K.A. Ansari &
ANR. Vs. Indian Airlines Ltd.  INSC 2036 (28 November 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6903 OF 2008 (Arising
out of S.L.P. (C) No. 4420 of 2006) K.A. ANSARI & ANR. -- APPELLANT (S)
D.K. JAIN, J.:
appeal is directed against two common orders, dated 21st November, 2005, passed
by the High Court of Delhi at New Delhi in L.P.A. Nos. 1135 and 1136 of 2005.
By the impugned orders, the High Court has allowed the appeals, preferred by
the Indian Airlines Limited, the sole 1 respondent in this appeal, against the
order passed by a learned Single Judge of the High Court in the miscellaneous
application filed by the first appellant herein, seeking clarification of the
final judgment rendered by the learned Single Judge on 11th October, 2004. The
Division Bench has held that after disposal of the writ petitions,
miscellaneous application was not maintainable and, hence order dated 4th
March, 2005 on the said application was without jurisdiction.
order to appreciate the controversy, it would be necessary to recapitulate the
background facts, stated in detail by the learned Single Judge. These are as
The appellants were
appointed as Field Officers by the Government of India, Ministry of
Agriculture, Directorate of Agricultural Aviation in the years 1978 and 1979.
On 24th July, 1987, they were transferred under the administrative control of
the Ministry of Civil Aviation. M/s Vayudoot Limited (for short `Vayudoot'), a
public sector undertaking, was incorporated in the year 1981. In the year 1988,
the assets of the Directorate of Agricultural Aviation were transferred to
Vayudoot. As a result thereof, the services of the officers of Directorate of
Civil Aviation were placed at the disposal of Vayudoot, on deputation. The
deputation was on same terms and conditions including pay and allowances as
were being received by the appellants under the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
8th April, 1988, posts of the appellants were re- designated as Operation
Officers. Again on 9th May, 1989, the designation of the appellants was changed
to Assistant Manager. Appellant No.1 - K.P.S. Rathore, was selected as a
trainee pilot on 1st January, 1989 and was confirmed as such with effect from
1st November, 1990. Appellant No.2 - K.A. Ansari, was appointed as a junior
pilot on 1st July, 1990 and was confirmed as such with effect from 1st October,
appears that in the year 1993, the Government of India took a policy decision
to merge Vayudoot with Indian Airlines. On 24th May, 1994, Ministry of Civil
Aviation issued an order conveying the decision of the Government 3 that the
process of absorption of the Vayudoot employees shall commence by 31st June, 1994
with certain relaxations/benefits to them on joining the new organisation. The
benefits included protection of basic pay drawn by the employees of Vayudoot at
the time of their absorption in Indian Airlines.
seems that the employees of Vayudoot, who were absorbed in the Indian Airlines
in a separately created `Short Haul Operations Department', referred to as
`SHOD' by the learned Single Judge, demanded integration with the existing
employees of Indian Airlines. They claimed that they had a right to be promoted
to the next corresponding post with the existing employees of Indian Airlines
by including the service rendered by them under Vayudoot. As expected, the
integration was opposed by the existing employees of the Indian Airlines.
Negotiations were held and in the meeting held on 10th March, 1988, one of the
decisions' taken was as under:
1. SHOD pilots will
undergo training in IA aircraft and on getting type endorsement will be placed
at the bottom of the seniority of First Officers (Co-Pilots).
However, their past
services will be counted for the purpose of pay protection and other financial
benefit. Their future growth will be on the basis of the line of seniority. The
IA will take necessary action to initiate their training within a period of one
2. Pilots who fail to
obtain licence endorsement as per IA rules will be retained in SHOD. Such
pilots may be provided appropriate ground job. Their basic pay and allowances
in such cases will be protected. The proposal is based on the basis of the
policy adopted by the company while phasing out turboprop aircraft in 1982.
3. Four executive
Pilot will remain in SHOD and will be sent on deputation to Alliance Air. After
acquiring training and getting Boeing endorsement they will be appointed as
Co-Pilots. Their pay and allowances and status will be protected."
some more decisions were taken, with which we are not directly concerned in
this appeal except to note that in order to find an amicable solution to the
demands/grievances of the employees of Indian Airlines and SHOD, in the
meetings held on 21st April, 1998 and 16th March, 2000, it was decided that the
SHOD employees will have to complete their training and obtain the licence to
fly an Indian Airlines' aircraft in three attempts.
communication dated 6th September, 2001 the appellants were informed that since
they had failed in two attempts, their training was being terminated and they
would revert to SHOD with immediate effect. The appellants protested, inter
alia, on the ground that they were entitled to three opportunities, instead of
two, to obtain the requisite licence. However, on 15th November, 2002, the
appellants were directed to appear for an interview for selection to the post
of Assistant Manager (Flight Safety). The said action on the part of the Indian
Airlines was questioned by the appellants by preferring writ petitions in the
High Court. Their plea was that as per the agreed arrangement, they had to be
given three chances to obtain the licence endorsement and in the alternative
they had a right to be automatically inducted in a ground job post of
equivalent status with protection of pay and allowances. Notwithstanding the
filing of the writ petitions, 6 the appellants joined on the post of Assistant
Manager (Flight Safety), offered to them in terms of the letter issued by the
respondent on 23rd April, 2003, which contained the following note:
that you are being given this last and final, opportunity to accept our offer
of appointment as Asstt. Manager (Flight Safety) with protection of basic pay.
If you fail to report for Medical Examination by the stipulated date as
mentioned above, it will be presumed that you are not interested in the
alternate employment as a rehabilitation measure offered by the Management and
the Management would be constrained to terminate your services."
that as it may, ultimately the writ petitions preferred by the appellants were
disposed of by the learned Single Judge on 11th October, 2004 in the following
failing 3 tests are undoubtedly entitled to be automatically placed for a
ground job with benefit of past service. This grounding cannot be at a post
lower in the scale held by the petitioners. Since no material has been placed
to show what was the scale of post of Assistant Manager (Flight Safety), writ
petitions are disposed of with the following directions:-
(i) Petitioners would
be entitled to benefit of past service right from inception when they joined 7
service under Government of India for purposes of all terminal benefits and
in-service benefits linked to length of service.
would be entitled to be posted to a post in equivalent scale held by them when
letter dated 23.4.2003 was issued.
would be entitled to basic pay protection.
(iv) If as a result
of direction (ii) above, petitioners are to be put in a post of higher grade,
arrears of pay and allowances would be paid within 6 weeks from today.
(v) Petitioners would
be entitled (only) to the allowances for the ground post in which they are to
25th November, 2004, appellant - K.A. Ansari, communicated the said order to
the Chairman-cum- Managing Director of the Indian Airlines, requesting for his
posting to a post in the equivalent scale, i.e. Deputy Manager, in terms of
direction (ii), extracted above, with consequential relief. In response
thereto, the Indian Airlines informed him that he had been placed in the proper
scale and his basic pay was duly protected in terms of the aforenoted direction
(iii) and service rendered in Vayudoot 8 shall also be taken into
consideration for the purpose of gratuity, provident fund, loans, advances and
medical facilities etc.
being fully satisfied with the response of the Indian Airlines, the first
appellant moved a miscellaneous application before the High Court, seeking a
direction to the respondent to place him in a ground job in the equivalent pay
scale of Deputy Manager, as directed in the final order dated 11th October,
2004. In short the grievance of the applicant was that although on 23rd April,
2003, when Indian Airlines had asked him to join on the post of Assistant
Manager (Flight Safety), he was in the grade of Rs.6200-175-6550-200-7500-225-7775-250-8025
but he had been placed in the pay scale of Rs.5675-175-6550-200-
notice to the Indian Airlines, as noted earlier, the learned Single Judge
disposed of the application vide order dated 4th March, 2005. Inter alia,
observing that counsel for the Indian Airlines had not disputed that when
letter dated 23rd April, 2003 was issued to the appellants they were in the
grade of Rs.6200-175-6550-200-7500-225-7775-250- 8025, the learned Single Judge
disposed of the application with the following directions to the Indian
Airlines:- "It is not being in dispute that when letter dated 23.4.2003
was issued petitioner being a first officer was in the pay scale of Rs.6200-
petitioner on ground would have to be placed in the said scale.
As this court
understands the law to be, if the cadre of a person is changed he would be
entitled to an equivalent pay scale and in the absence of an equivalent pay
scale would be entitled to be placed in the next above scale.
Scale in which the
respondent seeks to place the petitioner is Rs.5675-175-6550-200-7500-
225-7775-250-8025. The fact that the upper limit of the two scales i.e.,
6200-175-6550- 200-7500-225-7775-250-8025, and Rs.5675-
175-6550-200-7500-225-7775-250-8025 is the same is immaterial.
directions is accordingly disposed of directing Indian Airlines to, after
grounding, place the petitioner in the pay scale held by the petitioner i.e.,
Rs.6200-175-6550- 200-7500-225-7775-250-8025. In no case the petitioner be
placed in a scale lower to the scale aforesaid. However, it is clarified that
on grounding, if pay scale of Rs.6200-175-6550-
175-6550-200-7500-225-7775-250-8025 is not available, petitioner would have to
be placed in the next higher grade."
thereby, the Indian Airlines filed intra-court appeal and as noted above, the
Division Bench has reversed the said order. That is how the appellants have
come up before us in this appeal.
have heard learned counsel for the parties.
Nisha Bagchi, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants submitted
that the Division Bench of the High Court failed to appreciate that in the
miscellaneous application, no new dispute requiring fresh adjudication had been
raised. The relief claimed in the application was only in the nature of
clarification to the extent that because of protection of the pay scales at the
time of absorption in the Indian Airlines, the appellants were entitled for
placement in an equivalent or higher pay scale. It was asserted that by way of
clarification, learned Single Judge had merely reiterated and directed
implementation of the directions issued while disposing of the writ petitions.
It was also pleaded that the main order dated 11th October, 2004, having
attained finality, the respondent is otherwise bound to comply with the same.
contra, Mr. R.S. Suri, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Indian
Airlines, supporting the order of the Division Bench, submitted that when the
proceedings stood terminated on final disposal of the writ petitions, it was
not open to the learned Single Judge to reopen the proceedings on filing of the
miscellaneous application by the appellant in respect of the same subject
is trite that a party is not entitled to seek a review of a judgment merely for
the purpose of rehearing and a fresh decision of the case. It needs little
emphasis that when the proceedings stand terminated by final disposal of the
writ petition, it is not open to the Court to reopen the proceedings by means
of miscellaneous application in respect of a matter which provides fresh cause
of action. If this principle is not followed, there would be confusion and 12
chaos and the finality of proceedings would cease to have Datt Sharma &
Anr.1 ). At the same time, there is no prohibition on a party applying for
clarification, if the order is not clear and the party against whom it has been
made is trying to take advantage because the order is couched in ambiguous or
the question for consideration in the instant case is whether the miscellaneous
application preferred by the first appellant could be said to be founded on a
fresh cause of action?
bestowed our anxious consideration on the rival submissions, we are of the
opinion that keeping in view the terms of final order dated 11th October, 2004,
the miscellaneous application could not be said to be founded on a separate or
fresh cause of action so as to fall foul of the aforenoted legal position viz.
on termination of proceedings by final disposal of writ petition, it is not
open 1 (1987) 2 SCC 179 to the court to reopen the proceedings by means of a
miscellaneous application in respect of a matter which provided fresh cause of
action. It is manifest that in direction No. (ii), the learned Single Judge had
clearly directed that the writ petitioners would be entitled `to be posted to a
post in equivalent scale held by them when the letter dated 23rd April, 2003
was issued.' The respondent - Indian Airlines was obliged to obey and implement
the said direction. If they had any doubt or if the order was not clear; it was
always open to them to approach the court for clarification of the said order.
Without challenging the said direction or seeking clarification, Indian
Airlines could not circumvent the same on any ground whatsoever. Difficulty in
implementation of an order passed by the Court, howsoever, grave its effect may
be, is no answer for its non- implementation. In our opinion, in the
miscellaneous application, no fresh relief, on the basis of a new cause of
action, had been sought. It was an application filed for pursuing and getting
implemented the relief granted in the writ petition, namely, placement in
appropriate grade in which he was placed at the time when letter dated 23rd
April, 2003, was issued. This was precisely done by the learned Single Judge
vide his order dated 4th March, 2005.
those factual aspects of the matter, in our judgment, the Division Bench was in
error in holding that after the disposal of the writ petitions, miscellaneous
application was not maintainable and the only remedy available to the appellant
was to approach the authorities and if his interpretation was not acceptable to
them, then he could file a fresh writ petition.
the foregoing reasons, we allow the appeal and set aside the order of the
Appellate Bench and restore the order passed by the learned Single Judge on 4th
March, 2005, directing the respondent to implement the main order, dated 11th
October, 2004. In the circumstances of the case, the parties shall bear their
(D. K. JAIN)