Case BriefsCOVID 19High Courts

Bombay High Court: The Division Bench of Ravindra V. Ghuge and Shrikant D. Kulkarni, JJ., while addressing the instant PIL, observed that, the service of the COVID Warriors in such extra­ordinary testing times is a service to the Nation and mankind.

The Constitutional Court should neither be shy of nor find itself powerless in upholding the fundamental rights of the citizens as guaranteed under Article 21.

COVID-19 Duties

High Court vide the decision of this Court dated 03-07-2020 observed, with regard to the alleged reluctance of the government employees in discharging their COVID-19 duties, wherein following was stated:

“Such persons need to be suspended immediately and if they are appointed on contract basis, contract need to be terminated and criminal action needs to be taken against them. Invariably against every such person such action needs to be taken and things can be corrected only by taking such action.”

Excessive Billing by Hospitals

On 21-07-2020, Court recorded ceratin grievances regarding alleged excessive billing and the alleged obstinate attitude shown by certain private hospitals in admitting COVID-19 patients.

Court has been informed that the local administrations in all the districts of Maharashtra ae putting in strenuous efforts and are working relentlessly even upto late hours in the Night. They begin their activities in the early hours of the day and are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus.

PIL — Whether Criminal or Civil?

Public Prosecutor and the Advocates representing the local bodies strenuously submitted that though the intention of the Court in suo-moto registering the present PIL is laudable, the present matter should not have been registered as a Criminal Public Interest Litigation.

It has been contended that the present PIL should have been registered as a Civil PIL.

For the above-stated issue, bench stated that in the light of Article 311 of the Constitution of India and the principles of natural justice, this Court would not advise short-circuiting of the legal procedure for initiating disciplinary action against the employees of the local authorities or for dispensing with their services.

Legal Procedure

If the legal procedure is followed and if it legally permits the administration to register a criminal offence against any of the erring employees under the provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and/or the Disaster Management Act, 2005, Court found it judicious to leave the matter to the administration to deal with such cases with an iron hand.

“…it would be unfair on our part to keep the Damocles Sword of initiating criminal action and registering of criminal offences, hanging on the administration and Covid­-19 employees.”

Further, the Court stated that black sheep are found in all walks of life and in all spheres. It is mostly such work shirkers and indisciplined employees, who give a set back to the spirit and momentum of hardworking employees and give a bad name to the system.

Electronic and Print Media

Some stray acts of dereliction in duties or unintended negligence are highlighted and the general public at large, on getting to know such instances through the print and electronic media, develop an apprehension or an impression that the State and the local administration have failed.

Further, the Court observed that the good efforts put in by the administration should not be criticised merely for the sake of public consumption.

Bench has the power in the interest of the public at large, to issue appropriate directions to the Executive with the object of upholding the rights of the citizens.

In view of the above-stated position, Court being aware of its limitations issued guidelines under the heads infrastructure, task force, personnel/staff, the supply of food grains and few under the general category for ensuring that the residents of the State do not feel neglected or deprived of medical assistance.

Before parting with the present decision, Court complimented the officials who have wholeheartedly and dedicatedly devoted themselves in the battle of coronavirus. [High Court of Bombay v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 865, decided on 18-08-2020]

Hot Off The PressNews

Review of performance of Government employees is a continuous process and the Central Government has since long been reviewing officials on grounds of performance and integrity.

      As per the information/data uploaded by the different Ministries/Departments/Cadre Controlling Authorities (CCAs) on Probity Portal, followed by the rectification requests made by some of them, a total of 32,305 Group ‘A’ and 83,205 Group ‘B’ Officers have been reviewed during the period July 2014 to October 2019. Of these, the provisions of Rule 56(j) of the Fundamental Rules and similar rules have been invoked against 117 Group ‘A’ officers, as also against 126 Group ‘B’ Officers.

This information was provided by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.


Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions

[Press Release dt. 05-12-2019]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: The Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ. and N.S. Dhanik, J. allowed a special appeal by State of Uttarakhand, preferred against the order of learned Single Judge, setting aside the same impugned order.

Facts, to the limited extent necessary, are, the respondent was Class IV employee in Inter Rural Road Construction Scheme, started by Government of Uttar Pradesh under the supervision of Cane and Sugar Commissioner. The State of Uttar Pradesh bifurcated in Uttarakhand formerly known as Uttaranchal in 2000, and the respondent opted to be located in Uttarakhand for his service till the date of superannuation. The respondent had contended earlier that he was paid all the retiral benefits but a pension. The Government denied his pension stating that such benefits are applicable to the ‘government servants’ only and being in the service of Road Construction Scheme he is not deemed to be a ‘government servant’.

The learned Single Judge, relied on the Supreme Court judgment and granted the order in favor of the respondent earlier, he further stated that judgment of the Supreme Court was binding and there is no substance in the contentions of State. Supreme Court, in Vinod Kumar Goel v. State of Uttrakhand, (Civil Appeal No. 2511 of 2004 and 227 of 2014, Order dated 10-01-2004) where the matter in issue was exactly same, held, that “the Supreme Court has never rejected the contention earlier, that aggrieved individual was not a ‘government servant’ when working under the Cane Commissioner. Further, it was held by  Court that, “Rules of the State were applicable to the appellant for the purpose of superannuation and other consequential benefits; the earlier decision was binding on both the parties; and the respondents could not deny the retiral benefits, including pension, to the appellant.”

Aggrieved by the order of learned Single Judge, the State including the Commissioner, filed the appeal to the Court. The contentions of the appellant were that, the alleged proceedings before the Commissioner were not challenged by the respondent and the order passed in 1997 was the basis of the judgment of the Supreme Court. Hence, the order of the Commissioner in 2006 is valid and respondent’s inaction was not considered by the Single Judge while adjudication. The Commissioner has earlier observed that, there were no separate rules for the employees and officers working in the headquarters, districts, and areas under the Scheme, due to which various kinds of difficulties were arising in taking decisions in establishment related cases, the employees and officers of the Scheme would be covered by the Service Rules, as are applicable from time to time, in equivalent posts of the Cane Development Department. The Commissioner clarified that any other provision, and order prevailing in this regard, will not qualify any employee, employed under the Scheme, as a Government employee.

The appellant emphasized on the order of the Commissioner in 2006, which was relevant at the time when the respondent’s claim was decided and eventually ignored by the respondent, it was the only order which was effective as on that date, and was effective on the date of superannuation therefore, the claim of respondent was liable to be dismissed and rejected by the learned Single Judge. They further contended that the ruling of the Supreme Court was also not in conformity with the order passed by the Commissioner in 2006 but that of in 1997.

High Court, based on the aforementioned contentions of the appellant, set aside the order passed by the learned Single Judge in favor of respondent and issued a direction that it shall examine, the question whether, in view of the subsequent order passed by the Commissioner in 2006, the orders of the Supreme Court, based on the earlier order of the Commissioner in 1997, would apply to the case of the respondent.[State of Uttrakhand v. Gopal Singh Bisht, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 340, Order dated 01-05-2019]