State of Maharashtra Vs. Baishankar
Avalram Joshi & ANR  INSC 69 (10 March 1969)
10/03/1969 SIKRI, S.M.
CITATION: 1969 AIR 1302 1969 SCR (3) 917 1969
SCC (1) 804
RF 1991 SC 471 (5)
Constitution of India Art. 311(2)-reasonable
opportunitywhether requires supply of copy of Enquiry Officer's reportBombay
Reorganisation Act, 1960, ss. 60 and 61--whether liability to pay arrears of
salary if arising out of contract under s. 61 or in respect of 'actionable
wrong other than breach of contract' under s. 61.
The first respondent while he was holding the
post of a Senior Jailor in March, 1954, was suspended on the allegations that
he had committed certain acts of misappropriation and maltreatment of
prisoners. After January, 1955. A show cause notice was then issued to him to
which he replied by a written statement. The respondent was dismissed by an
order of Inspector General of Prisons in February, 1955. The respondent filed a
suit for a declaration that enquiry report was never supplied to him and
consequently he had not been given reasonable opportunity within the meaning of
Art. 311 of the Constitution. He also prayed for a decree for arrears of pay
from April, 1954 to May, 1960. His suit was dismissed by the trial court but he
succeeded in the first appeal where the order of dismissal was declared illegal
An appeal by the respondent to the High Court
claiming arrears of salary was allowed.
As the State of Bombay had, in the meantime,
been reorganised, the High Court also directed that the liability for arrears
of salary upto the date of suit would be that of the State of Maharashtra and
the liability arising out of the declaration that the appellant was in Government
service would be the liability of the State of Gujarat. A Letters Patent appeal
filed by the State of Maharashtra was dismissed.
In appeal to this Court, it was contended,
inter alia, on behalf of the appellant that the liability to pay arrears of pay
was not a liability arising out of a contract within the meaning of section 60
of the Bombay Reorganisation Act of 1960 but it was a liability in respect of
an actionable wrong other than a breach of contract within the meaning of
section 61 of the Act.
HELD: (1) The High Court had rightly found
that the failure on the part of the competent authority to provide the
respondent with a copy of the report of the Enquiry Officer amounted to denial
of reasonable opportunity contemplated by Art. 311(2) of the Constitution. The
Inspector General of Prisons had the report before him and the tentative
conclusions arrived at by the Enquiry Officer were bound to influence him and
in depriving the plaintiff of a copy of the report he was handicapped in not
knowing what material was influencing the Inspector General of Prisons. [920 F]
Union of India v. H. C. Goel,  4 S.C.R. 718, 728, referred to.
It is true that the question whether
reasonable opportunity has or has not been' afforded to the Government servant
must depend on the facts 918 of each case, but it would be in very rare cases
indeed in which it could be said that the Government servant is not prejudiced
by the non-supply of the report of the Enquiry officer. [921 B] (2) The decree
of the High Court decreeing payment of arrears of salary is truly a liability
in proceedings relating to a contract within s. 60(2) (a) of the Act.
Although the words 'actionable wrong' other
than breach of contract in this context are wide words and include something
more than torts, but even so where a suit is brought by a Government servant
for arrears of salary the decree more properly falls under s. 60 of the Act
rather than under a. 61. [925 B] State of Tripura v. The Province of East
Bengal,  S.C.R. 1, 44, State of Bihar v. Abdul Majid,  S.C.R.
786, Owner of S. S. Raphael v. Brandy, 
A.C. 413-14, Inland Revenue Commissioner v. Hambrook,  1 AR E.R.
807, 811-12, Reilly v. R.,  A.C. 176,
179; Terrell v. Secretary of State for the Colonies,  2 Q.B. 482, 499;
R. v. Doultre,  9 A.C. 745 and Bushe v.
R., (May 29, 1869, The Times), considered.
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal
No. 647 of 1966.
Appeal by special leave from the judgment and
decree dated June 19, 24, 1963 of the Gujarat High Court in Appeal No. 704 of
1960 from Appellate Decree.
P. K. Chatterjee and S. P. Nayar, for the
I. N. Shroff, for respondent No. 1.
S. K. Dholakia and Vineet Kumar, for
respondent No. 2.
The Judgment of the Court was delivered by
Sikri, J. This appeal by special leave arises out of the suit filed by
Bhaishankar Avalram Joshi, hereinafter referred to as the plaintiff, for a
declaration that the order of dismissal, dated February 2/4, 1955, passed by
the Inspector General of Prisons, Saurashtra, was illegal and void on the
ground that it contravened the provisions of Art. 311 (2) of the Constitution.
The plaintiff also prayed for a decree for Rs. 2,690 being arrears of his pay
from April 1, 1954 to May 7, 1956.
The plaintiff failed before the Civil Judge,
Rajkot, but on appeal succeeded before the District Judge, Central Saurashtra,
inasmuch as he declared order dated February 2/4, 1955, illegal and void. The
plaintiff appealed to the High Court claiming arrears of salary and the State
of Bombay filed cross-objections praying that the suit be dismissed. The second
appeal was heard by the High Court of Gujarat (Miabhoy, J.) who directed that
the decree passed by the lower appellate court "be varied so as to show
that the appellant (plaintiff) continued to be in Government service till the
date of the suit only and there will be a decree for Rs. 2,690 919 being
arrears of pay due to the appellant (plaintiff) upto the date of the suit.
There will be a further provision in the decree that the liability arising out
of the declaration that the appellant is in Government service is the liability
of the State of Gujarat and that the liability for the payment of the arrears
of pay is the liability of the State of Maharashtra". The State of Maharashtra
filed as application for leave to appeal under the Letters Patent but this' was
dismissed. The appeal is now before us.
The learned counsel for the appellant the
state of Maharashtra , contends ,first, that the High Court erred in holding
that there had been a breach of Art. 311(2) of the Constitution, as, according
to him, there was no duty to supply a copy of the report of the enquiry held
against the plaintiff. Secondly, he contends that the High Court erred in
fastening the liability in respect of the arrears of pay on the State of
Before we deal with the above points we may
give a few facts. The plaintiff entered service in the Gondal State in 1927 as
a jailor. The Gondal State merged with the United States of Saurashtra. On March
6, 1953, the plaintiff was appointed senior jailor, Surendranagar District
Jail. On March 25, 1954, he was suspended, and at that time he was acting as
Accountant at Rajkot Central Jail. On March 7, 1954, he was served with a
In substance the charges were that while he
was serving at Surendranagar he had committed certain acts of misappropriation
of food stuffs meant for prisoners, maltreatment of prisoners and acceptance of
illegal gratification from them. The plaintiff filed a written statement on
September 4, 1954, and an enquiry was held by Mr. Gangopadhyay. The plaintiff
appeared before that officer and cross-examined witnesses. He also examined
himself and some witnesses. He was also allowed to appear through an Advocate
in the enquiry proceedings. The Enquiry Officer made a report and on or about
January 7, 1955, the following notice was issued to him calling upon him to
show cause why he should not be dismissed from service "To Shri
Bhaishanker A. Joshi, Accountant, Rajkot Central Prison (Under suspension)
Charges framed against you under this office No. C/ 14 dated 27-3-54 and in
particular the charges of having accepted illegal gratification from prisoner
Ratilal Jivan have been established to the satisfaction of Government. You are
hereby asked to show cause why the punishment of dismissal from service should
not be inflicted upon You.
920 You should please submit your reply to
this office, through the Superintendent, Rajkot Central Prison,, within a week
from the date of receipt of this letter without fail.
Sd/M. J. BHATT Inspector General of Prisons,
Government of Saurashtra. " The plaintiff filed a written statement. He
was dismissed by the Inspector General of Prisons by his order dated February
2/4, 1955. This order was amended on February 9, 1955, in which it was stated
that "the aforesaid order should be read so as to show that the plaintiff
was dismissed from service on account of charge of accepting, illegal
gratification from prisoner Ratilal Jivan having been conclusively proved
against him in the departmental inquiries conducted against him by the
In the plaint the plaintiff alleged that copy
of the enquiry report was never supplied to him, and consequently he had not
been given reasonable opportunity within the meaning of Art. 311 of the
Constitution. The State of Bombay admitted that the plaintiff was not supplied
with a copy of the report of the Enquiry Officer, but pleaded that the
plaintiff had not asked for copy of the report and had not been prejudiced by
the non-supply of the copy of the report.
The High Court held that the failure on the
part of the competent authority to provide the plaintiff with a copy of the
report of the Enquiry Officer amounted to denial of reasonable opportunity
contemplated by Art. 311(2) of the Constitution.
It seems to us that the High Court came to a
correct conclusion. The plaintiff was not aware whether the Enquiry Officer
reported in his favour or against him. If the report was in his favour, in his
representation to the Government he would have utilised its reasoning to
dissuade the Inspector General from coming to a contrary conclusion, and if the
report was against him he would have put such arguments or material as he could
to dissuade the Inspector General from accepting the report of the Enquiry
Moreover, as pointed out by the High Court,
the Inspector General of Prisons had the report before him and the tentative
conclusions arrived at by the Enquiry Officer were bound to influence him, and
in depriving the plaintiff of a copy of the report he was handicapped is not
knowing what material was influencing the Inspector General of Prisons.
921 As observed by Gajendragadkar, J., as he
then was, in Union of lndia v. H. C. Goel(1), "the enquiry report along
with the evidence recorded constitute the material on which the Government has
ultimately to act. That is the only purpose of the enquiry held by competent
officer and the report he makes as a result of the said enquiry".
It is true that the question whether
reasonable opportunity has or has not been afforded to the Government servant
must depend on the facts of each case, but it would be in very rare cases
indeed in which it could be said that the Government servant is not prejudiced
by the non-supply of the report of the Enquiry Officer.
In the result we must over-rule the first
contention urged on behalf of the appellant, the State of Maharashtra.
The plaintiff is not concerned with the
second contention but it is a dispute between the State of Maharashtra and the
State of Gujarat. As is well-known, the State of Bombay was reorganised into
the above two States and the-Bombay Reorganisation Act, 1960, contained various
provisions for the apportionment of assets and liabilities between the two
States. We are here concerned with ss. 60 and 61 of the Bombay Reorganisation
1960, which read thus :
"60. (1) Where, before the appointed
day, the State of Bombay has made any contract in the exercise of its executive
power for any purposes of the State, that contract shall be deemed to have been
made in the exercise of the executive power,(-a) if such purposes are, as from
that day, exclusively purposes of either the State of Maharashtra or the State
of Gujarat, of that State; and (b) in any other case, of the State of
and all rights and liabilities which have
accrued, or may accrue, under any such contract shall, to the extent to which
they would have been rights or liabilities of the State of Bombay, be rights or
liabilities of the State of Maharashtra or the State of Gujarat, as the case
Provided that in any such case as is referred
to in clause (b), the initial allocation of 'rights and liabilities made by
this sub-section shall be subject to such financial adjustment as may be agreed
upon between the State (1)  4 S.C.R. 718,728.
922 of Maharashtra and the State of Gujarat,
or, in default of such agreement, as the Central Government may by order
(2) For the purposes of this section there
shall be deemed to be included in the liabilities which have accrued or may
accrue under any contract(a)any liability to satisfy an order or award made by
any court or other tribunal in proceedings relating to the contract; and (b any
liability in respect of expenses incurred in or in connection with any such
(3)This section shall have effect subject to
the other provisions of this Part relating to the apportionment of liabilities
in respect of loans, guarantees and other financial obligations; and bank
balances and securities shall, notwithstanding that they partake of the nature
of contractual rights, be dealt with under those provisions.
61. Where, immediately before the appointed
day, the State of Bombay is subject to any liability in respect of any
actionable wrong other than breach of contract, that liability shall,-(a) if
the cause of action arose wholly within the territories which, as from that
day, are the territories of the State of Maharashtra or the State of Gujarat,
be a liability of that State; and (b) in any other case, be initially a
liability of the State of Maharashtra but subject to such financial adjustment
as may be agreed upon between the States of Maharashtra and Gujarat or, in
default of such agreement, as the Central Government may by order direct."
The learned counsel for the State of Maharashtra contends that the liability to
pay arrears of pay was not a liability arising out of a contract but was a
liability in respect of an actionable wrong other than a. breach of contract.
This Court in State of Bihar v. Abdul
Majid(1) held "that the rule of English Law that a civil servant cannot
maintain a suit against the Crown for the recovery of arrears of salary does
not prevail in India and it has been negatived by the provisions of the statute
law in India". Mahajan, C.J., speaking for the Court, observed at p. 802:
"As regard torts of its servants in
exercise of sovereign powers, the company was not, and the Crown in (1) 
923 India was not, liable unless the act has
been ordered or ratified by it. Be that as it may, that rule has no application
to the case of arrears of salary earned by a public servant for the period that
he was actually in office.
The present claim is not based on tort but is
based on quantum meruit or contract and the court is entitled to give relief to
him." It may be that these observations are not conclusive on the point
under consideration. It seems to us, however, that some elements of
relationship between a public servant and Government are based on contract within
the meaning of s. 60 of the Bombay Reorganisation Act, 1960. In particular, the
liability to pay salary, when it has been fixed, arises out of a contract to
pay salary. Authority is not lacking even in England where a special
relationship exists between the Crown and its public servants. In Owner or S.
S. Raphael v, Brandy(1) the head-note reads A stoker on board a merchant ship,
who was entitled to wages from the ship owners, and also as a stoker in the
Royal Naval Reserve to 6 pound a year as a retainer, was injured by an accident
on the ship which disabled him from continuing to serve in the Royal Naval
Reserve Held, that the stoker was entitled under the Workmen's Compensation
Act, 1906, to compensation from the ship owners not only in respect of his
wages but also of the retainer, which must be taken into account as earnings
under a concurrent contract of service." The Lord Chancellor in the course
of the speech observed "A point was made before your Lordships which does
not appear to have been made in the Court below, that there was no contract
with the Crown at all here. The authorities cited go no further than to say
that when there is an engagement between the Crown and a military or naval
officer the Crown is always entitled to determine it at pleasure, and that no
obligation contrary to that would be recognized or valid in law.
It was then said that there were not here
concurrent contracts. I agree with Fletcher Moulton L.J. that this is almost a
typical case of concurrent contracts, because the workman was being paid wages
for his services on board a merchant ship, and at the same time he was earning
his 6 pound a year by virtue of his engagement with the Crown; and he was
giving an equivalent for that, (1)  A.C. 413-14.
924 because he was keeping himself fit and
doing the work which he stipulated to do." It is true that Lord Goddard,
C.J., in Inland Revenue Commissioners v. Hambrook(1) observed :
"If I may be bold enough to express a
conclusion on a matter on which the Judicial Committee hesitated in Reilly v. R
(2) , it is that an established civil servant is appointed to an office and is
a public officer, remunerated by moneys provided by Parliament, so that his
employment depends not on a contract with the Crown but on appointment by the
Crown, though there may be as indicated in Reilly v. R. (2) exceptional cases,
as for instance an engagement for a definite period where there is a
contractual element in or collateral to his employment." But in the Court
of Appeal nothing was said about these observations.
It will be remembered that the Privy Council
had said in Reilly v. R(2) that "their Lordships are not prepared to
accede to this view of the contract, if contract there be.
If the terms of the appointment definitely
prescribe a term and expressly provide for a power to determine "for
cause" it appears necessarily to follow that any implication of a power to
dismiss at pleasure is excluded." Even Lord Goddard, C.J., in Terrell v.
Secretary of State for the Colonies(3) observed that "the case (Reilly v.
R.) (2) shows that there may be contractual rights existing before
determination of a contract at will which are not inconsistent with a power to
determine," and he stuck to this in Hambrook's case(1) by stating :
"Although it is clear that no action for
wrongful dismissal can 'be brought by a discharged civil servant, I may be
allowed to say that I adhere to the opinion which I expressed in Terrell v.
Secretary of State for the Colonies(1) that he could recover his salary for the
time during which he has served. He would claim on a quantum mersuit and I am
fortified in this view by Reilly v. R. (2), by R. v. Doultre(4) and by Bushe v.
R(5) referred to in Robertson's book at p, 338." (1) 1 All E.R. 807,
811-12. (2)  A.C. 176; 179.
(3)  2Q.B.482,499. (4) (1884) 9 A.C.
(5) (May 29, 1869, The Times) 925 We are here
concerned with a choice between s. 60 and s. 61, which lay down two broad
categories. It seems to us that the decree of the High Court decreeing payment
of arrears of salary is truly a liability in proceedings relating to a contract
within s. 60(2)(a) of the Act. It is true, as held by this Court in the State
of Tripura v. The Province of East Bengal(1), that the words ,actionable wrong
other than breach of contract' in this context are wide words and include
something more than torts, but even so where a suit is brought by a Government
servant for arrears of salary, the decree more properly falls under s. 60 of
the Act rather than under s. 61.
In the result the appeal fails and is
dismissed with costs to the respondent, Baishankar Avalram Joshi. The State' of
Gujarat will bear its own costs in this appeal.
R.K.P.S. Appeal dismissed.
(1) 1951] S.C.R. 144.