Arjun Murmu Versus The State of Odisha & Ors.

Arjun Murmu Versus The State of Odisha & Ors. case

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



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Non-Reportable
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
Civil Appeal No. of 2022
(@ Special Leave Petition (C) No.14996 of 2021)
Arjun Murmu
 …Appellants
Versus
The State of Odisha & Ors.
 …Respondents
With
Civil Appeal No. of 2022
(@ Special Leave Petition (C) No.17933 of 2021)
Radhamohan Hembram & Ors.
…Appellants
Versus
State of Odisha & Ors.
…Respondents
J U D G M E N T
C.T. RAVIKUMAR, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. These Appeals are filed against the final judgment and
order dated 14.07.2021, passed by the High Court of Orissa at
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Cuttack in I.A. No.1000 of 2021 in Writ Appeal (W.A.) No.612 of
2020. The Appeal arising from SLP(C) No.14996 of 2021 is filed
by the Appellant in W.A. No.612 of 2020 and he is Respondent
No.7 in the Appeal arising from SLP(C) No.17933 of 2021 filed by
third parties to the stated interlocutory application and also the
stated Writ Appeal. As a matter of fact, the Appellants in the
Appeal arising from SLP(C) No. 17933 of 2021 are not parties
even to Writ Petition No.24191 of 2020 and the interim order
passed in I.A. No.10848 of 2020 thereon dated 24.09.2020 led to
the filing of W.A. No.612 of 2020. The party Respondents in
W.P.(C) No.24191 of 2020 are Respondent Nos. 5 and 6 in both
the Appeals. For the sake of convenience, the parties are
referred to hereinafter in this judgment in accordance with their
rank and status in the latter Appeal arising from SLP(C) No.17933
of 2021 as all the parties in the former Appeals are arrayed as
Respondents therein, unless otherwise specifically mentioned.
All the private parties viz., the petitioners and the party
Respondents belong either to the batch of directly recruited
Assistant Section Officers (for short, ‘ASOs’) under the special
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recruitment drive for the backlog vacancies for Scheduled
Tribes or batch of directly recruited ASOs under the General
Quota, in Governor’s Secretariat / State Secretariat in the State of
Odisha. The subject matter of the W.P.(C) No.24191 of 2020 is
regarding the fixation of inter se seniority between the said
batches of ASOs, (evidently recruited and appointed in the same
recruitment years) in the final gradation list of ASOs published
vide Notification dated 11.06.2020.
3. In view of the manner in which we intend to dispose of the
Appeals it is unnecessary to delve into the facts. Notification for
the special recruitment drive was first in point of time and
naturally on culmination of the selection process candidates
from the rank concerned were appointed earlier in point of time.
It is the case that direct recruitment notification for direct
recruitment under the General Recruitment Drive and the
appointments of candidates from the consequently drawn list
were effected subsequently. Pursuant to their appointment, the
first Respondent, State of Orissa published a tentative gradation
list of seniority in the post of ASOs in the State of Orissa on
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12.04.2018. In the said gradation list, the appointees from the
General quota were assigned seniority over the special
recruitees. Aggrieved by the assignment of seniority in the
aforesaid manner in the gradation list dated 12.04.2018
Respondent No.7 filed representation raising objection.
According to her, similarly situated persons have also filed such
representations. Disregarding their contentions and objections
the final seniority list in the said grade of ASOs was drawn and
published and this led to the filing of the afore-stated Writ
Petition.
4. When the Writ Petition came up for admission, a learned
Single Judge of the High Court passed an order on 24.09.2020 in
I.A. No.10848 of 2020 on the following lines: -
“As an interim measure it is directed that, any
promotion pursuant to the Gradation List vide
Annexure – 13 shall be subject to the result of the
writ petition.”
5. It is assailing the said interlocutory order dated 24.09.2020
that Writ Appeal No.612 of 2020 was filed. The Division Bench
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passed an interim order in I.A. No.1694 of 2020 on 25.01.2021 on
the following lines: -
“Heard learned counsel for the parties.
As an interim measure, this Court directs that
there shall be no promotion shall be given to
anybody without the leave of this Court.
The I.A. is accordingly disposed of.”
6. Later, the said Writ Appeal itself was disposed of on
24.02.2021. Taking note of the pendency of the Writ Petition, the
Division Bench ordered that it would be open to the parties to
argue the Writ Petition on merits and requested the learned
Single Judge to dispose of W.P. (C) No.24191 of 2020 within a
period of one month as a number of promotional posts were
lying vacant due to the pendency of the said Writ Petition. It was
further ordered therein thus: - “Since we request the learned
Single Judge to dispose of the Writ Petition within a period of one
month, the interim order dated 24.09.2020 passed in I.A. No.10848
of 2020 shall continue till disposal of the W.P. (C) No.24191 of 2020
by the learned Single Judge. The Writ Appeal is disposed of. In
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view of disposal of the Writ Appeal, all the pending I.A.s are
accordingly disposed of.”
7. Subsequent to the disposal of the Writ Petition, I.A. No.606
of 2021 was moved by the 7
th Respondent viz., the Appellant in
the former Civil Appeal, essentially, contending that taking
advantage of an inadvertent mistake in the order dated
24.09.2020, the opposite parties are initiating steps to effect
promotions from the final gradation list of ASOs dated 12.06.2020
which is under challenge in the Writ Petition. Consequently,
they sought for modification of the order dated 24.02.2021 with
direction to continue with the interim order dated 25.01.2021
passed in I.A. No.1694 of 2020 till disposal of W.P.(C) No.24191
of 2020. On 18.03.2021, the Division Bench disposed of the said
interlocutory application by modifying the order dated
24.02.2021 to the extent that interim order dated 25.01.2021
passed in I.A. No.1694 of 2020 shall continue till disposal of the
Writ Petition by the learned Single Judge. It was made clear that
the rest of the order dated 24.02.2021 would remain unaltered.
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8. The first Respondent – State of Odisha filed interlocutory
application viz., I.A. No.1000 of 2020 which led to the passing of
the impugned order in the Appeals arising from the above
special leave petitions. As per the impugned order dated
14.07.2021 in I.A. No.1000 of 2021, the Division Bench recalled
the order dated 18.03.2021 and restored the order dated
24.02.2021 as the final order of disposal of Writ Appeal No.612 of
2020. It is in the aforesaid circumstances, the Appellant in the
said Writ Appeal who is also the petitioner in W.P.(C) No.24191
of 2020 filed the captioned Appeals.
9. Heard, learned counsel for the parties.
10. From the aforesaid narration, it is clear that the Writ
Petition challenging the fixation of seniority under the final
seniority list of ASOs dated 12.06.2013, of the above mentioned
two batches is still pending before the learned Single Bench of
the High Court. The impugned order of the Division Bench
modifying the interim order passed by the learned Single Judge
in W.P.(C) No.24191 of 2020 as also modifying its own interim
order passed in the W.A. No.612 of 2020 was passed while
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disposing of the Appeal with liberty to the writ petitioner to
apply for an early disposal of the pending Writ Petition. It is also
evident that originally, the Appeal was disposed of as per order
dated 24.02.2021 requesting the learned Single Judge to dispose
of the Writ Petition within one month. Obviously, the Writ
Petition was not disposed of within the stipulated time limit and
it is still pending. It is the availability of a large number of
vacancies in the promotional post and the non-availability of
incumbents to mann the posts and the consequential exigency in
administration that made the first Respondent to file I.A. No.1000
of 2021.
11. We are of the considered view that the rival contentions
advanced before us have to be appreciated in the light of the
aforesaid undisputed position that the Writ Petition is still
pending before the learned Single Judge of the High Court.
When the Special Leave Petitions came up before this Court on
08.10.2021, this Court passed the following order: -
“Issue notice.
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In the meanwhile, there will be ad interim stay of
operation of the impugned order dated
14.07.2021 in IA No.1000 of 2021 in Writ Appeal
No.612/2020 passed by the High Court.”
12. The scope of exercise of corrective jurisdiction under
Article 136 of the Constitution of India has to be looked into in
the light of the aforesaid undisputable position that the Writ
Petition itself is pending before the learned Single Judge of the
High Court. It is a fact that no issue was finally decided by the
High Court, warranting exercise of corrective jurisdiction of this
Court under Article 136 of the Constitution. It is also a fact that
this Court has not passed any order transferring the pending
Writ Petition into the file of this Court either suo motu or on
application. In such circumstances, the short question is what
should be the nature of the interim order, in view of the
conflicting orders referred to hereinbefore, to be maintained,
pending consideration of W.P. (C) No.24191 of 2020. We have
taken note of the order passed by the learned Single Judge as
also the conflicting orders passed by the Division Bench in Writ
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Appeal No.612 of 2020 and lastly, the impugned order passed in
I.A. No.1000 of 2021 in the said Writ Appeal.
13. The interim order passed by the Division Bench of the High
Court dated 24.02.2021 itself would reveal the availability of a
number of vacancies in the promotional post of ASOs/Section
Officer and that they are not being filled up solely due to the
pendency of W.P. (C) No.24191 of 2020.
14. The fact is that those vacancies in the promotional post are
still lying vacant. Certainly, non-filling of vacancies in the
promotional post would be prejudicial to the interests of the
administration of any service.
15. The Writ Petition is pending before the learned Single
Judge and on its disposal, the party or parties aggrieved would
be having a remedy to file intra Court appeal. Taking note of all
the aforesaid aspects, we think it wholly appropriate to desist
from making any observation touching the merits of the rival
contentions and at the same time to emphasize on the
expediency of an early disposal of the Writ Petition, which would
be in the interest of all concerned. Normally, when the seniority
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list is in challenge and a number of vacancies are available in the
promotional post, promotions would be permitted to be effected
subject to the result of the Writ Petition carrying challenge
against the seniority list. The learned Single Judge of the High
Court had actually passed such an order taking note of the
balance of convenience. In other words, as an interim measure
it was ordered by the learned Single Judge that promotion
pursuant to the final gradation list would be subject to the result
of the Writ Petition. In froth, as per the original order dated
24.02.2021, Writ Appeal No.612 of 2020 itself was disposed of
maintaining the interim order passed by the learned Single
Judge dated 24.09.2020 in I.A. No.10848 of 2020. That order was
admittedly varied by the Division Bench time and again, as
explained earlier. As per order dated 08.10.2021, this Court
stayed the operation of the order dated 14.07.2021 in I.A.No.1000
of 2021 in Writ Appeal No.612 of 2020 passed by the High Court.
16. Taking note of the totality of the circumstances and also the
balance of convenience, we dispose of these Civil Appeals with
request to the High Court of Orissa to dispose of the Writ Petition
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No.24191 of 2020 as expeditiously as possible, preferably, within
a period of two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this
judgment. All the parties to the Writ Petition shall cooperate for
the early disposal of the Writ Petition, within the stipulated time.
If for any reason, the disposal of the Writ Petition is not possible
within the stipulated period of time, it would be open for the
Respondent authorities to fill up vacancies in the promotional
post of ASOs from the final gradation list of ASOs, referred to as
Annexure 13 in the interim order dated 24.09.2020 in I.A.
No.10848 of 2020 in Writ Petition (C) No.24191 of 2020,
provisionally and subject to the result of the Writ Petition.
17. These Appeals stand disposed of as above. All pending
applications/interlocutory applications are also disposed of.
….…...............,J.
(Indira Banerjee)
.........................,J.
 (C.T. Ravikumar)
New Delhi;
September 23, 2022.

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