Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of MR Shah* and AS Bopanna, JJ has held that the dependent of the deceased employee cannot seek the appointment on compassionate ground on the higher post than what was held by the deceased employee as a matter of right, on the ground that he/she is eligible fulfilling the eligibility criteria of such higher post.

Interpreting the term ‘suitable post’ under Rule 5 of the Dying-­In-Harness Rules, 1974, the Court held that ‘Suitable post’ has to be considered, considering status/post held by the deceased employee and the educational qualification/eligibility criteria is required to be considered, considering the post held by the deceased employee and the suitability of the post is required to be considered vis a vis the post held by the deceased employee, otherwise there shall be no difference/distinction between the appointment on compassionate ground and the regular appointment.

Explaining by way of an example, the Court said that

“In a given case it may happen that the dependent of the deceased employee who has applied for appointment on compassionate ground is having the educational qualification of Class¬II or Class-I post and the deceased employee was working on the post of Class/Grad IV and/or lower than the post   applied, in that case the dependent/applicant cannot seek the appointment on compassionate ground on the higher post than what was held by the deceased employee as a matter of right, on the ground that he/she is eligible fulfilling the eligibility criteria of such higher post.”

The Court said that allowing so shall be contrary to the object and purpose of grant of appointment on compassionate ground i.e to enable the family to tide over the sudden crisis on the death of the bread   earner.

“… appointment on compassionate ground is provided out of pure humanitarian consideration taking into consideration the fact that some source of livelihood is provided and family would be able to make both ends meet.”

[State of Uttar Pradesh v. Premlata, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 872, decided on 05.10.2021]


Counsels:

For Appellant: Advocate Ruchira Goel

For respondent: Advocate Shashank Singh


*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the members of the Lok Adalat, Madhya Pradesh High Court had entered into the merits of the writ petition and had dismissed it on merits, the bench of MR Shah* and AS Bopanna, JJ has set aside the order and has held that it was not open for the members of the Lok Adalat to enter into the merits of the writ petition and to dismiss the same on merits, in absence of any settlement arrived at between the parties.

Relevant provisions under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 explained

As per sub-section (5) of Section 19, a Lok Adalat shall have jurisdiction to determine and to arrive at a compromise or a settlement between the parties to a dispute in respect of

  • any case pending before; or
  • any matter which is falling within the jurisdiction of, and is not brought before, any court for which the Lok Adalat is organised.

As per sub-section (1) of Section 20 where in any case referred to in clause (i) of sub-section (5) of Section 19- (i) (a) the parties thereof agree; or (i) (b) one of the parties thereof makes an application to the court, for referring the case to the Lok Adalat for settlement and if such court is prima facie satisfied that there are chances of such settlement or (ii) the court is satisfied that the matter is an appropriate one to be taken cognizance of by the Lok Adalat, the court shall refer the case to the Lok Adalat.

It further provides that no case shall be referred to the Lok Adalat under sub-clause (b) of clause (i) or clause (ii) by such court except after giving a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the parties.

As per sub-section (3) of Section 20 where any case is referred to a Lok Adalat under sub-section (1) or where a reference is made to it under sub-section (2), the Lok Adalat shall proceed to dispose of the case or matter and arrive at a compromise or settlement between the parties. Sub-section (5) of Section 20 further provides that where no award is made by the Lok Adalat on the ground that no compromise or settlement could be arrived at between the parties, the record of the case shall be returned by it to the court, from which the reference has been received under sub-section (1) for disposal in accordance with law.

Analysis of the provisions

The provisions make clear that,

  • the jurisdiction of the Lok Adalat would be to determine and to arrive at a compromise or a settlement between the parties to a dispute and once the aforesaid settlement / compromise fails and no compromise or settlement could be arrived at between the parties,
  • the Lok Adalat has to return the case to the Court from which the reference has been received for disposal in accordance with law and in any case,
  • the Lok Adalat has no jurisdiction at all to decide the matter on meris once it is found that compromise or settlement could not be arrived at between the parties

Conclusion

The impugned order passed by the Lok Adalat dismissing the writ petition on merits was found to be unsustainable and deserves to be quashed and set aside.

In the present case, the consent to place the matter before the Lok Adalat was to arrive at a settlement and or a compromise between the parties and not for placing the matter before the Lok Adalat for deciding the matter on merits.

“Once there is no compromise and/or a settlement between the parties before the Lok Adalat, as provided in sub-section (5) of Section 20, the matter has to be returned to the Court from where the matter was referred to Lok Adalat for deciding the matter on merits by the concerned court.”

[Estate Officer v. Colonel H.V. Mankotia, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 898, decided on 07.10.2021]
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Counsels:

For appellant: Vikramjit Banerjee, ASG


*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah

Know Thy Judge | Justice M. R. Shah

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where ten times adjournments were given between 2015 to 2019 and even twice the adjournments were granted as a last opportunity and even the cost was imposed, the bench of MR Shah* and AS Bopanna, JJ has held that the courts shall be very slow in granting adjournments and they shall not grant repeated adjournments in routine manner.

“Time has now come to change the work culture and get out of the adjournment culture so that confidence and trust put by the litigants in the Justice delivery system is not shaken and Rule of Law is maintained.”

The Court was dealing with “a classic example of misuse of adjournments granted by the court”.

A suit for eviction, arrears of rent and mesne profit was filed in the year 2013. Thereafter, despite the repeated adjournments sought and granted by the court and even twice the adjournments were granted as a last opportunity and even the cost was imposed, the defendant failed to cross examine the plaintiff’s witness.

Although the adequate liberty was given to the defendant to cross examine the plaintiff’s witness, they never availed of the same and went on delaying the proceedings by repeated prayers of adjournment and unfortunately the Trial Court and even subsequently the High Court continued to grant adjournment after adjournment and as such contributed the delay in disposal of the suit which as such was for eviction. It was also brought to the Court’s notice that as such now even the main suit has been disposed of.

The Supreme Court called such approach ‘wholly condemnable’ and said,

“Law and professional ethics do not permit such practice. Repeated adjournments on one or the other pretext and adopting the dilatory tactics is an insult to justice and concept of speedy disposal of cases. Petitioner – defendant acted in a manner to cause colossal insult to justice and to concept of speedy disposal of civil litigation.”

Taking the example of the case at hand, the Court noticed that,

“Many a times the suits are filed for eviction on the ground of bonafide requirements of the landlord. If plaintiff who seeks eviction decree on the ground of personal bonafide requirement is not getting the timely justice and he ultimately gets the decree after 10 to 15 years, at times cause for getting the eviction decree on the ground of personal bonafide requirement may be defeated. The resultant effect would be that such a litigant would lose confidence in the justice delivery system and instead of filing civil suit and following the law he may adopt the other mode which has no backing of law and ultimately it affects the rule of law.”

Noticing that arrears are mounting because of such dilatory tactics and asking repeated adjournments by the advocates and mechanically and in routine manner granted by the courts, the Court said that,

“Many a times, the task of adjournments is used to kill Justice. Repeated adjournments break the back of the litigants. The courts are enjoying upon to perform their duties with the object of strengthening the confidence of common man in the institution entrusted with the administration of the justice. Any effort which weakens the system and shake the faith of the common man in the justice dispensation has to be discouraged.”

The Court was also conscious of the fact that whenever the trial courts refused to grant unnecessary adjournments many a times they are accused of being strict and they may face displeasure of the Bar. However, the judicial officers shall not worry about that if his conscience is clear and the judicial officer has to bear in mind his duties to the litigants who are before the courts and who have come for justice and for whom Courts are meant and all efforts shall be made by the courts to provide timely justice to the litigants.

Therefore, it was directed that the courts shall not grant the adjournments in routine manner and mechanically and shall not be a party to cause for delay in dispensing the justice. The courts have to be diligence and take timely action in order to usher in efficient justice dispensation system and maintain faith in rule of law.

[Ishwarlal Mali Rathod v. Gopal, Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s). 14117-14118/2021, order dated 20.09.2021]

Counsels: Mr. N.K. Mody, Sr. Adv. Mr. Shishir Kumar Saxena, Adv. Mr. R.N. Pareek, Adv. Mr. Prabhuddha Singh, Adv. Ms. Soumya Chaturvedi, Adv. Ms. Sharmila, Adv. Mr. Praveen Swarup, AOR


*Order by: Justice MR Shah

Know Thy Judge | Justice M. R. Shah