U.P. State Electricity Board Vs. Pooran Chandra Pandey & Others
 Insc 1028 (9
Mathur & Markandey Katju
O R D
Heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the record.
This appeal has been filed against the impugned judgment and order dated
3.1.2000 in SA No. 364/1999 of the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court (Lucknow
Bench) whereby the Division Bench has affirmed the judgment of the learned
Single Judge dated 21.9.1998 in Writ Petition No. 4027(SS) of 1998.
means of the writ petition, 34 petitioners who were daily wage employees of the
Cooperative Electric Supply Society (hereinafter referred to as the
Society) had prayed for regularization of their services in the U.P. State
Electricity Board (hereinafter referred to as the Electricity Board.
It appears that the Society had been taken over by the Electricity Board on
3.4.1997. A copy of the minutes of the proceeding dated 3.4.1997 is Annexure
P-2 to this appeal. That proceeding was presided over by the Minister of
Cooperatives, U.P. Government and there were a large number of senior officers
of the State government present in the proceeding. In the said proceeding, it
was mentioned that the daily wage employees of the Society who are being taken
over by the Board will start working in the Electricity Board in the same
manner and position.
Pursuant to the said proceeding, the respondents herein were absorbed in the
service of the Electricity Board.
Earlier, the Electricity Board had taken a decision on 28.11.1996 to regularize
the services of its employees working on daily wage basis from before 4.5.1990
on the existing vacant posts and that an examination for selection would be
held for that purpose.
contention of the writ petitioners (respondents herein) was that since the
Society had been taken over by the Electricity Board, the decision dated
28.11.1996 taken by the Electricity Board with regard to its daily wage
employees will also be applicable to the employees of the Society who were
working from before 4.5.1990 and whose services stood transferred to the
Electricity Board and who were working with the Electricity Board on daily wage
learned Single Judge in his judgment dated 21.9.1998 held that there was no
ground for discriminating between two sets of employees who are daily wagers,
original employees of the Electricity Board and
employees of the Society, who subsequently became the employees of the
Electricity Board when the Society was taken over by the Electricity Board.
This view of the learned Single Judge was upheld by the Division Bench of the
are in agreement with the view taken by the Division Bench and the learned
writ petitioners who were daily wagers in the service of the Society were
appointed in the Society before 4.5.1990 and their services were taken over by
the Electricity Board in the same manner and position.
opinion, this would mean that their services in the Society cannot be ignored
for considering them for the benefit of the order dated 28.11.1996.
our opinion, the proceeding dated 3.4.1997 makes it clear that the employees of
the Society should be deemed to be the employees of the Electricity Board with
continuity of their service in the Society, and it is not that they would be
treated as fresh appointees by the Electricity Board when their services were
taken over by the Electricity Board. In this view of the matter, the writ
petitioners (respondents herein) are entitled to the benefit of the order of
the Electricity Board dated 28.11.1996. This view also finds support from the
affidavit of Shri Ramapati Dubey, Chief Engineer, R.P.M.O., U.P. State
Electricity Board in which it is mentioned that In this way, the Board
Order dated 28.11.1996, a copy of which has been filed as Annesxure No. 5 to
the writ petition, has been complied with and the employees of the Cooperative
Electric Supply Society have been given the same status and benefit of
regularization in the similar manner as it was given to the employees of the
Learned counsel for the appellant has relied upon the decision of this Court in
Secretary, State of Karnataka & Ors vs. Uma Devi (3) & Ors (2006) 4 SCC
1 and has urged that no direction for regularization can be given by the Court.
In our opinion, the decision in Uma Devis case (supra) is clearly
distinguishable. The said decision cannot be applied to a case where
regularization has been sought for in pursuance of Article 14 of the Constitution.
observed by this Court in State of Orissa vs. Sudhansu Sekhar Misra (AIR 1968 SC 647 vide para 13):- A
decision is only an authority for what it actually decides.
is of the essence in a decision is its ratio and not every observation found
therein nor what logically follows from the various observations made in it. On
this topic this is what Earl of Halsbury, LC said in Quinn v. Leathem, 1901 AC
before discussing the case of Allen v. Flood (1898) AC 1 and what was decided
therein, there are two observations of a general character which I wish to
make, and one is to repeat what I have very often said before, that every
judgment must be read as applicable to the particular facts proved, or assumed
to be proved, since the generality of the expressions which may be found there
are not intended to be expositions of the whole law, but governed and qualified
by the particular facts of the case in which such expressions are to be found.
The other is that a case is only an authority for what it actually decides. I
entirely deny that it can be quoted for a proposition that may seem to follow
logically from it.
mode of reasoning assumes that the law is necessarily a logical Code, whereas
every lawyer must acknowledge that the law is not always logical at all.
Ambica Quarry Works vs. State of Gujarat & others (1987) 1 SCC 213 (vide para 18) this Court observed:-
The ratio of any decision must be understood in the background of the
facts of that case. It has been said long time ago that a case is only an
authority for what it actually decides, and not what logically follows from
Bhavnagar University vs. Palitana Sugar Mills Pvt. Ltd (2003) 2 SCC 111 (vide para
59), this Court observed:- It is well settled that a little difference in
facts or additional facts may make a lot of difference in the precedential
value of a decision. 15. As held in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd.
& another vs. N.R.Vairamani & another (AIR 2004 SC 4778), a decision
cannot be relied on without disclosing the factual situation. In the same
Judgment this Court also observed:- Court should not place reliance on
decisions without discussing as to how the factual situation fits in with the
fact situation of the decision on which reliance is placed.
of Courts are neither to be read as Euclid`s theorems nor as provisions of the
statute and that too taken out of the context. These observations must be read
in the context in which they appear to have been stated. Judgments of Courts
are not to be construed as statutes. To interpret words, phrases and provisions
of a statute, it may become necessary for judges to embark into lengthy
discussions but the discussion is meant to explain and not to define. Judges
interpret statutes, they do not interpret judgments. They interpret words of
statutes; their words are not to be interpreted as statutes.
London Graving Dock Co. Ltd. vs. Horton (1951 AC 737 at p. 761), Lord Mac
matter cannot, of course, be settled merely by treating the ipsissima vertra of
Willes, J. as though they were part of an Act of Parliament and applying the
rules of interpretation appropriate thereto. This is not to detract from the
great weight to be given to the language actually used by that most
distinguished judge. In Home Office vs. Dorset Yacht Co. (1970 (2) All ER
294) Lord Reid said, Lord Atkin`s speech . is not to be treated as if it
was a statute definition; it will require qualification in new
circumstances. Megarry, J. in (1971)1 WLR 1062 observed: One must
not, of course, construe even a reserved judgment of Russell L. J. as if it
were an Act of Parliament. And, in Herrington v. British Railways Board
(1972 (2) WLR 537) Lord Morris said:
is always peril in treating the words of a speech or judgment as though they
are words in a legislative enactment, and it is to be remembered that judicial
utterances are made in the setting of the facts of a particular case.
Circumstantial flexibility, one additional or different fact may make a world
of difference between conclusions in two cases. Disposal of cases by blindly
placing reliance on a decision is not proper.
following words of Lord Denning in the matter of applying precedents have
become locus classicus:
case depends on its own facts and a close similarity between one case and
another is not enough because even a single significant detail may alter the
entire aspect, in deciding such cases, one should avoid the temptation to
decide cases (as said by Cardozo, J. ) by matching the colour of one case
against the colour of another. To decide therefore, on which side of the line a
case falls, the broad resemblance to another case is not at all decisive.
*** *** *** Precedent should be followed only so far as it marks the path
of justice, but you must cut the dead wood and trim off the side branches else
you will find yourself lost in thickets and branches.
plea is to keep the path of justice clear of obstructions which could impede
are constrained to refer to the above decisions and principles contained
therein because we find that often Uma Devis case (supra) is being applied
by Courts mechanically as if it were a Euclids formula without seeing the facts of a particular case. As
observed by this Court in Bhavnagar University (supra) and Bharat Petroleum
Corporation Ltd. (supra), a little difference in facts or even one additional
fact may make a lot of difference in the precedential value of a decision. Hence,
in our opinion, Uma Devis case (supra) cannot be applied mechanically
without seeing the facts of a particular case, as a little difference in facts
can make Uma Devis case (supra) inapplicable to the facts of that case.
the present case the writ petitioners (respondents herein) only wish that they
should not be discriminated against vis-`-vis the original employees of the
Electricity Board since they have been taken over by the Electricity Board
in the same manner and position. Thus, the writ petitioners have to
be deemed to have been appointed in the service of the Electricity Board from
the date of their original appointments in the Society.
they were all appointed in the society before 4.5.1990 they cannot be denied
the benefit of the decision of the Electricity Board dated 28.11.1996
permitting regularization of the employees of the Electricity Board who were
working from before 4.5.1990. To take a contrary view would violate Article 14
of the Constitution. We have to read Uma Devis case (supra) in conformity
with Article 14 of the Constitution, and we cannot read it in a manner which
will make it in conflict with Article 14. The Constitution is the supreme law
of the land, and any judgment, not even of the Supreme Court, can violate the
may further point out that a seven-Judge Bench decision of this Court in Maneka
Gandhi vs. Union of India & Anr. AIR 1978 SC 597 has held that
reasonableness and non-arbitrariness is part of Article 14 of the Constitution.
It follows that the government must act in a reasonable and non-arbitrary
manner otherwise Article 14 of the Constitution would be violated. Maneka
Gandhis case (supra) is a decision of a seven-Judge Bench, whereas Uma Devis
case (supra) is a decision of a five-Judge Bench of this Court. It is well
settled that a smaller bench decision cannot override a larger bench decision
of the Court. No doubt, Maneka Gandhis case (supra) does not specifically
deal with the question of regularization of government employees, but the
principle of reasonableness in executive action and the law which it has laid
down, in our opinion, is of general application.
the present case many of the writ petitioners have been working from 1985 i.e.
they have put in about 22 years service and it will surely not be reasonable
if their claim for regularization is denied even after such a long period of
service. Hence apart from discrimination, Article 14 of the Constitution will
also be violated on the ground of arbitrariness and unreasonableness if
employees who have put in such a long service are denied the benefit of
regularization and are made to face the same selection which fresh recruits
have to face.
For the reasons aforementioned, we find no merit in this appeal. The appeal is
accordingly dismissed. No costs.