Relinquishment of claims bar under Order II Rule 2 CPC may not apply to Writ Petitions: Supreme Court of India

The Supreme Court observed that a contract is void if prohibited by a statute under a penalty, even without express declaration that the contract is void

The employees of the Supreme Court   Legal   Aid   Committee   and   the   Supreme   Court Legal Services were working from 1981 but the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Rules, 2000 fixed the qualifying service from 3.7.2000. The Court held that the employees working from earlier years are qualified to get retiral benefits and the technical plea of relinquishment of claims is not applicable to writ cases. The Hon’ble Court declared that the earlier years’ work must be considered for determining retiral benefits.

The Court was considering a writ in which the issue raised was whether the service rendered by the petitioners in the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee and Supreme Court Legal Services Committee prior to the promulgation of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Rules, 2000 is to be counted while calculating their qualifying service for determination of pension. The petitioners in this case, had earlier filed a writ petition in which there was a general claim to grant all the benefits including retiral benefits. Therefore, the contention was that the plea in the present case could have been taken in the earlier writ petition and, in fact, such a plea was raised but finally the Court did not grant this relief and, therefore, they cannot file the second petition.

Facts of the case

The petitioners are serving as retired employees of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee in various capacities. They claim that the entire service rendered by them should be treated as qualifying service for the purpose of fixing the retiral benefits.  The respondent No.1­Union of India has rejected their claim, leading to the filing of this petition.  The case of the petitioners is that their claim is squarely covered by the judgment already rendered in their favour in Writ Petition wherein considering the effect of the Rules which are now under consideration, their entire service was taken into consideration for fixing the pay and allowances and they were given complete benefit of Rule 6 of The Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Rules, 2000.   According to the Union of India, the benefit can be given only from the date of promulgation of the Rules and not prior to that. Some of the petitioners joined in the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee as far back as in 1981 and the service not taken into consideration is more than 18 years and 8 months.The Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee was constituted by the Ministry of Law & Justice under executive instructions one of the said instructions provides that the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee shall be entitled to make necessary arrangements for staff and other facilities necessary for the discharge of its functions. These instructions were issued with the concurrence of the Ministry of Finance, Department of Expenditure.  Therefore, the posts were sanctioned posts though no rules were framed for filling up the same.  Pursuant to these instructions,   the   petitioners   were   appointed   in   different capacities in the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee.  In 1987, the Parliament enacted the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. The   National   Legal   Services   Authority   was   constituted   under Section 3.  Sub­section (5) and (6) of Section 3 provide that the Central Authority can appoint officers and other employees.  The appointment of such employees and their pay and allowances are to be prescribed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. The Union of India has raised a two­fold submission.  It is first submitted that the service of the petitioners rendered prior to cannot   be   taken   into   consideration   while quantifying   the   qualifying   service   or   determining   their   retiral benefits.  It is secondly contended that this plea could have been taken in the earlier writ petition and, in fact, such a plea was raised   but   finally   the   Court   did   not   grant   this   relief   and, therefore, they cannot file the second petition.

Issues before the hon’ble bench

The short issue involved in this case is whether the service rendered   by   the   petitioners   in   the   Supreme   Court   Legal   Aid Committee and Supreme Court Legal Services Committee prior to the promulgation of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Rules, 2000 is to be counted while calculating their qualifying service for determination of pension.

Order of the court

The services of the officers and employees were governed by Rule 3A and after 2000, they are governed by the Supreme Court Legal Services   Committee   Regulations,   2000.     They   have   been rendering service uninterruptedly as employees of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee and no distinction can be made between the service prior to 03.07.2000 and the service rendered thereafter.  The petitioners have been regular employees of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee and their entire service must be counted for determining their pension and other retiral benefits.  This entire service is to be treated as their qualifying service in accordance with the Rules. There is no rejection of the plea and as such we are of the considered view that this petition is maintainable and cannot be rejected on this hyper­technical ground.   In relation to applicability of Order II Rule 2 of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908 this Court has held in Devendra Pratap Narain   Rai   Sharma v. State   of   UttarPradesh and Others. In view of the above, we allow the petition and direct that the entire service rendered by the petitioners in the Supreme Court   Legal   Aid   Committee   and   the   Supreme   Court   Legal Services Committee shall be treated as qualifying service for the purpose of pension and shall be taken into consideration for calculating their retiral benefits.   Pending application, if any, stand disposed of.

Edited by Pragash Boopal

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

SOMA SINGH
I am Soma Singh from Sharda University School of Law, my interest areas are Corporate law, jurisprudence and ADR. I describe myself as an ambivert. Enjoys reading mythological tales