The State Of Uttar Pradesh vs Manoj Kumar Sharma on 9 July, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

The State Of Uttar Pradesh vs Manoj Kumar Sharma on 9 July, 2021

Author: Hemant Gupta

Bench: Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Hemant Gupta

                                                                                   REPORTABLE

                                         IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                           CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2320 OF 2021
                                 (ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NO. 7487 OF 2020)

                         THE STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH & ORS.                       .....APPELLANT(S)

                                                             VERSUS

                         DR. MANOJ KUMAR SHARMA                                .....RESPONDENT(S)


                                                 JUDGMENT

HEMANT GUPTA, J.

1. The challenge in the present appeal is to an order passed by the

Division Bench of the High Court of Allahabad, Lucknow Bench at

Lucknow on 05.03.2020, affirming the order passed by the learned

Single Bench on 07.08.2019. Vide the aforesaid orders, the

appellants were directed to calculate and pay 50% of the back

wages to the respondent, hereinafter referred to as writ petitioner,

and to grant all the consequential benefits in accordance with law.

2. The writ petitioner was posted in State of Uttaranchal (for short

‘Government of Uttaranchal’ now Uttarakhand, hereinafter referred

to as Uttarakhand) as a Medical Officer before the reorganization of

the State of Uttar Pradesh. The writ petitioner was transferred to

State of Uttar Pradesh as per the option given by Medical Officers
Signature Not Verified

of State of Uttar Pradesh including the writ petitioner. As many as
Digitally signed by
Charanjeet kaur
Date: 2021.07.09
16:37:57 IST
Reason:

208 Medical Officers and 5 Dental doctors of Class -2 Category

belonging to the U.P. Provincial Medical and Health Services (Male

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Cadre) were posted in the State of Uttar Pradesh on 6.3.2002. The

name of the writ petitioner appears at Serial No. 99 of the said list

of Medical Officers. The writ petitioner was to report at Badaun

under the Chief Medical Officer.

3. The State of Uttarakhand relieved the Medical Officers in phases.

The writ petitioner was amongst 22 Medical Officers in the second

phase who were relieved by the State of Uttarakhand on 5.7.2003

in terms of the posting order of the Uttar Pradesh Government

dated 06.03.2002. The name of the writ petitioner appears at

Serial No. 13, then posted as Surgeon at District Hospital,

Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand. The writ petitioner was relieved by Chief

Medical Superintendent, District Hospital, Uttarkashi on

12.09.2003.

4. It is thereafter that the writ petitioner instead of reporting at place

of posting i.e., Badaun, submitted a letter to Director Medical

Health Services, Lucknow on 19.09.2003 submitting his joining

report. On the same date, by another letter, a request was made to

get a posting in Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad or Bijnore District. Even

though the writ petitioner was posted at Badaun, he did not join

there and was well satisfied by giving a letter to Director Medical

Health Services of his joining in that office.

5. Subsequently, the writ petitioner filed a writ petition in the year

2006 wherein he claimed a writ of mandamus commanding the

State to post the writ petitioner as Medical Officer in any Hospital

according to his qualification and experience in the specialized

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cadre. The learned Single Judge allowed the writ petition inter alia

on the ground that the counter affidavit was silent as to in what

manner the office memorandum or the posting order was served

upon the writ petitioner. The argument by the State counsel that

the writ petitioner did not join at Badaun was said to be not

supported by any letter of the writ petitioner. The learned Single

Judge found that no decision has been taken in pursuance of letter

dated 19.09.2003 for posting of the writ petitioner. The Court thus

concluded that the posting order or the transfer order was never

communicated or served upon the writ petitioner at any point of

time. Therefore, the judgments referred to by the State counsel

were not applicable in the facts and circumstances of the case.

Further, the Secretary, Medical Health, Government of U.P. was

summoned to the Court who justified the non-posting of the writ

petitioner. The Court concluded as under:

“The aforesaid conduct of the State Government in dealing
with its officers is not happy state of affair. The State
Government should have acted with responsibility and
should have been quick enough to take a decision in the
matter. The State Government has been sitting tight over
the matter since 2006 when the writ petition was filed.
Action of the State Government, therefore in these
circumstances, cannot be justified and neither the State
Government can take benefit of the posting order issued on
6th March, 2002. We are therefore of the view that a heavy
cost is required to be imposed upon the State Government
for approaching in such a callous manner.

We accordingly impose a cost of Rs.50,000/- upon the State
Government. The State government will deposit the cost
before this Court within fifteen days, which shall be
transferred to the Mediation Centre of this Court. Further, a
writ in the nature of mandamus is issued to the State
Government to issue a posting order in respect of the

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petitioner within the aforesaid period.

Question of back wages is left open in the present writ
petition.

The Secretary, Medical Health need not appear again.”

6. In pursuance of the said order of the High Court, a fresh posting

order was issued to the writ petitioner on 09.12.2016, posting him

under Chief Medical Officer, Muzaffarnagar. Subsequently, another

writ petition was filed for direction for payment of back wages. The

writ petition was disposed of with a direction to decide the

question of back wages within a period of four weeks.

7. The Principal Secretary declined the grant of back wages on

27.2.2009 inter alia on the following grounds:

“It is pertaining to mention that Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma
Surgeon District Hospital Uttarkashi after being relieved on
05.07.2003 from the State of Uttaranchal submitted joining
before Director General Medical and Health Services U.P.
Lucknow on 18.09.2003, repeatedly made request for
posting near his home District Saharanpur. If his request for
place of posting was not accepted it was not open to him to
say that any hindrance was created in his joining and he
remained in waiting for posting. The period of Dr. Manoj
Kumar Sharma from 05.07.2003 to 09.12.2016 cannot be
treated as compulsory waiting period as he had been given
posting but he did not comply with posting order and there
was no justification to sit idle for about 13 years and not
performing Government work in anticipation of decision to
be taken on his representation and such attitude does not
reflect his readiness to work.”

8. The back wages for the said period were thus declined for the

reason that the writ petitioner has not performed any government

work from 05.07.2003 till 09.12.2016 and it cannot be treated as

compulsory waiting period under the provisions of Fundamental

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Rules 9(6)(b)(iii) of Financial Hand Book Volume-2-Part 2-4 and he

was thus granted extra ordinary leave for the aforesaid period.

9. The writ petitioner challenged the said decision by way of another

writ petition. The order of the learned Single Bench shows that an

office memorandum was issued on 08.02.2018 proposing to initiate

departmental enquiry on the ground of non-joining. The contempt

petition was filed and it appears that in view of the contempt

petition, the office memorandum was cancelled on 29.05.2018.

The learned Single Judge in the order dated 7.8.2019 held that the

order in the writ petition dated 26.09.2016 had attained finality,

therefore, the benefit of back wages could not have been declined.

The Court held as under:

“That once the order dated 26.09.2016 attained finality and
there was no challenge to the same, thus, the issues and the
findings in the aforesaid writ petition could not be in the
domain of the respondents to challenge indirectly by issuing
the impugned office memorandum dated 27.02.2019. It is
no more res-integra that what cannot be done directly
cannot be done indirectly either. In the present facts and
circumstances, the issue regarding the fact of the petitioner
not being able to join between 05.07.2003 to 09.12.2016
was the core issue in the earlier writ petition decided on
26.09.2016. The Division Bench of this Court while deciding
and allowing the aforesaid writ petition had categorically
noticed that the State was unable to establish the fact that
the alleged joining order dated 06.03.2002 was ever served
or communicated to the petitioner. This Court has already
re-produced the relevant portion of the aforesaid judgment
and thus, it is evident that the reason indicated in the office
memorandum dated 27.02.2019 is the same which stood
decided in the earlier writ petition in favour of the
petitioner.”

10. The learned Single Judge also noticed the fact that the writ

petitioner was gainfully employed during this period but still

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granted 50% of back wages. The Court held as under:

“Notwithstanding the aforesaid, this Court has to balance
the equities in between the parties and considering the fact
that the petitioner did not deny the plea of the respondent
that he was gainfully employed even though the burden to
prove the same was on the employer coupled with the fact
that the respondent have only taken a bald plea in their
counter affidavit and no positive evidence or document was
placed on record to substantiate its plea.

Hence, taking a holistic view, this Court is of the opinion that
ends of justice would be served if the petitioner is granted
50% back wages for the period 05.07.2003 to 28.12.2016
treating the petitioner to be in continuous service. As far as
the other consequential benefits, admissible under law, are
concerned the respondents in the impugned order also
admit that the same are to be given to the petitioner.”

It is the said order which was affirmed by the learned Division

Bench, which is subject matter of challenge in the present appeal.

11. The learned Single Bench in the first round held that the State has

not produced as to how and when the posting order was

communicated to him. The Court was aware of the fact that the

writ petitioner has been relieved by the Government of

Uttarakhand on 12.09.2003 and a communication has been

addressed by Shri K.M. Mehrotra, Joint Director on 12.09.2003 and

that he had submitted a joining report on 18.09.2003. The said

joining report was submitted not at the place of posting but before

the Director Medical Health Services. We find that the High Court in

this background, when the writ petitioner stood relieved from

Uttarakhand, could not have returned a finding that the State has

not shown as to how the transfer and posting order was conveyed

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to the writ petitioner. The High Court overlooked a judgment of this

Court reported as State of Punjab v. Khemi Ram1 wherein a

question arose that whether the order of suspension was to be

actually received by the employee to be affected. This Court

examined the question as to whether communicating the order

means its actual receipt by the concerned government servant.

The Court held as under:

“16. …It will be seen that in all the decisions cited before us
it was the communication of the impugned order which was
held to be essential and not its actual receipt by the officer
concerned and such communication was held to be
necessary because till the order is issued and actually sent
out to the person concerned the authority making such
order would be in a position to change its mind and modify it
if it thought fit. But once such an order is sent out, it goes
out of the control of such an authority, and therefore, there
would be no chance whatsoever of its changing its mind or
modifying it. In our view, once an order is issued and it is
sent out to the concerned government servant, it must be
held to have been communicated to him, no matter when he
actually received it. We find it difficult to persuade ourselves
to accept the view that it is only from the date of the actual
receipt by him that the order becomes effective. If that be
the true meaning of communication, it would be possible for
a government servant to effectively thwart an order by
avoiding receipt of it by one method or the other till after
the date of his retirement even though such an order is
passed and despatched to him before such date. An officer
against whom action is sought to be taken, thus, may go
away from the address given by him for service of such
orders or may deliberately give a wrong address and thus
prevent or delay its receipt and be able to defeat its service
on him. Such a meaning of the word “communication” ought
not to be given unless the provision in question expressly so
provides. ………”

12. Therefore, it was not open to the writ petitioner to defy the order of

transfer on the ground of non-communication when more than 100

1 AIR 1970 SC 214

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Medical Officers were transferred by the same common transfer

order. Firstly, he stood relieved by the State of Uttarakhand and

secondly, he did not report at the place of posting but submitted an

application before Director Medical Health Services. In the first

round, even after directing to issue a posting order to the writ

petitioner, the question of back wages was left open. It is

thereafter, in pursuance of another writ petition, the competent

authority in the State passed an order declining back wages but

granted extra ordinary leave for the aforesaid period.

13. Learned counsel for the writ petitioner submitted that in the writ

petition he has sought to post him anywhere in the State of Uttar

Pradesh and that in the order dated 26.09.2016 a finding is

returned i.e., posting order dated 06.03.2002 was not served upon

the writ petitioner. It is also pointed out that the Government of

Uttarakhand has relieved medical officers in stages and all of them

submitted joining report to the Director Medical Health Services,

U.P. and not at the place of posting mentioned in the order issued

by the Uttar Pradesh Government. A reference is made to general

practice in the Government of Uttar Pradesh as a Medical Officer is

asked to submit three choices of place of posting and that this

practice still continues.

14. We do not find any merit in the arguments raised. The writ

petitioner was relieved by the Government of Uttarakhand in 2003,

however, he filed writ petition in 2006, meaning thereby for three

8
years, “he was awaiting posting orders”. Under the guise of

awaiting posting orders, he started private practice and

intentionally delayed the decision on the writ petition for almost 13

years. The writ petition was dismissed in default on 22.09.2008 and

was restored on 11.12.2014. Such conduct of the writ petitioner

suggests that he was not keen to join as a Medical Officer after he

was relieved by the Government of Uttarakhand. The writ petitioner

cannot take a stand that he had not received the order dated

06.03.2002. The order of Uttarakhand Government relieving him on

05.07.2003 is in pursuance of the order of the Government of Uttar

Pradesh on 06.03.2002. It is a case of the feigned ignorance. Even

if there is a practice that the Medical Officer report at the office of

Director Medical Health Services is not a ground on the basis of

which illegality can be permitted to be perpetuated. The option of

posting would be available only if there are general transfers not in

a case where the Medical Officers have been allocated to their

parent state in view of the option exercised.

15. As noticed by the learned Single Bench in the third round, the writ

petitioner was gainfully employed and it is impossible to imagine

that a Medical Officer would sit idle for 13 long years. Therefore,

the grant of 50% of back wages for the entire period would be

giving benefit of one’s own wrong who intentionally abstained from

duty for 13 long years and now wants to take benefit of back wages

as well. Such stand of the writ petitioner is not only unjustified but

wholly condemnable. The State was remiss in not taking action

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against the writ petitioner for absence from duty. Once the writ

petitioner did not join the place of posting, the State should have

taken steps to initiate disciplinary proceedings. Still further, the

State issued posting order as per the directions in the first writ

petition. The attempt of the State to initiate proceedings in the

year 2018 invited ire of the Court. The State government cancelled

the proceedings to initiate disciplinary proceedings.

16. Another disturbing feature which comes to our notice is that in the

first round, the Secretary, Medical Health was called in-person in

the Court. Even in the present proceedings, after stay of the order

of the Division Bench of the High Court on 22.2.2021, an order was

passed by the High Court on 2.3.2021 to seek personal presence of

the officer on the next date of hearing. In these circumstances, this

Court in the present proceedings passed the following order on

6.4.2021: –

“On 22.02.2021, we had issued notice in the Special Leave
Petition and stayed the operation of the impugned order.

The present application has been filed for stay of the
contempt proceedings on account of the order passed on
02.03.2021.

To say the least, we are quite shocked at the perusal of the
order dated 02.03.2021. Once the operation of the order has
been stayed, the natural consequence would be that the
contempt proceedings would be kept in abeyance. It is not
as if this aspect was not brought to the notice of the learned
Judge dealing with the Contempt Petition No.139/2020 as an
application had been filed for exemption from personal
appearance. However, the exemption from personal
appearance was granted only for the date of 02.03.2021 and
the matter was listed on 08.04.2021 once again directing
both the officers to remain present in Court in pursuance to

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an earlier order dated 05.02.2021.

Once the order of which contempt was alleged was stayed,
there would be no cause for calling the officers as there was
no question of any non-compliance of the order which had
been stayed. This Court has even on various occasions
through judicial pronouncements deprecated the practice of
unnecessarily calling officers to Court. In that context, it has
been observed that the trust, faith and confidence of the
common man in the judiciary cannot be frittered away by
unnecessary and unwarranted show or exercise of power.
Greater the power, greater should be the responsibility in
exercising such power2. The frequent, causal and
lackadaisical summoning of high officials by the Court
cannot be appreciated. We may add that this does not mean
that in compelling situations the same cannot be done but
the object cannot be to humiliate senior officials 3. In the
present case, we are concerned with contempt proceedings.
No doubt if the order is not complied with, presence can be
directed unless exempted. However, if the operation of the
order is stayed, we fail to understand what purpose was
being served by calling the officers for the next date as no
specific date had been fixed by the Court post the stay
having been granted. We do believe that this is unnecessary
harassment of the officers and there was no occasion to
pass the order on 02.03.2021. It has resulted in the
petitioners being compelled to move the present
application.

We stay the contempt proceedings in Contempt Petition
No.139/2020 pending before the High Court of Judicature at
Allahabad, Lucknow Bench, Lucknow and further make it
clear the no presence of any officer concerned is required.
We also make it clear that as and when, if the occasion so
arises, for restarting the contempt proceedings, the matter
will be placed before a Bench of another Judge. A copy of
this order be placed before the learned Judge who passed
this order as well as the Chief Justice. The IA stands
disposed of.”

17. A practice has developed in certain High Courts to call officers at

the drop of a hat and to exert direct or indirect pressure. The line of

separation of powers between Judiciary and Executive is sought to

2 State of U.P. & Ors. v. Jasvir Singh & Ors. – (2011) 4 SCC 288
3 R.S. Singh v. U.P. Malaria Nirikshank Sangh & Ors. – (2011) 4 SCC 281

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be crossed by summoning the officers and in a way pressurizing

them to pass an order as per the whims and fancies of the Court.

18. The public officers of the Executive are also performing their duties

as the third limbs of the governance. The actions or decisions by

the officers are not to benefit them, but as a custodian of public

funds and in the interest of administration, some decisions are

bound to be taken. It is always open to the High Court to set aside

the decision which does not meet the test of judicial review but

summoning of officers frequently is not appreciable at all. The

same is liable to be condemned in the strongest words.

19. This Court in a judgment reported as Divisional Manager,

Aravali Golf Club & Anr. v. Chander Hass & Anr.4 observed that

judges must know their limits. They must have modesty and

humility, and not behave like emperors. The legislature, the

executive and the judiciary all have their own broad spheres of

operation. It is not proper for any of these three organs of the

State to encroach upon the domain of another, otherwise the

delicate balance in the Constitution will be upset, and there will be

a reaction. This Court held as under:

“19. Under our Constitution, the legislature, the executive
and the judiciary all have their own broad spheres of
operation. Ordinarily it is not proper for any of these three
organs of the State to encroach upon the domain of another,
otherwise the delicate balance in the Constitution will be
upset, and there will be a reaction.

20. Judges must know their limits and must not try to run
the Government. They must have modesty and humility, and
not behave like emperors. There is broad separation of
4 (2008) 1 SCC 683

12
powers under the Constitution and each organ of the State—
the legislature, the executive and the judiciary—must have
respect for the other and must not encroach into each
other’s domains.

21. The theory of separation of powers first propounded by
the French thinker Montesquieu (in his book The Spirit of
Laws) broadly holds the field in India too. In Chapter XI of his
book The Spirit of Laws Montesquieu writes:

“When the legislative and executive powers are united
in the same person, or in the same body of Magistrates,
there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may
arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact
tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical
manner.

Again, there is no liberty, if the judicial power be not
separated from the legislative and executive. Were it
joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the
subject would be exposed to arbitrary control; for the
judge would be then the legislator. Were it joined to the
executive power, the judge might behave with violence
and oppression.

There would be an end of everything, were the same
man or the same body, whether of the nobles or of the
people, to exercise those three powers, that of enacting
laws, that of executing the public resolutions, and of
trying the causes of individuals.”
(emphasis supplied)

We fully agree with the view expressed above.

Montesquieu’s warning in the passage above quoted is
particularly apt and timely for the Indian judiciary today,
since very often it is rightly criticised for “overreach” and
encroachment into the domain of the other two organs.”

20. Thus, we feel, it is time to reiterate that public officers should not

be called to court unnecessarily. The dignity and majesty of the

Court is not enhanced when an officer is called to court. Respect to

the court has to be commanded and not demanded and the same

is not enhanced by calling public officers. The presence of public

officer comes at the cost of other official engagement demanding

their attention. Sometimes, the officers even have to travel long

13
distance. Therefore, summoning of the officer is against the public

interest as many important tasks entrusted to him gets delayed,

creating extra burden on the officer or delaying the decisions

awaiting his opinion. The Court proceedings also take time, as

there is no mechanism of fixed time hearing in Courts as of now.

The Courts have the power of pen which is more effective than the

presence of an officer in Court. If any particular issue arises for

consideration before the Court and the Advocate representing the

State is not able to answer, it is advised to write such doubt in the

order and give time to the State or its officers to respond.

21. The writ petitioner was posted at Badaun. He was to report at the

place of posting and after reporting at the place of posting, he

should have asked for transfer, if permissible, according to the

requirement of the State. But he could not have dictated the place

of posting without even joining the place where he was first posted.

Therefore, we find that the orders of the High Court dated

05.03.2020 and 07.08.2019 are wholly unjustified, unwarranted,

arbitrary and illegal. The same are set aside and the appeal is

allowed with no order as to costs.

………………………………………J.

(SANJAY KISHAN KAUL)

………………………………………J.

(HEMANT GUPTA)

NEW DELHI;

JULY 9, 2021.

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