A Supreme Court Bench of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah has exercised powers under Article 142 of the Constitution of India to direct the State to grant a lump-sum of INR 3 lakhs to a party owing to the time taken by the adjudicatory process in a service matter.

In that vein, it was said that, "However, for complete justice, we cannot leave Respondent No.5 in the lurch, given the time taken by the adjudicatory process. As such, in exercise of power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India, we direct the State of Odisha to grant a lump-sum of INR 3 lakhs to Respondent No.5. Further, if any monies were paid to Respondent No.5, the same shall also not be recovered. This paragraph shall not constitute precedent."

Counsel Vinodh Kanna B appeared for the petitioner before the Apex Court.

In this case, the appellant approached the Supreme Court against the High Court's judgment in a matter which involved the appointment of a Physical Education Trainer (PET) at a school in Odisha. A Managing Committee had appointed the appellant constituted on 15.12.1992, and this appointment was made while a stay order was in effect in favour of that Managing Committee.

The appellant contended that his appointment was valid and that respondent No.5's appointment was based on a resolution dated 07.01.1993, which the appellant claimed was void and fabricated due to being made one day before the High Court's stay order on 11.01.1993.

The Apex Court noted that the appointment of the appellant by the Managing Committee could not be labelled illegal per see nor termed void ab initio. In that context, the Court said that, "the appellant was appointed by the Managing Committee constituted on 15.12.1992 and given appointment on 14.05.1994 during the time when a stay order granted by the High Court in favour of the Managing Committee constituted on 15.12.1992 was continuing i.e., since 11.01.1993."

In furtherance, the Court held, "in the absence of the post being vacant on 07.01.1993, the appointment of Respondent No.5 on the said single post held by Mr. Kapil Sasmal, Respondent No.5 could not have been appointed by way of the resolution dated 07.01.1993 followed by the appointment letter, which came to be issued on 10.01.1993."

It was also observed that the orders of the High Court made no adverse comment on the actions taken by the Managing Committee. The Court also took note that the appellant continued to discharge the duties right since his appointment, with having been sent on election duty thrice. In light of the same, it was said that, "in our view, are sufficient pointers that the appellant had actually worked and continued on the post."

It was also observed that there was no complaint before any authority, either with regard to the appellant not joining or discharging his duty or respondent No.5 being prevented from joining or discharging his duty, from any quarter, much less, respondent No.5 himself, till 2005.

In that vein, the Court observed that, "On an overall circumspection, thus, in the present case the Respondent No.5 should have been non-suited on the ground of delay and laches, which especially in service matters, has been held consistently to be vital, juxtaposed with the sign of acquiescence. To the mix, we add that the State has supported the factual circumstances concerning the appointment of the appellant, his continuance in service as also the Respondent No.5 having worked during the said period in another school viz. the Sri Thakur Nigamananda High School, Terundia. Notably, the Respondent No.5 does not, from the record before us, appear to have approached the authorities in the interregnum."

Subsequently, the impugned judgments were set aside. The appellant was held entitled to a continuance on the post of PET in the School, with service counted from May 14, 1994.

Cause Title: Bichitrananda Behera v. State of Orissa & Others

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