30 Apr 2121

For the corporation which serves the public at large, there must be transparency in the decisions of a corporation and those decisions must pass the standard test of reasonableness and test of rationality coupled with legal principles – Bombay High Court

Case : The High Court of Bombay, Bench at Aurangabad Through Registrar (Judicial) v. The State of Maharashtra and Ors. Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation No.01 of 2017

Court : Bombay High Court

Bench : Justice S. V.Gangapurwala and Justice Shrikant D. Kulkarni

Decided on : 30 Apr 2121

The Relevant Statutes

Article 14, 16 and 19 of the Constitution of India

Brief Facts and Procedural History

1One Mr Sharad Babrao Pote and others had filed a writ petition No.10038 of 2016 before this Court and sought relaxation of the age restriction made under the notification of the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation from 45 to higher age to get the benefit under the said scheme “Kutumb Suraksha Young”.

2. This said writ petition was placed before the Division Bench of this Court on 30.06.2017 when this Court noticed that the scheme floated by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation is against the public interest since the employees who were charged or terminated or suspended on account of misappropriation of funds sought to be reappointed under the guise of the scheme. This court converted the above-said writ petition into Suo-Moto Public Interest Litigation to consider the notification in question/scheme since it is against the interest of the public at large.

3. The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation has come out with the novel scheme of reappointment of those conductors who are either suspended or terminated of misappropriation or any charges or fraud or otherwise, to extend financial benefits to the family members of such conductor's under the scheme “Kutumb Suraksha Yojana”.

4. The Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation Mumbai have sworn the affidavit and try to justify the scheme floated by the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation. It is stated in the reply affidavit that there are about 32,000 conductors who come from the family trait category who had benchmark qualifications for the Recruitment of S.S.C pass.

5. The Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation as a policy does not file criminal cases against those conductors. The conductors found committing mid appropriation or causing loss to the corporation by negligence are dealt with disciplinary Rules of Corporation. The object of the scheme is that the family members of the said employees should not be punished for the actions of their sole bread earner.

6. In a further stand of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation that while issuing such Circular No.25 of 2016, the Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation has put stringent terms and conditions. The employer will not get the benefit of the past service benefits gratuity etc. The employees who have completed the age 45 years will not be entitled to get the benefit, as well as the employees, dismissed more than three times, will not be reappointed under the scheme.

7. It is the stand of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation that such scheme is introduced to give financial support to the families of the conductors who are involved in the enquiries or who faced suspension or dismissal so that they may get one chance in their life to begin a new chapter.

The Issue of the Case

Whether reappointment of suspended or dismissed conductors involved in misappropriation cases leaves a bad precedent and might affect adversely in maintaining discipline in the institution?

The Observations of the Court

1. It has been observed by the Honourable Bombay High Court that the impugned scheme is apparently against the public interest since a person carrying stigmatic character and already placed under suspension or dismissal from service on account of mis-appropriation of funds of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation and not to be given any sympathetic treatment by the colour of rehabilitation of his family under the purported scheme of “Kutumb Suraksha Yojana”. The scheme is against the Constitutional provisions.

2. Having regard to the reasons and discussion and after studying the impugned scheme , the Honourable Bombay High Court had no manner of doubt that impugned scheme/decision/circular is against the public policy and public interest at large. The impugned decision is nothing but an abuse of powers. The impugned decision is arbitrary and violative of well-settled principles of Labour Laws and employment and equally, it violates Constitutional provisions of Article 14, 16 and 19 of the Constitution of India, 1949.

3. The Honourable Bombay High Court observed that the impugned decision if allowed to continue, bad signal would reach in the society that the persons/ conductors who are involved in cases of misappropriation are being reemployed/reinstated in the Corporation. This cannot be allowed in the welfare State. It is necessary to struck down the impugned policy by looking to the public interest at large and generation of employment. The impugned scheme is violative of Constitutional provisions and as such, must be thrown in the dustbin. However, those who have already been granted the benefit of this scheme earlier may not be disturbed.

The Decision held by the Court

1. The Honourable Bombay High Court allowed the Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation.

2. The impugned scheme is known as “Kutumb Suraksha Yojana” bearing No. 25/2016 dated 6.8.2016 was quashed and set aside.

3. The Registrar (Judicial) to forward a copy of this judgement and order to the Managing Director, Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation, Mumbai for information and further necessary action.

4. Fees of Mr S.S. Gangakhedkar learned Counsel appointed as Amicus Curiae is quantified at Rs.5,000/- and the Secretary, High Court Legal Services Sub-Committee at Aurangabad shall pay the above-quantified fees to learned Counsel Mr S.S. Gangakhedkar.

5. Suo Moto Public Interest Litigation stand disposed of in the above terms.

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