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Article 311(2) in The Constitution Of India 1949
Article 309 in The Constitution Of India 1949
Article 311 in The Constitution Of India 1949
Article 310 in The Constitution Of India 1949
The Constitution Of India 1949
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Supreme Court of India
Union Of India & Ors vs K.S. Subramanian on 15 December, 1988
Equivalent citations: 1989 AIR 662, 1988 SCR Supl. (3)1074
Author: K Shetty
Bench: Shetty, K.J. (J)
           PETITIONER:
UNION OF INDIA & ORS.

	Vs.

RESPONDENT:
K.S. SUBRAMANIAN

DATE OF JUDGMENT15/12/1988

BENCH:
SHETTY, K.J. (J)
BENCH:
SHETTY, K.J. (J)
OZA, G.L. (J)
RAY, B.C. (J)

CITATION:
 1989 AIR  662		  1988 SCR  Supl. (3)1074
 1989 SCC  Supl.  (1) 331 JT 1988 (4)	681
 1988 SCALE  (2)1546


ACT:
    Constitution  of India, 1950/Articles 309, 310  and	 311
Civilian worker in Defence Department-Whether provisions  of
Arts.	309-311	 applicable-No fetter in the excise  of	 the
pleasure of the President or Governor.
%
    Civil  Services/Central Civil Services  (Classification,
Control	 and  Appeal)  Rule 1965: Civil	 worker	 in  Defence
Departments-Rules-Whether applicable.
    Practice  and Procedure: Supreme Court-Equitable  relief
will not be denied in deserving cases.



HEADNOTE:
    The	 respondent was a permanent and	 confirmed  civilian
worker	in  the	 Defence Department and he had	a  right  to
continue  till	he  attained  the  age	of  60	years.	 His
services, however, were terminated under Article 310 of	 the
Constitution without assigning any reason.  He instituted  a
suit  for declaration that the termination of  his  services
was  illegal  and void ab initio.  In  the  alternative,  he
claimed damages or compensation for the illegal termination.
The  Trial Court awarded him Rs. 25,000 as damages  together
with  interest	at  6 per cent per  annum  for	the  illegal
termination  of his services.  That decree was confirmed  by
the High Court.
    The	 Courts	 below	have proceeded	on  the	 basis	that
Article	 311 (2) of the Constitution was not  applicable  to
the    respondent,   but   the	 Central   Civil    Services
(Classification,  Control  and	Appeal)	 Rules,	 1965  were,
however, applicable.
    In the appeal to this Court on behalf of the  appellants
it  was contended that the reasoning of the Courts below  is
untenable  and	uncalled for.  On behalf of  the  respondent
employee it was contended that the 1965 Rules are applicable
to  the respondent and that the decree under  appeal  should
not  be	 set aside.  The poverty of the respondent  and	 the
long  drawn litigation by which the respondent was  suffered
immeasurably were also highlighted.
						 PG NO 1074
						 PG NO 1075
    Allowing the appeal on a question of law this Court
    HELD: 1. The respondent is not entitled to protection of
Article 311(2) since he occupied the post drawing his salary
from  the  Defence Estimates. That being the  position,	 the
exclusionary  effect  of  Article 311(2)  deprives  him	 the
protection which he is otherwise entitled to. In other words
there  is no fetter in the exercise of the pleasure  of	 the
President or the Governor. [1079D-E]
    2.	The 1965 Rules among others, provide  procedure	 for
imposing  the three major penalties that are set  out  under
Article	 311(2). When Article 311(2) itself stands  excluded
and  the protection thereunder is withdrawn there is  little
that  one  could do under the 1965 Rules in  favour  of	 the
respondent.  The  said Rules cannot independently  play	 any
part  since  the  rule making power  under  Article  309  is
subject to Article 311. [1079F-G]
    L.R. Khurana v. Union of India, [1971] 3 SCR 908 at 911;
Ramanatha Pillai v. The State of Kerala, [1974] 1 SCR 515 at
521  and  Union	 of India v. Tulsi Ram, [1985]	3  SCC	398,
followed.
    3.	This  Court will not deny any  equitable  relief  in
deserving cases. The case on hand cannot be an exception  to
that rule and indeed. it is eminently a fit case. [1080F]



JUDGMENT:

CIVIL. APPELLATE JURISDICTION: Civil Appeal No. 212 (NCE) of 1975.

From the Judgment and Order dated 26.6.1974 of the Kerala High Court in A.S. No. 510 of 1972.

V.C. Mahajan and C.V. Subba Rao for the Appellants. T.S. Krishnamurthy and N. Sudhakaran for the Respondent. The Judgment of the Court was delivered by: K. JAGANNATHA SHETTY, J. This appeal by special leave is against a judgment and decree of a Division Bench of the High Court of Kerala.

PG NO 1076 Short factual background is this.

The respondent was appointed on October 15 1951 as an ordinary industrial labourer at Naval Base Cochin. He was October 25 1968 his services however were terminated under Article 310 of the Constitution. No reason was assigned. He instituted a suit in forma-pauperise for declaration that the termination of his service was illegal and void ab initio. In the alternative he claimed damages or compensation of Rs.75 000 for illegal termination. The trial court awarded him Rs.25 000 as damages together with interest at 6 per cent per annum for the illegal termination of his services. That decree was confirmed by the High Court of Kerala. This appeal is directed against that Judgment of the High Court. On July 30, 1976 a Bench of this Court dismissed the appeal on merits. But upon review that judgment was set aside and the appeal was ordered to be listed for fresh disposal. So the matter has come up before us.

There is no dispute on the material facts. There is no challenge that the respondent was a permanent and confirmed civilian worker in the Defence Department. In fact. it is all admitted position between the parties. He had a right to continue till he attained the age of 60 years. Article 459(b) of the Civil Service Regulations provides for that. It reads:

"(b) A workman who is governed by these Regulations shall be retained in service till the day he attains the age of sixty years.

Note. In this clause ' a workman'' means a highly skilled. skilled. semi-skilled or unskilled artisan employed on a monthly rate of pay in an industrial or a work charged establishment .

The courts below have proceeded on the basis that Article 311 (2) of the Constitution was not applicable to the respondent but the Central Civil Services (Classification Control and Appeal) Rules 1965 (for short " 1965 Rules'') were however. applicable.

Mr. Mahajan for the appellants contends that the reasoning of the Courts below is untenable and uncalled for. We think that the counsel is on terrafirma. There cannot be any dispute as to the non applicability of Article 311(2) to PG NO 1077 the case of respondent. A civilian employee in Defence Service who is paid salary out of the estimates of the Ministry of Defence does not enjoy the protection of Article 311(2). In L.R. Khurana v. Union of India, [1971] 3 SCR 908 at 911, this Court observed:

"The question whether the case of the appellant was governed by Article 311 of the Constitution stands concluded by two decisions of this court. In Jagatrai Mahinchand Ajwani v. Union of India, C.A. 1185 of 1965 dated 6.2.1967 it was held that an Engineer in the Military Service who was drawing his salary from the Defence Estimates could not claim the protection of Article 311(2) of the Constitution. In that case also the appellant was found to have held a post connected with Defence as in the present case. This decision was followed in S. P. Behl v. Union of India, C.A. 1918 of 1966 dated 8.3.1968. Both these decisions fully cover the case of the appellant so far as the applicability of Article 311 is concerned.'' Now the only question is whether the 1965 Rules framed under the proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution proprio vigore apply to the respondent or become inoperative in view of Art. 310 of the Constitution? Article 310(1) deals with the tenure of office of persons serving the Union or the State. It provides:

"Except as expressly provided by this Constitution, every person who is a member of a defence service or of a civil service of the Union or of an all-lndia service or holds any post connected with defence or any civil post under the Union, holds office during the pleasure of the President, and every person who is a member of a civil service of a State or holds any civil post under a State holds office during the pleasure of the Governor of the State."

The Art. 310(2) deals with cases of persons appointed under contract. The doctrine of pleasure of the President is thus embodied under Article 310( l). The scope of this Article coupled with Article 309 has been explained in Ramanatha Pillai v. The State of Kerala, [l974] SCR 515 at 52l, where this Court observed:

Article 309 provides that subject to the provisions of the Constitution, Acts of the appropriate Legislature may PG NO 1078 regulate the recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed, to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State. Therefore, Acts in respect of terms and conditions of service of persons are contemplated. Such acts of Legislature must however be subject to the provisions of the Constitution. This attracts Article 31()(1). The proviso to Article 309 makes it competent to the President or such person as he may direct in the case of services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union and for the Governor of a State or such person as he may direct in the case of services or posts in connection with the affairs of the State, to make rules regulating the recruitment and the conditions of service of persons appointed, to such services and posts under the Union and the State. These Rules and the exercise of power conferred on the delegate must be subject to Article 310. The result is that Article 309 cannot impair or affect the pleasure of the President or the Governor therein specified. Article 309 is, therefore, to be read subject to Article 3l0.

The operation of Rules made under the proviso to Article 309 on the pleasure doctrine embodied under Article 310(1) has been considered by this Court in Union of India v. Tulsi Ram, [1985] 3 SCC 398 where it was observed at 483:

"The opening words of Article 309 make that article expressly 'Subject to the provisions of this Constitution'. Rules made under the proviso to Article 309 or under Acts referable to that article must, therefore, be made subject to the provisions of the Constitution if they are to be valid. Article 3 lO( 1) which embodies the pleasure doctrine is a provision contained in the Constitution. Therefore, rules made under the proviso to Article 309 or under Acts referable to that article are subject to Article 310(1). By the opening words of Article 310(l) the pleasure doctrine contained therein operates ' Except as expressly provided by this Constitution". Article 31l is an express provision of the Constitution. Therefore, rules made under the proviso to Article 309 or under Acts referable to Article 309 would be subject both to Article 3l0(1) and Article 311. This position was pointed out by Subba Rao, J. as he then was. in his separate but concurring judgment in Moti Ram Deka. case PG NO 1079 (1964) 5 SCR 683 at 734, namely. that rules under Article 309 are subject to the pleasure doctrine and the pleasure doctrine is itself subject to the two limitations imposed thereon by Article 311.

In Tulsi Ram case, the decision in Challappan's case (Divisional Personnel Officer, 5.Rly. Y. 1.R. Challappan, [1976l l SCR 783) which had taken a contrary view. has been expressly overruled on the ground that rules cannot do what the second proviso to Article 311(2) denies."

By virtue of Article 311(2), no civil servant can be dismissed, removed or reduced in rank except after an inquiry in which he has been informed of the charges against him and given a reasonable opportunity of being beard in respect of the charges. Article 311(2) thus imposes a letter on the power of the President or the Governor to determine the tenure of a civil servant by the exercise of pleasure. Tulsi Ram case concerned with the exclusion of Article 311(2) by reason of second proviso thereunder. We are also concerned with the exclusion of Article 311(2), if not by second proviso but by the nature of post held by the respondent. We have earlier said that the respondent is not entitled to protection of Article 311(2), since he occupied the post drawing his salary from the Defence-Estimates. That being the position, the exclusionary effect of Article 3l1(2) deprives him the protection which he is otherwise entitled to. In other words, there is no letter in the exercise of the pleasure of the President or the Governor. It was, however, argued for the respondent that 1965 Rules are applicable to the respondent, first, on the ground that Rule 3(1) thereof itself provides that it would be applicable, and second, that the Rules were framed by the President to control his own pleasure doctrine. and therefore, cannot be excluded. This contention, in our opinion, is basically faulty. The 1965 Rules among others, provide procedure for imposing the three major penalties that are set out under Article 311(2). When Article 311(2) itself stands excluded and the protection thereunder is withdrawn there is little that one could do under the 1965 Rules in favour of the respondent. The said Rules cannot independently play any part since the rule making power under Article 309 is subject to Article 311. This would be the legal and logical conclusion .

The next contention urged for the respondent depends upon the admission made by the appellants before the High Court. The appel lants seem to have admitted before the PG NO 1080 High Court that the 1965 Rules would be applicable to the respondent. Relying on this admission it was argued before us that the decree under appeal should not be set aside. The poverty of the respondent and the long drawn litigation by which the respondent has suffered immeasurably were also high-lighted.

We gave our anxious consideration to this part of the submission. It is true that the parties appear to have proceeded before the High Court that the 1965 Rules would be attracted to the case of respondent. It might be on a wrong assumption of law. The appellants cannot he estopped to contend to the contrary. They are not bound by such wrong assumption of law. Nor it could be taken advantage of by the respondent. But the submission made before us about the poverty of the respondent and the long drawn litigation seems to be appealing. It is a plus point in his favour under equity. This Court while granting special leave has imposed a condition on the appellants that they will bear the cost of the respondent in any event. That was evidently because of the need to have the law clarified and inability of the respondent to come up to this Court. There cannot be any dispute about the poverty surrounding him. He has instituted the suit as an indigent person. There is yet another aspect. When the respondent commenced the litigation and continued up to the High Court the law on the question was nebulous. It was only thereafter an authoritative pronouncement was made by this Court with regard to the impact of Rules made under the proviso to Article 309 on the pleasure doctrine under Article 310(1). These facts and circumstances therefore call for a sympathetic consideration of the case of respondent. This Court will not deny any equitable relief in deserving cases. The case on hand cannot be an exception to that rule and indeed it is eminently a fit F case. We therefore accept the submission made for the respondent and decline to disturb the decree under appeal. In the result the appellants succeed on the question on law but the respondent retains the decree in his favour purely on compassionate grounds. The appellants also must pay the cost to the respondent as already bound.

A.P.J.					       Appeal allowed.