OP. ED.

Justice Dr Arjan Kumar Sikri’s remarkable tenure of around 6 years ends as a Supreme Court Judge today i.e. 06-03-2019.

“Education took us from thumb impression to signature; Technology has taken us from signature to thumb impression, again” – Justice Sikri (Aadhaar Judgment)”

Justice Dr Arjan Kumar Sikri commonly known as the “Professor Judge” because of his spectacular academic record was born on 07-03-1954.

“Be patient. There is no limit, and work hard. Don’t think you can achieve name and fame in a day.”*

-Justice Dr A.K. Sikri

With an excellent academic record, he stood third in the merit list in Higher Secondary from CBSE, Delhi, following which he completed his B.Com (Hons.) from Shriram College of Commerce, Delhi University in the year 1974 and LL.B. from Law Faculty, Delhi University in the year 1977.

Strokes of Genius

He was awarded Gold Medal for attaining first position in LL.B. Awarded special prize for getting highest marks in Constitutional Law I & II. During his LL.M. from Delhi University, he was ranked first in 3-Year course. Acquired the position of president of Campus Law Centre, Delhi University during 1976-1977 and was also a member of Academic Council of Delhi University for the same duration along with being a member in various other committees of Delhi University.

Early Life as an Advocate

Justice Sikri had enrolled as an Advocate in July, 1977 with Bar Council of Delhi and started practicing in Delhi. Conducted cases of all types with specialization in Constitutional cases, Labour – Service Matters and Arbitration Matters. He was also a part-time lecturer at Campus Law Centre, Delhi University (1984-89). He was also the Vice-President, Delhi High Court Bar Association during 1994-1995. Following which he was designated as a Senior Advocate by Delhi High Court on 30-09-1997.

Journey of a “Judge” with the belief of – Sensitization of Judges to have speedy justice

The impeccable journey of Justice Sikri started with him being appointed as a Delhi High Court Judge on 7-07-1999. As a Judge, he dealt with all kinds of jurisdictions and gave many landmark judgments.

He was chosen as one of the 50 most influential persons in Intellectual Property in the world in a survey conducted by Managing Intellectual Property Association (MIPA) for the year 2007.

He achieved another milestone by being appointed as an Acting Chief Justice of Delhi High Court on  10-10-2011 and was elevated as the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court on 23-09-2012.

Odyssey of the Illustrious Personality of Justice Dr A.K. Sikri

On 12-04-2013, A.K. Sikri was elevated to the Supreme Court of India.

Has been conferred Doctorate of Laws, Honoris Causa, by Dr Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow, in November 2013.

As a Judge of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Sikri has been a part of more than 900 judgments from which several turned out to be landmark ones.

Some of the Judgments of which Dr A.K. Sikri was a part of and would always be used in common parlance are as follows:

Aadhaar Verdict | Aadhaar here to stay; K.S. Puttaswamy v. Union of India (Aadhaar-5 Judge) (2019) 1 SCC 1

“Better be unique than being best; Aadhaar means unique”

Passive Euthanasia is permissible; Human beings have a fundamental right to die; Common Cause v. Union of India2018 SCC OnLine SC 208

“It is an undisputed that Doctors’ primary duty is to provide treatment and save life but not in the case when a person has already expressed his desire of not being subjected to any kind of treatment. It is a common law right of people, of any civilized country, to refuse unwanted medical treatment and no person can force him/her to take any medical treatment which the person does not desire to continue with”

Only “green” fireworks permitted to be manufactured and sold: SC; Arjun Gopal v. Union of India 2018 SCC OnLine SC 2118

“directions to be followed for burning of crackers while refusing the complete ban on the sale of firecrackers as it may lead to extreme economic hardships”

Karnataka Elections: KG Bopaiah to continue to be pro-tem speaker; SC orders Live broadcast of Floor Test;

“Live broadcast of Floor Test would be the best way to ensure transparency of proceedings.”

Motilal Pesticides overruled as it missed the difference in the terms ‘Income’ and ‘Gross Total Income’; Vijay Industries v. CIT, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 299

“Reading of Section 80HH along with Section 80A would clearly signify that such a deduction has to be of gross profits and gains, i.e., before computing the income as specified in Sections 30 to 43D of the Act.”

Delhi v. Centre: Powers demarcated; Split verdict on power to transfer and appoint officers; State (NCT of Delhi) v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 193

Maharashtra Dance Bar law; Indian Hotel and Restaurant Assn. v. State of Maharashtra2019 SCC OnLine SC 41

Amend S. 80DD of IT Act to give benefit to disabled persons even during the lifetime of guardian: SC to Centre; Ravi Agrawal v. Union of India2019 SCC OnLine SC 5

“Where guardian has become very old but is still alive, though he is not able to earn any longer or he may be a person who was in service and has retired from the said service and is not having any source of income. In such cases, it may be difficult for such a parent/guardian to take care of the medical needs of his/her disabled child. Even when he/she has paid full premium, the handicapped person is not able to receive any annuity only because the parent/guardian of such handicapped person is still alive.”

In a recent judgment of the Supreme Court [Dnyaneshwar Suresh Borkar v. State of Maharashtra; 2019 SCC OnLine SC 304]in the case of a murder convict, of which Justice Sikri was a part; the Court took note of a very rare thing that “that, from the poems, written by him in the jail, it appears that he has realised his mistake which was committed by him at the time when he was of young age and that he is reformative; therefore the appellant can be reformed and rehabilitated.” and refused to place this case in “rarest of rare category”.

Ideology | Keyword to success: Hard Work

On analysing few of Justice Sikri’s interviews his only mantra to the student’s pursuing law was summed up in three stages as mentioned:

Three stages in a lawyer’s career – First: Work, work and no money; Second: money commensurate to the work; and finally, little work and a lot of money.

“While the human in law is important, humane in law is indispensable.”

-Justice Dr A.K. Sikri

How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world”, this quote by William Shakespeare is apt, to sum up, the momentous journey of Justice Dr Arjan Kumar Sikri.


*https://lawschoolpolicyreview.com/2018/08/15/drawing-the-line-lspr-in-conversation-with-honble-justice-a-k-sikri/

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): The bench of Sunita Gupta, Member (J), Lt Gen Philip Campose, Member (A), allowed an application praying for revision of pension in accordance with the last rank held before retirement.

In the pertinent matter, the applicant in pursuance of the circular by the Government of India (GoI) approached the Tribunal, wherein the circular clarified that, 10 months continuous service in the last rank held is not required for grant of pension in such rank. They relied on Thiagrajan v. Union of India, O.A. No. 93 of 2014, where the ten months were waived-off and the Tribunal opined that “pension cannot be deprived to an individual to a rank for which he has already rendered his service and that the applicant has earned his pension in the rank of JWO already, and therefore, is entitled to be paid pension in the rank of JWO. Even if, for some reason, such a pension is found to be less, the applicant is entitled to receive the highest pension he earned already...

The respondent conceded that the requirement of holding the last rank of 10 months before retirement has been dispensed with in keeping with the circular and further contended that they are correct in giving pension to the applicants on the lower rank as it is financially more beneficial.

The Tribunal held that the argument of the respondents, where a junior promoted to a senior rank should be pegged at a pension of his last but one rank, is fallacious, while placing reliance on D.S. Nakara v. Union of India, 1983 (1) SCC 305. Further on the method of calculating the exact pension, relied on the explanation in P. Gopalakrishnan v. Union of India, the complete import and implication of Circular 430 dated 02-02-2009 Regulations for the Air Force Part 1, Ministry of Defence (MoD) letter dated 07-06-1999 and came to the conclusion that “the basis of calculation being pursued in the instant case was detrimental for the pension of petitioner..”. And it further directed the respondents to calculate the pension based on the last held rank by him before retirement and arrears to be paid accordingly.[Dhanushkodi Rajarajan v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 4, Order dated 20-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Pramath Patnaik, J., dismissed a writ petition filed by the petitioner, whereby he sought directions upon the respondent to grant him promotions and benefits of Assured Career Progression as had been granted to one of his colleagues Akhouri Shrawan Prasad. 

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the respondent authorities were liable for discriminating the petitioner with his colleagues.

The Court observed that the petitioner and the employee with whom the petitioner is claiming discrimination had joined the services in the same year. The petitioner was concerned with the fact that Mr Shrawan had been granted more promotions, however from the record it was crystal clear that the petitioner was granted promotion to Selection Grade Assistant and given the post of Head Assistant before the said Mr Akhouri Shrawan Prasad and even on the date of retirement, the basic salary of the petitioner was higher than that of Mr Akhouri Shrawan Prasad. Further, it was observed that promotion cannot be claimed as a matter of right, rather only consideration for promotion to a particular post can be asserted as a right. 

The Court held that the petitioner was duly considered for promotions time and again during the course of his service and he had failed to establish that the respondent authorities had ever deprived him of his right to be considered for promotion to a particular post. Resultantly, the petition was dismissed being devoid of merits.[Hira Lal Ram v. State of Jharkhand,2018 SCC OnLine Jhar 1550, order dated 05-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Bench of A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ. allowed a writ petition filed by Presiding Officers of the Debt Recovery Tribunal seeking benefit of the amended Section 6 of the Recovery of Debts and Bankruptcy Act, 1993.

The unamended Section 6 of the Act, under which petitioners terms of service were governed, provided that such person shall remain in service till completion of 5 years in service or till attaining the age the 62, whichever is earlier. The petitioners had attained the of 62 but the five year period had not completed. The said section was substituted in 2016. The new section, which was to take effect prospectively, provided the age of retirement as 65 years apart from the five-year clause. The question for consideration before the Court was whether the petitioners would be governed by the unamended section or the substituted section. In other words, were the petitioners to retire at the age of 62 or could they continue till 65.

The Supreme Court gave due consideration to the submission made by the parties. It perused the object behind the amendment which was to reduce the pendency of cases by increasing the retiring age of Presiding Officers. Furthermore, the Court observed, wherever the word substitute or substitution is used by the legislature, it has the effect of deleting the old provision and make the new provision operative. Thus, the effect of amendment was to make the old provision non-existent from the date of such enforcement. The Court was of the view that examined in the above-mentioned perspective, the question of prospective or retrospective operation does not arise. Thus, it was held that the petitioners, who were serving at the time of enforcement of amended Section 6 would be given benefit of the same. The petitioners were allowed to continue in service till completion of five years or till attaining the age of 65, whichever is earlier. The petition was allowed. [Gottumukkala Venkata Krishamraju v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1386, decided on 07-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jammu and Kashmir High Court: Instant Letters Patent Appeal was filed before a 2-Judge Bench comprising of Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Sanjay Kumar Gupta, JJ., where appellant’s plea to remain in the accommodation even after retirement which was allotted during his service was rejected.

Appellant was granted three months after retirement to use the accommodation but he failed to show any provision under which he could be allowed to stay in the premise even after retirement. A communication between Deputy Director of Estates (A-II), Government of India, and one Deep Kumar was referred where Deep Kumar was given permission to live in the premise after retirement and an order was given to use the accommodation until finalization and implementation of the policy with regard to the accommodation of migrants from the Kashmir Valley. Appellant contended that the said policy has not been finalized and thus he can hold the premise till its finalization.

The High Court was of the view that appellant’s accommodation cannot be extended as other employees who are in service would require the said accommodation. Since appellant was also unable to show why he should be allowed to live in the said premise the appeal was dismissed. [Piaray Lal Koul v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine J&K 568, order dated 06-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Manipur High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Kh. Nobin Singh, J. allowed a writ petition filed by a retired public servant challenging the notice of enquiry issued against him under Rule 9(7) of the Manipur Public Servants’ Personal Liability Rules, 2006.

The petitioner had retired from the post of Head Clerk in the Department of Minorities and Other Backward Classes. After a gap of six years from the date of his retirement, the Deputy Secretary (Finance/PIC), Government of Manipur issued a notice against him under the rule mentioned above. It was issued in contemplation of an enquiry to be held against him for his irregularity of action as a public servant. Being aggrieved by the said notice, the petitioner filed the instant petition. The ground being, inter alia, that since he had already retired from service, the provisions of Manipur Public Servants’ Personal Liability Act, 2006 would not apply to him.

The question for consideration before the High Court was ‘whether the provisions of the Act will apply to a retired employee or not?’. It was noted by the Court that the main object and reason behind enactment of the Act is the recovery of Government money misappropriated by a public servant. The Court perused Section 2(g) [which defines public servant]  and Section 4 [which provides for liability for irregular action of public servant]; and observed that the retired employee is nowhere referred to in those sections. If the Act was intended to apply to retired employees also, nothing prevented the State Government from including it in the Act. After retirement, the employee is no longer a public servant for all practical purposes. The Court was of the view that the notice impugned was issued without jurisdiction and was liable to be quashed and set aside. The writ petition was accordingly allowed. [B. Malsawma v. State of Manipur,2018 SCC OnLine Mani 86, dated 10-08-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Arun Bhansali, J. declined to interfere with the transfer order of the petitioner which was challenged by him in the instant writ petition.

The petitioner worked as an Assistant Engineer in Drilling Division at Udaipur. He was transferred to the post of Assistant Engineer in Sub-Division at Buran. The petitioner laid threefold contention challenging his transfer order which were however dismissed by the High Court. The contentions as put forth by the petitioner and repelled by the High Court were as follows:

Contention: The petitioner held charge of nine sanctioned posts of Assistant Engineer in Udaipur Drilling Division. His transfer would render the Division without officer. Held: The Court repelled the contention observing that according to the respondents, the petitioner was transferred in the interest of government for administrative reasons. Further, one Vikram Singh Gurjar had already been posted to Udaipur awaiting posting order.

Contention: The petitioner all along worked in the Drilling Division and now his transfer in the Sub-Division was not justified. Held: The aspect of the petitioner having all along worked in the Drilling Division by itself could not be a reason to affect validity of transfer especially when he was eligible to be appointed in the Sub-Division.

Contention: The petitioner’s retirement was due in 2020 and his transfer at the far end of his career was not justified. Held: This ground could not invalidate the impugned order as in the cases of administrative exigencies; an officer can be transferred even when he is nearing retirement.

In light of the above, the High Court held that the impugned order did not call for any interference. [Niranjan Sharma v. State of Rajasthan, 2018 SCC OnLine Raj 1282, dated 21-5-2018]

Supreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with the question as to whether departmental proceeding can be initiated against an employee after his retirement from service on attainment of the age of superannuation for a charge sheet issued to him at the time of his employment, the bench of J.S. Khehar and Arun Mishra, JJ. held that correct interpretation of Rule 10(1); of the West Bengal Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefit) Rules, 1971 reveals that the departmental proceeding can be initiated against an employee on account of “grave misconduct or negligence”, even if there is no pecuniary loss to the Government.

The Counsel for the respondent contended that the departmental proceedings for the charge sheet issued to him during his term of employment with regard to disproportionate assets cannot be initiated after his retirement from the Service. The West Bengal Administrative Tribunal directed the enquiry authority to dispose of the pending department proceeding. Aggrieved with the order of the Tribunal, the respondent approached the High Court of Calcutta, which interpreted Rule 10(1); of the 1971 Rules and concluded that departmental proceeding could be initiated after the employee’s retirement only when there is pecuniary loss to the State Government.

Holding that the High Court erred in the interpretation of Rule 10 (1); of the 1971 Rules, the Court set aside the impugned order passed by the High Court and affirmed the order passed by the Administrative Tribunal. The Court concluded that “grave misconduct or negligence” on the part of employee is sufficient to further proceed departmental enquiry against him and that pecuniary loss to the Government is not necessary. State of West Bengal v. Pronab Chakraborty, 2014 SCC OnLine SC 835, decided on October 15, 2014.