1. The facts leading to writ Appeal No. 17 of 1969 are : The anagement of the Singareni Collieries Co. Ltd. Kothagudem filed a single writ petition against eight of its workers for quashing the sommon order of the Industrial Tribunal, refusing to approve the dismissal orders passed by the management against its workers. The Office raised an objection that a single writ petition was not maintainable to quash the order of the Industrial Tribunal, although common, passed on eight separate applications filed by the management against its workers. The petition was heard by ourearned brother Sambasiva Rao, J., who held that a single writ petition questioning the order in all the eight miscellaneous petitions, though all of them were disposed of by a common order would not lie. It is against he order of our learned brother that the writ petitioner has come up in appeal.
2. In W.P. No. 140 of 1967 a preliminary objection was raised to the effect that because the proceedings against different tenants were commenced by separate applications before the Tenancy Deputy Tahsildar, Kavali, the tenants petitioners could not file a single writ petition though their cases were tried together and disposed of by a common order by the Tenancy Deputy Tahsildar and then separate Appeals against the common were order also disposed of by a common order by the Revenue Divisional Officer, Separate writ petitions should have been filed and the writ petition, as now filed was not maintainable, One of the tenants also filed a revision petition to this Court against the order of the Revenus Divisional Officer (C.R.P. 46 of 1966). After a discussion of all the cases, cited before him, our learned brother Madhav Reddy, J., in W.P. No. 140 of 1967 and C.R.P. No. 46 of 1967, held that-
In hearing a single writ petition, in such a case as this, I do not think that there in anything in the nature and scope of the writ proceedings which necessitates the filing of separate writ petition against each of the respondents.
3. After expressing the above view, the learned Judge, felt that since the matter was of general importance and frequently arises for consideration and there was no authoritative pronouncement of law on that point, the matter should be referred to a Division Bench. Accordingly all the above writ petitions, writ appeal and C.R.P. which give rise to the following common contention have come up before this Bench.
4. The common questions that arise in the above writ petitions and writ appeal are-
1. Whether a single writ petition is maintainable at the instance of several petitioners when a common question of law or fact is involved and the petitioners are jointly interested in the cause of action ?
2. Whether a single writ petition filed by a petitioner against several respondents is maintainable for quashing a common order passed against several persons, when a common question of law or fact is involved and those persons are jointly interested in the subject-matter under dispute ?
At the outset it may be stated that though rules have been framed, by virtue of the powers vested under Article 225 of the Constitution regulating the proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution, those rules do not provide as to who may be joined as petitioners and as to who may be joined as respondents in a single writ petition. However, statutory rules made in this behalf do not prohibit the filing of a single writ petition by several petitioners against a respondent or by a petitioner against several respondents when it involves a common question of law or fact and is directed against a common order.
5. Under Order I, Rule 1 C.P.C. in order to enable several persons to join in one suit as plaintiffs, two conditions must be fulfilled and they are-(1) right to relief must arise out of the same act or transaction and (2) the matter must be such that if plaintiffs brought separate suits common question of fact of law would arise. Similarly under Order 1, Rule 3, C.P.C. all persons may be joined as defendants against whom any right to relief arises out of the same act or transaction whether jointly, severally or in the alternative and when if separate suits were brought common question of fact or law would arise. Following those rules, which govern civil suits, can a writ petition be filed by several petitioners against a respondent or by a single petitioner against several respondents, when the cause of action or right to relief arises out of the same act or transaction and if separate suits were brought common question of fact or law would arise. The answer to this question depends on the answer that is to be given to the question whether writ petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution are civil proceedings and if so whether all the provisions of the C.P.C. are applicable to such proceedings.
6. It is, therefore, necessary, to know the nature of the writ proceedings filed under Article 226 of the Constitution. The question as to the nature of the writ proceedings and the applicability of the provisions of the C.P.C. to the writ proceedings has come up for consideration before this Court in the following cases the first one is in re Atmakuri Gopalakrishna Rao A.I.R. 1957 A.P. 88,1957 : (1) An. W.R. 130. In that case 10 rise mill owners separately applied to the Collector for renewal of their individual licences. The Collector called upon each of them to pay an additional deposit pf Rs. 300, Aggrieved by those orders the rice mill owners in a joint writ petition filed by them before the High Court, questioned the legality of the orders passed by the Collector and prayed for the issue of a writ of mandamus directing the Collector not to collect additional deposits, Kutnarayya, J. (as he then was) in a considered judgment held that such a petition was against the rule and accordingly directed that the petition be treated as one application about one impugned order against one particular petitioner. In coming to that conclusion the learned Judge observed:
It is correct to state that such a writ petition is a civil proceeding and the jurisdiction of this Court in this behalf is original as distinguished from the appellate or revisional jurisdiction and it is summary in nature.
Provisions of Civil Procedure Code are no doubt available to such proceedings but only as fat as they are consistent with the nature and scope of the proceedings and general, principles guiding such writs.
7. I am, therefore, not prepared to hold that principles of Order I, Rule 1, of Order I, Rule 8, C.P.C. must be extended to such petitions.
8. The learned Judge further held that-
Two or more persons cannot join in a single. petition for a writ of mandamus to enforce separate claims. There must be separate applications for separate writs...This rule is warranted by the nature of the writ proceedings and is calculated to remove of great inconvenience which might otherwise result in issuing several writs, orders or directions in the nature of writ on a single omnibus petition relating to rights of several persons affected by distinct or separate orders. It is not open to him to join in this petition other person or persons affected by similar orders for they too have a remedy open to them and the quashing of one order does not necessarily render the other order null and void. The case, however, may be different where a common, or class injury is done by some common order or orders.
9. After referring to the decisions in Inder Singh v. State of Rajasthan ; Mandtr Thakar Daw Rao v. State of Pepsu A.I.R. 1655 Pepsu. 159. Md. Ebrahim v. Dy. Commercial Tax Officer A.I.R. 1956 Mad. 626, Manindta Nath v. Baranagore Municipality : AIR1956Cal291 . United Motors (India) Ltd. v. State of Bombay, 55 Bom. Law Reporter 246, the learned Judge held that the general rule that there should be a separate petition for a separate writ, was a rule of practical convenience warranted by the nature of the proceedings.
10. This question next came up for consideration before a Division Bench of this Court in Annam Adinarayana v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1957) II An. W.R. 345. In that case two Government servants, who were dismissed from service pursuant to the instructions given by the Government to the Collector, jointly filed a single writ petition for quashing the common order of termination of their service. The Division Bench of this Court consisting of SubbaRao, C.J. (as he then was) and Srinivasachary, J., held that the petitioners were aggrieved by a single act of the Collector and a common question of law and fact arose and, therefore, a single application was maintainable.
11. The learned Judges further observed that:
A proceeding under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is a proceeding in Civil Court of jurisdiction.
While accepting the principles laid down by Komarayya, J., in in re AtmakurtGopalakrishna Rao A.I.R. 1957 A.P. 88, the Division Bench held that the same principles could be worked out within the frame work of the relevent provisions of C.P.C. In regard to the maintainability of a single petition by several petitioners, the Division Bench held that if the claim made by all the petitioners was the same one consolidated application was maintainable. In the end the learned Chief Justice speaking for the Bench summarised the legal position thus:
An application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is a proceeding In a Court of Civil Jurisdiction. The provisions of Orders 1 and 2 can be invoked as far as they can be made applicable to the proceedings in a writ application under Article 226. Ordinarily two or more persons cannot join in a single petition to enforce separate claims. But where the right to relief arises from the same act or transaction and there is a common question of law or fact or where though the right to relief claimed does not arise from the same act or transaction, the petitioners are jointly interested in the causes of action one petition is maintainable at their instance.
12. In Tobacco Merchants Association v. Market Committee (1957) II An. W.R. 250 Jaganmohan Reddy, J., (as he then was) held that:
The fact that similar orders are passed in the case of other individuals by the same officer or authority does not entitle all of them to job together in seeking an appropriate writ. The provisions of Order 1, Rule 8 C.P.C. do not apply to the writ petitions.
13. Similar question came up before Seshachalapathi, J. in Bhagvantha Reddy v. R.D.O., Guntur 1963 (I) An. W.R. 54. Before the learned Judge, the counsel appearing for the party respondent contended that the writ petition was liable to be dismissed in limine as the 14 petitioners had different, causes of action and a single writ petition, therefore, was not maintainable. The learned Judge observed that he was unable to assent to that contention and in the circumstances of the case held that the cases of 14 petitioners were almost identical and raised the same question of fact and law and, therefore, one single petition was maintainable.
14. That writ proceedings are proceedings in a Court of civil jurisdiction and that provisions of C.P.C. can be invoked as far as they can be made applicable to them and that a single writ petition can be filed at the instance of several petitioners against one respondent or more or by one petitioner against several respondents if the cause of action or the right to relief arises out of a common order and out of the same Act or transaction giving rise to a common question of fact of law is established by a long line of authorities. They are: Jaswant Sugar Mills Ltd. v.Sub. Divisional Magistrate : (1960)IILLJ373All , Jaswant Sugar Mill Ltd. v. Authority Under the Payment of Wages Act : AIR1962All77 , Shiv Singh and Ors. v. The State Transport Appellate Tribunal : AIR1969All14 , Qurabali v. Government of Rajasthan, , Chaman Motor Service v. The Appellate Authority of State Transport Authority A.I.R. 1957 Nag. 102, Khem Karn v. State of U.P. : AIR1966All255 and Chandrabhan Gasain v. State of Orissa 9 S.C. Notes. 104.
15. Thus on principle and authority one single writ petition can be filed (1) where the right to relief arises from the same Act or transaction involving a common question of law or fact, or (2) where, though the right to relief claimed does not arise from the same Act or transaction the petitioners, are jointly interested in the cause of action. But those who have got separate and distinct rights and similar orders have beenpassed against them cannot file a single writ petition.
16. It would not be out of place to say that the legal position summarised by Subbarao, C.J. in Annam Adinarayana v. State of Andhra Pradesh 1957 (II) An. W.R. 345, is in the opinion of the learned author H; M. Seervai on Constitutional Law of India, the correct exposition of law on the point.
17. As against the above decisions relied upon by the learned Counsel Srinrvasa Murthy, Subba Reddy, Rama Rao, Hamid Bin Shabbir and others, in support of the opinion expressed by our learned brother Ramchandra Rao, J., the learned Counsel Sri M.V. Ramana Reddy and others relied upon an equally large number of cases in support of the view expressed by our learned brother Sambasiva Rao, J. The main contention of the learned Government pleader and in counsel Sri M.V. Ramana Reddy was that even though several appeals were disposed of by a single appellate order, in reality the appellate order consisted of as many orders as there were appeals disposed of thereby. The learned Counsel tried to impress upon us that there was some difference between a common order and a single order. In hit opinion a common order disposing of several appeals should be treated as severalindependent orders combined into one. According to him a common order could not be equated with a single order. And, therefore, even when large number of cases, concerning with several persons are disposed of by a common order, still one writ cannot be filed by the aggrieved persons, because such a common order should be considered as several distinct and separate orders combined into one. In support of this proposition the learned Counsel relied upon the decision of the Supreme Court in Cumbum Roadways Ltd. v. Somu Transport Ltd. : 3SCR7 . The most important case relied upon by the learned Counsel Sri M.V. Ramana Reddy in support of his contention was the decision of this Court in in re Atmakuri Gopalakrishna Rao A.I.R. 1957 A.P. 88. In that very case, which is strongly relied upon by the learned Counsel, observations were made by the learned Judge Komarayya, J. that-
the case may be different where a common or class injury is done by some common order or orders.
According to the learned Judge, if common injury is caused to several persons by a common order, it is open to all the persons aggrieved to file a single writ petition. Therefore, the above case cannot be said to have laid down an absolute rule that several persons cannot join in a single writ petition.
18. We will briefly consider the other cases relied upon by the learned Counsel Sri M.V. Ramana Reddy. The first case is Manindra Nath v. Baranagore Municipality : AIR1956Cal291 . In that case a single Judge of the Calcutta High Court held that-
Where mandamus is sought by several rate papers having different causes of action to compel a municipality to supply scheduled quantity of water for domestic purposes it would be sufficient to follow analogously the provisions of Order 1 Civil Procedure Code.
19. Those observations made by the learned Judge indicate that when the cause of action is one and not different causes of action, then there would be no objection to the filing of a single writ petition.
20. In Khurlawala Buckles Manufacturing Co. v. Sales Tax Commissioner : AIR1965All517 , it was held that-
The provisions of Civil Procedure Code do not govern a proceeding under Article 226 of the Constitution and that a petition for certiorari for the quashing of two assessment orders pertaining to two assessment years, or one petition for quashing of two assessment orders under two different taxing statutes, even though the assessee is the same and the assessing authority is the same, cannot be entertained.
These observations made by a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court cannot be said to be correct, in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in Chandra Bhan Gasain v.State of Orissa (supra) The latter case originated out of a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution challenging the validity of the various assessment orders. The Court held that abviously there was only one proceeding and it could not be said that there were as many proceedings as there were assessment orders and the petitioner had challenged them altogether. When an appeal was taken in such a case from the judgment of the High Court, theirLordships observed that it was impossible to contend that there were more appeals than one. With those observations the Supreme Court held that one set of Court fee and other charges as in a single appeal was sufficient.
21. In Bishwaranjan v. Secretary, Ramakrishna Mission A.I.R. 1958 Patna 633. a Division Bench of the Patna High Court held that-'Separate applications must be made for the issue of separate writs to quash separate orders. There is no dispute about this proposition at all. What we are concerned with is, whether one single writ petition lies for challenging the correctness of a common order disposing of several appeals. Separate orders no doubt cannot be challenged by a single writ petition. No doubt in Indersingh v. State of Rajas than the Rajasthan High Court held that it was not proper for several petitioners to file a single petition under Article 226, although same questions of law and fact vrere involved. But the same Rajasthan High Court in a later case in Qurabali v. Govt. of Rajasthan , has taken a different view on the matter. Thus two conflicting opinions have been expressed by the Rajasthan High Court on this point.
22. The Gujrat High Court in Amashand v. Anandlal : AIR1962Guj21 the Punjab High Court in Revenue Patwaris Union v. State of Punjab A.I.R. 1967 Pun, 55, and the Himachal Pradesh High Court in Dasu Ram v. Union of India , held that the general rule, was that two or more persons cannot join in a single writ petition for a writ of mandamus to enforce separate claims or to challenge the validity of separate orders. In coming to that conclusion all the above three High Courts relied upon the decision of the Madras High Court in MD. Ibrahim v. Deputy Commercial Tax Officer A.I R. 1956 Mad. 626 and of our Court in in re Atmakuri Gopalakrlshna Rao A.I.R. 1957 A.P. 88. The Gujrat High Court in Amachandv. Anandial A.I.R. 1952 Guj. 21 came to the above conclusion by applying the rule framed by the Bombay High Court regulating the procedure for the filing of writs. It has already been stated above, that no rules have been framed by our High Court in this behalf. Neither in Dasu Ram v. Union of India (supra), nor in Revenue Patwaris Union v. State of Punjab (supra), do we find a discussion on this question, which throws sufficient light, one way or the other. We are, therefore, unable to rely upon those rulings.
23. The Mysore High Court in Mount Corporation y. Director of Industries and Commerce A.I.R. 1965 Mys. 143 expressed its fullagreement with the view taken by the Madras High Court in Management of Rain Bow Dyeing Factory v. Industrial Tribunal : AIR1959Mad137 . The view taken by the Madras High Court in that case is-
Persons having common and joint interest in the subject-matter of controversy may be joined as petitioners in one writ petition while others having separate and distinct rights cannot.
From the above discussion it follows that there is a long line of authorities which shows that a single writ petition can be filed by several petitioners if the matter arises out of same Act or transaction involving common question of law or fact. Even in cases where a different view has been taken there are observations to the effect that separate writ petitions have to be filed only by persons having similar but wholly separate and distinct interests in the subject-matter of controversy.
24. It may also be observed here that the decision of our Court in Annam Adinarayam v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1957) II An. W.R. 345, is binding on us. That decision is also in accordance with the view expressed by the Supreme Court in Chandra Bhan Gasain v. State of Orissa 9. S.C. Notes 104. a the present context, there is, in our view, no force in the arguments advanced by the learned Counsel that a common order should be considered as consisting of several distinct orders. The observations made by the Supreme Court in Devendra Pratap v. State of U.P. A.I.R. 1962 S.C. 133, should be considered in the context in which those observations were made, in particular facts of the case.
25. Thus we find that writ proceedings are proceedings in a Civil Court and that only the provisions of C.P.C. which can be conveniently applied, will apply to writ proceedings. There is preponderance of judicial opinion in favour of maintainability of a single writ petition at the instance of several petitioners, when the cause of action arises out of the same act or transaction giving rise to a common question of law or fact and out of a common order. Similarly a single writ petition can be filed by a petitioner against several respondents, if the right to relief arises out of same Act or transaction giving rise to common question of law or fact and out of a common order. It is only in cases where there are distinct and different causes of action and those cases are disposed of by similar, but separate orders, a single writ petition cannot be filed. In such cases, as many writ petitions have to be filed as the number of petitioners. Piling of a single writ petition by several persons or by a petitioner against several respondents, in the circumstances stated above, is only a practical rule of convenience. We, therefore, hold that the above single writ petitions are maintainable, in law. There is no legal flaw in those petitions which necessitates their rejection in limini.
26. Since the above writ petitions do come within principles stated above we do not find any necessity to state and discuss the facts of each of those cases in this order.
27. We, therefore, allow W.A. 17 of 1969 and set aside the order of our learned brother Sambasiva Rao, J, and hold that the petition as framed is maintainable, in law. We also overrule the preliminary objection raised in the above writ petitions that they are not maintainable, in law. In the circumstances, we make no order as to costs. All these cases may now be listed before a single judge.