The State Of Odisha vs Arati Mohapatra on 27 September, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

The State Of Odisha vs Arati Mohapatra on 27 September, 2021

Author: A.S. Bopanna

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

                                                              NON­REPORTABLE


                                      IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                       CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                   CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 5963­5964 OF 2021
                               (Arising out of SLP(Civil) Nos.9302­9303/2019)



                         State of Odisha & Ors.                      .…Appellant(s)


                                                     Versus


                         Arati Mohapatra                          …. Respondent(s)



                                                  JUDGMENT

A.S. Bopanna,J.

1. The Appellant­State of Odisha & others are before this

Court in these appeals assailing the orders dated 20.03.2018

and 06.12.2018 passed by the High Court of Orissa in WP(C)

Signature Not Verified
No.22713/2014 and Review Petition No.230/2018. By the order
Digitally signed by R
Natarajan
Date: 2021.09.27
16:53:29 IST
Reason:

passed in the writ petition, the learned Division Bench of the

High Court has set aside the orders passed by the Odisha

Page 1 of 11
Administrative Tribunal, Cuttack Bench in O.A.

No.2699(C)/2006 and M.P. No.729(C)/2006.

2. The brief facts leading to the present round of litigation

between the parties has the genesis in the selection process

which was initiated in the year 1996 for recruitment of primary

school teachers in government schools, in the State of Odisha.

Through the resolution dated 12.03.1996 the procedure for

recruitment was formulated and the selection process was

initiated. Pursuant thereto a list consisting of 379 candidates

selected for appointment was published on 31.01.1997. The

name of the respondent herein was indicated at Serial No.301

and it had depicted that the respondent had secured 114.80

marks. The respondent was accordingly appointed as an

Assistant Teacher in Singiri, in the Pay Scale of Rs.1080­30­

EB­30­1800. The respondent no.1 had joined duty on

30.07.1997.

3. When this was the position a group of aggrieved

unsuccessful candidates approached the State Administrative

Tribunal (for short ‘SAT’) in O.A. No.2792(C)/1999 and

analogous petitions alleging irregularities and foul play in the

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selection process. The SAT having considered the same,

accepted the contention of the applicants and through the order

dated 24.01.2001 directed the recruiting authority to prepare a

fresh select list category wise. Since the said process had not

been completed, one of the applicants Ms. Prem Lata Panda

filed a Contempt Petition No.382(C)/2001 before the SAT

alleging non­compliance of the order dated 24.01.2001. The

SAT, through the order dated 02.12.2004 directed that a fresh

select list be prepared within four months. The appellants

herein, in compliance thereto prepared a fresh selection list

dated 15.12.2004 and the appointments made were withdrawn

in order to comply with the order.

4. One Ms. Saillasuta Dei filed an application before the SAT

in O.A.No.305/2005 impugning the action of the appellants in

withdrawing the appointments and in that light sought for

strict implementation of the order dated 24.01.2001 passed in

O.A. No.2792(C)/1999 and analogous matters. In that view, the

appellants appointed a Committee on 08.09.2006 to prepare a

fresh merit list as also a re­select list of candidates which was

accordingly prepared and approved on 17.11.2006. As per the

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list the last of the candidate selected in the general category

had secured 111.53 marks. The marks shown against the name

of the respondent was 109.86 due to which the appellants

contended that the respondent was not entitled to continue in

service.

5. In that view, the respondent was terminated from service

on 30.11.2006. The respondent claiming to be aggrieved by

such termination filed an application before the SAT in O.A.

No.2699(C)/2006. Certain other candidates who were

terminated from service either due to the criteria of the

difference in marks or due to the fabrication of documents had

also approached the SAT making out a grievance with regard to

the termination. The SAT having taken note of the rival

contentions passed a common order dated 03.06.2014 wherein

the O.A. No.2699(C)/2006 filed by the respondent herein was

also disposed of. However, in the course of the order the SAT

had taken note that the applicants before it have already been

terminated from service because they filed forged

certificates/documents and a vigilance case is pending. Hence,

it ordered that a decision is to be taken after conclusion of the

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vigilance case. In that view, it was observed that if the decision

in the vigilance case goes in their favour they would be at

liberty to approach the departmental authorities for redressal of

their grievance relating to reinstatement.

6. The case of the respondent herein was also included in the

above said order. Obviously, the said observation was an error

insofar as the respondent is concerned since the termination of

the respondent was not due to that reason but due to the

difference in the marks which was noticed while preparing the

fresh re­selection list. The respondent therefore filed a Review

Petition in M.P.No.729(C)/2006 before the SAT which was

disposed of by the order dated 21.10.2014. Though the said

observation was deleted by the review petition, the SAT having

taken note that the marks shown in the re­selection list against

the name of the respondent being 109.88 as against what was

originally shown as 114.80 marks, did not see reason to

interfere with the termination order.

7. The respondent therefore claiming to be aggrieved by the

order dated 03.06.2014 in O.A. No.2699(C)/2006 and the order

dated 21.10.2014 in M.P. No.729(C)/2006 approached the High

Page 5 of 11
Court in the abovestated writ petition. The High Court on

taking note of the sequence of events, took into consideration

the marks which was originally awarded to the respondent i.e.,

114.80 marks, more particularly relying on the details of the

minutes dated 31.01.1997 which was obtained by the

respondent under the provisions of the Right to Information Act

(for short ‘RTI Act’) wherein the name of the respondent

appeared at Serial No.301 as she had been awarded 114.80

marks. The learned Division Bench of the High Court

accordingly directed the appellants herein to treat the

respondent as having secured 114.80 marks in the selection list

and communicate a reasoned order to the respondent within

three months. The review filed against the said order was

dismissed keeping in view the limited scope available in review,

rather than adverting to the contentions put forth on merit to

seek review. It is in that light, the appellants being aggrieved

are before this Court.

8. We have heard Mr. Sibo Sankar Mishra, learned counsel

appearing for the appellants, Mr. Ashok Panigrahi, learned

counsel appearing for the respondent and perused the appeals

Page 6 of 11
papers including the written submission filed on behalf of both

parties.

9. The sequence of the events noted above and the series of

litigation between the parties including the challenge to the

original selection list by a group of unsuccessful candidates

which led to the formation of a re­selection committee and the

preparation of re­selected list after considering the matter

afresh is not in serious dispute. Though the genesis for the

earlier select list being cancelled and the re­selection list being

published was the allegation made by the unsuccessful

candidates in O.A. No.2792(C)/1999 and analogous petitions

that there was foul play in the process, the fact that the select

list has been re­arranged based on the marks obtained is

evident from the facts narrated above. It is also undisputed that

the respondent is not one of those candidates against whom an

allegation is made with regard to the submission of fabricated

documents for obtaining appointment. In fact this aspect is

clear from the order dated 21.10.2014 passed by SAT in M.P.

No.729(C)/2006. In the said order, the reason to justify the

termination of respondent is taken note, which is that the

Page 7 of 11
respondent had obtained 109.88 marks and was accordingly

placed at the appropriate spot in the re­select list. The said

marks was lesser than the last selected candidate in the general

category, who had obtained 111.53 marks.

10. Against the above backdrop, it is noticed that the only

reason for which the High Court has intervened and directed

the appellants herein to consider the case of the respondent by

reckoning the marks secured by her as 114.80 is by taking note

of the information secured under RTI Act relied upon by the

respondent, wherein the minutes dated 31.01.1997 indicated

the marks obtained by the respondent as 114.80 marks and

she was placed at Serial No.301.

11. The learned counsel for the respondent seeks to justify

the conclusion reached by the High Court since according to

him the information was obtained from the official files under

the RTI Act and such information would justify that the

respondent having obtained 114.80 marks is entitled to be

selected, which action has been directed by the High Court to

be taken by the petitioners herein.

Page 8 of 11

12. The learned counsel for the appellants would, on the

other hand, contend that the error in the conclusion reached by

the High Court is due to the fact that the reliance was placed

on the list which was prepared on 31.01.1997, the details of

which were furnished under the RTI Act. Though that was the

position in the list finalised on 31.01.1997, the same had been

set aside by the SAT in O.A. No.2792(C)/1999 and due to the

orders passed therein, subsequent thereto a re­selection list

was prepared. In the said process the marks were correctly

assigned wherein the marks obtained by the respondent in the

viva voce was 14.40 which while added to her marks obtained

towards matriculation of 44.42 marks and 51.04 marks in the

competitive test, the total would add up to 109.86 and not

114.80 marks as claimed. Hence, it is contended that the High

Court was not justified in its conclusion.

13. In the light of the above, the only question for

consideration is as to whether the High Court was justified in

taking note of the information merely because it was secured

under the RTI Act, to be the basis for its conclusion. We are of

the opinion that the High Court was not justified and had fallen

Page 9 of 11
into error. This is for the reason that the information furnished

under the RTI Act showing the name of the respondent at Serial

No.301, having obtained 114.80 marks was the select list which

was prepared for the first time, which was the subject matter of

litigation; had been set aside and was therefore not reckonable.

In the re­select list, the name of the respondent is shown at

Serial No.474 having obtained 109.86 marks. The marks

awarded by the three Selection Committee members in the

Viva­voce is shown as 16;20.20 and 7, the total of which to be

divided by 3 will work out to the average of 14.40 marks in

Viva­voce. The same if added to the career marks of 95.46, the

total would be 109.86 marks which is in consonance with the

stand taken and contention put forth by the appellants.

14. Hence, all these aspects will reveal that, though it had

been shown as 114.80 marks in the list which was finalised on

31.01.1997, when it is admitted that the said list had been set

aside by the SAT accepting the allegations of the applicants

therein that the list had not been appropriately prepared,

neither the respondent nor the High Court ought to have placed

reliance on the same when the re­selection list prepared afresh

Page 10 of 11
was acted upon for appointment.

15. In that view, the order passed by the High Court cannot

be sustained. The orders dated 20.03.2018 and 06.12.2018

passed by the High Court of Orissa in WP(C) No.22713/2014

and in Review Petition No.230/2018 are set aside. The appeals

are accordingly allowed with no order as to costs.

16. Pending applications, if any, shall stand disposed of.

……………………….J.

(M.R. SHAH)

……………………….J.

(A.S. BOPANNA)

New Delhi,
September 27, 2021

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