|CIVIL APPEAL NO.197 OF 2022
|DATE OF JUDGMENT
|6th January 2022
|Supreme Court of India
|B.S. Murthy and others
|A. Ravinder Singh and others
|A.M. KHANWILKAR C.T. RAVIKUMAR
A major legal disagreement involving the Union of India and Alapan Bandyopadhyay is at the centre of the case “Union of India vs. Alapan Bandyopadhyay”. This case rose to attention because it dealt with the administrative and constitutional issues surrounding the early recall of top official Mr. Bandyopadhyay from the position of West Bengal Chief Secretary. It is a notable and complicated legal problem since the legal processes touch on topics pertaining to the central government’s powers, intergovernmental relations, and constitutional principles. Fundamentally, the case weaves through constitutional principles by raising important considerations about the scope of executive authority and state administrative autonomy. This judicial battle is very important because it could establish a precedent that will determine how India’s federalism is implemented. The decision might affect the complex balance of governance in our country by redefining the limits of authority and creating precedents for cases similar to this one.
FACTS OF THE CASE
- The order that was made for the case to be transferred from the Kolkata Bench to the Principal Bench by the C.A.T1., the Principal Bench in New Delhi, was overturned by the High Court.
- The respondent contested the disciplinary actions that were brought against him through the memo for allegedly missing a review meeting on May 28, 2021, where the Honourable Prime Minister of India evaluated the death toll, property damage, etc., caused by Cyclone YAAS3. The Chairman of the C.A.T. then issued an order to exercise the authority under Section 252.
- The State of West Bengal’s Chief Secretary was accused of acting improperly for a public servant and of failing to uphold his integrity and devotion to duty.
- There was no disagreement over the Chairman’s authority to move an initial, pending application to a different C.A.T. bench.
- A party to a specific application before the C.A.T. bench may submit a separate application for transfer of a case before the C.A.T. Chairman.
- Delhi has jurisdiction over the territory and the authority of superintendence of the High Court of a state other than Delhi.
- Section 5(4)(a)4 of the Act does not preclude the Chairman of the Tribunal from issuing an order to transfer the Original Application while the Tribunal is seated at a bench other than the state’s Principal Bench.
- If certain applicants file a single Original Application under Section 195 of the Act before the Tribunal’s Bench decides to contest the transfer order, the jurisdiction may become complicated.
- According to the provisions under Rule 4(5)(a), (b) of the Procedure Rules, which contains the sub-rules (1) to (3) of the Tribunal, multiple people may be allowed to file a single application for the type of relief that was prayed for with a shared interest in the case, so the occurrence cannot be ruled out.
- The prayer for transfer, which is essentially an order for the independent application of the Original Application from the Tribunal bench’s files, was denied by the cause of action.
- On several grounds of mala fide, the appellant contested the court order through the ongoing processes at the C.A.T. Calcutta Bench transferred to the Principal Bench in Delhi. In addition to reviewing the writ petition, the High Court made remarks critical of the C.A.T. for attempting to use its authority to relocate proceedings from Kolkata to New Delhi.
- Whether the facts constitute the cause of action for filing an Original Application under Section 19 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985?
- Can the High Court, while passing the impugned judgment, treat the order impugned before it has been passed?
- Whether the maintainability arises or not in the case of a challenge against the order of transfer of the bench?
- Whether the High Court of Calcutta was having jurisdiction to entertain the challenge against the order that was stated in this case or not?
CONTENTIONS OF APPEALENT
- The Learned Solicitor General argued that the only court where the challenge to the C.A.T. New Delhi decision could be brought was the High Court of Delhi, which is within the state’s territorial jurisdiction.
- The Act’s Section 5(7)6 was cited by the Learned Solicitor General. It states that the Benches of the C.A.T. will be located in New Delhi, Allahabad, Kolkata, Madras, New Bombay, and other locations as designated by the Central Government.
- The appellant is upset that the High Court disparaged or used harsh language in the judgement that is being challenged, which was directed at the Chairman of the Tribunal.
- the inclusion of observations and remarks that constitute disarray in the judgement. When judges of higher courts demonstrate that they have little faith in other judges or subordinate judges, nothing could be more detrimental to the administration of justice and the public’s trust than this.
- Higher court judges need to be more restrained in their judicial judgement and cautious when using harsh language towards the subordinate judiciary.
- The Chairman of the Tribunal was not the target of the attorney’s observations or remarks. The High Court’s unnecessary and preventable ruling was the result of their quick responses to their own erroneous presumptions. When it came to making needless decisions on the transfer order, there was no hesitation.
CONTENTIONS OF REPONDENT
- Representing the respondent, the Learned Senior Counsel said that he would not argue the matter, leaving it up to our determination.
- The High Court made these notes and remarks against the Principal Bench of the Tribunal because it determined that there had been excessive haste in the subject of disposal.
- The argument was that the High Court’s authority over judicial superintendence allowed it to justify the transfer order, and that Section 25 of the Act’s authority was only revoked as a result of Rule 6 of the Procedure Rules.
- The experienced attorney said that the High Court had used its judicial review authority and had also examined the transfer order issued by the Chairman of the Tribunal using that authority in accordance with Section 25 of the Act.
- One must keep in mind the difference between executive action and legislation while analysing the various inquiries made by the court.
- After obtaining the President’s assent, parliamentary legislation is published in the Official Gazette to enable its application throughout the entirety of India.
- This is not the case because the petitioner may face unfavourable or civil repercussions if certain Act provisions are enforced, which would give rise to a cause of action.
It was held that Section 25 of the Act grants separate authority for the original application to be transferred from one seat to another. The Division Bench of the High Court that is in charge of exercising territorial jurisdiction over the matter preside over the writ jurisdiction, which has the authority to change orders and judgements of the C.A.T. in the case of L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India12. One passed without jurisdiction is deemed to be void from the beginning. The respondent and petitioner are granted their freedom once the writ petition is dismissed.
- The Chairman has the authority to transfer an original application that has been submitted and is pending before the Tribunal’s bench. An independent application for the transfer of an original application may be filed. According to the Section, the Chairman may move any case that is pending before one Bench to any other Bench of the Tribunal for resolution upon his motion and without giving such notice.
- The essential tenets of fair play and justice are that fairness must exist and not merely be observed. The Chairman was able to avoid a legitimate suspicion of prejudice as a result. It can also provide further solid and long-lasting justifications. Use of this power must be limited to exceptional situations. Since we have already indicated that we are limiting our examination to the particular dispute, we do not believe it is essential to go into further detail on this matter.
- In our view, passing legislation by itself does not grant the right to bring a writ petition unless a cause of action is created as a result of the legislation.
- The legislation that the Bench has proclaimed unchangeable cannot be re-examined by the High Courts by investigating a variety of factors to determine if the High Court may be granted geographical jurisdiction under Article 226(2) of the Constitution.
- Without determining whether the High Court of Calcutta itself had jurisdiction to undertake judicial review of the order passed by the Chairman in the exercise of power under Section 25 of the act, at the Principal seat of the Tribunal at New Delhi, or not, the litigation before the Kolkata Bench of the Tribunal could not have proceeded to its merits and could not have been entertained as a writ petition.
This case examines the central government’s recall authority over a state administrator while navigating the complex administrative and constitutional landscape. The case explores constitutional principles and intergovernmental interactions while posing important problems regarding the division of powers between the Union and the states. As the court case progresses, it becomes clear that this is a landmark case with broad ramifications for India’s federal government and administrative autonomy. This case represents a critical turning point in the continuing development of constitutional jurisprudence because of the subtleties of presidential discretion and the precarious balance between federal and state powers.
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