(Prayer: This Writ Petition is filed under Articles 226 of the Constitution of India praying to issue appropriate writ or order or direction, the order made by the Honorable Karnataka Administrative Tribunal in applications No.604/2012 dated 10.6.2014 and 12.3.2015 on Annex-A and B and allow the relief sought for in the same application and etc.
This Petition coming on for preliminary hearing this day, Jayant Patel J., passed the following:)
1. The present petition is directed against the order passed by the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as the Tribunal for the sake of brevity), whereby the majority decision is for rejection of the application for condonation of delay of 12 years and for dismissal of the application.
2. We have heard Mr.S.Narayan, learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner Mr.H.T.Narendra Prasad, learned AGA appearing for the respondents.
3. The contention raised on behalf of the petitioner is that the Judicial Member found that there is merit in the main petition and therefore delay deserves to be condoned. Whereas so far as the administrative Members are concerned, they have found that there is no explanation for the delay that too for such a long period of 11-12 years and therefore the delay does not deserve to be condoned. Ultimately since there was a majority decision, the application has been dismissed.
4. The learned Counsel contended that the Apex Court in the similar set of circumstances in its decision in case of A. Sagayanathan and Others Vs. Divisional Personal Officer, S.B.C. Division, Southern Railway, Bangalore, reported at 1991 AIR SCW 63, had found that the Tribunal ought not to have dismissed the matter on the ground of delay and therefore the Apex Court directed for consideration of the matter on merits. He submitted that similar view may be taken by this Court.
5. He also submitted that there are decisions of the Apex Court which lays down that if there is merit in the matter, the delay can be leniently viewed and the said aspect has not been properly considered by the Tribunal in major decision and hence this Court may consider in the present petition.
6. Whereas Mr.H.T. Narendra Prasad, learned AGA appearing for the respondents has supported the order passed by the Tribunal.
7. Be it recorded that it is an admitted position that the punishments were imposed upon the petitioner for withholding of the increment without future effect on 13.11.1995 as well as on 8.12.1995. It is also an admitted position that based on the said penalty imposed, he was not considered for promotion. However, the petitioner did not challenge the said decision and he preferred the appeal and the said appeal came to be dismissed in 1998. Even the petitioner did not challenge the said decision in appeal at the relevant point of time and he retired in the year 2011 and after the period of about one year in the year 2012 the grievance is raised in the present petition.
8. It is hardly required to be stated that the delay of such a long period of twelve years cannot be leniently viewed for the simple reason that the rights of the parties namely of the other co-employees must have been altered by the said period. Further there should be appropriate explanation for such a long period which may lead the forum to exercise the discretion for condonation of delay. It cannot be said as a general rule that if merit is found irrespective of the length of the period of delay, such delay should be condoned. The Tribunal (majority) has found that there is no satisfactory explanation at all for such a long period of 12 years delay and therefore under these circumstances, the discretion is exercised by the Tribunal not to condone the delay. Such exercise of discretion cannot be said to be perverse which may call for any interference in exercise of the power under Article 227 of the Constitution.
9. Apart from the above, we do not find that the view expressed by the Judicial Member on merits can be said to be fully correct for the simple reason that when it is a case of minor penalty of withholding of increment without future effect, the explanation was called for and the said explanation has been considered. Whether the reasons are recorded for consideration of the explanation or not cannot be the sole ground to conclude that the order for imposition of punishment is illegal, more particularly, when the appeal was preferred and the appellate authority had applied the mind and has not interfered with the order for imposition of punishment.
10. The another aspect is that in the order passed by the Judicial Member, there is no appropriate consideration on the aspects of explanation submitted for such a long delay of 12 years.
11. The decision upon which the reliance has been placed by the learned Counsel for the petitioner in case of A. Sagayanathan (supra) is of no help because it does not transpire from the said decision nor any material is produced before us to show that the fact situation in the present case were the same as were before the Apex Court. Further in the present case, the matter was for a delay of 12 years and on merits also, we do not find that the view taken by the Judicial Member could be said as fully correct. Under these circumstances, the said decision is of no help to the learned Counsel for the petitioner.
12. In view of the above, we find that the discretion exercised by the Tribunal for not to condone the delay by the majority decision would not call for any interference.
13. Hence the petition is meritless and therefore dismissed.