ALLAHABAD BANK & ORS VS AVTAR BHUSHAN BHARTIYA

ALLAHABAD BANK & ORS VS AVTAR BHUSHAN BHARTIYA

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



NON­REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 32554 OF 2018
ALLAHABAD BANK & ORS.       …APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
AVTAR BHUSHAN BHARTIYA              ...RESPONDENT(S)
WITH
SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 9096 OF 2019
O R D E R
1. Aggrieved by an order of reinstatement with 50% back­wages,
but all other consequential benefits in full, passed by the High Court
of Judicature at Allahabad, the Management of the Allahabad Bank
has   come   up   with   one   Special   Leave   Petition   and   the   delinquent
Officer has come up with the other Special Leave Petition.
2. We have heard the learned Counsel for the parties.
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3. Since one of these Special Leave Petitions is by the Management
of the Bank and other SLP is by the delinquent Officer, we shall refer
to the parties as “the Bank” and “the Officer­employee”.
4. The Officer­employee was first appointed as a Clerk way back in
the year 1974. He was promoted to the post of Junior Manager GradeII in 1982 and to the post of Manager in 1987. In July, 1988 he was
issued   with   a   charge   memorandum,   comprising   of   3   articles   of
charges. A departmental enquiry followed and the Enquiry Officer held
the charges proved. After finding that the Report of the Enquiry Officer
was not very happily drafted, the disciplinary authority analysed the
evidence on record independently and passed an order of penalty of
dismissal from service on 31.03.1989.
5. The   Officer­employee   filed   a   departmental   appeal   under
Regulation 17 of the Allahabad Bank Officer Employees (Discipline
and Appeal) Regulations, 1976, contending among others, that the
findings of the Enquiry Officer were not even enclosed to the final
order of penalty.
6. The appellate authority, by an order dated 28.02.1990 dismissed
the appeal, despite recording a finding that the copy of the enquiry
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report was not enclosed to the final order of penalty. However, the
Appellate Authority attempted to overcome this defect by holding that
after the Officer­employee filed the statutory appeal, a copy of the
enquiry report was sent to his address on 02.06.1989 and that the
same returned undelivered.
7. After filing a petition for Review and getting it dismissed, the
Officer­employee   moved   the   High   Court   with   a   writ   petition   in
W.P.No.29426 of 1990. After referring to Regulation 9 of the Allahabad
Bank  Officer Employees (Discipline  and  Appeal)  Regulations,  1976
which provides for a supply of the copy of the enquiry report, the High
Court   allowed   the   writ   petition   by   an   order   dated   27.04.2011,
directing  the   Management  to  supply  a  copy of   the  enquiry report
within one month and giving liberty to the Officer­employee to file a
fresh Appeal with a further direction to the appellate authority to
decide the appeal expeditiously.
8. The Bank filed a Special Leave Petition (C) CC No. 13418 of 2011
and   the   same   was   dismissed   by   this   Court   by   an   Order   dated
26.08.2011. The Bank then sought a review before the High Court but
the same also got rejected.
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9. In an interesting twist, the Bank sent a letter dated 8.05.2012 to
the Officer­employee, claiming that the copy of the enquiry report was
not traceable and that he will be free to submit a statutory appeal,
raising   all   issues.   Aggrieved   by   the   stand   so   taken,   the   Officeremployee filed a fresh Writ Petition in W.P No.1403 of 2013. The said
Writ   Petition   was   allowed   by   the   High   Court   of   Judicature   at
Allahabad,   setting   aside   the   order   of   penalty   and   directing
reinstatement with 50% of the back wages, but with all consequential
benefits including post retirement benefits to which he would have
been entitled had he not been dismissed from service. This was for the
reason that the employee attained superannuation on 28.02.2013.
The operative portion of the Order dated 01.10.2018 passed by the
High Court of Judicature at Allahabad is reproduced as follows:
“... Resultantly, the writ petition is allowed.
The   order   dated   31.03.1989   whereby   the
punishment   of   dismissal   has   been   imposed   upon   the
petitioner is hereby quashed. We also quash the order
dated 15.09.2016 rejecting the statutory appeal preferred
by the petitioner against the order of dismissal.
The petitioner will thus be entitled to be given all
consequential   benefits,   including   the   post   retirement
benefit to which he would have been entitled had he not
been dismissed from service of the bank, for the reason
that he has since attained the age of superannuation. We,
however, direct that so far as the back wages, including
the wages to be determined by giving notional promotions
to the petitioner, if any, are concerned, he shall be entitled
only   to   50%   of   total   back   wages.   The   consequential
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benefits arising out of this judgment and order shall be
made available to the petitioner within a period of two
months  from  the  date  a certified  copy of  this order  is
furnished to the competent authority.
Having regard to the entire facts and circumstances
of the case and also considering that the petitioner has
been litigating since the year 1990, we also direct cost to
be paid by the respondent­bank to the petitioner which we
quantify to be Rs.50,000/­.”
10. It is against the aforesaid order that the Bank has come up
with Special Leave Petition (C) No.32554 of 2018. On 03.01.2019,
this Court directed the issue of notice in the said Special Leave
Petition limited to the quantum of back wages. The order dated
03.01.2019 passed by this Court reads as follows:­
“Heard.
We are not inclined to interfere with the impugned
order of the High Court insofar as the petitioner­Bank has
been   directed   to   pay   all   the   retiral   dues   to   the   first
respondent.  
Issue notice limited to the quantum of back­wages.
In   the   meanwhile,   there   shall   be   stay   of   the
impugned order so far as the back­wages are concerned.”
11. Thereafter the Officer­employee came up with Special Leave
Petition   (C)   No.9096   of   2019,   challenging   that   portion   of   the
impugned order whereby he was deprived of 50% of the back wages.
Therefore, on 5.04.2019, this Court ordered the issue of notice in
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the said Special Leave Petition also and directed the matter to be
tagged along with the Special Leave Petition of the Bank.
12. In view of the order passed by this Court on 3.01.2019, the
only question that we are called upon to decide is, whether the
Officer­employee is not entitled to back wages at all or whether he is
entitled only to 50% of the back wages as held by the High Court or
whether he is entitled to full back wages.
13. For finding an answer to the above question, we have to see
primarily, as to who was at fault.
14. Admittedly,   the   Bank   initiated   disciplinary   proceedings   in
terms of Allahabad Bank Officer Employees’ (Discipline and Appeal)
Regulations 1976, for a major misconduct. The three articles of
charges framed against the Officer­employee were as follows:­
“ARTICLE OF CHARGE I
While   posted   and   functioning   as   Manager,   Nighasan
Branch   during   the   year   1986­87   Shri   Avtar   Bhushan
Bhartiya failed to maintain integrity and devotion to duty
and did not act with diligence in as much as he allowed
advances   to   several   borrowers   in   an   indiscriminate
manner without observing the norms of the Bank and the
spirit of the scheme under which such advances were
allowed   at   a   grave   risk   and   has   thereby   violated
regulation   3(1)   of   Allahabad   Bank   Officer   Employees'
(Conduct) Regulations amounting to a misconduct under
regulation 24 of the aforesaid regulations.
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ARTICLE OF CHARGE II
While   posted   and   functioning   as   Manager,   Nighasan
Branch   during   the   year   1986­87   Shri   Avtar   Bhushan
Bhartiya has failed to maintain integrity and devotion to
duty in as much as he allowed indiscriminate advances
for   patthar   udhyog   in   village   Jhandi   &   Khairani   in
complicity   with   one   Shri   Raj   Kumar   with   intent   to
misutilise the subsidy availed on such advances by not
observing the norms of the Bank and the rules of the
scheme   under   which   advances   were   allowed.   Shri
Bhartiya has thereby violated regulation 3(1) of Allahabad
Bank   Officer   Employees'   violated   Regulation,   1976
amounting to a misconduct under regulation 24 of the
aforesaid regulations.
ARTICLE OF CHARGE III
While   posted   and   functioning   as   Manager,   Tikonia
Branch in Distt. Lakhimpur during the year 1985, Shri
Bhartiya has failed to act with diligence and devotion to
duty in as much as he failed to conduct appraisal and
verification of the identity of Shri Tarsem and has thereby
violated   regulation   3(1)   of   Allahabad   Bank   Officer
Employees'   (Conduct)   Regulations   amounting   to   a
misconduct   under   regulation   24   of   the   aforesaid
regulations.”
15. The   departmental   enquiry   commenced   on   21.11.1988   and
concluded on 09.01.1989. The enquiry report dated 09.03.1989 was
forwarded to the disciplinary authority vide letter dated 13.03.1989.
The   disciplinary   authority   passed   an   order   of   penalty   on
31.03.1989.   It   is   obvious   from   the   order   of   penalty   dated
31.03.1989 that the copy of the enquiry report was neither sent
beforehand nor even enclosed to the order of penalty. Interestingly,
the disciplinary authority agreed with the conclusions reached by
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the   enquiry   officer   but   felt   that   the   reasoning   was   deficient.
Therefore, the disciplinary authority chose to analyse the evidence
on record independently. The relevant portion of the order of the
disciplinary authority reads as follows:­
“From the enquiry officer's report I find that while
holding the charges leveled against Shri Bhartiya in the
aforesaid charge sheet dated 26.7.88 as proved against
him he has not analysed the facts brought on the records
of the enquiry proceedings and has also not highlighted
the   merits/demerits   of   the   evidences   brought   on   the
records of enquiry proceedings. Accordingly evidences on
records of the proceedings would first be discussed and
analysed by me chargewise separately each here under as
the same exercise has become necessary for the reasons
mentioned above.”
16. In the statutory appeal filed by the Officer­employee, he raised
a specific contention that the enquiry report was not furnished.
Despite recording a finding that the copy of the enquiry report was
not   even   enclosed   to   the   final   order   of   penalty,   the   Appellate
Authority attempted to overcome the same on the ground that after
the appeal was filed, the copy of enquiry report was sent by post
and that the same returned undelivered. The relevant portion of the
order of the Appellate Authority reads as follows:­
Also,   a   copy   of   the   Enquiry   Officer's   report/findings,
although not enclosed with the Disciplinary Authority's
Order, has been subsequently provided to the appellant.
However,   the   same,   which   was   sent   at   the   recorded
address of the appellant on 2.6.1989, has been returned
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undelivered by the Post Office with the remark : "Pane
wale bar bar jane par nahi milte, intezar ke bad wapas." 
17. At the time when the final order of penalty dated 31.03.1989
was passed and at the time when the appeal was dismissed by the
order dated 28.02.1990, the law in this regard was actually in a
state of flux. After the decision of the Constitution Bench of this
Court in Union of India and Another  vs. Tulsiram Patel1
, a two
member Bench doubted its authenticity or applicability to cases
where a copy of the enquiry report was not supplied. Therefore, in
Union  of   India  And  Others    vs.  E. Bashyan2
,  a reference was
made, which led to the decision in Union of India and Others  vs.
Mohd.  Ramzan  Khan3
.  The position became very clear after the
decision   in  Managing   Director,   ECIL   ,   Hyderabad    vs.    B.
Karunakar4
.
18. Therefore, by the time the writ petition challenging the final
order of penalty was decided on 27.04.2011, the law in this regard
was no longer res integra.
1 (1985) 3 SCC 398
2 AIR 1988 SC 1000
3 (1991) 1 SCC 588
4 1994 SCC Supp.(2) 391
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19. Dehors  the   development   of   law   as   aforesaid,   the   Officeremployee had an advantage in the form of Regulation 9 of the
Allahabad   Bank   Officer   Employees   (Discipline   and   Appeal)
Regulations 1976. This Regulation 9 reads as follows:­
“9. COMMUNICATION OF ORDERS:
Orders   made   by   the   Disciplinary   Authority   under
Regulation 7 or Regulation 8 shall be communicated to
the   officer   employee   concerned,   who   shall   also   be
supplied with a copy of the report of enquiry, if any.”
20. Therefore,   by   the   order   dated   27.04.2011,   the   High   Court
allowed the writ petition of the Officer­employee, on the basis of the
above Regulation. The operative portion of the order of the High
Court dated 27.04.2011 reads as follows:­
“In view of above, the writ petition is allowed. A writ
in   the   nature   of   certiorari   is   issued   quashing   the
impugned appellate order dated 28.2.1990 and the order
dated   3.7.1990   (Annexure­8)   passed   on   the   review
petition.   A   cost   of   Rs.50,000/­   is   imposed   upon   the
respondents which shall be deposited in this Court within
a period of two months. The respondents shall supply a
copy of the enquiry report within one month from today.
Thereafter, the petitioner may prefer an appeal setting up
grounds and pointing procedural illegality including the
plea raised before this Court within the next one month.
The   appellate   authority   shall   decide   the   appeal,
expeditiously say within a period of two months from the
date   of   filing   of   fresh   appeal.  In   case   the   cost   is   not
deposited, the same shall be realised through the District
Magistrate as arrears of land revenue. It shall be open for
the petitioner to withdraw an amount of Rs.25,000/­ and
the rest shall be remitted to the Mediation Centre of this
Court at Lucknow. Registry to take follow­up action.”
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21. The aforesaid order of the High Court has attained finality with
the dismissal of the SLP on 26.08.2011. The order of dismissal of
the SLP reads as follows:­
“Delay condoned.
Having considered the pleadings in the case, the
materials placed on record and the submissions of the
learned counsel, we do not find any merit in the Special
Leave   Petition   and   hence   the   special   leave   petition   is
dismissed.”
22. The Bank thereafter took a chance by filing a petition for
review before the High Court, but the same also got dismissed on
29.02.2012. Thereafter, the Bank took a very strange position by
holding out that the copy of the enquiry report was not traceable.
The   communication   dated  08.05.2012  sent  by  the   Bank  to   the
Officer­employee in this regard reads as follows:­
“In reference to the captioned matter we have to
advise that the copy of the finding of Enquiry Officer is
not traceable and this fact has been brought to the notice
of Hon'ble High Court in the writ petition, and also to you
vide letter No.ZOLK/INSPECTION/693 dated 08.09.2011.
You are requested to submit your statutory appeal and
the same will be considered and you will be provided all
reasonable   opportunity   to   put   forth   your   case   even
personal hearing, if required, will also be afforded to you,
but since the copy of finding of Enquiry Officer is not
traceable we are unable to provide the same. Kindly bear
with us and submit your appeal which will be considered
by the Bank on the basis of records available.”
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23. In view of the aforesaid turn of events, the Officer­employee
moved a contempt petition before the High Court. Finding that the
Management of the Bank cannot be penalized for not being able to
trace the copy of the enquiry report, the High Court closed the
contempt petition with liberty to the employee to re­agitate the issue
on the basis of the subsequent cause of action. The relevant portion
of the order dated 21.05.2013 passed by the High Court in the
contempt petition filed by the employee reads as follows:­
“…Since by the letter dated 8.5.2012, the respondents
had communicated that inquiry report is not available in
absence of inquiry report, cause of action arose contrary
to   finding   recorded   by   the   judgment   and   order   dated
27.4.2011.  It is open for the petitioner to approach this
Court  again to ventilate his grievance on the basis of
subsequent cause of action…”
24. Therefore, the Officer­employee was driven to the necessity of
filing a fresh writ petition in W.P.No.1403(S/B) of 2013. During the
pendency of the said writ petition, an order was passed by the High
Court   on   03.08.2016   holding   that   the   stand   of   the   Bank   was
unacceptable and that in any case an appeal may be preferred and
the same may be decided by the Appellate Authority. Accordingly,
an appeal was preferred. The Appellate Authority considered the
appeal once again but obviously without the copy of the enquiry
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report   and   rejected   the   appeal.   This   fact   is   borne   out   by   the
impugned   order   itself,   the   relevant   portion   of   which   reads   as
follows:­
“…During pendency of this writ petition, an order
was   passed   by   the   Court   in   these   proceedings   on
03.08.2016 wherein it has been observed that the stand
of   the   respondent­Bank   that   enquiry   report   was   not
available, cannot be accepted in view of the finding of this
Court   recorded   earlier   i.e.   the   finding   recorded   in  the
judgment and order dated 27.04.2011.   It was further
observed that the obligation cast upon the respondentBank has not been carried out on the lame excuse.  The
Court   further   observed   that   the   Bank   may,   however,
decide the appeal preferred by the petitioner taking into
consideration the direction issued earlier, vide judgment
and order dated 27.04.2011…”
25. In the light of the aforesaid facts, no great deal of research was
necessary on the part of the High Court to arrive at the conclusion
that the Management of the Bank was clearly at fault. Therefore,
the High Court allowed the writ petition. The operative portion of
the impugned order is already extracted earlier.
26. It is not as though the High Court proceeded solely on the
basis of the failure of the Management to supply the copy of the
enquiry report. The High Court found that the charges related to a
Government   sponsored   Scheme   and   that   the   beneficiaries   were
identified and were short­listed by a Government agency, namely
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the District Rural Development Agency. The High Court also found
that no bad motive was either attributed to the employee nor proved
in the departmental proceedings.
27. On the basis of the aforesaid findings, the High Court could
have granted all the reliefs in full, including full back­wages. But
considering the fact that from the date of his dismissal namely,
31.03.1989, upto the date of his superannuation on 28.02.2013, a
period of nearly 24 years had passed, the High Court thought it fit
to limit the back­wages to 50%. In such circumstances, we do not
think that the Management can make out any grievance, especially
(i) after having violated Regulation 9; (ii) after their failure to point
out to the High Court in the first round of litigation that the copy of
the enquiry report was not available; and (iii) after their inability to
comply with the order of the High Court passed in the first round of
litigation, which was also confirmed by this Court.
28. Therefore,   the   Special   Leave   Petition   filed   by   the   Bank
deserves to be dismissed.
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29. Having dealt with the SLP filed by the Management, let us now
come to the SLP filed by the Officer­employee with regard to the
grant of back wages only to the extent of 50%.
30. The   learned   counsel   for   the   Officer­employee   places   heavy
reliance   upon   the   decision   of   this   Court   in  Deepali   Gundu
Surwase  vs.  Kranti Junior Adhyapak  Mahavidyalaya (D. ED.)
&  Ors.
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, in support of his contention that the grant of full back
wages is a normal rule in cases of wrongful termination of service.
But the ratio laid down in the said decision cannot be pressed into
service by the Officer­employee in this case. This is for the reason
that the Officer­employee in this case was originally appointed as a
Clerk way back in the year 1974. He was promoted to the post of
Junior   Management   Grade­II   in   the   year   1982   and   as   Branch
Manager in the year 1987. This is why he was governed by the
Allahabad   Bank   Officer   Employees   (Discipline   and   Appeal)
Regulations, 1976. Courts should always keep in mind the different
yardsticks   to   be   applied   in   the   cases   of   workman   category
employees   and   managerial   category   employees.   In   appropriate
5 (2013) 10 SCC 324
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cases, the distinction between labour law and service law may also
have to be kept in mind. Many times, Courts wrongly apply, in
matters   arising   under   service   law,   the   principles   laid   down   in
matters arising under labour laws.  
31. As a matter of fact, the propositions elucidated in  Deepali
Gundu Surwase (supra),  read as follows:­
“38. The propositions which can be culled out from the
aforementioned judgments are:
38.1  In   cases   of   wrongful   termination   of   service,
reinstatement with continuity of service and back wages
is the normal rule.
38.2  The aforesaid rule is subject to the rider that while
deciding   the   issue   of   back   wages,   the   adjudicating
authority or the Court may take into consideration the
length of service of the employee/workman, the nature
of   misconduct,   if   any,   found   proved   against   the
employee/workman,   the   financial   condition   of   the
employer and similar other factors.
38.3 Ordinarily,   an   employee   or   workman   whose
services are terminated and who is desirous of getting
back wages is required to either plead or at least make
a   statement   before   the   adjudicating   authority   or   the
Court  of first instance that he/she was not gainfully
employed   or   was   employed   on   lesser   wages.   If   the
employer wants to avoid payment of full back wages,
then it has to plead and also lead cogent evidence to
prove   that   the   employee/workman   was   gainfully
employed and was getting wages equal to the wages
he/she was drawing prior to the termination of service.
This is so because it is settled law that the burden of
proof of the existence of a particular fact lies on the
person   who   makes   a   positive   averments   about   its
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existence. It is always easier to prove a positive fact
than   to   prove   a   negative   fact.   Therefore,   once   the
employee shows that he was not employed, the onus
lies on the employer to specifically plead and prove that
the employee was gainfully employed and was getting
the same or substantially similar emoluments.
38.4 The cases in which the Labour Court/Industrial
Tribunal   exercises   power   under Section   11­A of   the
Industrial   Disputes   Act,   1947   and   finds   that   even
though the enquiry held against the employee/workman
is consistent with the rules of natural justice and / or
certified   standing   orders,   if   any,   but   holds   that   the
punishment   was   disproportionate   to   the   misconduct
found   proved,   then   it   will   have   the   discretion   not   to
award   full   back   wages.   However,   if   the   Labour
Court/Industrial   Tribunal   finds   that   the   employee   or
workman is not at all guilty of any misconduct or that
the employer had foisted a false charge, then there will
be ample justification for award of full back wages.
38.5 The   cases   in   which   the   competent   Court   or
Tribunal   finds   that   the   employer   has   acted   in   gross
violation   of   the   statutory   provisions   and/or   the
principles of natural justice or is guilty of victimizing the
employee   or   workman,   then   the   concerned   Court   or
Tribunal will be fully justified in directing payment of full
back wages. In such cases, the superior Courts should
not   exercise   power   under Article   226 or   136   of   the
Constitution and interfere with the award passed by the
Labour Court, etc., merely because there is a possibility
of forming a different opinion on the entitlement of the
employee/workman   to   get   full   back   wages   or   the
employer’s obligation to pay the same. The Courts must
always be kept in view that in the cases of wrongful /
illegal   termination   of   service,   the   wrongdoer   is   the
employer and sufferer is the employee/workman and
there is no justification to give premium to the employer
of his wrongdoings by relieving him of the burden to pay
to the employee/workman his dues in the form of full
back wages.
38.6 In a number of cases, the superior Courts have
interfered with the award of the primary adjudicatory
17
authority on the premise  that  finalization of litigation
has taken long time ignoring that in majority of cases
the parties are not responsible for such delays. Lack of
infrastructure and manpower is the principal cause for
delay  in   the   disposal   of   cases.  For   this   the   litigants
cannot   be   blamed   or   penalised.   It   would   amount   to
grave   injustice   to   an   employee   or   workman   if   he   is
denied back wages simply because there is long lapse of
time between the termination of his service and finality
given to the order of reinstatement. The Courts should
bear in mind that in most of these cases, the employer is
in an advantageous position vis­à­vis the employee or
workman. He can avail the services of best legal brain
for   prolonging   the   agony   of   the   sufferer,   i.e.,   the
employee or workman, who can ill afford the luxury of
spending money on a lawyer with certain amount  of
fame. Therefore, in such cases it would be prudent to
adopt   the   course   suggested   in Hindustan   Tin   Works
Private Limited v. Employees of Hindustan Tin Works
Private Limited (1979) 2 SCC 80.
38.7 The observation made in J.K. Synthetics Ltd. v.
K.P. Agrawal (2007) 2 SCC 433  that on reinstatement
the   employee/workman   cannot   claim   continuity   of
service   as   of   right   is   contrary   to   the   ratio   of   the
judgments   of   three   Judge   Benches   referred   to
hereinabove and cannot be treated as good law. This
part of the judgment is also against the very concept of
reinstatement of an employee/workman.”
32. Even if we apply the propositions enunciated by this Court in
Deepali Gundu Surwase (supra), the Officer­employee may not be
entitled to full back wages. This is for the reason that there is
nothing on record to show whether he was gainfully employed after
his dismissal from service. A careful look at the pleadings in the
writ petition W.P. No.1403 of 2013 would show that he has not
18
pleaded about his non­employment. Though in paragraphs 36 to 38
of his writ petition, the employee has pleaded about the sudden set
back to his health in the year 2011 and the financial hardships he
was facing, there was no assertion about his non­employment.  The
employee had his pleadings amended after the dismissal of his
appeal   during   the   pendency   of   the   writ   petition.   Even   in   the
amended pleadings, there was no averment relating to his nonemployment.   Therefore,   even   if   we   apply   the   ratio   in  Deepali
Gundu  Surwase  (supra), the employee may not satisfy the third
proposition found in para 38.3 thereof.
33. The   reliance   placed   upon   the   decision   in  Pawan   Kumar
Agarwala  vs.  General   Manager­II   and   Appointing   Authority,
State Bank of India and Others6 may not also be of help to the
employee. It is a case where this Court applied the propositions laid
down in Deepali Gundu Surwase  (supra). This Court found that
there   was   nothing   to   show   that   the   employee   was   gainfully
employed after the date of dismissal.  It is needless to point out that
in   the   first   instance,   there   is   an   obligation   on   the   part   of   the
6 (2015) 15 SCC 184
19
employee to plead that he is not gainfully employed. It is only then
that   the   burden   would   shift   upon   the   employer   to   make   an
assertion and establish the same.
34. The   decision   in  Fisheries   Department,   State   of   Uttar
Pradesh vs. Charan Singh7 arose out of an award of the Industrial
Tribunal under the U.P. Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Therefore,
the same has no relevance to the case on hand.
35. In  Jayantibhai   Raojibhai   Patel  vs.  Municipal   Council,
Narkhed  and  Others8
, this Court referred to the principles laid
down in Hindustan Tin Works (P) Ltd. vs. Employees9
 and to the
propositions culled out in the  Deepali  Gundu  Surwase  (supra).
Though this Court held that the denial of back wages in entirety
was   not   justified,   this   Court   awarded   only   a   lump­sum
compensation in that case.
36. Therefore,   even   applying   the   ratio   laid   down   in   various
decisions, we do not think that the employee could be granted
anything more than what the High Court has awarded.
7 (2015) 8 SCC 150
8 (2019) 17 SCC 184
9 (1979) 2 SCC 80
20
37. As we have pointed out at the beginning, the total period of
service rendered by the Officer­employee before his dismissal from
service, was about 15 years, from 1974 to 1989 and he attained the
age of superannuation in February, 2013, meaning thereby that he
was out of employment for 24 years.  The High Court has taken this
factor into consideration for limiting the back wages only to 50%
and we find that the High Court has actually struck a balance. We
do not wish to upset this balance. Therefore, the Special Leave
Petition of the Officer­employee is also liable to be dismissed.
38. Accordingly, both the Special Leave Petitions are dismissed, no
costs.
………………………………….J.
(Indira Banerjee)
………………………………….J.
(V. Ramasubramanian)
New Delhi
April  22, 2022
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