No. 29/39/65 - AIS (II). In pursuance of the powers conferred by Sub-rule (3) of Rule 16 of the AH India Services (Death cum Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958, the President, in consultation with the Government of Rajasthan is pleased to order the retirement of Shri Keshav Puri, who attained the age of 55 years on 5th February, 1966, from the Indian Administrative Service in the public interest on the expiry of three months notice served on him with the approval of the Central Government in the order No P. 1 (137) Appits (A) 51 dated 5th November, 1965 of the Government of Rajasthan.
By Order of the President
Sd: (P.K. Dave)
Joint Secretary to the Government of India. New Delhi, the 28th February, 1967
Shri Keshav Puri.
It is this order Ex. 7 which was challenge by Shri Keshav Puri by the writ petition on the following three grounds:
(i) That it is violative of the mandatory provisions contained in Rule 16(3) of the Rules, because no previous notice as required by law was given by the Central Government to the petitioner prior to the issue of the impugned order;
(ii) That the notice served by the State Government Ex. 1 dated November 5, 1965, was illegal and void as it was issued in pursuance of the decision by the Government of Rajasthan, who had no authority to retire the petitioner, and
(iii) That in any case the order by the Central Government Ex 7 cannot take effect retrospectively from 1966.
6. As already stated above, the last ground, i.e. ground No. (iii) was accepted by the learned Single Judge and the writ petition was partially allowed.
7. Shri Keshav Puri filed this appeal on July 6, 1970, and expired during the pendency of this appeal on June 22, 1972. On the death of Shri Keshav Puri, his widow and other legal representatives were ordered to be brought on the record (vide order-sheet dated September 29, 1972). The preliminary objection raised by Shri D.S. Shishodia is that the right involved to this case was purely person to Shri Keshav Puri and, consequently, his legal representatives cannot maintain the appeal In support of his contention, he has relied upon Gul Mohammed v. The Union of India 1973 (2) SLR 35, Vridha Chalam v. State of Mod AIR 1966 Mad. 260, T.N. Venkathachari v. State of Andhra Pradesh 1969 (3) SLR 188, Roshan Lol v. Union of India AIR 1967 SC 1889 & Phool Rani v. Naubat Bai Ahluwalia 1973 (1) SCC 688. In this connection, he has also referred to Section 306 of the Indian Succession Act He has further argued that all that the legal representatives of Shri Keshav Puri can claim is arrears of salary and other emoluments which Shri Keshav Puri would have been entitled to in case the impugned order was set aside, but a suit for arrears of salary and emoluments cannot be filed now on account of the bar of limitation under Article 102 of the Limitation Act, 1963 To fortify his submission in this respect, he has relied upon Jaichand Sowhney v. Union of India 1969 (3) SCC 642.
8. On the other hand, Mr. A.K. Mathur, learned Counsel for the appellant, submits that if the Government passes an unconstitutional or wrong order, which is sought to be declared null and void, it is no legal right of the Government to say that the order should not be annulled merely because in the changed circumstances the Government would not be able to pass afresh order, in accordance with law. He goes on to argue that if the officer is dead, before the annulment of the order, that cannot take away the legal rights of the heirs of the deceased co claim emoluments, to which the deceased would have been entitled if the order of his illegal retirement from service were found to be illegal. In short, his submission is that the right to continue the appeal survives to the legal representatives. In suooort of his submission, he has relied upon Maanmohan Anand v. State of Punjab 1972 (7) SLR 852, Jang Bahadur v. Union of India 1973 (8) SLR 366, Ibrahim Bhai v. State of Gujarat AIR 1968 Guj. 202, and C. Rly, Workshop, Jhansi v. Vishwanath AIR 1970 SC 488. As to the question of limitation, for a suit for arrears of salary and other emoluments, Mr. Mathur has relied upon Slate of MP os. State of Maharashtra 1977 (SC) (1) SLR 433.
9. There appears to be a difference of opinion among some of the High Courts on the question of abatement of the case in such circumstances. Gul Mohammed's case (supra) 1973 (2) S.L.R. 35 is a Single Bench decision of this Court where in it was held that the petitioner Gulmohammed's employment was a matter of status and not of contract and was, therefore, such a personal right that it could not enure to the benefit of his legal representatives, and consequently, his legal representatives cannot maintain the writ petition. The learned Judge found support for his view from the decision Vridhachalam v. State of Madras (Supra) AIR 1966 Mad. 260, and T.N. Venkatanathachari v. State of Andhra Pradesh (supra) 1969 (3) SLR 188. The learned Judge also distinguished the case of Ibrahim Bhai v. State of Gujarat (supra) AIR 1968 Gujarat 202 on the ground that because the disciplinary proceedings came to an end in that case, grant of relief was not therefore likely to give rise to an anomaly.
10. The learned Counsel for the appellant submits that the view taken by the learned Single Judge in Gul Mohammed's case needs to be revised in the light of discussion contained in Manmohan Anand v. State of Punjab 1972 (7) SLR 852 (supra) and Jang Bahadur v. Union of India (supra) 1973 (8) SLR 366. So far as the decision in Jang Bahadur's case is concerned, we may state that the judgment by the Delhi High Court does not contain any discussion, but it has only placed reliance on Ibrahim Bhai's case AIR 1968 Gujarat 202 which has already been distinguished by the learned Single Judge in Gul Mohammed's case Of course, the learned Judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Man Mohan Anand's case have taken a different view. In that case the respondents had conceded in writing that the legal representatives of the original petitioner could institute a suit for claiming emoluments to which the original petitioner would have been entitled for the period commencing from June 1967, the date of his purported removal to the date of his death. On this concession, having been made by the respondents, R.S. Narula, J., observed as follows:
Once this is granted it goes without saying that no such claim can He decreed unless it is first held that the purported order of removal of the original petitioner from the membership and the Chairmanship was illegal and ineffective. This is the basic relief without obtaining which no claim of the legal representatives for salary or emoluments can succeed. It is that basic relief which is being claimed in the present petition. To that extent, therefore, the right to sue survives to the legal representatives If the original petitioner had claimed declaration to the effect that he continues in service or had asked for a mandamus for being issued to the respondents to reinstate him, I would have held that right to claim such relief was personal, to the deceased and died with him and that the right to sue in respect of those reliefs did not survive to the legal representatives. So far the declaration of the order of the removal being illegal is concerned a somewhat similar point was decide d by a Division Bench of Allahabad High Court in 1956 All. 114 in connection with the claim of the legal representatives of an unsuccessful plaintiff who had died pending the appeal for being permitted to prosecute the appeal for obtaining a declaration to the effect that the dismissal of the original plaintiff was wrongful or ultra vires. The question was whether the appellate court could give any such relief to the legal representatives of the original plaintiff. It was held that though the legal representatives could not have been entitled to seek the declaration which the plaintiff had sought after the death of the plaintiff, they were entitled to the finding that the dismissal of the original plaintiff was wrongful and further that they were entitled to as a result of such a finding to the consequences that flow there from.
11. It is pertinent to note that the learned Judge has himself observed that if the original petitioner had claimed declaration to the effect that he continues in the service or had asked for a mandamus being issued to the respondents to reinstate him, the right to claim such relief was personal to the deceased and died with him and the right to sue in respect of those reliefs did not survive to the If gal representatives.
12. With great respect, there does not appear to us any material difference between the prayer that the order of removal, or retirement or dismissal, as the case may be, is wrong and a prater for declaration to the effect that the officer continued in service on account of a wrongful order of dismissal, removal or retirement In substance, the relief in both the cases is the same though worded differently.
13. In Ibrahim Bhai's case AIR. 1968 Gujarat 202 (supra) emphasis seems to have been laid more on the existence of legal right of the legal representatives to maintain the writ petition after the death of the delinquent officer rather than on the question whether the relief claimed by the deceased officer was purely a personal one. There is little doubt that if the legal representatives of the deceased officer are allowed to continue the petition, it would only he a step towards further legal steps which the legal representatives of the deceased officer will have to take in order to get arrears of salary and emoluments to which the delinquent officer would have been entitled in the facts and circumstances of that case the learned Judges of the Gujarat High Court observed that it cannot be said that in all cases the issue of a writ of such a nature is a step towards further legal steps to which the legal representatives of the deceased officer propose to lake and it is not such a case as far as the facts of this petition are concerned for the reasons to be stated hereinafter.' Thus, in the circumstances of that case the learned Judges held that the right to sue survived and the petitioners had the right to maintain the petition.
14. In Calcutta Gas Co. Ltd v. State of West Bengal AIR 1962 SC 1044 it was held that the right that can be enforced under Article 226 shall ordinarily be the personal or individual right of petitioner himself Again in Roshan Lal's case (supra) AIR 1976 SC 1889 it was observed that the legal position of a Government servant is more one of status than of a contract The hall mark of status is the attachment to a legal relationship of rights and duties imposed by the public law and not by mere agreement by the parties. We may here point out that C Rly, Workshop Jhansi v. Vishwanath AIR 1970 SC 488 (supra) relied upon by Mr. A.K. Mathur was a case where in a joint petitioner under the Payment of Wages Act by the respondents, one judgment was given in their favour by the High Court. On appeal to the Supreme Court all the respondents were made parties. One of them died during the pendency of the appeal, but his name continued to appear in the array of respondents and his legal representatives were not brought on the record. In these circumstances, it was held that the appeal did not abate. In our opinion, that case has no relevance to the point involved before us.
15. In the light of the foregoing discussion, we are of opinion that the view taken in Gul Mohammed's case seems to us to be sound. Accordingly, we hold that the right to continue the appeal does not survive to the legal representatives of me deceased appellant and the appeal must, therefore, be dismissed as such
16. However, we have examined the case on merits also The learned Single Judge has himself held that the order issued by the Central Govt. dated Febuary 28, 1967 (Ex. 7) can be considered to be a valid order for retiring the officer in as much as the Government of India alone is competent under Rule 16(3) of the All India Services (Death cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958, to retire a member of the Service and that is why the learned Single Judge has held that the officer will be deemed to have retired with effect from the date of issue of Ex. 7, i.e. February 28, 1967 even though he had attained the age of 55 years earlier.
17. Mr. A.K. Mathur, learned Counsel for the appellant, has, however, contended that the Central Government had not applied its mind to the question at all and the order Ex. 7 was passed merely to cover-up the mistake committed by the State of Rajasthan in ordering retirement of the petitioner (vide Ex 3). He has further argued that in any case the notice of three months given to the officer by the State of Rajasthan (Ex. 1) cannot be considered as a valid notice as it did not expire immediately preceding the date of the order Ex 7. It appears to us that the matter of retiring the petitioner on attainment of the age of 55 years was no doubt initiated by the State of Rajasthan in as much as the letter Ex 1 shows that before issuing notice the State Government had obtained approval of the Central Government as required by old Rule 17(2) The requirements of Sub-rule (3) of Rule 16 are these:
(i) The order requiring a member of the Service to retire must be passed by the Central Government, which must come to the conclusion before passing the order that his retirement is in the public interest;
(ii) Before passing the order, the Central Government, roust have consultation with the State Govt. and
(iii) At least three months' previous notice in writing must be given to the member concerned.
18. There is no doubt that the State Government moved the matter and the Government of India gave approval to the State Government to retire the petitioner in the public interest. But under a mistaken impression, and in ignorance of the latest law, the State Government itself issued the order of retirement. To rectify the mistake, the Central Government thereafter issued the order Ex 7. Thus the requirements mentioned at points Nos. (i)(ii) stated above are fulfilled in as much as the order has been issued by the Central Govt. in the public interest in consultation with the State Government.
19. Coming to requirement No. (iii), the officer undoubtedly got more than three months notice by Ex 1 though it was given by the State Government, of course, with the approval by the Central Government. Sub-rule (3) of Rule 16 does not require that the notice must be given by the Central Govt. itself, nor does it require that the notice must expire with the date of retirement. In these circumstances, notice given by the State of Rajasthan (Ex 1) cannot be said to be violative of Sub-rule (3) of Rule 16. In fact, all the conditions required under Sub-rule (3) of Rule 16 have been duly complied with. Thus, even on merits we do not find any force in the appeal.
20. The result is that this appeal fails and is hereby dismissed. But in the circumstances of the case we make no order as to costs.