Practice of summoning public officers not proper as public suffers due to their absence

Supreme Court: In a case where the Allahabad High Court passed orders from time to time to secure presence of the public officers, the bench of SK Kaul and Hemant Gupta, JJ held that the High Court was not justified in doing so as,

“The practice of summoning officers to court is not proper and does not serve the purpose of administration of justice in view of the separation of powers of the Executive and the Judiciary. If an order is not legal, the Courts have ample jurisdiction to set aside such order and to issue such directions as may be warranted in the facts of the case.”

The Court said that the officers of the State discharge public functions and duties and the orders are generally presumed to be passed in good faith unless proved otherwise. The officers pass orders as a custodian of public money. Therefore, merely because an order has been passed, it does not warrant their personal presence.

“The summoning of officers to the court to attend proceedings, impinges upon the functioning of the officers and eventually it is the public at large who suffer on account of their absence from the duties assigned to them.”

The Court was hearing the case where the Divisional Director, Social Forestry Division Agra had passed an order on 19.11.2008 that the respondent is not eligible for regularisation/equal pay. The said order was passed based on the Supreme Court ruling in State of U.P and Others. vs. Putti Lal, (2006) 9 SCC 337 where it was held that the daily wagers are entitled to minimum pay scale as is being received by their counter-parts in the Government and would not be entitled to any other allowances or increment so long as they continue as daily wagers. The respondent instead of challenging the abovementioned order declining the claim for regularisation and/or minimum of pay scale, filed a Contempt Application.

The Court held that the grievance regarding regularization of the service on account of a break in service could not have been taken up in Contempt proceedings, when such issue has attained finality in the High Court. Allahabad High Court had passed an order in Visheshwar vs. Principal Secretary Forest Anubhag[1], wherein, it was held that artificial break in the case of regularization has to be ignored.

[N.K. Janu, Deputy Director Social Forestary Division, Agra v. Lakshmi Chandra, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 518, decided on 10.04.2019]


[1] Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 47568 of 2002 decided on 29.11.2004

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