Culcutta Port Trust Vs. Deba Prosad Bag  INSC 223 (6 April 1994)
S. (J) Mohan, S. (J) Venkatachalliah, M.N.(Cj)
1994 AIR 2137 1994 SCC Supl. (2) 101 JT 1994 (3) 219 1994 SCALE (2)509
Judgment of the Court was delivered by S. MOHAN, J.- Leave granted.
these civil appeals which have been preferred by Calcutta Port Trust can be
dealt with under a common judgment since the point involved is common.
facts necessary to render the decision are as follows. In the year 1966-67,
land acquisition proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act (Central Act 1 of
1894) (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') were initiated for acquiring land
at Haldia Dock Complex. Consequent to this acquisition, several families came
to be uprooted from the places of residence. Besides, the lands owned by them
which were the only source of livelihood were lost. Respondents belong to that
4. On 17-10-1977 the Chief Secretary to the Government of West Bengal
(Labour Department) issued a memo containing certain directions with regard to
the recruitment in the State Government Establishments, State Government
Undertakings, Quasi-Government Establishments. Inter alia, it was stated
therein that the employer authority shall notify to the appropriate employment
exchange about all vacancies that might occur in their establishments from time
+ From the Judgment and Order dated 7-1-1993 of the Calcutta High Court in A.
No. 280 of 1991 103 to time. It was laid down that the names of the unemployed
persons were to be forwarded to the employers by the employment exchanges,
generally in the order of seniority.
idea was, where other factors and requirements in respect of qualification are
equal, priority in the matter of appointment was to be given to those who
enrolled their names earlier unless they had been given adequate chance or
already employed in comparable scales. It was further mentioned that every
provision of Employment Exchange Manual shall be strictly followed. It was also
stated that the employment exchange should also try to give greater priority to
the candidates from the backward areas.
This notification was amended on 13-8-1979. The effect of the amendment was in certain category of cases. However,
the employing authority would be competent without referring to the employment
exchange to give appointment to candidates hailing from families who might have
been uprooted from their places of residence or whose main source of income had
been affected due to such loss of agricultural lands, owing to the acquisition
for development projects like setting up a power plant or a township etc., as
in Haldia. Only one member from an uprooted affected family shall be eligible
for such special preference for jobs in and around the area acquired.
consider the effect of the above acquisition, the appellant (Port Trust) held a
meeting on 27-6-1978. In the said meeting a resolution
was passed as to the principles which are to be followed in relation to
recruitment to the posts in Haldia Dock Complex. It was mentioned that priority
in appointment, inter alia would be given to those affected by the land
acquisition and that such appointment could be through the employment exchange.
In spite of the above, it appears that the Port Trust started absorbing the
workers employed by the various contractors. This prompted some persons who
were uprooted to move the High Court for a mandamus to command the Port Trust
to provide them with jobs commensurate with their qualifications. By judgment
dated 27-4-1987 of the Calcutta High Court, the
following directions were issued :
Until the cases of the petitioners are considered for employment in terms of
this order no appointment shall be made in Class IV grade.
The petitioners shall within three weeks from the date of communication of this
order give all particulars of the lands belonging to them which had been
allegedly acquired and which are in the use and occupation of the Haldia Dock
Complex. The petitioner shall also give Employment Exchange Regulation No. and
the date of the last renewal, if any made.
The petitioners shall also furnish their qualification and experience, if any,
specifying the category of posts for which they are asking for their
The respondents shall within three weeks after the particulars are furnished by
the petitioners scrutinise their cases and they shall ascertain the quantum of
agricultural land or homestead land or both, if any, acquired for/by the Haldia
Dock Complex. If so, whether one member of each such family has been provided
with any job or not by the Port Trust.
Whether the petitioners, if otherwise eligible, being members of the evicted
families have requisite qualifications or not for appointment to the Class IV
grade. It appears that for the post of Mazdoor or manual labour no educational
qualification is required. If it is found that no members of the 104 evicted
families represented by the petitioners had been provided with any employment
after the acquisition of the land, in that event the respondents shall consider
the case of the petitioners for employment irrespective of any other
resolution, regulation of qualifications or any other conditions as a special
The respondents shall prepare a list of eligible candidates amongst the
petitioners and if any petitioner is not considered for any reason, the reason
shall be disclosed to such petitioner and in that case such petitioner or
petitioners will be at liberty to move before the appropriate forum.
Upon consideration those of the petitioners who would be found eligible, shall
be provided with employment as early as possible having regard to the available
compliance with this order, the respondents, originally 50 in number, furnished
the respective particulars of lands before the authority concerned.
by letter dated 2-12-1987 issued by the appellant, 20 of the said respondents
were intimated that their cases could not be considered, inasmuch as, their
acquired lands were not in use and occupation of the Haldia Dock Complex and
that those lands had not been handed over to the said authorities. The said
letter is extracted as follows :
"CALCUTTA PORT TRUST HALDIA DOCK COMPLEX PERSONNEL & INDUSTRIAL
RELATIONS DIVISION CHIRANJIBPUR-HALDIA-MIDNAPORE No. Legal/HC/45/2845 Dated 2- 12-1987 TO, Shri Ashok Kr. Maity, Vill. Hatiberia, P.O. Hatiberia,
P.S. Haldia, Dist. Midnapore.
Sir, Sub: Civil Order No. 17471 (W)/ 1 985 ShriJayanta Kr. Prodhan & Ors. :
Petitioners Versus The Calcutta Port Trust & Ors.
Please refer to the order dated 27-4-1987 of the Hon'ble High Court passed in
the above mentioned case and your subsequent petition dated 25-5-1987 (received
at the Administrative Office of the Haldia Dock Complex on 13-6-1987)
furnishing in terms of the said Court order, the particulars of the lands
belonging to you which are allegedly acquired and are allegedly in use and
occupation of Haldia Dock Complex.
scrutiny, it has been observed that your purported lands, as per particulars
furnished with your aforesaid petition dated 25-5-1987, have not so far been
handed over to Haldia Dock Complex and, as such, the question of use and
occupation of the same by Haldia Dock Complex does not arise. In the
circumstances, your claim for any employment under H.D.C. specially on the
ground of acquisition of your lands by Haldia Dock Complex is not sustainable
under the aforesaid order dated 27-4-1987 of the Hon'ble High Court at Calcutta.
Accordingly your case cannot be considered under the aforesaid orders of the Hon'ble
faithfully, Sd/- (P. Bhattachariji) Manager (P&IR)."
of 50 writ petitioners before the High Court, 30 were found eligible for
appointments. Other equally placed persons came forward with appeal in Matter
No. 1705 of 1988 before the High Court praying that the same directions as
issued in the order dated 27-4-1987 might
be given to them.
learned Single Judge by an order dated 3-5-1991 directed as under:
Until the cases of the petitioners are considered for employment in terms of
this order, no appointment shall be made in the Class IV grade excepting those
who are covered by the orders of this Court;
The petitioners shall give all particulars of their respective lands which were
acquired for the Haldia Dock Complex of the Calcutta Port Trust within four
weeks from the date of communication of this order. The petitioners will also
give their employment exchange card number etc.
The petitioners shall also furnish the details of qualifications and
experience, if any, so that their cases may be considered for appointment in
Class IV posts.
The respondents shall, within four weeks after the particulars are furnished by
the petitioners, scrutinise the cases through their own machinery and agency
and not through the Screening Committee as specified in the Memorandum No.
323-EMP dated 12th May,
scrutiny if it appears that the lands, (sic shown in the) particulars, were
acquired then the respondents shall consider the cases of the petitioners for
appointment in Class IV grade irrespective of any other resolution,
qualification or any other condition as a special case.
any petitioner on being considered is not found suitable for employment as a Class
IV staff, then the reasons thereof shall be disclosed to such petitioner(s) and
in that case such disqualified petitioner(s) will be at liberty to move before
any appropriate forum.
upon consideration of the relevant facts as mentioned in the judgment, any of
the petitioners are found eligible for employment, they shall be provided with
employment in Class IV grade as early as possible having regard to the
Aggrieved by this order, the appellant (Calcutta Port Trust) preferred an
appeal before the Division Bench. It was urged that the trial Judge went wrong
in directing that the respondents herein will have to go through that Screening
Committee as specified in the Memorandum No. 323- EMP, EMP/60-4/86 dated 12-5-1986 issued by the Department of Labour, Government of
West Bengal. In fact, the Screening Committee had been set up by the State
Government. The purpose of that Committee was different. Therefore, the cases
of the respondents herein could not be considered by such a Committee. This
contention was not accepted by the Division Bench. It was held :
Screening Committee that was constituted by the memorandum dated 12-5-1986 was
issued by the Labour Department, Government of 106 West Bengal superseding some
of the provisions of the earlier notification and that notification has been
issued for the purpose of making relaxation of appointment except through
Employment Exchanges under certain similar conditions. The State Government
might have constituted the Screening Committee for the purpose of giving job
under the State Government. The Screening Committee is neither bound nor can be
asked to consider the case of the petitioners inasmuch as the Screening
Committee has been constituted by the State Government for the purpose of
screening the cases of the persons who have been evicted from the lands for the
purpose of providing job under the State Government and/or authorities under
the control of the State Government and the principle laid down cannot have any
application in the facts and circumstances of the case. We have to keep in our
mind the object of the policy for the purpose of giving some reliefs to
rehabilitate the evictees who were in actual physical possession of the lands,
houses etc. taken by the Port Trust Authorities for the purpose of the said
project." Accordingly, the appeals were dismissed. Hence, the present
The only contention urged by the learned Solicitor General is that the courts
below have not correctly appreciated the stand of the appellant. Earlier, when
the directions came to be issued on 27-4-1987, a circular relating to the
existence of the Committee was not known to the appellant. It thereafter came
to the knowledge of the appellant that a Committee had been constituted by the
State Government. No doubt, the stand was taken that the appellant being an
independent authority was not bound by the circular. However, where the bona
fides of the claims of the respondents require to be examined, it should be
done only by the Committee. This is the purpose for which the application for
review filed before the learned trial Judge was rejected. Therefore, the
impugned directions issued by the High Court require to be modified.
Per contra, it is urged that where concerning some of the uprooted employees,
earlier the claims were accepted without going through the screening, a
different treatment cannot be accorded now. Therefore, rightly, this request of
screening made by the appellant was rejected by the courts below.
a consideration of the above, we are of the view that the stand of the
appellant is well founded. Certainly, some person or authority will have to
examine the correctness and bona fides of those who claim to be uprooted
persons. It is appropriate that such examination is done by a Screening
Committee. Such a screening would ensure elimination of bogus claims. It is a
wholesome principle which requires to be adopted in this case. Therefore, we
modify the order under appeal and direct that the cases of the respondents will
be considered by the Screening Committee. The Port Trust had screened 21
persons in the case of Jayanta Kumar Prodhan & Ors. before employing them.
after the screening process, the appellant will be required to implement the
directions of the learned Single Judge as confirmed by the Division Bench. The
process of screening shall be completed within a period of four months from the
date of this order. Accordingly, the civil appeals stand allowed in part. There
shall be no order as to costs.