Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: The Division Bench of L. Narayana Swamy, ACJ and P.S. Dinesh Kumar, J., allowed a writ appeal filed against order directing reinstatement of a driver in service, who had been not reported to duty for almost two years.

Respondent herein, who was working as a driver with Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), was suspended from service but suspension was revoked after sometime. Despite revocation of suspension, respondent did not report to duty and was issued a call notice. However, he still remained absent. Disciplinary authority framed and sent imputation of charges but the same was not reverted to by the respondent. A domestic enquiry was conducted after serving notice to respondent. Since he did not appear even in these proceedings, he was proceeded against ex-parte and dismissed from service. Respondent raised a dispute before the conciliation officer but upon failure of conciliation proceedings, he approached the Labour Court which dismissed the reference. In a writ petition filed before the learned Single Judge, the order of respondent’s dismissal was set aside. Aggrieved thereby, the instant petition was filed.

The Court observed that a High Court while exercising power under Article 227 of the Constitution of India, shall not ordinarily correct mere error of facts or law unless the error is shown to be apparent on the face of the record or is based on clear ignorance or utter disregard to the provisions of law. Further, a High Court shall not convert itself into a Court of appeal and indulge in re-appreciation of evidence unless great injustice is demonstrated.

It was noted that the petitioner chose not to report to duty even after two years of revocation of suspension. Relying on the judgment in North-Eastern Karnataka Road Transport Corporation v. Ashappa, (2006) 5 SCC 137 where it was held that remaining absent for a long time cannot be considered minor misconduct; it was held that the impugned order was not sustainable in law.[BMTC v. S. Ganesh, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 243, Order dated 01-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Manipur High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of KH. Nobin Singh, J., dismissed an application filed for dismissal of Election Petition on the ground that it violates Section 100 of Representation of People Act, 1951 where grounds for declaration of election as void are given.

The applicant filed this application for dismissal of election petition filed by the respondent raising flaws in it. In the petition, the respondent contended that the applicant in his affidavit filed along with nomination paper had not given complete information. The applicant did not mention anything about the FIR filed against him. He also left many columns blank i.e. incomplete form and the Returning Officer could not have accepted the nomination. Whereas the applicant defended himself by stating that in one of the cases filed against him he had already been discharged. The allegation which the respondent had accused of were misconceived and unfounded which require strict proof. It was also submitted that RO of 4-Kshetrigao Assembly Constituency had accepted all nomination papers in the presence of respondent during which the respondent made no objection but now that he was not elected the same process had been put into scrutiny. The applicant opposed election petition on the ground that it does not contain material facts as required under Section 83(1)(a).

The High Court was of the view that Section 83(1)(a) which states that an election petition should contain material facts on which petitioner relies had been substantially complied with and election petition cannot be stopped at this stage. Therefore, the application was devoid of merit and was dismissed. [Nahakpam Indrajit Singh v. Md. Amin Shah,2018 SCC OnLine Mani 115, order dated 17-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Sikkim High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Meenakshi Madan Rai, Acting CJ. dismissed a petition filed for condonation of 50 days delay in filing appeals against the order of Motor Accident Claims Tribunal whereby compensation was awarded to the claimants.

The MACT (West Sikkim) had awarded certain amount of compensation to the respondent claimants. The appeal was preferred thereagainst by the petitioner but only after a delay of 50 days. The petitioner filed the instant petition for condonation of such delay citing various reasons. The High Court, however, was not inclined to allow the petition and condone the delay. The High Court referred to the Supreme Court decision in Esha Bhattacharjee v. Raghunathpur Nafar Academy, (2013) 12 SCC 649. The following principles were, inter alia, reiterated by the High Court which is to be kept in mind while deciding a petition for condonation of delay:

  • Court to be satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause in preferring the appeal on time.
  • Appellant had to put forth bona fide grounds for delay besides establishing that the delay was not caused due to negligence.
  • Length of delay is not a consideration. Each case is distinguishable from the next.
  • ‘Sufficient Cause’ should be given a liberal interpretation to ensure that substantial justice is done.
  • It has to be kept in mind that expiration of period of limitation gives rise to a right in favour of a decree-holder; this right is accrued should not be lightly disturbed.

In the instant case, the High Court held that in the gamut of facts and circumstances put forth for the delay, it was but relevant to opine that the petition was filed with a nonchalant attitude reflecting negligence, inaction and lack of bona fides, and being devoid of merits. The petition, thus, did not deserve indulgence of the Court. Consequently, the Court was not inclined to exercise jurisdiction in favour of the petitioner. Accordingly, the petition was dismissed. [Shriram General Insurance Co. Ltd. v. Dik Bir Damai,2018 SCC OnLine Sikk 190, Order dated 17-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: Dismissing an appeal against the order of a probation committee, a Bench comprising of RM Savant and SV Kotwal, JJ. upheld the order of discharging a lower court Judge from service for reportedly turning up late at work on several occasions and violating other judicial norms. In this case, an anonymous complaint was received by the Registry of Court that the petitioner, who was a probationer Civil Judge Junior Division and Judicial Magistrate First Class at Ulhasnagar, was reporting to work late daily and beginning his court between 11.30 am -12 noon. Other allegations against him were that he used to chit chat with lawyers which thereby undermined the confidence of the litigants. It was also alleged that the petitioner discussed about other Judges in the presence of lawyers and carried out court work from his chamber.

Surprise checks were conducted based on the complaint and it was found that the petitioner was missing from work on the first day of the surprise check. It was also established that he was absent for 6 days each in the last 3 months. Subsequently, the Principal District Judge left disparaging remarks with regards to the conduct, character and integrity of the petitioner and he was subsequently dismissed. The petitioner’s lawyer contended that the comments made against her client were stigmatic in nature and were based on unsubstantiated allegations. She also stated that the petitioner was not given an opportunity of hearing to present his case before the probation committee.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the Court quoting the case of Gujarat Steel Tubes Ltd. v. Gujarat Steel Tubes Mazdoor Sabha, (1980) 2 SCC 593 held that having regard to the allegation or suspicion of misconduct that the master/employer may have against the probationer, the employer may not choose to hold an enquiry to discharge the probationer whom the employer is not desirous of keeping. The Court further stated that even if strong language was used by the Principal District Judge against the petitioner, the probation committee still did not find him suitable for continuation of service. [Girish Chandrakant Gosavi v. Chief Secretary, Law and Judiciary Department, 2018 SCC OnLine Bom 939, order dated 03-05-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the matter where a CRFP constable, who was dismissed from services for consuming liquor and quarrelling with civilians, had contended that the punishment was disproportionate, the Court held that when a member of the disciplined force deviates to such an extent from the discipline and behaves in an untoward manner which is not conceived of, it is difficult to hold that the punishment of dismissal as has been imposed is disproportionate and shocking to the judicial conscience.

In the present case the respondent had left the campus without prior permission, proceeded to the market, consumed liquor and quarrelled and the same had been proved. However, the respondent had contended that even if the charges have been proven, the punishment of dismissal in the obtaining factual matrix is absolutely harsh and shocking to the conscience.

Referring to the case of Union of India v. Dwarka Prasad Tiwari, (2006) 10 SCC 388, where it was held that unless the punishment imposed by the disciplinary authority or the appellate authority shocks the conscience of the court/tribunal, there is no scope for interference, the bench of Dipak Misra and N.V. Ramana, JJ said that as a member of the disciplined force, the respondent was expected to follow the rules, have control over his mind and passion, guard his instincts and feelings and not allow his feelings to fly in fancy. [Union of India v. Diler Singh, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 647, decided on 30.06.2016]