Acres of land only is in the possession of the Mill as a

custodian on behalf of the Central Government who is the

absolute owner of the said properties. It is submitted that as

such as per the OM No.8(18)/2020-E-II(A) dated 28.03.2011 of

the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance

(Government of India), a specific approval of the Union

Cabinet is required by all the Ministries with regard to transfer

or alienation of land held by the Government or Government

controlled statutory authorities.

6.2 It is submitted that after the sale was concluded between the
// 22 //

NTC and KUDA, the Vice Chairman of KUDA requested the

Government of Andhra Pradesh for permission / sanction for

allotment of 200 Sq. Yards of developed plots to 134 ex-

workers of the Mills who had encroached the subject land and

were not vacating the said land. It is submitted that based on

the request of Vice Chairman, KUDA, Government permitted

KUDA to allot 200 Sq. Yards to each of the 134 erstwhile

workers of the Mills. It is submitted that as such 200 Sq. Yards

of the plots were neither allotted by the NTC / Mill / Central

Government nor they were party to the arrangement between

134 erstwhile employees of the KUDA. It is submitted that

therefore the appellant cannot seek allotment of land from the

NTC / Mills / Central Government.

6.3 It is further submitted by Ms. Bhati, learned ASG that in fact all

the ex-employees of the Mill accepted the voluntary retirement

under the Modified Voluntary Retirement Scheme of 2002 and

they were paid all the benefits accrued under the Modified

Voluntary Retirement Scheme of 2002 in the year 2002 itself. It

is submitted that therefore on and after the ex-employees of

the Mills took voluntary retirement and after the Mill came to

be closed after obtaining appropriate closure order from the
// 23 //

Ministry, thereafter there is no relationship continued between

the employees / ex-employees and the NTC / Central

Government / Mills. It is submitted that therefore the appellants

are not entitled to any relief against the Central Government /

NTC / Mills.

6.4 It is further submitted that the allotment of plots free of cost

was never the part of Modified Voluntary Retirement Scheme

of 2002. It is submitted that all the erstwhile employees who

opted for voluntary retirement under the Modified Voluntary

Retirement Scheme of 2002 were completely aware of the

benefits that would be offered by way of golden handshake,

which did not include allotment of plots free of cost.

6.5 It is further submitted that as 200 Sq. Yards plots came to be

allotted to 134 ex-employees to avoid the cost of litigation,

there is no question of violation of Article 14 of the Constitution

of India as alleged. It is submitted that in any case the Central

Government / NTC / Mills had nothing to do with the decision

taken by the KUDA. It is submitted that therefore the Division

Bench of the High Court has rightly allowed the appeal

preferred by the NTC and has rightly quashed and set aside

the judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge
// 24 //

and has rightly consequentially dismissed the writ petition.

7. Heard learned Counsel appearing for the respective parties at

length.

7.1 The appellant Workers Association for and on behalf of 318

ex-employees of the respondent No.4 – Mills approached the

High Court by way of a writ petition under Article 226 of the

Constitution of India and prayed to allot them 200 Sq. Yards of

plots free of cost at par with other 134 employees of the

erstwhile respondent No.4 Mills.

It was the specific case on behalf of 318 ex-employees of the

erstwhile respondent No.4 that they are similarly situated with

134 ex-employees of erstwhile respondent No.4 inasmuch as

both the classes (one class consisting of 318 employees and

another class consisting of 134 employees) are similarly

situated; the employees belonging to both the classes were

the employees of the erstwhile respondent No.4 Mills; that all

of them took the voluntary retirement under the Modified

Voluntary Retirement Scheme of 2002 together; all were

similarly situated in granting the benefit of the modified

voluntary scheme; all were allotted the quarters and were
// 25 //

residing in the quarters. It was the case on behalf of the

employees that the only difference was that as law abiding

persons, they vacated the quarters after they were served with

the notice dated 17.07.1986 to vacate the quarters and that

those 134 ex-employees who as such were similarly situated

did not vacate the quarters despite the notice dated

17.07.1986 and they remained in unauthorized occupation. It

was also the case on behalf of 318 ex-employees that as per

the G.O. No.463, all those 134 ex-employees were allotted

200 Sq. Yards of plots free of cost to avoid undue hardship to

the ex-employees and as a welfare measure. The learned

Single Judge allowed the writ petition and directed the

respondents to treat all those 318 ex-employees at par with

134 ex-employees who were allotted 200 Sq. Yards of plots

free of cost and to allot them accordingly by observing that not

allotting similar 200 Sq. Yards of plots free of cost to remaining

employees – 318 ex-employees is discriminatory and violative

of Article 14 of the Constitution. The Division Bench of the

High Court quashed and set aside the judgment and order

passed by the learned Single Judge. Hence, the present

Appeals.

// 26 //

8. Having heard learned Counsel appearing for the respective

parties, the short question which is posed for consideration of

this Court is, whether the remaining 318 ex-employees of the

respondent No.4 Mills (erstwhile) can claim the parity and

equality vis-a-vis other similarly situated 134 ex-employees of

the respondent No.4 Mills (erstwhile) and can claim 200 Sq.

Yards of plots free of cost? The incidental questions which are

posed for consideration of this Court as argued and suggested

by the learned Counsel for the respective parties would be as

follows:

(1) Whether the writ petition preferred by the appellant

Association before the High Court under Article 226 of the

Constitution of India for the relief sought was maintainable?

(2) Whether was there any legal right available to the

appellant Association for the relief sought in the writ petition

i.e. for allotment of 200 Sq. Yards plots of land?

(3) Does Article 14 of the Constitution have any application

in the present case?

(4) Whether to determine the intelligible differentia the

affidavit filed on behalf of the concerned respondents can be
// 27 //

looked into and/or relied upon?

(5) Whether any relief can be claimed against KUDA and/or

against the NTC / respondent No.4 Mills?

9. We have heard learned Counsel appearing for the respective

parties at length on the aforesaid issues.

At the outset it is required to be noted that 318 ex-

employees of the erstwhile respondent No.4 Mills prayed for

equality and claimed the reliefs at par with other similarly

situated 134 ex-employees of the erstwhile respondent No.4

Mills who were allotted 200 Sq. Yards of plots free of cost.

9.1 It is to be noted and it cannot be disputed that even at one

point of time as admitted by the learned Counsel appearing on

behalf of KUDA that 318 ex-employees who were not allotted

200 Sq. Yards of plots are as such similarly situated to those

134 ex-employees of the erstwhile respondent No.4 Mills who

were allotted 200 Sq. Yards of plot free of cost pursuant to the

approval vide G.O. No.463 dated 27.06.2007. All of them as

such were working with the respondent No.4. All of them were

ex-employees of the erstwhile respondent No.4 Mills. All of

them were residing in the quarters allotted by the Mills. All of
// 28 //

them took voluntary retirement under the Modified Voluntary

Scheme in the year 2002. All of them got the benefits under

the Modified Voluntary Retirement Scheme of 2002 and all of

them were relieved on and from 31.08.2002. However, 318 ex-

employees vacated their quarters from time to time pursuant to

the notice dated 17.07.1986. Thus, they abided the notice

dated 17.07.1986. However, despite the notice dated

17.07.1986 and even after they were relieved on and from

31.08.2002, 134 ex-employees continued to retain the

quarters and they were in unauthorized occupation of the

quarters. Therefore, the only difference between 134 ex-

employees and 318 ex-employees was that 318 ex-employees

were law abiding persons who vacated the quarters pursuant

to the notice dated 17.07.1986 and 134 ex-employees

remained in unauthorized occupation of the quarters.

At this stage it is required to be noted that at the time

when the proceedings for closure of respondent No.4 Mill was

held before the Ministry of Labour, a request was made to allot

the quarters to the concerned workmen at reasonable rates

and in the order granting approval for closure, it was submitted

on behalf of the Mills that the request to allot the quarters is

under consideration by the management. That, after the
// 29 //

closure permission, proceedings were initiated by KUDA to

acquire the land of respondent No.4 Mills to an extent of

135.33 Acres. However, it appears that the Vice Chairman of

KUDA vide letter / communication dated 28.12.2006 submitted

their proposal to permit KUDA to allot 200 Sq. Yards of plots

free of cost to 134 ex-employees of erstwhile respondent No.4

Mills. In the letter it was specifically mentioned that to avoid

undue hardship to the ex-employees and as a welfare

measure a proposal was made by the Vice Chairman of KUDA

to permit KUDA to allot 200 Sq. Yards of developed plots free

of cost to 134 employees of the erstwhile respondent No.4

Mills. Vide G.O. No.463 dated 27.06.2007, the State

Government accepted the said proposal and granted the

permission to allot 200 Sq. Yards of developed plots free of

cost to each of 134 employees of erstwhile respondent No.4

Mills. Nothing further was mentioned either in the

communication / letter dated 28.12.2006 nor in the G.O.

No.463 dated 27.06.2007 that to avoid any litigation and/or

litigation cost as now stated in the affidavit in reply it was

proposed to allot 200 Sq. Yards of plots to 134 ex-employees.

However, thereafter when a request was made on behalf of

the remaining 318 ex-employees, who as such were similarly
// 30 //

situated to those 134 ex-employees, also to allot to them 200

Sq. Yards of house plots, their request came to be turned

down. From the aforesaid facts and circumstances and the

observations made hereinabove, it is found that 318 ex-

employees were not allotted the 200 Sq. Yards of plots and

134 ex-employees who were allotted 200 Sq. Yards of plots

free of cost who as such were similarly situated and as such

there is no difference between them at all. On the contrary,

318 ex-employees can be said to be law abiding ex-

employees who vacated the quarters after 1986 but before

2002 pursuant to the notice dated 17.07.1986. It is not in

dispute that 134 ex-employees who were allotted 200 Sq.

Yards of plots free of cost were in unauthorized occupation of

the quarters and they did not vacate the quarters despite the

notice dated 17.07.1986 and even after 31.08.2002 when they

accepted the voluntary retirement and relieved. Therefore, to

allot the plots to those employees who were found to be in

unauthorized occupation would tantamount to giving a

premium to their illegality and remaining in occupation and

possession of the quarters illegally and unauthorizedly. As

observed hereinabove, as both the classes of employees are

found to be similarly situated except the difference as
// 31 //

observed hereinabove, 318 ex-employees who as such were

similarly situated with those 134 ex-employees when claimed

the equality and parity, as such the learned Single Judge

rightly issued the writ of mandamus and directed the

respondents to treat all of them at par and allotted 200 Sq.

Yards of plots to remaining 318 ex-employees also as per the

G.O. No.463.

9.2 The submission on behalf of the respondents more particularly

learned Counsel appearing for respondent Nos.2 and 3 that

the appellant Association – 318 ex-employees have no legal

right and that respondent Nos.2 and 3 have no legal duty has

no substance and cannot be accepted. Right to equality

guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution of India is

vested right in favour of the person who claims equality and

parity and the same is enforceable against State / State

instrumentalities in exercise of powers under Article 226 of the

Constitution of India. We find no justification at all in treating

318 ex-employees different from those 134 ex-employees who

were allotted 200 Sq. Yards of plots free of cost. We find that

as such the equals are treated unequally and therefore, when

the equals are treated unequally, there is a violation of Article
// 32
//

14 of the Constitution and therefore, the appellants were

entitled to the relief sought even in exercise of powers under

Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

9.3 The concept of equality before the law and equal protection of

the laws emerges from the fundamental right expressed in

Article 14 of the Constitution. Equality is a definite concept.

The concept of equality has an inherent limitation arising

from the very nature of the constitutional guarantee. Those

who are similarly circumstanced are entitled to an equal

treatment. Equality is amongst equals. Classification is

therefore to be founded on substantial differences which

distinguish persons grouped together from those left out of the

groups and such differential attributes must bear in just and

rational relation to the object sought to be achieved.

In a given case Article 14 of the Constitution may permit

a valid classification. However, a classification to be followed

must necessarily satisfy two tests. Firstly, the distinguishing

rationale has to be based on a just objective and secondly, the

choice of differentiating one set of persons from another must

have a reasonable nexus to the objects sought to be achieved.

In the present case allotment of 200 Sq.Yards free of cost to
// 33 //

134 employees was to avoid undue hardship to the ex-

employees and as a welfare measure. As observed

hereinabove those 318 ex-employees who are denied the

benefit of allotment of 200 Sq.Yards of plots free of cost are

similarly placed persons with that of 134 employees who are

allotted 200 Sq.Yards plots free of cost. There is no rationale

justification in providing differential treatment to one class of

ex-employees similarly placed with another class of ex-

employees who are allotted the plots.

9.4 Now, so far as the case on behalf of KUDA now before this

Court in the form of counter affidavit that to avoid any litigation

and litigation cost and to get vacant possession of the

remaining land, it was proposed and decided to allot 200 Sq.

Yards of plots free of cost to 134 ex-employees who were

found to be in occupation and possession of the quarters and

therefore, there was a valid reason to allot 200 Sq. Yards of

plots to 134 ex-employees and the reliance placed on the

decision in the case of Shri Ram Krishna Dalmia (Supra) that

to determine the intelligible differentia an affidavit produced

before this Court can be considered and/or referred to is

concerned, the aforesaid seems to be attractive but has no

substance in the facts and circumstances of the case. It is to
// 34 //

be noted that in the proposal made by the Vice Chairman,

KUDA to the State Government in the year 2007 to permit

them to allot 200 Sq. Yards of plots free of cost to 134 ex-

employees, there was no reference at all that to avoid any

litigation and/or litigation cost it was proposed to allot 200 Sq.

Yards of plots free of cost. As observed hereinabove and even

when the G.O. No.463 dated 27.06.2007 is seen, it is found in

the letter dated 28.12.2006 that “to avoid undue hardship to

the ex-employees and as a welfare measure”. Even in

paragraph 4 of the G.O. No.463 dated 27.06.2007, the State

Government has specifically observed that after careful

consideration of the matter, “as a rehabilitation and a welfare

measure”, Government has agreed to the proposal of the Vice

Chairman, KUDA and permit them to allot 200 Sq. Yards of

developed plots free of cost to each 134 ex-employees of the

erstwhile respondent No.4 Mills. Therefore, the allotment of

200 Sq. Yards of plots free of cost to 134 ex-employees was

as a rehabilitation and welfare measure of ex-employees of

the erstwhile respondent No.4 Mills. Even before the learned

Single Judge also, it was not the case pleaded before the High

Court that those 134 persons were allotted 200 Sq. Yards of

plots free of cost to avoid any litigation and/or litigation cost
// 35 //

which is now pleaded for the first time before this Court. The

case on behalf of the respondent Nos.2 and 3 has been dealt

with by the learned Single Judge in paragraph 5 which reads

as under:

“5. The averments in the counter affidavit of the 3 rd
respondent to the extent relevant, in brief, are as follows:

The President of the petitioner association in his
personal capacity along with four others had filed a court
case before the District Legal Services Authority, Warangal
and it is posted to 03.03.2008 for hearing. Hence, the writ
petition is not maintainable. The members of the petitioner
association had voluntarily retired from the services of the
mill under modified VRS 2002. Their accounts were settled
by the NTC long time back. Hence, the request for allotment
of house sites to the members of the petitioner association
on par with (134) other employees does not arise for
consideration. In fact, the 3rd respondent KUDA had taken
over possession of (134) quarters covered in an area of
Ac.117.00 guntas of land. The allotment of plots to the (134)
workers, who were staying in the quarters, was considered
as a measure of rehabilitation and welfare by the
Government as well as KUDA. There is no illegality or
irregularity in the matter. KUDA had submitted proposals to
the Government for allotment of plots to (134) workers only,
as they were still continuing to stay in the quarters at the
time of taking over physical possession of the land by KUDA
from NTC. The Government had issued orders for allotment
of plots to those (134) employees who were by then staying
in the quarters. This respondent cannot allot plots to the
members of the petitioner association as per the
Government Orders referred to in the writ petition. This
respondent received representation dated 15.09.2007.
However, it is not considered as the case of the members of
the petitioner association does not stand on the same
footing as that of the (134) former employees, who had
continued to stay in the existing quarters, and as the
allotment of sites was made to them as per the Government
orders. The members of the petitioner association who had
voluntarily retired under a modified voluntary scheme had
vacated the quarters and had left the place already. At the
time of taking over possession by the KUDA, (134) ex-

workers only were staying in the quarters. The proposal for
allotment of house plots of 200 square yards each was
agreed upon by the respondents 2 and 3. Such similar
benefit cannot be extended to the retired employees other
// 36 //

than (134) ex-workers as per the principle of the decision
taken in this regard by this respondent and the Government.
This respondent has purchased the land from the NTC and
had specifically agreed for allotment of house sites to those
ex-employees only who were still staying in the quarters by
that time. This respondent and the Government did not
agree for allotment of sites to the members of the petitioner
association. This respondent had taken up sites and
services scheme and had incurred a lot of expenditure on
infrastructure facilities like provision of roads, water supply,
drainage, electricity, parks development etc. and disposing
the plots in public open auction. In view of the financial
position of the third respondent, it is not possible to allot
plots to any other retired employees, under any
circumstances. The members of the petitioner association
vacated the quarters long time back and are residing
elsewhere and they were not staying in the mill quarters at
the time of the proposal of the scheme for purchase of land
by this respondent from the 1 st respondent and therefore, the
members of the petitioner association are not eligible for
allotment of any house sites on par with the other (134)
workers. The project was taken up on “as is where is” and
“as is what is” basis. The members of the petitioner
association have no right to demand plots and this
respondent has no liability to allot plots to the members of
the petitioner association as per the project deal. The
members of the petitioner association cannot re-enter the
picture and seek allotment of house sites. As per the
Government Order, the Project has to be finalized to raise
funds for City infrastructure development and therefore, this
respondent was obliged to raise funds through the sale
proceeds by selling plots. Even if any of the land is
available, it is for the development of KUDA and city and not
reserved for allotment to the petitioners on free of cost on
par with (134) members. There is no scope for sparing the
land of this respondent to the members of the petitioner
association. Hence, the writ petition may be dismissed.”

9.5 From the above and even from the grounds of appeal before

the Division Bench, respondents tried to justify their action by

submitting that case of 318 ex-employees is not comparable

with those of 134 ex-employees as 318 ex-employees vacated

the quarters and they were not in possession and that only
// 37 //

134 ex-employees remained in possession of the quarters. For

the first time before this Court, in the counter affidavit, it is now

the case on behalf of the respondent KUDA and others that to

avoid any litigation and/or litigation cost, it was proposed to

allot 200 Sq. Yards of plots free of cost. The respondents

therefore cannot be permitted to improve their case which was

not even their case earlier viz. at the time when they made a

proposal to permit them to allot 200 Sq. Yards of plots free of

cost to 134 ex-employees and even it was not the case so

stated in the G.O. No.463 dated 27.06.2007 and even it was

not the case before the High Court. Therefore, the

respondents more particularly respondent Nos.2 and 3 cannot

be permitted to improve their case by filing the affidavit before

this Court for the first time. Therefore, the decision of this

Court in the case of Shri Ram Krishna Dalmia (Supra), which

has been relied upon by the learned Counsel appearing for the

respondent Nos.2 and 3, shall not be applicable to the facts of

the case on hand. Even otherwise on going through the entire

decision of this Court in the case of Shri Ram Krishna Dalmia

(Supra), we are of the opinion that the said decision shall not

be of any assistance to the respondent Nos.2 and 3. It was the

case with respect to the classification and the Union
// 38 //

Government tried to justify the basis of classification by way of

affidavit and it was the case on behalf of the writ petitioners

that the basis of classification must appear on the face of the

notification itself and reference cannot be made to any

extraneous matter and to that it is observed and held that

there can be no objection to the matters brought to the notice

of the Court by way of affidavit being taken into consideration

alongwith the matters specified in the notification in order to

ascertain whether there was any valid basis for treating the

appellants and/or their companies as a class by themselves.

We fail to appreciate as to how the said decision shall be

applicable to the facts of the case on hand.

9.6 Now, so far as the submission on behalf of the respondent

Nos.2 and 3 relying upon the decision of this Court in the case

of Anup Kumar Senapati (Supra) that there is no concept of

negative equality under Article 14 of the Constitution and the

submission that merely because there was any mistake on the

part of the respondents in allotting 200 Sq. Yards of land to the

said 138 persons and therefore, the appellants cannot claim

the parity is concerned, again the same has no substance. At

the outset it is required to be noted that it was/is never the
// 39 //

case on behalf of the respondents that those 134 persons

were allotted the plots by mistake and/or there was any wrong

committed in allotting 200 Sq. Yards of plot to the said 134

persons. Therefore, there is no question of applicability of any

negative equality. Therefore, the aforesaid decision shall not

be applicable to the facts of the case on hand.

9.7 Now, so far as the submission on behalf of the respondents

that they do not have any sufficient land at present to allot 200

Sq. Yards of plots to remaining 318 ex-employees and that all

those 318 ex-employees vacated the quarters voluntarily and

they settled in their houses is concerned, at the outset it is

required to be noted that merely because for whatever reason

and even as a law abiding person they vacated the quarters,

they cannot be put to disadvantageous situation being a law

abiding persons. Even it cannot be presumed that all those

318 ex-employees who vacated the quarters and stayed

elsewhere were settled. It cannot be presumed like that

without any factual data. There may be many ex-employees

who were compelled to vacate the quarters and who might not

have settled or might be staying in a one room house. In any

case, to allot 200 Sq. Yards of plots to 134 ex-employees to
// 40 //

avoid undue hardship to the ex-employees and as a welfare

measure and as a rehabilitation to only 134 case ex-

employees and not other ex-employees similarly situated,

would be discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the

Constitution. As observed hereinabove, on the contrary, to allot

the plots to 134 employees on the ground that they were in

unauthorized occupation and therefore, to avoid the litigation /

litigation cost would be giving a premium to those who

continued to be in illegal unauthorized occupation and to

punish those ex-employees who were found to be law abiding

and vacated the quarters pursuant to the notice dated

17.07.1986. Even the justification to differentiate the case

between two classes of ex-employees is not germane. If

remaining 318 ex-employees would not have vacated the

quarters and would have remained in unauthorized

occupation, even as per the case on behalf of the respondents

is accepted, then those who remained in unauthorized

occupation subsequently might have been allotted to 200 Sq.

Yards of plots free of cost like 134 ex-employees who were

found to be in unauthorized occupation. Therefore, as such

there is no justification at all to deny allotment of 200 Sq.

Yards of plots free of cost to each of 318 ex-employees, which
// 41 //

were allotted to other 134 ex-employees who otherwise were

similarly situated. It will be open for the respondent Nos.2 and

3 to approach the respondent No.1 and/or the State

Government for allotment of additional land and/or to allot the

plots from the remaining land of the respondent No.4 Mills

which might be vacant and available with the Central

Government / NTC as the case may be.

10. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, both

these Appeals succeed. Impugned judgment and order dated

19.02.2020 passed by the High Court for the State of

Telangana, at Hyderabad in Writ Appeal Nos.427 of 2016 and

431 of 2016 are hereby quashed and set aside and the

judgment and order passed by the learned Single Judge in

Writ Petition No.26642 of 2007 is hereby restored and the

respondents more particularly respondent Nos.2 and 3 are

hereby directed to treat and consider the remaining 318 ex-

employees of the erstwhile respondent No.4 – Azam Jahi Mills

at par with other 134 ex-employees who were allotted 200 Sq.

Yards of plots free of cost as per the Government Order

No.463 dated 27.06.2007. However, it is observed that it will

be open for KUDA to approach the State Government and/or
// 42 //

the respondent Nos.1 and 4 / the Central Government to allot

additional plot / land, may be out of the remaining land

available with the Central Government / National Textile

Corporation Limited of the erstwhile respondent No.4 Mills and

the same may be considered in larger public interest. The

aforesaid exercise of allotment of plots to remaining 318 ex-

employees – members of the appellant – Workers Association

shall be completed within a period of six months from today.

Both the present Appeals are allowed accordingly. In the facts

and circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to

costs.

………………………………….J.

                                 [M.R. SHAH]




NEW DELHI;                         ……………………………….J.
OCTOBER 26, 2021.                  [A.S. BOPANNA]



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