M.S. KAZI (THE APPELLANT) WAS EMPLOYED AS AN Assistant Teacher on 30 June 1978 in a school conducted by the first Respondent, which is a minority institution. On 25 June 2002 a chargesheet was issued to the Appellant alleging that between 29 November 2001 and 15 December 2001, he had proceeded on a pilgrimage without prior permission and was absent without sanctioned leave. Apart from this allegation, which constituted the first article of charge, the second was that whereas in his application for withdrawal from the provident fund, the reason of the pilgrimage was shown to be Haj, the application for leave indicated a pilgrimage to Umrah. The Appellant denied the charges. Upon a departmental inquiry, the charges were found to be established and the Appellant was dismissed from service on 13 January 2004. The Appellant moved the Gujarat Higher Secondary Education Tribunal for challenging the order of dismissal. On 13 June 2006, the Tribunal dismissed the application.
Aggrieved by the order of the Tribunal, the Appellant instituted a Special Civil Application under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution before the High Court. Besides seeking to challenge the order of the Tribunal and the punishment of dismissal, the Appellant sought consequential reliefs for treating him in service until October 2005 when he attained the age of superannuation and the grant of pensionary benefits.
The learned Single Judge of the High Court dismissed the writ petition on 24 December 2012 on merits holding that the charge of misconduct stood established and there was no illegality in the view taken by the Tribunal or in the decision of the disciplinary authority. An LPA under Clause 15 of the Letters Patent was thereupon filed.
The Division Bench by its judgment dated 28 March 2014 held that the appeal was not maintainable. From the record, it appears that though the Tribunal was not impleaded as a party to the Special Civil Application, it was impleaded to the LPA. Be that as it may, the High Court relied upon a judgment of a Bench of five-Judges of that court in Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (supra). The judgment, inter alia, holds that where a Special CivilApplication is described as one under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution and the court or tribunal whose order is impugned is not made a party, the application would not be maintainable. In such an event, the objection to maintainability would – it was held – not be cured merely by impleading the tribunal or court to the LPA against a judgment of the Single Judge.
Against the judgment dated 28.08.2014 passed by the Division Bench, special leave petition was filed. The Supreme Court accepted the appeal. The judgment and order dated 28.03.2014 was set aside and LPA 86 of 2014 was restored before the High Court for disposal on merits.
The Operative Part of the judgment reads as under:-
The tribunal is not required to defend its orders when they are challenged before the High Court in a Special Civil Application under Articles 226 and 227. The lis is between the management and a member of its teaching or non-teaching staff, as the case may be. It is for the person aggrieved to pursue his or her remedies before the tribunal. An order of the tribunal is capable of being tested in exercise of the power of judicial review under Articles 226 and 227. When the remedy is invoked, the tribunal is not required to step into arena of conflict for defending its order. Hence, the tribunal is not a necessary party to the proceedings in a Special Civil Application.
The Appellant instituted a proceeding before the tribunal to challenge an order of dismissal passed against him in disciplinary proceedings. Before the tribunal, the legality of the order of dismissal was in question. The lawfulness of the punishment imposed upon the Appellant was a matter for the employer to defend against a challenge of illegality in the Special Civil Application. The tribunal was not required to defend its order in the writ proceedings before the learned Single Judge. Even if the High Court was to require the production of the record before the tribunal, there was no necessity of impleading the tribunal as a party to the proceedings. The tribunal not being required in law to defend its own order, the proceedings under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution were maintainable without the tribunal being impleaded.
For these reasons, we hold that the High Court was in error in dismissing the LPA on the ground that it was not maintainable. Consequently, the judgment and order of the Division Bench dated 28 March 2014 is set aside and LPA 86 of 2014 is restored before the High Court for disposal on merits.
Authorities relied upon : 2015 (9) SCC 1, 2014 GLH 1
Reference : Supreme Court. M.S. Kazi v. Muslim Education Society & Ors., civil appeal nos. 11976- 11977 of 2014.