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P.M. John Vs. Divisional Manager, Life Insurance Corporation of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectService
CourtKerala High Court
Decided On
Case NumberO.P. No. 399 of 1958
Judge
Reported inAIR1960Ker251
ActsConstitution of India - Article 226; Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 - Sections 11(1)
AppellantP.M. John
RespondentDivisional Manager, Life Insurance Corporation of India and ors.
Appellant Advocate T.N. Subramania Iyer,; S. Subramania Iyer and; P.R. Bala
Respondent Advocate V.K.K. Menon and; P.K. Kurien, Advs.
DispositionPetition dismissed
Cases ReferredKiron Chandra v. General Manager
Excerpt:
.....of constitution of india and section 11 (1) of life insurance act, 1956 - petitioner working as divisional manager of insurance company - after nationalization petitioner appointed to post of 'inspector of agencies' and later 'field officer' - petition for quashing of such appointment - effective writ can be issued only to corporation which is not legally represented in present petition - writ cannot be issued outside territorial limits of jurisdiction - preliminary objection upheld - no writ can be issued in favour of petitioner as against respondent - petition liable to be dismissed. - - it seems to me that the objection is well-founded and must prevail. clearly, therefore, the corporation is not represented in this petition. r-4 defines the category of field offcers so as to..........limits of the jurisdiction of the then travancore-cochin high court, was not amenable to a writ issued by that court. this, was on the principle that there could be no agency in the matter or the commission of a wrong. but in that case on-an examination of the relevant statutes, the supreme court found, that respondent 1 had 'considerable powers conferred upon him in the conduct of the investigation and even though he could be called a mere arm of the commission or an authorised agent of the commission he has important functions to discharge, and is not merely a mouthpiece of the commission or a conduit-pipe trasmitting the orders or the directions of the commission'.the court further observed, that'he is, no doubt, under the general control and supervision of the commission, but.....
Judgment:

S. Velu Pillai, J.

1. The Petitioner was employed as the Divisional Manager of Prithvi Insurance Co., Ltd. and Asiatic Government Security Lite and General Assurance Co., Ltd. When life insurance business was nationalised, the petitioner continued to be employed by the Life Insurance Corporation of India, which may be referred to as the Corporation. Thereafter, the petitioner was required by a communication, Ext. P-9, dated the 23rd September, 1957. signed by the Divisional Manager, Trivandrum Division, to work as an Inspector of Agencies and later, by another communication, Ext. P-10, dated the 4th February, 1958, also signed by the Divisional Manager, as a Field Officer.

The petitioner's complaint is, that the terms and conditions of his service with the former Insurance Companies as Divisional Manager, which were guaranteed by Sections 11(1) of The Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956, or simply the Act, have thereby been altered to his disadvantage, and he therefore seeks a writ of mandamus or other appropriate writ, direction or order 'to assign... his legitimate place in the Corporation ..... with due reference to the post he was holding on the date on which the business of the Company, in which he was working, was assumed by the Corporation and to quash Ext. P-9, order, by a writ of certiorari or appropriate writ.'

The respondents to this petition are, first, the Divisional Manager, Corporation, Trivandrura impleaded as the representative of the Corporation and as Divisional Manager, second, the Assistant Divisional Manager, impleaded also as representing the Corporation and the Divisional Office, and the third, the Branch Manager at the Branch Office, Kottayam.

2. A preliminary objection to this petition was raised on behalf of the respondents, which is two-fold first, that an effective writ can issue only to the Corporation, which is not legally represented in this petition, respondents 1 and 2 being incompetent to represent it and that such a writ cannot issue from this court to Bombay, outside the territorial limits of its jurisdiction, where the Head Office of the Corporation is situated, and secondly, that no such writ can issue as against any of the respondents, for if issued, it will not bind the Corporation, that further, Ext. P-9 stands surperseded by Ext. P-10 and both of them are but communications by the Divisional Manager, assigning to the petitioner his proper place and fixing his terms and conditions of service by virtue of Regulations passed by Government and the Corporation under proper statutory authority, and that the Divisional Manager was but the mouthpiece of the Corporation, and its arm in carrying out its behests. It seems to me that the objection is well-founded and must prevail.

3. The Corporation was established by Sections 3(1) of the Act, and by virtue of Sections 3(2) thereof, it is a body corporate and 'may by its name ssue and be sued.' Apart from any other provision, ordinarily the Corporation has to he sued in its own name. Life Insurance Corporation Regulations, 1956 were passed, by which as provided by the Act, an Executive Committee was formed Regulation 17 (vi) provided, that the Executive Committee

'may institute, conduct, defend.. ..any legal proceedings by or against the Corporation or its Officers ......-'

Under Regulation 31, the Executive Committee may delegate any of its powers to the Zonal Manager in relation to matters within the concerned Zonal Office. The Zonal Manager is a statutory authority who owes his existence to Sections 22(1) of the Act. Under Regulation 31-A the Zonal Manager, may conduct, defend and represent the Cropora-tion in all proceedings against it in the courts situate within the Zone. The State of Kerala is within the Southern Zone with the Zonal Office at Madras. My attention was not drawn to any provision in the Act, or Rules, or Regulations, authorising a Divisional Manager, to represent the Corporation in any court within the Division, over which he exercises administrative control. Clearly, therefore, the Corporation is not represented in this petition.

The analogy with Section 20, Explanation 11 of the Civil Procedure Code, on which some reliance was placed, does not arise, as the Corporation as such has not been impleaded in this petition, either by name or by its authorised representative. The further contention, that the Corporation being situate outside the territorial jurisdiction of this court, cannot be affected by any writ which may be issued, receives support from two decisions of the Punjab High Court in Duggal v. The Life Insurance Corporation of India, Civil Writ No. 360 of 1958 and Kirpal Singh Bondi y. The Life Insurances Corporation of India, Civil Writ No. 1134 of 1958, certified copies of the orders passed, being produced before me.

In these cases, though the Corporation, the concerned Zonal Manager, and others were impleaded, the writ was refused, as that High Court had no jurisdiction to issue writs, to operate on the Head Office of the Corporation at Bombay, outside its jurisdiction. There is no reason to think, that similar rule should not apply in the present case. On both these grounds, the first part of the preliminary objection must prevail.

4. It was then contended, that Exts. P-9 and P-10 having been issued by the Divisional Manager, the petitioner can have a remedy at least against the respondents. Ext P-9 stands superseded by Ext. P-10 and the learned counsel for the respondents stated, that if all that the petitioner wants is a cancellation of Ext. P-9 this may be done, but then it will, be meaningless to do so in the context of Ext. P-10, and in the absence of proper representation. It is plain, that without a cancellation of Ext. P-10 the petitioner can derive no adequate relief, and it would he meaningless and futile to issue a writ, as if for his own sake, quashing Ext. P-9, and I desist from doing so.

As stated in the petitioner's affidavit, Ext. P-10 was issued in accordance with Ext. R-4, being the Insurance Corporation Field Officers' (Alteration of Remuneration and Other Terms and Conditions of Service) Order. 1957 dated the 30th December, 1957, issued by the Central Government, in purported pursuance of Sections 11(2) of the Act, as amended by the Life Insurance Corporation (Amendment) Act, 1957 (Act 17 of 1957). The petitioner has a contention, that Ext. R-4 is ultravires, being in contravention of the prescriptions in Sections 11(2) of the Act, but this does not arise for the purpose of disposing of the preliminary objection. Ext. R-4 defines the category of Field Offcers so as to include an Officer like the petitioner, and prescribes the duties of Field Officers in general, and the scales of pay and other conditions of service for that category. The actual fixation of pay and allowances for a particular Officer of this category has to be made in accordance with 'such principles as may be laid down by the Corporation bv Regulations made in this behalf under Section 49 of the Act.'

5. Accordingly the Corporation framed Fxt. R-6, Life Insurance Corporation of India (Fixation of Pay and Allowances of Field Officers) Regulations, 1958 formulating the principles tor fixing the pay and allowances of Field Officers. It was contended for the respondents, that Ext. P-10 was but a communication addressed to the petitioner intimating him his position as settled in terms of Exts. R-4 and Rule 6. Though paragraph 22 of the respondents' counter-affidavit relied on Exts. R-4 and Rule 6 as the basis of Ext. P-10, there was no answer with respect to Ext. R. 6 in paragraph 15 of the petitioner's affidavit in reply. In the affidavit in support of the petition, Exts. P-9 and P-10 were referred to generally, as having been issued by the first respondent, or by the third respondent at the instance of the former.

It may be remembered, that the first respondent was impleaded as representing the Corporation, though ineffectually, and in his capacity as Divisional Manager. The petitioner had no case in the affidavit, that Exts. P. 9 and P. 10 were issued by the first respondent in the latter capacity as distinguished from the former. On the contrary, the respondent's case is, that the Divisional Manager acted only as the conduit-pipe of the Corooration in transmitting the information covered by Exts. P-9 and P-10, and that at best, he had thereby applied only the principles and provisions of Exts. R-4 and H. 6 to the petitioner's case.

The petitioner's complaint was not, that the Divisional Manager acted erroneously in applying them to his case, but was, that Exts. R-4 and R-G themselves were illegal and ultra vires and had deprived him of the statutory guarantee under Sections 11(2) of the Act. and this was the ground on which the writ was sought. In these circumstances I am of opinion, that a writ cannot be ordered to issue against the respondents, as it would be quite ineffectual. In the words of the Punjab High Court in Civil Writ No. 360 of 1958 (Funj)

'neither of them (the Zonal and the Divisional Manager of the Corporation who weye impleaded) can possibly obey any direction given by this court, restoring the petitioner to the rank and status which he claims'.

6. Reliance was placed on A. Thangal Kunju Musaliar v. M. Venkatachalam Potti, (S) AIR 1956 SC. 246 where a writ of prohibition was issued against respondent 1 therein who was the authorised Official in the former State of Travancore-Cochin and derived his appointment from the Indian Income-tax Investigation Commission, respondent 2 therein who by reason of his situation outside the territorial limits of the jurisdiction of the then Travancore-Cochin High Court, was not amenable to a writ issued by that court. This, was on the principle that there could be no agency in the matter or the commission of a wrong. But in that case on-an examination of the relevant statutes, the Supreme Court found, that respondent 1 had

'considerable powers conferred upon him in the conduct of the investigation and even though he could be called a mere arm of the Commission or an authorised agent of the Commission he has important functions to discharge, and is not merely a mouthpiece of the Commission or a conduit-pipe trasmitting the orders or the directions of the Commission'.

The court further observed, that

'he is, no doubt, under the general control and supervision of the Commission, but he perform the various functions assigned to him on his own initiative and in the exercise of his discretion. If, therefore, he does anything in the discharge of his functions as Authorised Official, which is not authorised by kw or is violative of the fundamental rights of the2 petitioner, he would be amenable to the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226''.

There is no material in this case, except the fact that Exts. P-9 and P-10 are signed by the Divisional Manager, to indicate that he held a position similar to, or analogous with that occupied by the Authorised Official in Thangal Kunju Musaliar's case. (S) AIR 1956 SC 246. On this ground, that case was distinguished by the Assam High Court in Kiron Chandra v. General Manager, North Eastern Rly., AIR 1957 Assam 108, where the question arose, whether a writ could issue against the Regional Traffic Superintendent who was not shown to have had any hand in deciding the pay and promotion of the concerned Official, or to have acted as the agent of the General Manager of the Railway, within the meaning of the rule in the case before the Supreme Court. I therefore come to the conclusion, that no writ can issue in tavour of the petitioner as against any of the respondents.

7. Finally, it was urged, that this petitionmay be returned for presentation to the propercourt. I am not convinced, that this procedurecart be adopted in a case, like this. It seems tome, that the remedy of the petitioner is perhapsto move the proper court for relief, explaining thecause of the delay. The preliminary objection isupheld, and this petition is therefore dismissed,the dismissal being on a preliminary point I makeno order as to the costs. In view of this, C. M. P.4607 of 1959 is allowed and the interim orderreferred to therein is vacated.


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