Kumar & ANR. Vs. Hemraj Singh Chauhan & Ors.  INSC 201 (23 March
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO.2653-54 OF
2010 (Arising out of SLP(C) No.7686-7687/2009) Rajeev Kumar & Another
..Appellant(s) Versus Hemraj Singh Chauhan & Others ..Respondent(s)
The appellants in these appeals are Non-State Civil Service
Officers (hereinafter referred to as the "Non-SCS Officers"). They
filed an impleadment application in the Delhi High Court for being impleaded as
respondents in Writ Petition No.19103-04 of 2008 filed by Hemraj Singh Chauhan
and Others before the High Court whereupon the High Court by an order dated
23rd 1 April 2008 allowed them to intervene and further allowed them to make
submissions at the time of hearing of the writ petition. They were also given
liberty to file affidavits.
Pursuant to the said order of the Hon'ble High Court, these
appellants filed affidavits. After the High Court passed its impugned judgment
dated 14.11.08 they have filed these appeals assailing the said judgment.
At the outset of their arguments this Court wanted learned counsel
for the appellants to satisfy this Court about their locus to participate in the
controversy at the stage when the matter was before the High Court in view of
the fact that admittedly these appellants were not parties before the Central
Administrative Tribunal (hereinafter, `C.A.T.').
Before the C.A.T. there were three applicants namely, Hemraj Singh
Chauhan, Anwarul Haque and Ram Nawal Singh who were common both in O.A. No.1097/06
and O.A. No.1137/06. Apart from those three persons, Ramesh Chandani and K.K.
Shukla 2 were also applicants in O.A. No. 1137/06. Both the original applications
were heard together.
The C.A.T. in its judgment dated 15.12.2006 held that O.A.
No.1097/06 was without merit and dismissed the same and O.A. No.1137/06 was
partly allowed and the respondents were directed to convene the meeting of
D.P.C. Selection Committee to fill-up the posts which ultimately remain
unfulfilled in 2001, 2002 and 2004 and to consider all eligible SCS Officers in
the zone of consideration in the respective years including the Officers who
were put in the select list of those years but could not be appointed in the
absence of integrity certificate. The C.A.T. directed that the said order be
complied within the period of four months.
However, on the said judgment being challenged before the High
Court by Hemraj Singh Chauhan, the High Court set aside the judgment of the
C.A.T. and the Central Government and the State Government were directed to
undertake the cadre reviewing exercise with reference to the vacancy 3 position
as on 1st January 2004 in the manner indicated in the High Court judgment
within eight weeks from date.
However, while answering the objection on their locus standi, the
appellants referred to the decision of the Constitution Bench of this Court in
the case of L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India and others - (1997) 3 SCC 261
and in particular to paragraph 99, page 311 at placitum f & g of the report
and contended that in view of the law declared in Chandra Kumar (supra), they
can come before the High Court and raise their grievances against the judgment
of C.A.T. as their interests have been affected by that judgment even though
they were not parties to the proceedings in which the said judgment was
This Court is of the view that the understanding of the ratio in
Chandra Kumar (supra) by the learned counsel for the appellants in this case is
not correct and the ratio in Chandra Kumar (supra) is just to the contrary.
The Constitution Bench in Chandra Kumar (supra) held that the
power of the High Court under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution and of
this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution is a part of the basic
structure of our Constitution (See paragraphs 78 & 79, pages 301 and 302 of
the report). The Constitution Bench also held that various Tribunals created
under Articles 323-A and 323-B of the Constitution, will function as Court of
first instance and are subject to the power of judicial review of the High
Court under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution. The Constitution Bench
also held that these Tribunals are empowered even to deal with constitutional
questions and can also examine the vires of statutory legislation, except the
vires of the legislation which creates the particular Tribunal.
In paragraph 93, at page 309 of the report, the Constitution Bench
may add that the Tribunals will, however, continue to act as the only courts of
first instance in respect of the areas of law for which they have been
The Constitution Bench explained the said statement of law by
reiterating in the next sentence:
this, we mean that it will not be open for litigants to directly approach the
High Courts even in cases where they question the vires of statutory
legislations (except, as mentioned, where the legislation which creates the
particular Tribunal is challenged) by overlooking the jurisdiction of the
On a proper reading of these two sentences, it is clear:
Tribunals will function as the only Court of first instance in respect of the
areas of law for which they have been constituted.
where any challenge is made to the vires of legislation, excepting the
legislation under which Tribunal has been set up, in such cases also, litigants
will not be able to directly 6 approach the High Court `overlooking the
jurisdiction of the Tribunal'.
The aforesaid propositions have been repeated again by the
Constitution Bench in the penultimate paragraph 99 at page 311 of the report in
the following words:
Tribunals will, nevertheless, continue to act like courts of first instance in
respect of the areas of law for which they have been constituted. It will not,
therefore, be open for litigants to directly approach the High Courts even in
cases where they question the vires of statutory legislations (except where the
legislation which creates the particular Tribunal is challenged) by overlooking
the jurisdiction of the Tribunal concerned...."
In view of such repeated and authoritative pronouncement by the
Constitution Bench of this Court, the approach made to the High Court for the
first time by these appellants in respect of their service disputes over which
C.A.T. has jurisdiction, is not legally sustainable. The Division Bench of the
High Court, with great respect, fell into an error by allowing the 7 appellants
to treat the High Court as a Court of first instance in respect of their
service disputes, for adjudication of which C.A.T. has been constituted.
The grievances of the appellants in this appeal are that they were
not made parties in proceedings before the Tribunal. But in the impleadment
application filed before the High Court it was not averred by them that they
were not aware of the pendency of the proceeding before the Tribunal. Rather
from the averments made in the impleadment petition it appears that they were
aware of the pendency of the proceedings before the Tribunal. It was therefore,
open for them to approach the Tribunal with their grievances. Not having done
so, they cannot, in view of the clear law laid down by the Constitution Bench
of this Court in Chandra Kumar (supra), approach the High Court and treat it as
the Court of first instance in respect of their grievances by `overlooking the
jurisdiction of the Tribunal'. The C.A.T. also has the jurisdiction of Review
under Rule 17 of CAT (Procedure) Rules, 1987. So, it cannot be 8 said that the
appellants were without any remedy.
As the appellants cannot approach the High Court by treating it as
a Court of first instance, their Special Leave Petition before this Court is
also incompetent and not maintainable.
The principles laid down in the case of Chandra Kumar (supra)
virtually embody a rule of law and in view of Article 141 of the Constitution
the same is binding on the High Court. The High Court fell into an error by
allowing the appellants to approach it in clear violation of the Constitution
Bench judgment of this Court in Chandra Kumar (supra).
For the reasons aforesaid the appeals are dismissed as not maintainable.
.......................J. (R.V. RAVEENDRAN)