Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In interesting turn of events, the 3-judge bench of Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta, JJ disagreed with the decision rendered by another 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, AK Goel and MM Shantanagoudar, JJ in Indore Development Authority v. Shailendra, 2018 SCC Online SC 100, which had on 08.02.2018, overturned the decision of another 3-judge bench of RM Lodha, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph, JJ in Pune Municipal Corporation v. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki, (2014) 3 SCC 183, in the issue relating to land acquisition.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi submitted before the Court that when a Bench of 3 learned Judges does not agree with the decision rendered by another Bench of 3 learned Judges, the appropriate course of action would be to refer the matter to a larger Bench. He also submitted that a Bench of 3 learned Judges cannot hold another decision rendered by a Bench of 3 learned Judges as per incuriam.

Noticing that some matters have already been decided on the basis of the Indore Development Authority decision and that similar matter were listed before the Supreme Court and various High Courts, the bench requested the concerned Benches dealing with similar matters to defer the hearing until a decision is rendered one way or the other on the issue whether the matter should be referred to larger Bench or not.

Making it clear that the hearing is not concluded on the issue whether the matter should at all be referred to a larger Bench or not, the bench directed:

“it would be appropriate if in the interim and pending a final decision on making a reference (if at all) to a larger Bench, the High Courts be requested not to deal with any cases relating to the interpretation of or concerning Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.”

The matter will now be heard on March 7, 2018. [State of Haryana v. G.D. Goenka Tourism Corporation Limited, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 145, order dated 21.02.2018]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: In a matter related to relaxing standards for candidates belonging to SC/ST in departmental competitive exams and departmental confirmation examinations, a Constitution Bench of R.M. Lodha, CJ and Jagdish Khehar, J. Chelameswar, Dr. A.K. Sikri and R.F. Nariman, JJ rendered the judgment in S. Vinod Kumar v. Union of India, (1996) 6 SCC 580, per incuriam for non consideration of Article 16(4A) of the Constitution thereby rendering  the Office Memorandum of 1997 withdrawing the relaxations illegal.

The point of dispute revolved around the Office Memorandum issued in 1997 which withdrew the relaxation of qualifying standards for SC/ST candidates in the departmental exams, thereby, effecting an amendment in Central Secretariat Service Section Officers’ Grade/Stenographers’ Grade B (Limited Departmental Competitive Examination) Regulations, 1964 thus bringing the matter under Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution. The Central Administrative Tribunal while deciding upon the validity of 1997 Office Memorandum considered the judgment delivered in S. Vinod Kumar case which did not take into consideration Article 16(4A). The Appellant was represented by Dr. K.S. Chauhan and the respondent by Mr. Ranjit Kumar, Solicitor General.

The constitution bench not deeming it necessary to go into the intricacies and validity of Article 16(4A) of Constitution as the same had been dealt in depth by the Court in M. Nagraj v. Union of India, (2006)8 SCC 212, observed that Article 16(4A) was inserted in the Constitution to undo the observations in Indra Sawhney v. Union of India, 1992 Supp (3) SCC 217, that there can not be dilution of standards in matters of promotion. Since, the Court in S. Vinod Kumar case did not take into account the provisions of Article 16(4A), therefore, it was declared as bad law. The Court thus declaring the 1997 memorandum illegal directed the respondents to modify the results in the Section Officers/Stenographers (Grade B/Grade-I) Limited Departmental Competitive Examination, 1996 by providing for reservation.  Rohtas Bhankhar v. Union of India, Civil Appeal Nos. 6046-6047/2004, decided on 15.07.2014

To read the full judgment, refer to SCCOnLine