The Karnataka High Court ruled that the Writ Court was right in directing the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited to grant retired individuals additional annual increments and other benefits on salary and pension.

The bench of Justice N.V. Anjaria and Justice Krishna Dixit observed, “Every Article 12-Entity has to conduct itself as a model employer, to say the least. Such an employer in a Welfare State is expected to treat the pensioners with soft gloves since they are in the evening of life, having retired after putting in a long & spotless service during their productive years.”
The KPTCL approached the High Court with these appeals to set aside the order of the Single judge in multiple Writ Petitions where it directed the KPTCL to re-fix the salary of the petitioners by granting them the additional annual increment, and consequently, also refit and pay their pension along with the arrears of salary and pension accrued so far.

After perusing the appeal papers and hearing the appellants the Court refused to indulge in these appeals.

According to the Court, the appellants, KPTCL being a cent per cent public sector undertaking of the Government of Karnataka, answers the definition of ‘State’ under Article 12 and therefore, it cannot act as a private employer. Every Article 12-Entity has to conduct itself as a model employer, to say the least.

The Court rejected the contention of the parties that the Apex Court decision in KPTCL vs. C.P.Mundinamani (2023) SCC OnLine SC 401 has the effect of the doctrine of prospective overruling and therefore, no benefit could have been granted to the employees that have retired earlier.

After going through the relevant portion of the above-mentioned case, the Court stated, “There is nothing that indicates that grant of relief was confined to the employees who were parties to the said decision eo nomine.”

The Court further observed, “It has been long settled in the realm of Service Jurisprudence that when Constitutional Courts grants relief to an employee in his individual case, other employees need not rush to the court corridor once again to litigate. The employer which answers the description of ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution, on its own has to extend the same benefit to all other similarly circumstanced employees. This is what an employment in a ‘Welfare State’ means.”

The Court noted that observation such as B.C.Nagaraj and another vs. State of Karnataka and Others, according to which, the cases that have been concluded should not be re-opened and not that similarly circumstanced employees should not be given the benefit of that judgment were conspicuously absent in Mudinanami case.

The Court found the submission invoking prospective overruling as misconceived as the doctrine is a judicial invention to ensure that a subsequent decision would not cause prejudice to the citizens by unsettling the settled positions that have been structured on the basis of earlier judicial views or position of law. As per the Court, there is absolutely no warrant for the invocation of said doctrine in the case at hand. No statute was challenged in the Nagaraj case. The entire case was founded on a norm of Service Law and nothing beyond that.

The Court did not find merit in the submission of the appellant that there is delay & latches and acquiescence. As per the Court, normally, writ remedies are to be sought without brooking delay, is true. However, that norm cannot operate as a Thumb Rule regardless of the vulnerability of the litigating class of people such as pensioners, peasants and the poor.

The submission of the appellant that Writ Petitioners were holding different posts and therefore could not be treated as one single class was rejected by the Court which stated that one may be an officer and another may be a member of sub-staff; the rate of increment may vary but not its entitlement as such.

The Court found the appeals devoid of merit.

Accordingly, it rejected the appeal.

Cause Title: Managing Director, KPTCL v. L. Mallikarjunappa (Neutral Citation: 2024:KHC:12159-DB)


Appellant: Adv. Ashwathappa D

Respondent: Adv. N. Devaraj, Adv. I Srinivas

Click here to read/download Judgment