Case BriefsHigh Courts

Gujarat High Court: A Division Bench of S.R. Brahmbhatt and Dr A.P. Thaker, JJ. did not interfere with the order passed by a Single Judge in a letters patent appeal.

The relevant authority in the case had declined to accede to the original petitioner’s request for conversion of her full time M.Tech course into part-time, since this conversion was not requested in 4th semester as prescribed and it was requested slightly before 3rd semester because the petitioner got an employment offer wherein she was required to join immediately when 3rd semester was on the verge of getting completed and her dissertation preliminaries (examination) was permitted to be preponed and she was not in any manner falling sort of either any academic requirement or attendance requirement. The petitioner had relied upon the case of Vejabhai, which was sought to be distinguished by respondent – present appellant, as Shri Vejabhai did not ask for any advancement of dissertation preliminaries (examination) though his request for conversion was made in the vacation of 3rd semester. The Single Judge directed the original respondents to consider the case of the petitioner on the same lines as Shri Vejabhai was permitted to convert his course before the completion of the third semester.

The appellant for the present appeal filed a petition to contend that permission for conversion from full time M.Tech course to part time M.Tech course cannot be denied on the ground of taking a job by the student during the vacation after appearing for dissertation preliminaries after the last day of teaching of the 3rd semester (autumn semester). They requested the Court to quash the earlier order of the Court on the grounds that it was arbitrary, issued in violation of the principles of natural justice, goes beyond the resolution no. 13 passed by the Senate at its meeting held on 16-02-2013, discriminatory, and therefore illegal. They prayed to the court to grant them the same parity in treatment as meted out to Shri Vejabhai, who was allowed to pursue part-time M. Tech course in accordance with resolution 13 of Senate.

The appellant contended that this order would set a precedent in which the very sanctity of the post-graduation course and its tenure will be affected. Advancing of the dissertation preliminaries in itself would not be treated to have been sufficient for treating the 3rd semester complete, as the academic calendar of the institute clearly indicated that 3rd semester would end at least on 7th December and not prior to that.

The respondent contended that the preponement of the preliminary examination for 4th semester is not a unique case and that the student keeps requesting for pre-poning their examination on a regular basis and that this is a case of hostile discrimination as the institute was jeopardising the chances of employment.

The Court held that the apprehension raised on behalf of appellant qua the same being treated as precedent was not sustainable, as such interim order cannot be treated as precedent at all. Every case involving such prayers is required to be dealt with in accordance with the facts of the case. The Court refused to interfere, as there was no likelihood of infringement of any academic requirement, attendance requirement or any violation of statutory provisions but apart from a technicality in the filing of the request. Since the petitioner had already completed her dissertation preliminaries (examination), it cannot be said to be a so grave impediment in the way of the petitioner in seeking conversion. The Appeal was rejected.[Sardar Vallabhbhai National Institution of Technology v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Guj 1461, decided on 23-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Himachal Pradesh High Court: A Division Bench of Surya Kant, C.J. and Sandeep Sharma, J. dismissed a letters patent appeal finding no merit in the case as the issue stood settled between the parties in the earlier round of litigation.

In the pertinent matter, the respondent was a workman engaged on daily wage basis as a Beldar, who continuously worked for more than 240 days in each year. On 30-3-1996 he was allegedly retrenched. The respondent-workman, after 14 years, raised a Demand Charter, to give rise to conciliation of proceedings under the Industrial Disputes Act. However, the Labour Commissioner, vide order dated 30-6-2011, eventually declined to refer the matter to Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, as according to him, there was no justification to raise the dispute after a period of more than 14 years. The Reference was thus declined. The respondent-workman then approached the Court where the matter was ordered to be referred to Labour Court-cum-Industrial Tribunal and the question of limitation of appeal was directed to be kept in view “while moulding the relief”. The appellants did not challenge the order and instead, the matter was referred to the Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, which further ordered the reinstatement of the respondent with seniority from the date of the demand notice was served and no back wages were granted. The Tribunal found that some juniors to the respondent were allegedly retained in the employment and this Principle of Last Come First Go was violated.

The impugned judgment was then challenged by the appellants-State before the learned Single Judge where the Court held that the State authorities, “cannot be permitted time and again to raise the plea of inordinate delay in raising the dispute”. Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court, in deference to those observations, denied the reinstatement or seniority to the respondent-workman from the date of alleged retrenchment and restricted those benefits from the date when the Demand Notice was served. Therefore, no unjust enrichment has been allowed by denying the back wages to the workman.

The Court opined that “True it is that unexplained and inordinate delay in raising the Industrial Dispute can be effectively fatal to the claim itself but this issue stands already settled between the parties in the earlier round of litigation”. Further, it held that any view contrary to the Judgment already given will nullify the mandate of the same.[Chief Secretary (PW) v. Ram Gopal, 2019 SCC OnLine HP 403, Order dated 03-04-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of N.V. Ramana and M.M. Shantanagoudar, JJ., dismissed an appeal filed against the judgment of a Division Bench of Madras High Court whereby it allowed a letters patent appeal filed by the plaintiff in a partition suit.

The plaintiff filed a suit in regard to a property dispute wherein he prayed for partition of the subject property. The trial court decreed the suit, which decision was reversed by the first appellate court on an appeal by the defendant. The plaintiff then filed a letters patent appeal thereagainst which was allowed by the said Division Bench. The facts of the matter were that earlier, the defendant and father of the plaintiff were co-defendants in two original suits relating to the same subject property filed against them. In the said suits, the court had decided in favour of the defendant’s title over the subject property. Now, therefore, in the present suit, the defendant claims applicability of the doctrine of res judicata against the plaintiff as the father of the plaintiff was a co-defendant with him in the suits wherein his title was declared over the said property.

The Supreme Court, referring to a plethora of judgments reiterated the principles for the applicability of the doctrine of res judicata. The Court cited Mahboob Sahab v. Syed Ismail, (1995) 3 SCC 693 wherein the Supreme Court considering the applicability o the said doctrine between co-defendants held that the four conditions must be satisfied, namely-

  1. There must be a conflict of interest between defendants concerned;
  2. It must be necessary to decide the conflict in order to give reliefs which the plaintiff claims;
  3. The question between the defendants must have been finally decided, and
  4. The co-defendants were necessary or proper parties in the former suit.

The Court reiterated that if a plaintiff cannot get his claimed relief without trying and deciding a case between the co-defendants, the court will try and decide the case in its entirety including the conflict of interest between the co-defendants and the co-defendants will be bound by the decree. But if the relief given to the plaintiff does not require or involve a decision of any case between co-defendants, the co-defendants will not be bound between each other.

On the facts of the instant case, the Court found that all the above conditions were not present. Therefore, no res judicata was applicable between the parties. In light of the above and other holdings, the appeal was dismissed. [Govindammal v. Vaidiyanathan,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2117, decided on 23-10-2018]