HM Journal

WHETHER THE ORDER OF THE HIGH COURT TO PAY THE bACK WAGES TO THE RESPONDENT IS JUSTIFIED?

CASE: Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma v. State of Uttar Pradesh Through Principal Medical & Health and Others

COURT: The Supreme Court of India

DATE OF JUDGEMENT : 09th  July,  2021

BENCH: Hon’ble Mr. Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Hemant Gupta

PARTIES:

Appellant: The State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors.

Respondent: Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma

BRIEF: A public officer should not be brought to the Court and forced to work on the Court’s directives. The writ petitioner is not entitled to back wages or a transfer because he addressed the Court after years and delayed the Court’s proceedings for 13 years.

OVERVIEW

The writ petitioner was a Medical Officer in Uttarakhand who was transferred to the State of Uttar Pradesh as part of the Medical Officers’ choice following the State of Uttar Pradesh’s reformation. The Medical Officers were released in stages, and the petitioner was released in the second step, along with 22 other Medical Officers. The petitioner sent a joining report to the Director of Medical Health Services in Lucknow, as well as another letter demanding posting in Ghaziabad or Bijnore District, rather than where he was posted. The petitioner filed a writ of mandamus ordering the State to post him based on his qualifications and expertise. The Court ordered a cost of Rs. 50,000/- to be put before the Court, stating that the State Government failed to act in accordance with its responsibilities and that a judgement on the subject should have been made immediately. Following the posting of the petitioner, another writ petition was filed seeking an order for payment of back wages. The Court dismissed it and ordered a decision within four weeks. The reimbursement was denied since he did not work for the government during that time period. The Court ruled that the back wages could not be refused and that because the petitioner was gainfully employed, he should be paid half of the back wages. The petitioner did not accept the position to which he was assigned and waited for years for an order that could not be obtained. The High Court summoned the Health Secretary multiple times, which the Court strongly denounced as an impediment to the officer’s duties and the public interest.

ARGUMENTS BY THE APPELLANT:

  • The respondent’s counsel stated that the petitioner did not join at his post in Badaun. According to the petitioner’s attorney, all of the Medical Officers who were discharged had filed their reports to the Director of Medical Health Services rather than at their place of posting.

ARGUMENTS BY THE RESPONDENTS:

  • The respondents contended that because the petitioner had not complied with the posting order dated 06.03.2002, he was not entitled to any benefit as a result of his non-joining.

ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGEMENT

  • The petitioner was relieved by the State of Uttarakhand, for which the communication had been addressed by the Joint Director, and the petitioner’s joining report, which was to be filed, was submitted before the Director Medical Health Services rather than the site of posting. As a result, the High Court did not adequately address the issue of the appellant party’s failure to establish the transfer and posting.
  • The Supreme Court relied on its judgment in State of Punjab v. Khemi Ram, where the issue of suspension orders arose, and the Court said unequivocally that it is the message that is significant, not the receipt of the same. More than 100 Medical Officers were transferred on the same transfer order as the petitioner, who did not report even after being freed.
  • The petitioner began practising privately, demonstrating his lack of desire in becoming a Medical Officer. He was discharged in 2003, and he submitted the petition three years later. It is illogical to believe that he had been waiting for orders all this time.
  • The petitioner was also fully employed for 13 years, implying that he had been idle for 13 years. This inference is inconceivable, and giving him his earnings back would be unjustified and condemnable. Even after that, the Government issued posting orders following the High Court’s decision, which was unnecessary because the petitioner had not joined and disciplinary proceedings should have been launched.
  • The High Court had issued summonses to appear in person before the Court. Some High Courts have repeatedly called public officers “at the drop of a hat,” which is unacceptable. The Executive and Judiciary are two distinct bodies necessary for the successful operation of a democracy. Having such orders to compel officers to perform in accordance with the Court’s inclinations is unjustified.
  • The officers are the limbs of the governing body, and summoning them repeatedly slows the work that they must do. They work for the general public and the government. The Court cited the decision of Divisional Manager Aravali Golf Club and Anr. v. Chander Hass and Anr., which held that judges must know their limitations and refrain from acting as emperors because the Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary all have their own issues to deal with.
  • If one is continuously concerned in the affairs of another, the balance that the Constitution seeks to safeguard is thrown off. The Court must be respected, but it is required rather than urged. The court’s action to summon the police merely serves to impede public interest. The hearings take a long time, which adds to the officers’ workload.

OPINION As he had sent a letter for transfer, the petitioner should have joined his post and then waited for his transfer. He had no authority to request a transfer. A person who is not employed by the government cannot be paid for labour that he has not performed. The petitioner’s acts do not warrant compensation. The petition did not need to be dragged out for almost a decade in order to be resolved. A person should not abuse the rights granted to him as a citizen of the country. Similarly, the Court should not frequently summon the officers and should remember the distinction between the Judiciary and the Executive. The case is eye-opening for both the public and the Court. Though the Court was dealing with the matter of transfer and back wages, the Court also addressed the improper actions of some High Courts.

Written By: Aryan Gupta (2nd year)

College – Kirit P. Mehta School of Law, NMIMS

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