Chhattisgarh High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Chhattisgarh High Court: Sanjay K Agrawal, J. dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.

Facts

The facts of the case are such that the Chhattisgarh State Economic Crime Bureau and Anti Corruption Bureau registered an offence against the petitioner and other persons for offence under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of Prevention of Corruption Act i.e. PC Act and Sections 120B & 420 of the Penal Code, 1860 i.e. IPC and sought sanction from respondent 1 for prosecution against the petitioner herein and other persons under Section 19(1)(b) of the PC Act and Section 197 of Criminal Procedure Code i.e. CrPC. The petitioner herein calls in question legality, validity and correctness of the impugned order dated 15-5-2019 passed by respondent No.1 in exercise of power conferred under Section 19(1)(b) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 (for short, ‘the PC Act’) read with Section 197 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (for short, ‘the CrPC’) granting sanction for prosecution against him for offence under Section 13(1)(d) read with Section 13(2) of the PC Act and Sections 120B & 420 of the IPC.

Issue

The sanction for prosecution ought to have been placed before the Sub- Committee of the Cabinet, as the Administrative Department has not accorded sanction for prosecution of the petitioner modified by subsequent circular. Since that procedure was not followed by respondent 1, the order granting sanction is illegal and liable to be set-aside

Counsel for the petitioners submitted that the order granting sanction is illegal, contrary to law and deserves to be set-aside because if there is difference of opinion between two Departments of the State i.e. parent Department, here Water Resources Department and the Law Department, then the procedure laid down in the circular and its clarification issued by the State Government is required to be followed. It was further submitted that sanction can only be obtained in coordination with the Minister of Council of Political Affairs or with its concurrence and no such procedure has been followed in the present case.

The Court perused section 19 of PC Act and stated that previous sanction for prosecution is required in respect of a public servant who is employed and is not removable from his office save by or with the sanction of the State Government. The Court observed that the communication of alleged disagreement with respect to grant of sanction qua the petitioner has been made by the Chief Engineer, Water Resources Department, Raipur to the Secretary, Government of Chhattisgarh, Water Resources Department dated after the order granting sanction for prosecution under Section 19 of the PC Act and Section 197 of the CrPC was passed, whereas the disagreement was required to be expressed and to be sent by the Administrative Department before the question of sanction is considered by Respondent 1 herein.

The Court relied on judgment Subramanian Swamy v. Manmohan Singh, (2012) 3 SCC 64 and observed despite memo and reminder received by the Administrative Department – respondent 2, no response was served to respondent 1 who is the competent authority to consider the issue of grant of sanction and therefore in absence of any disagreement, the competent authority to grant sanction being the Department of Law & Legislative Affairs has proceeded to consider the matter and issued order granting sanction for prosecution against the petitioner and others. It was further established that despite memo dated 22-3-2019 reiterated by reminder dated 25-4- 2019, the Administrative Department kept pin-drop silence over the matter.

The Court further relied on judgment State of Madhya Pradesh v. Virender Kumar Tripathi, (2009) 15 SCC 533 and observed that interdicting a criminal proceeding midcourse on ground of invalidity of the sanction order will not be appropriate unless failure of justice has occasioned by any such error, omission or irregularity in the sanction and such failure of justice can be established not at the stage of framing of charge but only after the trial has commenced and the evidence is led.

The Court held “ultimately, finding no opinion of the Administrative Department (respondent 2) either way, the Department of Law & Legislative Affairs being the authority competent to grant sanction has rightly considered the issue and granted sanction for prosecution against the petitioner”.

[KK Vashishta v. State of Chhattisgarh, 2021 SCC OnLine Chh 621, decided on 15-03-2021]


Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.


 Appearances:

For Petitioner: Mr. B.P. Sharma and Mr. M.L. Sakat

For Respondents / State: – Mr. Jitendra Pali and Mr. Ravi Kumar Bhagat

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Andhra Pradesh High Court: Opining that, a Math, which is a separate institution rendering certain religious and other functions pertaining to a particular denomination is different from a temple which is open to all for worship, D.V.S.S. Somayajulu, J., held that,

Minimum Wages Act, 1948 will not be applicable to the Math.

Instant petition was filed by the petitioner – Math to seek reliefs.

Senior Counsel, C.R. Sridharan, for the petitioner submitted that petition was a Math which is a specific religious denomination.

He added that the petition was filed because the respondent was attempting to interfere with the activities of the Math and directing the petitioner to pay minimum wages, etc. to the persons employed in the Math.

Respondent’s action was challenged.

Senior Counsel added that respondent-State does not have the right to interfere with the Management of the math and issue the directions contained in the impugned memos.

Petitioner’s counsel submitted that there is a fundamental distinction between a Math and a temple although both can be called a religious institution.

Government Pleader argued that coming to the issue of wages, the respondents are not insisting upon the payment of the wages, more so, under the Minimum Wages Act, but are essentially trying to ensure that the equal pay for equal work principle as enunciated in the case of State of Punjab v. Jagjit Singh, (2017) 1 SCC 148, is actually followed.

Analysis, Law and Decision

High Court noticed that it is a fact that a “Math” is distinct from a “Temple”.

Temple and Math are both religious institutions, but the purposes for which they are established and the manner in which they function are clearly specified in Section 2(17) of  A.P. Charitable and Hindu Religious Institutions & Endowments Act, 1987 Act.

 As per the above-stated Sections, Math is an institution headed by a person whose primary job is to engage himself in teaching, propagation of religious philosophy etc., and impart religious training etc.

On the other hand, Temple is a place, which is dedicated to and keep used as a place of public religious worship.

Hence in view of the above distinction between the two institutions is clear.

Under Section 6 of the Act also, the income or the change in income of the Math cannot lead to a change in the classification of the Math. It is only possible for the institutions and endowments under Section 6(a), 6(b) and 6 (c) of the Act, which are included in this section. If their income exceeds or falls below the stipulated limit, for the three years, their position can be changed, but this is clearly not applicable to a Math.

Whether Commissioner’s power extends to giving the direction to pay Minimum Wage of the Minimum Time Scale?

In Court’s opinion, the general power of superintendence given to the Commissioner does not extend to interfere in the secular activity and was limited in its scope.

Section 8 makes it clear that the superintendence and control includes the power to pass an order to ensure that institution is properly administered and the income is spent for the purpose for which they were found.

Section 8 (1) is to ensure that the funds are spent for the purposes for which they are intended only.

Section 8(2) which starts with a non-obstante clause also talks of exercise of powers ‘conferred’ on him or the functions ‘entitled’ to him by the Act.  

No statutory provision has been pointed out by which this particular power to give directions to pay minimum wages etc., is shown to the Court.

 Further, Court also added that on the issue that, if Section 8(1) and Section 49 of the Act are read together, the limited powers of the Commissioner become clear. They are limited to the fixing/spending/utilization of the “dittam‟ only. In case of disagreement, the matter has to be referred to a Court for decision (Section 49-Proviso). Similarly, the amendments to Sections 51-53 etc., where the Commissioner has been substituted by the “Dharmika Parishad” also makes it clear that the role of the Commissioner is very limited.

The Minimum Wages Act applies to certain employments (preamble) which are specified as “scheduled employments” Section 2(g). Employments specified in Part-I/II of the Schedule (Section 3). The schedule is silent about employment in a Math.

“…only in cases of misconduct or mismanagement of the properties by the Mahant, it would be permissible for the State to interfere under Section 51 of the Act.”

 While reaching the conclusion, Bench expressed that the autonomy given to a Math to maintain and administer its activities also supports the view that the respondents cannot interfere in every activity, in case respondents have such a power to interfere every activity it would run contrary to the constitutional and other guarantees given to the religious denominations to carry their own activities.

Therefore, in view of the above analysis, High Court held that the memos dated 04.07.2018; 05.12.2018 and the consequential memo dated 19.04.2021 will not be applicable to the petitioner – Math. [Sri Raghavendra Swamy Mutt v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 2021 SCC OnLine AP 2938, decided on 21-9-2021]


Advocates before the Court:

Counsel for the Petitioners: Sri C.R. Sridharan, Senior counsel rep. Sri G.V.S.Ganesh

Counsel for the Respondents: Government Pleader for Endowments

Jharkhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: The instant writ petition entertained by Sujit Narayan Prasad, J. was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for quashing the Memo issued by the respondent whereby the water reservoirs in the urban area has been directed to be handed over in favor of the municipality.

The petitioner had contended that certain water reservoirs had been settled in favor of the petitioner for the year 2016-17 and in terms of the contract the petitioner carried out the fishing work in the aforesaid tanks but all of a sudden the impugned decision was taken on by which the tank was transferred in favor of the municipality therefore, the ground was raised that when the terms and conditions of the contract was in subsistence during the course when the impugned order was passed, the same cannot be done in the course of subsistence period of the contract, hence the impugned order was not sustainable in the eyes of law.

Counsel for the State-respondent Gautam Kumar, submitted that the impugned decision was taken in terms of the Cabinet decision which was issued by the appropriate authorities and the said Cabinet decision was taken in pursuance to the provision of Section 126 of the Jharkhand Municipal Act, 2011 wherein the provision was made about vesting of property which includes public tanks/reservoirs also, therefore, if the Cabinet took a decision to follow the statue and in terms thereof any decision which was taken, the same cannot be interfered with.

The Court observed that the tanks in question were settled in favor of the petitioner in the year 2016-17 by the order in that regard by the competent authority but in course of subsistence period of the contract the impugned decision was taken to transfer the tanks in favor of the municipality by taking aid of the decision by the State of Jharkhand. It further found no dispute about the settled position of law that if any Act has been acted upon, it was to be followed in its strict sense and there cannot be any deviation otherwise it will be said that the rule of law was not prevailing. It held, “It is a settled legal proposition that Article 14 of the Constitution is not meant to perpetuate illegality or fraud, even by extending the wrong decisions made in other cases. The said provision does not envisage negative equality but has only a positive aspect.” Hence, the petition was dismissed.[Somath Haldar v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 683, decided on 13-06-2019]