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Public Officers should not be called to court unnecessarily: SC reiterated

Thus, we feel, it is time to reiterate that public officers should not be called to court unnecessarily. The dignity and majesty of the Court is not enhanced when an officer is called to court. Respect to the court has to be commanded and not demanded and the same is not enhanced by calling public officers. The presence of public officer comes at the cost of other official engagement demanding their attention. Sometimes, the officers even have to travel long distance. Therefore, summoning of the officer is against the public interest as many important tasks entrusted to him gets delayed, creating extra burden on the officer or delaying the decisions awaiting his opinion. The Court proceedings also take time, as there is no mechanism of fixed time hearing in Courts as of now (Para.20).


THE STATE OF UTTAR PRADESH & ORS. V. DR. MANOJ KUMAR SHARMA

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2320 OF 2021

ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NO. 7487 OF 2020

Decided on JULY 9, 2021.


The Two-Judge bench comprising Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice Hemant Gupta decided the present case. The Supreme Court allowed the appeal stating that orders given by the High Court dated 05.03.2020 and 07.08.2019 were wholly unjustified, unwarranted, arbitrary and illegal.


The respondent was posted in the State of Uttaranchal, now State of Uttarakhand as a medical officer before the reorganization of the State of Uttar Pradesh. He was then transferred to the state of Uttar Pradesh in the second phase on 5.7.2003. However, instead of reporting at the place of his posting in Badaun, he submitted a letter to Director Medical Health Services, Lucknow on 19.09.2003 notifying his joining report and on the very same day he drafted another letter requesting to get a posting in Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad or Bijnore District.


Having filed a writ petition in the year 2006, the respondent sought a writ of mandamus commanding the State to place him in a hospital with the qualifications and experience which best described his specialized cadre. As per the learned single judge's findings, no decision has been made in relation to the letter dated 19.09.2003 to post the respodents' writ petitions. Therefore, the respondent never received a transmission or transfer order. Following the High Court's order, the respondent was posted under the Chief Medical Officer, Muzaffarnagar on 09.12.2016.


The respondent was declined for the back wages from 05.07.2003 to 09.12.2016 as he has not performed any government work for that said period. Another writ petition was filed by the respondent challenging the decision. On the basis of another writ petition, appellants were directed to calculate and pay 50% of the back wages to the respondent. Aggrieved by the decision, the present appeal was filed before the Supreme Court.


A learned counsel for the respondent stated in the writ petition that he had requested for his posting anywhere in the state of Uttar Pradesh and that the posting order dated 06.03.2002 had not been served upon him.


The Court stated that, “As noticed by the learned Single Bench in the third round, the writ petitioner was gainfully employed and it is impossible to imagine that a Medical Officer would sit idle for 13 long years. Therefore, the grant of 50% of back wages for the entire period would be giving benefit of one’s own wrong who intentionally abstained from duty for 13 long years and now wants to take benefit of back wages as well. Such stand of the writ petitioner is not only unjustified but wholly condemnable. The State was remiss in not taking action against the writ petitioner for absence from duty. Once the writ petitioner did not join the place of posting, the State should have taken steps to initiate disciplinary proceedings. Still further, the State issued posting order as per the directions in the first writ petition. The attempt of the State to initiate proceedings in the year 2018 invited ire of the Court. The State government cancelled the proceedings to initiate disciplinary proceedings.” (Para 15)


The Court further stated that, “Thus, we feel, it is time to reiterate that public officers should not be called to court unnecessarily. The dignity and majesty of the Court is not enhanced when an officer is called to court. Respect to the court has to be commanded and not demanded and the same is not enhanced by calling public officers. The presence of public officer comes at the cost of other official engagement demanding their attention. Sometimes, the officers even have to travel long distance. Therefore, summoning of the officer is against the public interest as many important tasks entrusted to him gets delayed, creating extra burden on the officer or delaying the decisions awaiting his opinion. The Court proceedings also take time, as there is no mechanism of fixed time hearing in Courts as of now. The Courts have the power of pen which is more effective than the presence of an officer in Court. If any particular issue arises for consideration before the Court and the Advocate representing the State is not able to answer, it is advised to write such doubt in the order and give time to the State or its officers to respond.” (Para 20)


The Court concluded by stating that, “The writ petitioner was posted at Badaun. He was to report at the place of posting and after reporting at the place of posting, he should have asked for transfer, if permissible, according to the requirement of the State. But he could not have dictated the place of posting without even joining the place where he was first posted. Therefore, we find that the orders of the High Court dated 05.03.2020 and 07.08.2019 are wholly unjustified, unwarranted, arbitrary and illegal. The same are set aside and the appeal is allowed with no order as to costs.” (Para 21)



Utkarsh Kumar Jayaswal

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