Ranjit Singh Vs.
State of Punjab & Ors.  INSC 2184 (16 December 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL Nos.7323-7324 2008 @ S.L.P.
(C) NOs. 1011-1012 of 2006 Ranjit Singh ...Appellant State of Punjab & Ors.
appellant was appointed as a conductor in the Transport Department of Punjab on
10th October, 1983. On 21st December, 2003, while on duty on a Punjab Roadways bus,
which was coming from Amritsar to Jalandhar, the bus met with an accident in
which many passengers and also the appellant received grievous injuries. On
being taken to hospital, extensive facial damage was noted, together with bone
injuries, all over 2 appellant's body. After initial treatment, he was
discharged from the hospital on 15th January, 2004, but the doctors advised him
complete bed rest for a period of three months. On 13th February, 2004, the
appellant made a request to the respondent No. 2 to sanction him leave as he
was unable to attend his duties and furnished a copy of the certificate issued
by the doctors in the hospital in support of his request. In reply to the
request made by the appellant, the respondent No.2 by his order of even date
indicated that the appellant had been sanctioned leave for the period from 22nd
December, 2003 to 15th January, 2004 and thereafter leave had been sanctioned
without pay from 16th January, 2004 to 15th March, 2004. In view of the said
order, the appellant was not paid his salary after 16th January, 2004. The
appellant made a representation to the respondent No.2 against his said order
of 13th February, 2004 and requested that his salary be paid for the period
during which he was undergoing treatment.
1st April, 2004, the appellant was once again admitted to a Nursing Home for
corrective treatment of his face and he was discharged on 6th April, 2004, and
a certificate to that effect was issued by the Nursing Home authorities.
According to the appellant, he had spent a sum of Rs.50,000/- for the operation
and other expenses in the Nursing Home.
appellant claims that he had undergone treatment in different hospitals and had
incurred medical bills amounting to Rs.1,57,000/-. Since no payment was being
made despite the medical bills having been submitted, the appellant filed Writ
Petition No. 13943 of 2005, questioning the inaction of the respondents and
prayed for a direction on the respondents to pay his dues together with
interest at the rate of 18% from the due date till the date of actual payment.
The Writ Petition was dismissed on 26th September, 2005, in the absence of
appellant's counsel with a direction to the respondents to pay to the 4
appellant the settled amount of Rs.58,498/- and that the appellant would be
entitled to claim the balance amount of his total claim before the competent
authority. According to the appellant, out of the total claim of Rs.1,57,000/-
he was paid a sum of Rs.58,498 as sanctioned by the respondent authorities. A Review
Application filed in respect of the said order was also dismissed on 18th
The present Appeals
are directed against both the said orders dismissing the Writ Petition as also
the Review Petition.
will be apparent from what has been stated hereinabove that the two questions
to be considered in these appeals are whether the appellant would be entitled
to the reimbursement of the total medical expenses incurred by him and also
whether he would be entitled to his salary during the period of his
hospitalization, even though no medical or earned leave or half- pay leave was
available to him.
in support of the appeals, Mr. R.K. Talwar, learned advocate, submitted that
since the appellant had met with a near fatal accident and had to be
hospitalized while on duty and since he had been prevented from attending his
duties on account thereof, the appellant's case was different from other cases
in that he did not willfully stayed-away from duties but was prevented by
circumstances which were beyond his control from doing so. Mr. Talwar submitted
that the Leave Rules as relied upon by respondent No.2 in sanctioning leave
without pay for the period after 16th January, 2004, were applicable in
ordinary cases where the employee stayed away from work voluntarily. It was
urged that a distinction would have to be made between such cases and cases
like the present case where the employee had no choice in the matter and was
prevented from performing his duties on account of uncontrollable circumstances.
Mr. Talwar also submitted that, in any event, the respondent No. 2 was bound to
pay the medical expenses incurred by the appellant on account of 6 the severe
injuries suffered by him while on duty. Mr. Talwar submitted that the High
Court had erred in allowing the respondent-company to deposit the sum of
Rs.58,498/- only as there was no reason for the High Court to treat the settled
amount differently from the total claim of the appellant. Mr. Talwar urged that
the said order of the High Court has generated the controversy in the instant
appeals and that this is a fit case for interference by this Court.
the other hand, on behalf of the respondent, Mr. Anil Grover, learned advocate,
submitted that the two questions indicated hereinbefore in paragraph 5 had been
adequately answered in the impugned judgment and the order of the High Court
did not warrant any interference. Mr. Grover submitted further that the total
claim of the appellant had been considered and had been divided between dues,
which were admittedly payable, and those which were disputed and the High Court
had left it open to the appellant to seek his remedy as to 7 the remaining
balance of his claim before the competent authority.
Grover submitted that no prejudice has been caused to the appellant by the
order of the High Court impugned in these appeals and it had been left to the
competent authority to decide the balance claim.
considered the submissions made on behalf of the respective parties, it appears
to us that the concerned respondents had dealt with the appellant's claim in
accordance with the Rules governing the service of the appellant and it was for
the appellant to establish that he was entitled to reimbursement of the entire
amount of the medical expenses which had been incurred by him from his own
resources during his treatment in hospital. It goes without saying that if the
full claim of the appellant was admissible there would have been no controversy
in the matter. At the time of the settlement of the appellant's claim, it is
only 8 to be expected that the Rules regarding entitlement of reimbursement on
account of medical expenses had been considered while arriving at a final
decision. Since a dispute has been raised as to the appellant's to the entire
medical expenses incurred by him during his treatment, the High Court has quite
rightly remitted the matter to the competent authority, entrusted to deal with
such matters, to arrive at a decision in the appellant's case. It is difficult
for the writ Court to take upon itself an investigative mantle in order to find
out whether the appellant's claim for reimbursement of the entire medical
expenses incurred by him during treatment was valid or not. Such an enquiry can
be undertaken by the authority which has been entrusted with such work.
do not, therefore, see any error in the approach of the High Court in its writ
jurisdiction. In our view, the decision of the appellant's claim has been
rightly left to the competent authority and does not warrant any change. We,
therefore, dismiss the appeals, but we also indicate that the appellant will be
entitled to make a fresh representation to the competent authority in regard to
his claims within three months from date, and, if such representation is made,
the same is to be decided by the competent authority within two months from the
date of receipt of such representation, after giving the parties a reasonable
opportunity of hearing. We reiterate that the order that is to be passed upon
the fresh representation shall be a reasoned order and upon taking into
consideration the Rules relating to the service conditions of the appellant.
will, however, be no order as to costs.