Utt HC | Judgment of a Competent Court is binding inter-parties and cannot be re-agitated in collateral proceedings even if erroneous

Uttaranchal High Court: A Division Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan and R.C. Khulbe, JJ. contemplated a writ petition, where the petitioner who was an Assistant Professor, sought certiorari to quash the order of recovery of money along with interest. The petitioner further sought mandamus to direct the respondent-State University to re-examine petitioner’s case and subsequently withdraw the order.

The factual matrix of the case are, that the petitioner had earlier invoked the jurisdiction of Court wherein the validity of the order passed by the respondent-University directing the petitioner to deposit a sum of Rs 1,75,000 was questioned. For the aforementioned case the Divisional Bench had observed that it was an admitted fact that, when the petitioner had proceeded on study leave, he had executed a bond with the State of Rajasthan although the petitioner was a temporary employee of the Government of Rajasthan. Finding no merit in the writ petition, the Division Bench dismissed the same. But in 2019 the concerned officer from the department issued an order for recovery of the amount of the bond with interest, executed at the time of study leave granted to the petitioner to secure the Ph.D. Degree, which was in question in the instant writ.

S.S. Yadav, counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the Division Bench had erred in holding that the petitioner was a temporary employee, and that the Rules were applicable to temporary employees only. Since the petitioner was a permanent employee, Rule 110 (1) would alone apply in which event, the petitioner need not pay the said amount for not complying with the bond; the cause of action for both the writ petitioners were different, though the petitioner had filed an application, seeking review of the order passed by the Division Bench earlier. It was further submitted that the impugned order of 2014 made no reference to the petitioner having invoked the review jurisdiction of the Court; and consequently, the petitioner was entitled to again invoke the jurisdiction of the Court under Article 226 of the Constitution.

The Court, observed that petitioner’s contention that a new cause of action had arisen as a result of the Office Order of 2019 did not merit acceptance and, since it was the very same cause of action based on the order of 2014 whereby Rs 1,75,000 was sought to be recovered from the petitioner, on which the present writ petition was based, it is difficult to accept that the petitioner was again entitled to invoke the jurisdiction of Court, in effect, questioning the very same order of 2014. Further, it was stated that bare perusal of the order passed by the Division Bench clearly showed that, while dismissing the writ petition, liberty was not granted to the petitioner to again invoke the jurisdiction of this Court by way of a separate writ petition for the very same cause of action.

The Court held, “The judgment of a competent Court is binding inter-parties and cannot be re-agitated in collateral proceedings. An order or judgment of a Court/Tribunal, even if erroneous, is binding inter-parties. The binding character of judgments, of Courts of competent jurisdiction, is, in essence, a part of the rule of law on which administration of justice is founded.” Since a review petition was already filed by the petitioner the aforementioned writ was dismissed.[Vidya Sagar Singh v. G.B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 473, decided on 16-05-2019]

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