R.D. KAUSHAL AND ORS. VERSUS UNION OF INDIA AND ORS

R.D. KAUSHAL AND ORS. VERSUS UNION OF INDIA AND ORS

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION 
CIVIL APPEAL NO.   6573     OF 2022
[Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.27130 of
2012]
R.D. KAUSHAL AND ORS.      ...APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
UNION OF INDIA AND ORS.  ...RESPONDENT(S)
JUDGMENT
B.R. GAVAI, J.
1. Leave granted.
2. This appeal challenges the judgment and order dated 18th
April, 2012 passed by the High Court of Judicature at Delhi, in
Writ Petition (Civil) No. 8503/2010, thereby setting aside the
judgment   dated   7th  July,   2010   passed   by   the   Central
Administrative   Tribunal,   Principal   Bench,   New   Delhi
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(hereinafter   referred   to   as   “the   learned   CAT”)   in   Original
Application No. 3663/2009.
3. The facts leading to the present appeal are thus:
3.1  Prior   to   the   coming   of   force   of   the   5th  Central   Pay
Commission, there existed two distinct posts in the Language
Cadre of the Research and Analysis Wing, Cabinet Secretariat,
Government of India – the Group ‘B’ post of Assistant Foreign
Language Examiner (hereinafter, AFLE) and the Group ‘A’ post
of the Deputy Foreign Language Examiner (hereinafter, DFLE).
Pursuant   to   the   recommendations   of   the   5th  Central   Pay
Commission,  in  January 1999,  the  pay­scale of  AFLEs was
revised retrospectively from 1st January, 1996 to bring it at par
with the DFLEs. Thereafter, in September, 1999, the Cabinet
Secretariat ordered for the post of AFLE to be reclassified as a
Group   ‘A’   post.   For   both   these   cadres,   the   next   level   of
promotion was to the post of Under Secretary (Language). 
3.2  In 2001, the Research and Analysis Wing (Recruitment,
Cadre and Service) Rules, 1975 (hereinafter, the Recruitment
2
Rules) were amended to equalize the required residency period
for promotion to the post of Under Secretary (Language) to 5
years for both posts. Additionally, the quota for promotion from
the AFLE stream and DFLE stream was amended to make it
60:40 from the earlier quota of 50:50. The Recruitment Rules
also provided for the diversion of seats from one quota to the
other on account of non­availability of eligible candidates for
promotion from that quota.
3.3  The appellants herein joined the service as Interpreters
between April, 1985 and September, 1990, and were promoted
as AFLEs between March, 1995 and September, 1998. DFLEs,
however, were first recruited only in the year 1999. In 2002, on
account   of   vacancies   that   arose   in   the   Under   Secretary
(Language) cadre due to the non­eligibility of DFLEs who had
yet   to   complete   the   5   year   residency   requirement,   the
Department of Personnel & Training (hereinafter, the DoPT), on
a   proposal   sent   by   the   Cabinet   Secretariat   to   divert   the
vacancies   to   the   candidates   from   the   AFLE   quota,
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recommended for both the posts to be merged since they were
identical in terms of the nature of their functions and duties,
their   salaries   as   well   as   their   promotional   avenues.   This
recommendation  remained  in   cold storage  until  finally,  vide
Notification dated 13th  March, 2008, the posts of AFLE and
DFLE were  merged and  re­designated as  Senior  Interpreter.
However, a footnote was added therein to the effect that the
merger would be effected in a manner that would not have any
adverse impact on the career prospects of the direct recruits,
i.e., the DFLEs, who would continue to maintain their distinct
identity   till   their   promotion   to   the   post   of   Under   Secretary
(Language).
3.4  In the meanwhile, the vacancies that had arisen in the
post of Under Secretary (Language) were the subject matter of
litigation before the learned CAT.  The learned CAT, vide order
dated 26th May, 2008, observed that the distinction between the
AFLEs   and   DFLEs   had   been   removed   with   effect   from   1st
January, 1996, i.e., the date from which the recommendations
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of the 5th Central Pay Commission were implemented. Vide the
said order, directions were given to the Cabinet Secretariat and
the DoPT to reconsider the aspect of the merger of AFLEs and
DFLEs and the consequences thereof within a period of three
months from the date of the order. Promotions to the post of
Under Secretary (Language) were also put on hold until such
reconsideration. 
3.5  In   pursuance   of   the   aforesaid   direction,   the   Cabinet
Secretariat, through the Joint Secretary (Personnel) issued an
Order dated 2nd September, 2008, wherein it was held that the
distinction between the AFLEs and the DFLEs remained up till
the   official   merger   on   13th  March,   2008,   and   thus,   no
amalgamation of the two cadres had taken place by virtue of
the operationalization of the recommendations of the 5th Central
Pay Commission. 
3.6  Aggrieved by this order, one Vinod Kumar Jain, an AFLE,
filed a contempt petition before the learned CAT, which, vide
order dated 19th  November, 2008, observed that the direction
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issued by the learned CAT in the order dated 26th May, 2008
had not been challenged and had therefore attained finality.
Another opportunity was granted to the Cabinet Secretariat to
pass a fresh order taking into account the observations made in
the order dated 26th May, 2008. 
3.7  Thereafter, the appellant nos. 1 and 2, filed O.A. No. 3663
of 2009 before the learned CAT along with three other AFLEs,
challenging   both   the   footnote   in   the   Notification   dated   13th
March, 2008 as well as the order dated 2nd September, 2008.
The learned CAT allowed the original application vide order
dated 7th  July, 2010, thereby quashing and setting aside the
order dated 2nd  September, 2008, with a further direction to
pass,   within   two   months,   a   speaking   order   strictly   in
accordance with  the observations of the  learned CAT in  its
order dated 26th May, 2008. 
3.8  Aggrieved   thereby,   the   Union   of   India   preferred   a   writ
petition before the High Court, in W.P. (C) No. 8503 of 2010,
which   was   allowed   by   the   High   Court   vide   the   impugned
6
judgment   dated   18th  April,   2012,   thereby   setting   aside   the
learned   CAT’s   order   dated   7th  July,   2010.   Being   aggrieved
thereby, the appellants have approached this Court.
4. We   have   heard   Mr.   Rohit   Sharma,   learned   counsel
appearing   on   behalf   of   the   appellants   and   Mr.   Vikramjit
Banerjee, learned Additional Solicitor General (“ASG” for short)
appearing on behalf of the respondents. 
5. Mr. Rohit Sharma, learned counsel, submitted that the
High   Court   could   not   have   reopened   the  learned  CAT’s
judgment and order dated 26th May 2008.  He submitted that
the issue of merger also stood finally decided by the  learned
CAT vide the same order, which was never challenged by any
party and had thus attained finality.  
6. Mr.   Sharma   further   submitted   that   the   order   of   the
Cabinet   Secretariat   dated  2
nd  September,   2008  was   totally
contrary to the directions issued by the learned CAT dated 26th
May 2008, which was not permissible in law.  By order dated
7
th July 2010 passed by the learned CAT, which was impugned
7
before the High Court, the learned CAT had only directed for
the implementation of the order dated 26th May 2008.  As such,
there was no occasion for the High Court to interfere with the
same.  
7. On merits, Mr. Sharma submitted that both  AFLEs  and
DFLEs  performed the same responsibilities, carried the same
pay and were classified as Group A and both also had the same
residency period for promotion to the post of Under Secretary
(Language).  He submits that once the AFLEs and DFLEs were
merged into the same cadre, a further classification on the
basis of their birthmarks was not permissible in law.  He relies
on   the   judgment   of  this   Court  in   the   case   of  B.   Manmad
Reddy and others vs. Chandra Prakash Reddy and others1
in support of his submission.  
8. Shri Vikramjit Banerjee, learned ASG, submitted that the
learned   CAT   had   erred   in   giving   retrospective   effect   to   the
Notification dated 13th March 2008. He submits that it has been
1 (2010) 3 SCC 314
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specifically provided by the footnote in the said Notification that
on the merger of AFLEs and DFLEs and their redesignation as
Senior   Interpreter,   the   same   would   not   have   any   adverse
impact on the career prospects of the existing direct recruits in
the grade of DFLEs.
9. We find that, in the peculiar facts and circumstances of
the present case, it is not necessary to go into the question of
law   as   raised   by   the   parties,   since   all   the   appellants   have
superannuated.  
10. The issue involved now is only restricted to the terminal
benefits   and   pension   payable   in   respect   of   the   appellants
herein, who are only three in number.   
11. Mr.   Sharma,   learned   counsel,   fairly   states   that   the
appellants are willing to give up their claim for arrears and that
they   would   restrict   their   claim   in   the   present   appeal   only
insofar as the terminal benefits and pension as payable to them
are concerned.  
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12. In that view of the matter, we are inclined to dispose of the
present appeal with a direction to the respondents to calculate
terminal benefits as are payable to the appellants on the basis
of the orders passed by the learned CAT dated 26th May 2008
and 7
th July, 2010.  We are inclined to do so specifically in view
of the fact that the order of the learned CAT dated 26th  May
2008 was not challenged by the respondent­Union of India and
has, therefore, attained finality. The pension as calculated in
view of the aforesaid directions would be paid to the appellants
with effect from 1st  January 2023.     The terminal benefits,
which the appellants are entitled to, would be cleared on or
prior to 31st December, 2022.  In the facts and circumstances of
the case, the appellants would not be entitled for arrears of
pension   from   the   date   of   their   superannuation   till   31st
December, 2022. However, they will be entitled to interest at
the rate of 6% per annum on the terminal benefits payable to
them from the date of their superannuation till the date of
actual payment.  
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13. The appeal is disposed of in the above terms. Pending
applications, if any, stand disposed of.  However, there shall be
no order as to costs. 
   …….........................J.       
[B.R. GAVAI]
         ………………….…….........................J.
[PAMIDIGHANTAM SRI NARASIMHA]
NEW DELHI;
SEPTEMBER 14, 2022.
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