Prasaran Nigam Ltd. & ANR. Vs. Gulshan Lal & Ors.  INSC 958 (6 May
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3306 OF 2009 [Arising
out of SLP (Civil) No. 9134 of 2006] Haryana Vidyut, Parsaran Nigam Limited
& Anr. ...Appellants Versus Gulshan Lal & Ors. ...Respondents With
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3307, 3308, 3309 & 3310 OF 2009 [Arising out of SLP
(Civil) Nos. 15174, 15204, 15372 and 18470 of 2006]
S.B. SINHA, J :
of a judgment of Civil Judge, Faridabad in Civil Suit No. 180 of 1999 dated
17-11-2000 is in question in these appeals.
are employees of the appellant-Board, a successor of Haryana State Electricity
Board constituted and incorporated under Section 5 and 12 of the Electricity
(Supply) Act, 1948. Respondents were employees of a Thermal Power Plant at
Faridabad. Indisputably the appellant has another Thermal Power Plant at
2 Inter alia on the
premise that the employees similarly situated and working at Panipat, Thermal
Power Plant were receiving a higher salary, the aforementioned suit was filed
praying inter alia for the following reliefs :
"(a) a decree of
declaration in favour of plaintiffs and against the defendants, declaring the
plaintiffs entitled to receive the said higher pay scale of Rs.1400-2600/-
w.e.f. 24.10.1991, and of Rs.5000-150-8000 w.e.f.
interest @ 18% p.a. from the date of due till actual payment, as given to their
co- employees as mentioned in para No. 2 above of the plaint, on the basis of
principle of `equal pay for equal work,;
(b) a decree of
mandatory injunction in favour of plaintiff and against the defendants,
directing the defendants to release/pay to the plaintiffs the said higher pay
scales of Rs. 1400-2600/- w.e.f.
24.10.1991 and of Rs.
5000-150-8000/- w.e.f. 1.1.96 alongwith interest @ 18% p.a. from the date of
due till actual payment, forthwith;"
issues which were framed in the aforementioned suit in terms of the pleadings
of the parties were as under :
"(1) Whether the
plaintiffs are entitled to receive the pay scales of Rs. 1400-2600 w.e.f.
24.10.1991 and of Rs. 5000 to 8000/- w.e.f. 1.1.1996 alongwith interest at the
rate of 18% from the defendants? (2) If issue No. 1 is proved, whether the plaintiffs
are entitled for mandatory injunction as prayed for?"
3 The learned Trial
Judge while determining the said issue Nos. 1 and 2, relying or on the basis of
a Judgment and decree passed in the case of Anil which was then pending in
second appeal before the High Court of Haryana held as under :
are entitled to get the benefit as ordered by the Hon'ble High Court and which
would be subject to the decision of RSA No.800/1992. The plaintiffs have proved
the legal notice served by them through counsel which is placed on record as
Ex. P1, as admitted by DW1 in his cross examination, but no reply was given by
It was directed :
"For the reasons
recorded above, issues No. 1 and 2 are decided in favour of the plaintiffs to
the effect that the plaintiffs are entitled to receive pay scale of Rs.
1400-2600 w.e.f. 24.10.1991 and Rs.5000-8000 w.e.f. 1.1.1996 subject to
decision of RSA No.800/1992."
On the aforementioned
findings, the following relief was granted :
"In sequel of my
aforesaid discussion on the aforesaid issues, the suit of the plaintiffs for
declaration and mandatory injunction succeeds and the same is hereby decreed to
the effect that the plaintiffs are entitled to receive the pay scale of
Rs.1400-2600 w.e.f.24.10.1991 and Rs.5000-8000 w.e.f. 1.1.1996. However, the
plaintiffs are not entitled to any interest as claimed. Keeping in view of
circumstances of the case, both the parties are left to bear their own costs.
Decree-sheet be 4 prepared accordingly and file be consigned to the record
the said decree has attained finality as the same has been upheld upto this
execution petition was filed.
filed an objection to the said execution petition raising a contention that a
mere declaratory relief having been passed in the favour of the decree holder,
they were not entitled to the arrears of pay, stating :
"In view of the
judgment dated 9.10.2001 of Hon'ble High Court in RSA-800/92, the present D.Hs
are not entitled for any relief and in case they are paid the arrears it will
further multiply the litigation as their pay scale shall become higher than
their functional cadre post and will adversely effect the entire policy of
various categories of staff of the erstwhile Board now Corporation.
The said objection
petition was dismissed by a reason of an Order dated 23-08-2005 passed by the
learned Executing Court upon considering the findings of the Trial Court in the
suit, stating :
"It is apparent
from the bare reading of the aforesaid findings that the grant of pay scales of
Rs.1400-2600/- w.e.f. 24.10.1991 and Rs.5000- 8000 w.e.f. 1.1.1996 was subject
to the decision of RSA No.800/1992. It is not disputed that the said RSA titled
as Haryana State Electricity Board vs.
5 Anil Kapoor and
others, was disposed of along with civil writ petition No. 1632 of 1999 titled
as Generation Corporation and the Hon'ble Punjab and Haryana High Court vide
judgment dated 9.10.2001 allowed the said writ petition and dismissed appeal
no.800 of 1992. Aggrieved against the aforesaid judgment dated 9.10.2001, the
JD had preferred a Special Leave Petition No.
the Hon'ble Supreme Court which was also dismissed on that 20.1.2003.
Learned counsel for
the JD has failed to bring on record the fact that the judgment and decree
dated 17.11.2000 was ever challenged in any competent court of law, wherein the
same was set aside or the operation of the said judgment was ever stayed.
Hence, the judgment
and decree dated 17.11.2000 must be held to have attained finality. Moreover,
JD has not claimed any lack of jurisdiction or legal infirmity making the
judgment in question to be unexecutable."
revision application was filed thereagainst which by reason the impugned
judgment has been dismissed by a learned Single Judge of the High Court.
Jain, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants would submit that a
mere declaratory decree having been passed, the execution petition was not
In any event, the
learned counsel urged, no arrears of pay could have been granted for a period
of more than three years.
Indu Malhotra, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents,
on the other hand, would support the impugned judgment.
respondents herein in terms of judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court
passed in RSA No.800 of 1992 titled as Haryana situated and were granted the
following higher grade/pay scales:
w.e.f. 1.1.1986 b) Rs.1200-30-1560/40-2040 w.e.f.1.5.1990 c) Rs.1400-2600
w.e.f.24.10.1991 d) Rs.5000-150-8000 w.e.f.1.1.1996.
Subordinate Judge decreed the said suit inter alia holding that it was admitted
that the respondents had been getting lesser pay as compared to other
co-employees and thus on the basis of the principle of equal pay for equal work
and being senior to the other employees cannot be deprived of the scales of pay
allowed to their juniors.
was furthermore directed that plaintiffs-respondents were entitled to derive
the benefit as ordered by the High Court which would be subject to the decision
of RSA No.800 of 1992. Indisputably RSA No. 88 of 1992 was dismissed by the
High Court by a Judgment and Order dated 9-10-2001 and Special Leave Petition
preferred thereagainst had also been dismissed.
may notice that a first appeal preferred against the original judgment and
decree passed in the suit filed by the respondent was filed by the appellant
only on 24-03-2005 which was dismissed on the ground of delay. A civil revision
application filed thereagainst had also been dismissed.
the decree passed by the civil court has attained finality.
The only question
which arises for consideration is as to whether having regard to the nature of
the decree passed, it is executable.
A decree, as is
well-known, should ordinarily be confined to the prayer made in the plaint. We
have noticed hereinbefore, that the respondents herein not only prayed for a
declaration in regard to their entitlement to receive a higher scale of pay but
also for a decree of mandatory injunction in their favour directing them to
release/pay the said higher scales of pay. They had prayed for grant of
interest on the aforementioned amount.
entitlement of the plaintiffs-respondents to receive the emoluments in the
scales of pay mentioned therein and the date from which they had been working
learned Judge in no uncertain terms held that no interest shall be payable
thereupon. Denial of payment of interest, in our opinion, is significant and
the same leads to the conclusion that the court was conscious of the fact that
not only plaintiffs-respondents were entitled to a declaration but also to a
But for the purpose
of construction of a judgment, it must be read as a whole. The issues framed in
that behalf assumes great significance. We have noticed, hereinbefore, that
both the issues framed by the learned Trial Judge had correlation with the
reliefs claimed for.
In U.P. State Road
Transport Corporation v. Assistant Commnr. Of Police (Traffic) Delhi [2009 (2)
SCALE 526], this Court held:
"A decision is
an authority, it is trite, for which it decides and not what can logically be
deduced therefrom. This wholesome principle is equally applicable in the matter
of construction of a judgment. A judgment is not to be construed as a statute.
It must be construed upon reading the same as a whole. For the said purpose,
the attending circumstances may also be taken into consideration."
when a relief had been granted upon taking into consideration not only the
declaratory relief prayed for but also the relief for mandatory injunction, we
are of the opinion, that the learned trial judge and consequently the High
Court were correct in their views.
it is beyond any doubt or dispute that the decree was passed having regard to
the decision of the court in Anil Kapoor's case. In the said case, Anil Kapoor
not only filed the suit but also filed a writ petition.
Once the decision in
Anil Kapoor's case was followed that not only they would be entitled to scale
of pay but also the other reliefs prayed for by them, there cannot be any doubt
whatsoever that having regard to the fact that Anil Kapoor and various other
persons being junior to the plaintiffs having been held to be entitled to a
relief, respondents were also held to be entitled to the same relief.
furthermore in State of M.P. v. Mangilal Sharma [(1998) 2 SCC 510]
categorically held as under :
declaratory decree merely declares the right of the decree holder vis-a-vis the
judgment debtor and does not in terms direct the judgment-debtor to do or
refrain from doing any particular act or thing. Since in the present case
decree does not direct reinstatement or payment of arrears of salary the
executing court could not issue any process for the purpose as that would be
going outside or beyond the decree. Respondent as a decree holder was free to seek
his remedy for arrears of salary in the suit for declaration. The executing
court has no jurisdiction to direct payment of salary or grant any other
consequential relief which does not flow directly and necessarily from the
declaratory decree. It is not that if in a suit for declaration where the
plaintiff is able to seek further relief he must seek that relief though he may
not be in need of that further relief. In the present suit the plaintiff while
seeking relief of declaration would certainly have asked for other reliefs like
the reinstatement, arrears of salary and consequential benefits. He was
however, satisfied with a relief of declaration knowing that the Government
would honour the decree and would reinstate him. We will therefore assume that the
suit for mere declaration filed by the respondent-plaintiff was 10
maintainable, as the question of maintainability of the suit is not in issue
However in that case
as the decree for reinstatement and back wages had not been granted, the court
opined that the Executing Court cannot grant a further relief. Herein, however,
as noticed, the respondents not only had prayed for a declaratory decree but
also decree for mandatory injunction.
Jain has relied upon a decision of this Court in Bhawarlal Bhandari v.
Universal Heavy Mechanical Lifting Enterprises [(1999) 1 SCC 558]. Therein the
decree was passed by a court lacking inherent jurisdiction and in that
situation this court considered as to whether a decree passed by a court wholly
without jurisdiction would be a nullity to hold:
aforesaid decision of this Court squarely applies to the facts of the present
case. This is not a case in which the award decree on the face of it was shown
to be without jurisdiction. Even if the decree was passed beyond the period of
limitation, it would be an error of law or at the highest a wrong decision
which can be corrected in appellate proceedings and not by the executing court
which was bound by such decree. It is not the case of the respondent that the
Court which passed the decree was lacking inherent jurisdiction to pass such a
decree. This becomes all the more so when the respondent did not think it fit
to file objection against the award which was sought to be made rule of the
It is on that premise
the question which has been raised by Mr. Jain that the court could not have
passed a decree for back wages for a period of 11 more than three years
assumes importance. Whether by reason of the decree the respondents would be
getting some amount by way of backwages for a period of more than three years
would depend upon the facts of each case. It would also depend upon the date on
which the cause of action of suit arose.
indicated hereinbefore, for the purpose of allowing an objection filed on
behalf of a judgment debtor under Section 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure, it
was incumbent on him to show that the decree was ex facie nullity. For the said
purpose, the court is precluded from making an indepth scrutiny as regards the
entitlement of the plaintiff with reference to not only his claim made in the
plaint but also the defence set up by the judgment - debtor. As the judgment of
the Trial Court could not have been reopened, the correctness thereof could not
have been put to question.
It is also well-known
that an Executing Court cannot go behind the decree. If on a fair
interpretation of the judgment, Order and decree passed by a court having
appropriate jurisdiction in that behalf, the reliefs sought for by the
plaintiff appear to have been granted, there is no reason as to why the
Executing Court shall deprive him from obtaining the fruits of the decree.
In Deepa Bhargava v.
Mahesh Bhargava [2008 (16) SCALE 305], this Court held as under:
executing court, it is well known, cannot go behind the decree. It has no
jurisdiction to modify a decree. It must execute the decree as it is. A default
clause contained in a compromise decree even otherwise would not be considered
to be penal in nature so as to attract the provisions of Section 74 of the
Indian Contract Act."
is also not a case where this Court can exercise its jurisdiction under Article
142 of the Constitution of India to mould an order. The decree passed by the
learned Trial Court has attained finality. Whether rightly or wrongly, the
judgment of the learned Trial Judge has been affirmed by this Court. It is one
thing to say that no right having crystalised in favour of a party to the lis,
this Court can mould the relief appropriately, but it is another thing to say
that despite the decree being found to be an executable one, this Court will
refuse to direct execution thereof.
are not oblivious of the fact that the respondents legally would not have been
entitled to the reliefs prayed for by them. However, as a decree has been
passed, we do not intend to go behind the same. The Executing Court shall, it
goes without saying, execute the decree strictly in terms thereof.
the reasons aforementioned, there is no merit in this case. The appeal is
dismissed. However, in the facts and circumstances of the case, there shall be
no order as to costs.
[Dr. Mukundakam Sharma]