The State Of Rajasthan vs Surji Devi on 7 October, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

The State Of Rajasthan vs Surji Devi on 7 October, 2021

Author: M.R. Shah

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

                                                                            REPORTABLE

                                    IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                     CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.6205 OF 2021




         THE STATE OF RAJASTHAN & ORS.                                     ..APPELLANT(S)


                                                 VERSUS

         SURJI DEVI                                                        ..RESPONDENT


                                               JUDGMENT

M. R. Shah, J.

1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned

judgment and order dated 01.03.2019 passed by the High

Court of Judicature for Rajasthan at Jodhpur in D.B. Special

Appeal Writ No. 1045 of 2018, by which the Division Bench

of the High Court has dismissed the said appeal and has

confirmed the order dated 17.01.2017 passed by the learned
Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by R
Natarajan
Date: 2021.10.07
16:34:46 IST
Reason:

Single Judge by which the learned Single Judge quashed and

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set aside the order of termination dated 16.12.1996

dismissing the late husband of the respondent from service,

the State of Rajasthan and others have preferred the present

appeal.

2. The facts leading to the present appeal in nutshell are as

under:­

2.1 That the late husband of the respondent herein late Shri

Rameshwar Lal was serving as Gram Sevak. He was

suspended from service vide order dated 08.01.1996 on the

ground of willful absence from duty and not completing the

audit. The administrative committee of Panchayat Samiti

Nokha in its meting dated 26.02.1996 took a decision to

remove him from service. That thereafter a public notice was

published in the daily news paper on 14.03.1996, whereby

Rameshwar Lal was directed to join his duties within a period

of 15 days with explanation. Even after completion of 15 days

the said Rameshwar Lal did not join his duties. Thereafter

the services of the said Rameshwar Lal – late husband of the

respondent were terminated vide order dated 16.12.1996

invoking the provisions of Section 91 (3) of the Rajasthan

Panchayati Raj Act, 1994 (hereinafter referred to as the Act

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1994) and Rule 86 of Rajasthan Services Rules, 1951. It

appears that the late husband of the respondent preferred an

appeal against the order of termination issued under Section

91 (4) of the Act 1994 before the District Establishment

Committee, Zila Parishad, Bikaner. During the pendency of

the said appeal the employee – Rameshwar Lal passed away

on 18.09.2009. That thereafter the respondent herein

preferred a writ petition before the High Court being S.B.

Civil Writ Petition No.11405 of 2011 challenging the

dismissal/termination order dated 16.12.1996. By judgment

and order dated 17.01.2017, the learned Single Judge

allowed the said writ petition and quashed and set aside the

order of termination dated 16.12.1996 and directed the

appellants to give all consequential benefits to the

respondent treating her husband to be superannuated on

16.12.1996. The judgment and order passed by the learned

Single Judge has been confirmed by the Division Bench, by

the impugned judgment and order. Hence the present appeal.

3. We have heard the learned counsel appearing on behalf of

the respective parties at length.

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4. The facts which emerged are that the late husband of the

respondent was removed/dismissed from service by order

dated 16.12.1996. He preferred an appeal which was pending

before the appellate authority. During the pendency of the

appeal, the late husband of the respondent – employee

died/passed away in the year 2009. If the late husband of

the respondent would not have been terminated/dismissed

he would have attained the age of superannuation in the year

1999. After the death of the employee – late husband of the

respondent she did not pursue the appeal, maybe she might

not be aware of filing/pendency of the appeal. That thereafter

the respondent – widow of the employee filed a writ petition

before the High Court in the year 2012. Thus, by the time the

respondent preferred a writ petition before the High Court,

15 years had passed from the date of termination and even

approximately 13 years from the date on which the employee

would have attained the age of superannuation i.e. from the

year 1999. Considering the aforesaid facts and

circumstances, as such, the learned Single Judge ought not

to have entertained the writ petition in the year 2012,

challenging the order of termination passed on 16.12.1996,

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on the ground of delay and laches alone. At this stage, it is

required to be noted that even despite the fact that it was

specifically prayed by the respondent in writ petition before

the learned Single Judge to direct the authority to decide the

appeal preferred by her husband, the learned Single Judge

despite the above prayer and the pending appeal, entered

into the merits of the case and quashed and set aside the

order of termination dated 16.12.1996.

5. The submission on behalf of the respondent is that the

termination on 16.12.1996 was absolutely illegal and against

the principles of natural justice is concerned, once we hold

that the writ petition was barred by delay and laches,

thereafter the merits are not required to be considered. As

observed hereinabove, the learned Single Judge erred in

entertaining the petition in the year 2012 challenging the

order of termination passed in the year 1996, on the ground

of delay and laches and more particularly when even

otherwise if the termination order would not have been

passed the deceased employee would have retired on

attaining the age of superannuation in the year 1999.

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6. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the

present appeal succeeds. The impugned judgment and order

dated 01.03.2019 passed by the Division Bench of the High

Court as well as the judgment and order dated 17.01.2017

passed by the learned Single Judge are hereby quashed and

set aside. In the facts and circumstances of the case, there

shall be no order as to costs.

…………………………………J.

(M. R. SHAH)

…………………………………J.

(A. S. BOPANNA)

New Delhi,
October 07, 2021.

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