Punjab and Anr Vs. H.B. Molhotra  Insc
317 (12 May 2006)
SINHA & P.P. NAOLEKAR
State of Punjab is before us being aggrieved by and
dissatisfied with the judgment and order dated 2.2.2004 passed in C.W.P.
as also the order dated 23.7.2004 passed in R.A.No.119/2004 in C.W.P.
No.14907/2002, whereby and whereunder it refused to review the said orders.
basic fact of the matter is not in dispute.
respondent herein was an employee of the State of Punjab. A disciplinary proceedings is said
to have been initiated against him. During the pendency of the said proceedings
he expressed his intention to retire voluntarily from the services on account
of his health problems. Accepting the said offer, the said disciplinary
proceeding was dropped. The respondent, however, was not paid his retiral
benefits. He filed a writ petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court which was marked as C.W.P.
No.14907/2002. The High Court on 24.7.2003, passed the following order :
Karan Singh, Director, Public Relations, Government of Punjab is present in Court. He has assured
the court that he would look into the matter personally and pass appropriate
order as expeditiously as possible and would also keep in mind the sickness of
request adjourned to 25.9.2003." Pursuant to or in furtherance of the said
order the Director, Information & Public Relations, Punjab, by an order dated 18.9.2003
accepted the respondent's offer for voluntary retirement from service w.e.f.
5.6.1969 (A.N.) stating:
disciplinary proceedings have been ordered to be dropped vide order No. OR(Estt.1)
03/6412-14 dated 22.9.2003 keeping in view his old age and efflux of time in
deciding the issue. He never joined duty after proceeding on leave on 6.6.1969
as such the date on which he last attended the office is to be construed as his
last day of working in the Department i.e. 5.6.1969.
complaint orders are passed for voluntary retirement from service w.e.f. 5.6.1969
(A.N.) as per his request dated 21.11.1969." On February 2, 2004, the High Court passed the impugned
order directing :
the fact that the aforesaid order was passed on 18.9.2003, learned counsel for
the respondents acknowledges that no payment has been made to the petitioner.
He further states that the petitioner himself had made a request that his retiral
benefits be deposited in the Chief Minister's Relief Fund.
stands acknowledged that no payment has been made to the petitioner till date
primarily on account of the fact that pension papers have not been signed by
view of the above, the respondents are directed to have the pension papers
signed by the petitioner within one week from today. Keeping in account his
advanced age, the respondents are requested to get the papers signed from the
petitioner by not requiring him to attend the office. Having got the papers
signed the respondents are directed to release all retiral benefits including
pension etc. to the petitioner within four weeks from today. Pensionary
benefits shall, however, be limited to a period of three years and two months
preceding the date of filing of the writ petition. We also hereby clarify that
the instant writ petition was filed on 13.9.2002." A review application,
supported by an affidavit affirmed by the Director, Information & Public
Relations, Punjab, was filed in the High Court alleging that the respondent
herein did not satisfy the mandatory provisions of Rule 592 of the Punjab Civil
Service Rules, 1969, for grant of retiral benefits to him, which were, in any
event, not applicable in the case of the respondent. The said review
application was also dismissed by the High Court holding:
is not a matter of dispute that the non- applicant/petitioner did not discharge
no action under Punjab Civil Service Rules, was taken against him although a
department enquiry was commended against him which we were informed, was later
on dropped suo motu. In the aforesaid circumstances, we are satisfied that the
respondent must be deemed to have accepted the medical infirmity of the
Non-applicant/petitioner to discharge his duties. Thus viewed even if an order
was passed under wrong statutory rules, there was sufficient scope the claim of
the non-applicant/petitioner for retirement on medical grounds. In the facts
and circumstances of this case obvious from the plight of the
non-applicant/petitioner who has appeared before us in person we are satisfied
that the ends of justice would be met if the order of voluntary retirement
passed by the Director, Information & Public Relations, Punjab, in favour
of the non- applicant/petitioner w.e.f. 5.6.1969 is treated as under retirement
on medical grounds. In the circumstance noticed above, the petitioner shall be
entitled to pensionary benefits, as directed by us in our order dated
2.2.2004." The High Court issued a further direction as contained in its
earlier order dated 2.2.2004, to be complied with within a period of two months
from the said date. The appellants are thus before us.
Kochar, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants submitted that
the High Court committed a serious error in passing the impugned judgment in so
far as it failed to take into consideration the fact that the respondent herein
was not eligible to obtain the retiral benefits pursuant to or in furtherance
of his offer of voluntary retirement made in the year 1969, and also in view of
the fact that the Voluntary Retirement Rules were not in force at the relevant
time. In any event, the respondent did not complete the qualifying period of
pleas raised before this Court by the counsel were available to the appellants
in the writ petition. But as noticed hereinbefore, the Director, Information
& Public Relations, Punjab, itself made a representation in
the Court that he would look into the matter personally and pass appropriate
orders as expeditiously as possible keeping in mind the fact that the
respondent herein was not keeping well. He being the Head of the Department and
thus a responsible officer, was expected to know the consequences of making
such representation before a superior Court. It is not in dispute that the
appellant No.2 himself has passed an order on 18.9.2003 accepting the offer of
voluntary retirement made by the respondent w.e.f. 21.11.1969. Even if the said
order was passed by way of a mistake, the least which could be done by the said
authority was to recall the said order after complying with the principles of
natural justice. Not only such an action was not taken, an order was allowed to
be passed by the High Court on 2.2.2004 without making any endeavour whatsoever
to get the purported mistake corrected.
stated before us that such a contention had been raised in the counter
affidavit filed on behalf of the State in the writ petition before the High
Court as also at the hearing thereof. On perusal of the judgment of the learned
Single Judge of the High Court, we do not find that such a contention was
raised. If the High Court had failed to take into consideration any submission
made before it, in view of the well-settled principle of law, the remedy of the
appellants was to approach the High Court.
review petition indeed was filed but therein also no such contention was raised
that the disciplinary proceedings having been initiated against the respondent,
the respondent was otherwise not entitled to any retiral benefits. In fact, as
noticed hereinbefore, the said disciplinary proceedings have rightly or wrongly
been dropped. It is, therefore, not open for the appellants to contend that a
contention had indeed been raised before the High Court in the review
proceedings. In any event, the same could not have been entertained by the High
Court as the said question has not been raised in the writ petition.
have noticed hereinbefore that a voluntary statement was made by appellant No.2
and the High Court proceeded on that basis. We also do not find that any
contention was raised before the High Court that in terms of the extant rules
the respondent was not entitled to pension and/or other retiral benefits. It
has not been explained before the High Court or for that matter before us, as
to why no action was taken on the offer made by the respondent and why the
disciplinary proceedings had been dropped. If the disciplinary proceedings as
against the respondent were dropped and that the offer of voluntary retirement
had not been accepted, he would be deemed to be continuing in service till he
reached the age of superannuation; the logical consequence whereof could be
that he would be entitled to the full retiral benefits which were payable to
him in accordance with law. The State, therefore, will have to pay the retiral
benefits to which the respondent was entitled to pursuant to or in furtherance
of the offer made by it before the High Court.
really do not appreciate the manner in which the State took the judicial
process for a ride. We may place on record that a Division Bench of this Court
by order dated 8.8.2005 had directed that the G.P. Fund should be paid to the
respondent within a period of four weeks from the said date. Learned counsel
appearing for the State of Punjab could not inform us whether that amount has
been paid to the respondent or not.
peculiar facts and circumstance of this case, we do not think it proper to
interfere with the judgment of the High Court. The appeals are dismissed. The
respondent, who was appearing in person, was present in Court for a few days
but he was not present on the day when the matter was taken up for hearing. The
High Court has noticed that he is very aged, about 80 years by now.
the State should bear and pay the costs of the respondent which is quantified
at Rs.10,000/-. It is directed accordingly.