Regional Manager, Apsrtc Vs. N. Satyanarayana and Ors  Insc 1135 (12 November 2007)
Arijit Pasayat & P. Sathasivam
APPEAL NO. 5158 OF 2007 (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 17859 of 2005) Dr.
ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
Challenge in this appeal is to the order passed by a Division Bench of the
Andhra Pradesh High Court in Writ Appeal No.874 of 2005 dismissing the appeal
filed by the appellants and thereby upholding the order passed by a learned
Single Judge in Writ Petition No.16244 of 1999 and some other writ petitions.
The present appeal relates to Writ Petition No.16244 of 1999 which was filed by
Factual position is almost undisputed. The respondents were appointed as
Conductors w.e.f. 31.10.1996 on daily wages basis. Although the appointments of
the respondents were on daily wages basis, their services were to be
regularized in a phased manner as and when sanctioned vacancies arose.
sanctioned vacancies arose and the respondents had completed 240 days of
service, in terms of policy decision, their services were regularized w.e.f.
1.8.1987. After passage of more than a decade, respondents filed a writ
petition i.e. Writ Petition (C) No.16244 of 1999 seeking regularization of
their services from the date of initial appointment with all consequential
benefits. By order dated 18.08.2004, learned Single Judge disposed of the Writ
Petition along with other cases allowing the writ petitions purportedly
following the decision of this Court in Divisional Manager, APSRTC and Ors. v.
P. Lakshmoji Rao and Ors. (2004 (2) SCC 433).
Writ Appeals were filed before the High Court challenging the learned Single
Judge's order on the ground that on a misreading of this Court's judgment in
Divisional Manager, APSRTC and Ors. case (supra) the writ petition was allowed.
Division Bench dismissed the writ appeal holding that the judgment of this
Court in Divisional Manager, APSRTC's case (supra) applied to the facts of the
support of the appeal, learned counsel for the appellant - Corporation
submitted that both the learned Single Judge and the Division Bench did not
appreciate the ratio of the decision in Divisional Manager, APSRTC's case
(supra) in the proper perspective and have erroneously held that the decision
applied to the case of the respondents.
There is no appearance on behalf of any of the respondents in spite of service
learned Single Judge, while allowing the writ petition relied on paragraph-18
of the judgment of this Court. The same reads as follows:
view of this peculiar situation and in order to avoid the anomalies that might
otherwise ensue, while we hold that the respondent employees have failed to
establish their legal right to get the status of regular employees right from
the date of their initial appointment on daily-wage basis and the respective
dates of regularization assigned to the respondents cannot be legally faulted,
we are inclined to mould the relief in modification of the directions given in
the judgments under appeal and direct as follows:
any of the conductors, junior to the respondents in the relevant senior list of
the concerned Division/Region, have got the benefit of seniority and
regularization OR are entitled to get the same by virtue of the judgments that
have become final, then the respondents who are seniors to them, shall be given
the same benefit on the same principle."
is to be noted that the ratio of the decision in the said case was to the
is difficult to comprehend the ratio of the above decision. While purporting to
clarify the order passed in the writ petition by the learned Single Judge, the
Division Bench imported a totally alien concept of continuous service within
the meaning of Section 25-B of the I.D. Act which was for the special purpose
of applying the provisions as to lay off and retrenchment contained in Chapter
V-A of the Act. Moreover, the order in the writ appeal is as vague as it could
be. The expression 'date of continuous appointment' makes no sense.
if it is taken that the said wording has been inaccurately used for the words
'continuous service', still, the direction is unintelligible. Continuous
service within the meaning of Section 25-B for how long? Nothing has been specified.
In this state of things, in W.P. No. 24263 of 1998, a learned Single Judge
proceeded on the basis that as per the decision in W.A. No.705/1995, the
employees were entitled to seek regularization with effect from the date of
initial appointment, thus, making the clarification given by the Division Bench
light of the above discussion, we are of the view that the law laid down or the
directions given in various writ petitions/writ appeals are not legally
sustainable for more than one reason. Firstly, wrong criterion based on Section
25-B of I.D. Act was applied in case after case. Secondly, the respondents and
other similarly situated employees approached the Court under Article 226 long
after their regularization, thereby unsettling the settled position. Thirdly,
on the facts of these cases, it is evident that the services of the employees
who were recruited as Conductors were regularized within a reasonable time. The
respondent-employees were, therefore, treated fairly. No service rule or
regularization or any other principle of law has been pressed into service by
the respondents to claim regularization from an anterior date i.e. right from
the date of their initial appointment as daily wage employees."
Even a bare reading of paragraph-18 of the judgment on which reliance has been
placed by the learned Single Judge and the Division Bench, it is clear that the
relief was moulded to avoid anomalies and in view of the peculiar situation
involved. This Court categorically held that the orders impugned in the appeals
were not sustainable because the writ petitions were filed after a long lapse
of time. Similar is the position here. The regularization was done w.e.f.
1.8.1987 and the writ petitions were filed in the year 1999. That being so and
since in the writ petition without any explanation has been offered for the
delayed approach, writ petition should have been dismissed on the ground of
delay and laches.
The learned Single Judge and the Division Bench clearly lost sight of this fact
and as rightly contended by learned counsel for the appellant, misread the
judgment of this Court to grant relief to the respondents. Orders of both the
learned Single Judge and the Division Bench of the High Court need to be
vacated and we direct accordingly.
The appeal is allowed but in the circumstances without any order as to costs.