Delhi High Court Allows Review Petition Saying That Relief Cannot Be Granted to Those Who Haven’t Petitioned Before Court

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Background

In this case, the petitioner, who was then posted as a Second-In-Command (2IC) in the respondent Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), had filed the writ petition seeking quashing of Office Memorandum (OM) dated 7th September 1998 to the extent that it authorized a grant of Ration Money Allowance (RMA) to Central Para Military Force (CPMF) personnel only if they were posted along with the Army in some special operations or in border/disturbed areas. Further, he sought direction from the respondents Union of India and CRPF, to grant RMA to all personnel of CRPF up to the rank of Commandant, irrespective of their place of posting. The respondents/review petitioners, on the contrary, said that the petitioner was not eligible for RMA because he opted to draw the Detachment Allowance at full rates while he was serving alongside the Army at Assam, which was a disturbed area. 

In the writ petition case, the Court said that as per Rule 46(c) of the CRPF Rules, 1955, drawl of Detachment Allowance had nothing to do with the place of posting and hence, the instructions that CRPF personnel must opt for either RMA or Detachment Allowance was contrary to Rule 46(c) of the CRPF Rules. The Court also referred to the judgement of the Supreme Court in B. Rugmini Amma Vs. B.S. Nirmala Kumari where it was held that administrative instructions could not override the statutory provisions. The Court also gave several other reasons and held that the instructions seeking to add a condition for availing RMA, were contrary to the CRPF Rules. The Court further said that the argument of the respondents/review petitioners that the denial of RMA not only to the petitioner but to all officers up to the rank of Commandant was justified, could not be accepted. 

Accordingly, the Court quashed the OM dated 7th September 1998, vide its judgment dated 10th April 2019. The OM was quashed to the extent it authorised a grant of RMA to CPMF personnel only if they were deployed along with the Army in some special operations or in border/disturbed areas. Further, the Court issued a direction to the respondents Union of India and CRPF to grant RMA to all personnel of CRPF up to the rank of Commandant, irrespective of their place of posting and the arrears of RMA were directed to be paid with interest payable for any delayed payment. 

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After that, on 13th March 2020, the respondents/review petitioners came up before a Bench of Delhi High Court to seek clarification of the judgment dated 10th April 2019. After hearing the counsels, the High Court opined that there was no ambiguity in the judgment dated 10th April 2019 and that the arrears of RMA were to be paid with effect from 1st September 1998. The respondents/review petitioners herein sought for review of the judgement dated 10th April 2019.

Petitioner’s Arguments

The respondents/review petitioners herein sought review of the impugned judgement on various grounds. They contended that in compliance with the judgment dated 10th April 2019 and order dated 13th March 2020, RMA arrears to the tune of Rs.1,52,309/- were paid to the petitioner as well as to some other Officers. They further said that as far as the direction in the impugned judgment for payment of RMA arrears to all other Officers was concerned, there were thousands of serving and retired Officers over the period of 22 years involved and computation of arrears of RMA for each one of them was a lengthy and time-consuming job. Further, though the petitioner in the writ petition had ventilated his cause of action only but sought a direction for payment of RMA to all personnel of CRPF. Furthermore, they referred to the judgement of the Supreme Court in Union of India Vs. R. Thiyagarajan where it was held that the High Court did not have jurisdiction to direct grant of relief to all the employees and that too from long back and had exceeded its jurisdiction in doing so. They further contended that in service jurisprudence, the Courts cannot grant relief to non-petitioners and that one High Court cannot grant relief even to those non-petitioners over whom the High Court has no jurisdiction.

They contended that the writ petition should have been dismissed for claiming the relief of the payment of RMA to persons other than the petitioner. They further contended that in matters where financial implications could run into thousands of crores of rupees, the Court could not have decided without considering all the relevant facts and that the impugned judgment interfered with the legislative power of the Government to frame policies.

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Mr Ankur Chhibber, the learned counsel for the respondents/review petitioners, informed that the respondents/review petitioners, under the judgment have to incur a financial liability of eight thousand crores and contended that such financial implications ought to have a bearing on the Court. 

Respondent’s Arguments

The counsel for the petitioner/non-review petitioner contended that the direction in the impugned judgment for payment to all was issued since the OM dated 7th September 1998 was challenged and was quashed. He argued that the respondents/review petitioners, at the time of hearing of the writ petition, did not controvert that BSF was paying RMA. Further, he contended that the nature of the relief claimed by the petitioner in the writ petition was general in nature i.e., if granted to the petitioner, having application to all those similarly situated as the petitioner. He referred to the State of Uttar Pradesh Vs. Arvind Kumar Srivastava where it was that when a particular set of employees is given relief by Court, all other identically situated persons should be treated alike, by extending the same benefit to them since not doing so would amount to discrimination and would be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

Court’s Observation

The Court perused the Review Petitions and heard the counsels and observed that all the Rules that were now referred to and all the arguments which were now made were not taken into consideration while pronouncing the impugned judgment. According to the Court, the respondents/review petitioners, by way of these Review Petitions, were seeking re-hearing by engaging a different counsel and which was not permissible in law. 

Further, the Court said that the limitations on the Court, viz. of being not entitled to re-hear the controversy while entertaining a review of an order granting relief to a petitioner, would not apply to the present case as far as the order granted relief to others, who had not even petitioned the Court or who were not before the Court. 

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Furthermore, the Court said that since the relief in the writ petition was granted to all members of CRPF and CPMFs who had not even petitioned and were not before the Court, the matter required to be reviewed. 

Court’s Decision

After having made the aforesaid observations, the Court allowed the Review Petitions and recalled the impugned judgement and the order dated 13th March 2020. The Court, however, mentioned that the respondents/review petitioners will not be entitled to claim a refund from the petitioner or from others, to whom monetary benefits had already been granted in compliance with the judgment/order. 

CLICK HERE TO READ THE JUDGEMENT.


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