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Madan Lal Kharbanda Vs. Union of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectContempt of Court
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCriminal Appeal No. 37 of 1968
Judge
Reported in5(1969)DLT578
AppellantMadan Lal Kharbanda
RespondentUnion of India and ors.
Advocates: G.S. Vohra,; Niren Dev and; R.B. Nanak Chand, Advs
Cases Referred and Amar Chand v. Roshan Lal.
Excerpt:
.....to seniority position - whether delay caused by respondents in implementing assurances amounted to contempt of court - no undertaking given to court - respondents never intended to evade implementation of assurances - delay due to implementation of assurances does nto rest on willingness of respondents alone - held, petition dismissed and direction given to respondents to implement assurances as quick as possible. - - the respondents have without justification failed to honour their commitments made to this court. they have, thus overreached this court as well as the petitioner. the alleged failure to honour any undertaking thereforee, docs nto amount to contempt of court. it is well established that a breach of the terms of compromise by a party does nto amount to contempt of..........same date it was decided to give seniority to the petitioner and he has made eligible (or higher grade selection post of rs. 335-485 vide letter dated 19th april, 1965 at annexure r-2 to the reply of the respondents. thereforee, the letters, annexures '0' and 'p' to the writ petition were issued as admitted by the petitioner. (b) as per railway board's letter no. e. ng/63/pm/1/92, dated l5th/19th september, 1961, copy at annexure r-3 referred to by the petitioner himself in paragraph 13(e) of this petition the petitioner was to get only proforma fixation of pay for the period he remained under reversion, but no arrears of pay ware to be paid to him. such parforma fixation was made as per annexure r-3-a on 26th may, 1966 and was submitted to the accounts department for verification, but.....
Judgment:

I.D. Dua, C.J. and V.S. Deshpande, J.

(1) The petitioner has prayed that the respondents, who are the Officers of the Union of India, in charge of the Northern Railway, particularly, the Personnel Department of it may be committed for contempt of this Court. It is necessary to ?tate the circumstances in which the petition was filed so that it may be properly understood.

(2) The petitioner is a Draughtsman in the Northern Railway. He was selected and placed in the grade of Rs. 150-225 as per the Railway Board Letter No. 752-E/83/E-11 I dated I 1th August.1956 But the Railway Board issued antoher Circular No. E (NG)54/EM/113 dated 29th July, 1967 by which the selection made in the year 1956 was nullified and the draughtsman grade Rs. 150.00-225.00 in which the petitioner was placed, was classified as non-selection post. The petitioner challenged the action of the Railway Board in this Court by Cw 372-D of 1964, in which he prayed that he be restored to the seniority position which he held before the reversion order which should be quashed. The petitioner has explicity pleaded in para 11 of the present petition that the above writ petition was compromised on 19th April. 1956 on the respondents conceding the petitioner's case. Therein, the learned counsel for the respondents made the following statement in Court :-

'THErespondents agree that the petitioner be assigned seniority amongst the draftsmen Drawing Officer (Mechanical) Grade Rs. 205.00- 380.00 (Authorised Scale) on the basis of the result of the Provosional Selecton held in August, 1956 for the past of draftsman The petitioner has been called for selection for the post of draftsman Rs. 335.00- 485 (Authorised Scale) in the basis of the revised seniority position, referred to above, the toher benefits ensuing as a result of revision of his seniority position will be examined separetely. Ro & Ac April 19, 1965. sd/-H.R. Khanna Judge'

Thereafter, the counsel for the petitioner male the following Statement 'In view of the above statement of Mr. Nank Chand the petition is nto pressed. I, however, state that the petitioner has nto so far recieved intimation with regard to his having been called for the selection for the post of draftsman. Ro & Ac April 19, 1965. sd/- H R. Khanna Judge'

(3) It was only because of the undertaking given by the counsel for the respondents that the counsel for the petitoner did nto press the writ petition. But for that he would have pressed it and would have urged on the Court to issue an appropriate writ or direction to the respondent. If the under-taking given by the respondents would have been honoured, the petitioner would have derived the following benefits: (a) Assigning of higher Seniority position in the grade of Rs. 150-2-'5 (P.S.)/205-380-(A.S.) on the basil of the selection of August, 1956 for the post of D/men. (b) payment of arrears, arising out of the difference of my in scale of Rs.205.00/380.00 (AS) and Rs. 150-240(AS) for the period from 31st January, 1950 to 18th July, 1961. The petitioner remained under reversion from the grade Rs.205-380(AS) to Rs 150-240(AS), due to wrong interpretation of the Railway Board's letter aforesaid. (c) Review of the petitioner's position in the selection for the post of Head D/man ingrade Rs,335/485 (AS) held, vide No 347-E127 Elic. dated 23rd March, l061, which becomes necessary, due to his revised seniority position in grade Rs.205-380(AS). (d) Confirmation in grade Rs.205-380(AS)eonfir nation in grade Rs-335-485, Provided the petitioner is declared selected in grade Rs. 335-485, as a result of the review of selection, held, vide letter, dated 23rd March, 1961 aforesaid. (e) proforma fixation of pay in the scale Rs 205-380 in terms of Railway Board's letter No.E(NG)63MPI/62 dated 15/17-9-64 and 23.6.67. (f) Proforma fixation of pay in the scale of Rs.335-485(AS) also if the petitioner is selected as a result of the review of his selection in the grade Rs.335-485, held vide letter dated 23.3.61, aforesaid, in terms of Railway Board's letter, dated 15/17.9.64 and 23rd March, 1967 qutoed above.

(4) The respondents granted only two reliefs viz. those containing in Clauses (a) and (c) above to the petitioner on 20th April. 19 -5 and 9th March, 1966 vide letter marked as Annexure '0' and 'P' respectively to the petition. Though the letters at annexures '0' and 'P' stated that the petitioner has been assigned his due seniority on the basis of selection held in August, 1956, yet so far he has nto been intimated his correct position in the seniority list. The petitioner sent numerous representations to the respondents, but gto no reply from them regaring the toher reliefs. The respondents have without justification failed to honour their commitments made to this Court. They have, thus overreached this Court as well as the petitioner. They, may, thereforee, be committed for contempt.

(5) In defense, the respondents first urged the following preliminary objections: (1) That the statement of charge has nto been verified and hence no rule can be issued to the respondents. (2) That the petition for contempt is nto supported by affidavit as required by law. (3) Contempt proceedings cannto be initiated against the Union of India or its Officers merely by designation of their posts. (4) The order in question is an order based on a compromise between the parties and is as follows :-

'THEparties have entered into a compromise and statement of their learned counsel have been recorded. In view of the compromise, the petition is nto being pressed and as such is dismissed.'

No undertaking was given to the Court. The alleged failure to honour any undertaking thereforee, docs nto amount to contempt of Court. On merits the respondents joined issues with the petitioner and replied as follows to the claims of the petitioner regarding the six benefits which according to him would have accrued to him if the undertaking given by the respondents had been honoured. (a) ' The statements were recorded on 19th April, 1965 by this Court and on the same date it was decided to give seniority to the petitioner and he has made eligible (or higher grade selection post of Rs. 335-485 vide letter dated 19th April, 1965 at annexure R-2 to the reply of the respondents. thereforee, the letters, annexures '0' and 'P' to the writ petition were Issued as admitted by the petitioner. (b) As per Railway Board's letter No. E. NG/63/PM/1/92, dated l5th/19th September, 1961, copy at annexure R-3 referred to by the petitioner himself in paragraph 13(e) of this petition the petitioner was to get only proforma fixation of pay for the period he remained under reversion, but no arrears of pay ware to be paid to him. Such parforma fixation was made as per Annexure R-3-A on 26th May, 1966 and was submitted to the Accounts Department for verification, but the Accounts Department returned the same unverified on the ground that the proposed proforma fixation violated Railway Board's Circular referred to above at Annexure R.3. (c) The seniority of petitioner was reviewed on 9th March, 1966 as per Annexure R.4 and his name was interpolated with candidate Nos. 2 and 3 in the list of selected candidates copy at Annexure R-5. This answers the petitioner's contention that his exact position according to seniority had nto been made known to him. (d) It has nto been possible to finalise the contirmation of the petitioner along with 53 toher persons as the Rules require objections to be invited from the Unions and toher staff. As the petitioner had nto completed one years continuous service in the grade after issue of ntoice dated 9th March, 1966. he was nto eligible for confirmation against one permanent vacancy which occurred on 21st September, 1966. Shri Nand Lal Singhal, who had completed one year's continuous service Was confirmed in the said vacancy. Antoher vacancy was, however, kept reserved for the petitioner. The performa fixation of pay has already been, made, but could nto be finalised in view of the objections of the Accounts Department and toher unavoidable reasons.

(6) The respondents never intended to evade the implementation of the assurances given by them to the petitioner. The implementation is being continuously attended to. In the meanwhile the correctness of the award of the seniority to the petitioner was challenged by some toher employees. The following Writ Petitions in each of which the petitioner was imp leaded as a respondent were filed by the dissatisfied employees against the Railway Board's decision : Cw No. 1494/67 Sh. Devinder Singh v. Uoi and Madan Lal Kharbanda-In the Delhi High Court on October, 1967 Cw No. 692/68 Sh. Ghansham Dass v. Uoi and Madan Lal Kharbanda- In the Delhi High Court-on 30th August, 1968. Cw No. 500/68 Shri Amar Nath Tandon v. Uoi and Madan Lal Kharbanda- In the High Court of Delhi-on 26th June, 1968 Cw No. 457/68 Shri Pukhraj Nagar v. Uoi and Madan Lal-In the Rajasthan High Court on 25th June, 1968. In the last writ petition a stay order was issued against the Railway Administration.

(7) A perusal of the pleadings of the parties would show that the petitioner himself and the Court btoh regarded the disposal of the Writ Petition as being by way of a compromise. It is well established that a breach of the terms of compromise by a party does nto amount to contempt of Court, as the undertaking is given by' one party to antoher and nto to the Court Bukhtiar pur Bihar Light Railway Company Ltd. v. State of Bihar, following Nisha Kanto v. Saroj Bashini, and Amar Chand v. Roshan Lal.

(8) Even if it is assumed for the sake of argument that the undertaking by the respondent was given to the Court, the question or contempt of Court could arise only if the respondents give the undertaking merely to evade the issue of a writ or direction by the Court against them to overreach the Court and the petitioner without intending to honour the undertaking or if the respondents willfully neglected or deliberately abstained from the performance of the undertaking. Neither of these conditions is fulfillled in the present case. The respondents have been ctoinuously taking stepa to fulfill the assurances given by them. It is true that the respondents have been handicapped partly by the red-taps prevailing in the office and partly by the fact that the implementation of the assurances does nto rest on the willingness of the respondents alone to implement it toher employees who are rivals of the petitioner have also to be taken into account and some of them have actually filed rival claims with a view to prevent the implementation of the assurances given to the petitioner While we strongly deprecate the failure of the respondents to reply to the numerous letters addressed by the petitioner to the respondents and also the exasperating delay on the part of the respondents to reply to the present petition filed by the petitioner, we cannto merely for those reasons hold that the respondents have committed any contempt at all. In this connection we may refer to the recent decision of the Supreme Court in S. G. Jaisinghani V. Union of India, in C Misc. No. 1623 of 1958 decided on 6th November, 1968 by a bench of five judges. The petitioner had complained that the direction which had been given by the Court in favor of the petitioner in C A. No 1083 of 1965 was nto implemented by the Union of India. The Supreme Court's order required the examination of hundreds of cases and readjustment of those cases in the light of the brief directions given by the Court. A list was prepared showing the seniority inter se between the petitioner and toher rival candidates. The petitioner challenged the fixation of the seniority indirectly by stating that the mandamus which had been issued by the Court was nto properly implement' d and that there was a deliberate avoidance of the orders of the Court. In toher words, the process of contempt was being used to avoid the orders of the Government by showing them to be contempt of Court, The Court repelled the contention of the petitioner and stated that the case was nto one of contempt at all. The Government has attempted to do what it honestly thought was the implementation, of the orders of the Court. 'It may be that in some ways the; Government has committed some mistake, as it was bound to. when it attempted to adjust the seniority among hundreds of Government servants over a period of years. Even if these errors are there, there should be some toher method of getting these errors rectified. In our opinion, the proceedings of contempt are wholly inappropriate for correcting errors which might have occurred in some eventuality. We have found no, deliberate avoidance of the orders of this Court. If there is any errors it should be corrected either by departmental action or by some toher appropriate proceedings. We are nto inclined to take any action under the law of contempt against the several Officers who have been made respondents in these cases'. The above observations substantially apply to the case before us and we respectfully follow the same.

(9) We, however, would like to warn the respondents that they have taken an unduly long time in implementing the assurances given to the petitioner. Unless they continue the process of implementation as quickly as possible keeping in view the objections by the rivals of the of the petitioner, some of which have filed proceedings in a Court of law the bona fides of the respondents would be open to dispute and if the delay exceeds reasonable limits, the petitioner would be entitled to take appropriate steps to procure the implementation of the assurances in an appropriate manner.

(10) With these observations we dismiss the petition, but without costs.


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