Contempt Petition (Civil) Nos. 88-89 of 2013 in Civil Appeal Nos. 8226-8227 of 2012. Case: Bihar State Govt. Section Scl. Teachers Assn. Vs Ashok Kumar Sinha and Ors.. Supreme Court (India)

Case NumberContempt Petition (Civil) Nos. 88-89 of 2013 in Civil Appeal Nos. 8226-8227 of 2012
CounselFor Appellant: P.S. Patwalia, Sr. Adv., Amit Pawan and Suryodaya Prakash Tiwari, Advs. and For Respondents: L. Nageshwar Rao, ASG, Ajit Sinha, Sr. Adv., Gopal Singh, Manish Kumar, Chandan Kumar, Akhilesh Kumar Pandey, Sudhanshu Saran, Arun Kumar and Rameshwar Prasad Goyal, Advs.
JudgesSurinder Singh Nijjar and Arjan Kumar Sikri, JJ.
IssueContempt of Courts Act, 1970 - Sections 2, 12, 10; Bihar Education Service Department of Examination Rules, 1973; State Government promulgated Bihar Education Rules, 2014 - Rules 4, 27; Cabinet Memo Approving New Rules; Rajasthan High Court Ordinance - Section 18; Constitution of India - Articles 129, 142, 142(1)
Judgement DateMay 07, 2014
CourtSupreme Court (India)


A.K. Sikri, J.

  1. These contempt proceedings arise out of the judgment and order dated 23.11.2012 passed by this Court in CA Nos. 8226-8227 of 2012. Before we take note of the exact nature of directions given in that judgment which according to the Petitioners have been flouted contumaciously and deliberately, we would like to take note of the history of litigation culminating in passing of the said judgment.

  2. The Petitioner is an Association representing the teachers of the Bihar Subordinate Education Service (hereinafter referred to as BSES for brevity). They had filed a writ petition in the Patna High Court claiming merger of their cadre with the Bihar Education Service (hereinafter referred to BES for brevity). The writ petition was allowed and the LPA and the SLP filed against the same were dismissed. Since the benefits of merger of cadre were still not being granted, another writ petition was filed, which too was allowed and affirmed in LPA. Although leave was granted in the SLP filed by the State of Bihar, ultimately the Civil Appeal was dismissed by the judgment dated 19.04.2006 resulting in the outcome in favour of the Petitioner.

  3. In compliance of the said judgment of this Court, a Resolution merging the cadre of BSES with BES was issued on 07.07.2006 and the BSES teachers were granted benefits of the merger, like enhancement of pay scale, promotion etc. At this stage, a writ petition was filed by BES Association (BESA) challenging the merger. A single judge of the High Court allowed it vide judgment dated 31.10.2007, which was affirmed by a Division Bench on 21.05.2010. This judgment was challenged before this Court by filing SLP.

  4. Immediately after the judgment of the learned single judge, the State Government withdrew the Resolution of merger dated 07.07.2006 by a notification dated 19.11.2007 expressly mentioning therein that the same was being issued in light of the High court judgment dated 31.10.2007 and thereby all benefits of merger of cadre were withdrawn. Several consequential benefits had been granted to the teachers pursuant to the merger by issuing various Resolutions. These benefits were also withdrawn and in fact a Resolution was passed by the state government on 17.01.2008 directing that the teachers would get pay and other benefits, as they were getting prior to the merger, thereby nullifying the effect of earlier Resolution of merger dated 7.7.2006.

  5. The Special Leave Petition was granted and appeal was ultimately heard finally. Eventually this appeal was allowed by a detailed judgment dated 23.11.2012, thereby setting aside the judgment of the High Court. This Court also quashed the notification of the State Government dated 19.11.2007, by which the benefits of merger granted to the teachers had been withdrawn. As a corollary State Government's Resolution dated 07.07.2006 was upheld and restored by which the cadre of the BSES teachers, Teaching Branch had been merged with that of BES and the State Government was directed to act accordingly.

  6. The conclusive portion of the detailed judgment dated 23.11.2012 reflects raison d'etre for arriving at such a conclusion and the precise nature thereof. We, therefore, reproduce the same hereunder for the sake of further discussion:

  7. This entire discussion leads us to only one conclusion that the learned Single Judge who heard the petition CWJC No. 10091/2006, which began the third round of litigation filed on behalf of the Bihar Education Service Association, had no business to re-open the entire controversy, even otherwise. The State Govt. had already passed a resolution dated 07.07.2006 after the order of this Court dated 19.04.2006. While examining the legality of that resolution (which was defended by the State Govt. at this stage before the learned Single Judge) the entire controversy was once again gone into. The law of finality of decisions which is enshrined in the principle of res-judicata or principles analogous thereto, does not permit any such re-examination, and the learned Judge clearly failed to recognize the same.

  8. For the reasons stated above, these appeals (arising out of SLP Nos. 26675-76 of 2010) are allowed. The judgment and order passed by the Division Bench of Patna High Court in LPA No. 4182009 and other LPAs dated 21.05.2010, and that of the learned Single Judge dated 31.10.2007 in CWJC No. 100912006 are set-aside and the said Writ Petition is hereby dismissed. Consequently the notification dated 19.11.2007 issued pursuant to the decision of the Single Judge will also stand quashed and set-aside. The State Govt. Resolution dated 07.07.2006 is upheld. The state shall proceed to act accordingly. I.A. Nos. 19-202011 are dismissed. As stated by Mr. Patwalia, learned senior Counsel for the Appellants, the Appellants no longer press for the action for contempt arising out of CWJC No. 86792002. Contempt Petition Nos. 386-387/2011, will also accordingly stand disposed of, as not pressed.

  9. The attitude of the State Govt. in the matter has caused unnecessary anxiety to a large number of teachers. The State Govt. must realize that in a country where there is no much illiteracy and where there are a large number of first generation students, the role of the primary and secondary teachers is very important. They have to be treated honourably and given appropriate pay and chances of promotion. It is certainly not expected of the State Govt. to drag them to the Court in litigation for years together.

  10. Though the appeals stand disposed of as above, we do record our strong displeasure for the manner in which the State of Bihar kept on changing its stand from time to time. This is not expected from the State Govt. The manner in which the learned Single Judge proceeded with the Writ Petition No. 1009/2006 to reopen the entire controversy, and also the Division Bench in LPA No. 418/2003 in approving that approach is also far from satisfactory. If the orders passed by this Court were not clear to the State Govt. or any party, it could have certainly approached this Court for the clarification thereof. But it could not have setup a contrary plea in a collateral proceeding. We do not expect such an approach from the State Govt. and least from the High Court. Having stated this, although we have expressed out displeasure about the approach of the State Government, we refrain from passing any order as to costs.

  11. It is clear from the above that the Court took the view that once decision of merger was not only upheld by this Court in its earlier judgment dated 19.04.2006, but thereafter it was even acted upon by the State Government by passing Resolution dated 07.07.2006, there was no reason for the High Court to reopen the matter in a Writ Petition at the instance of BES Association. The Court, therefore, in categorical terms upheld the Resolution dated 07.07.2006 effecting the merger of two services namely BSES and BES. Since this merger was undone by the State Government by passing another Resolution dated 19.11.2007, this latter Resolution was quashed. The effect of these directions was to restore status quo ante by reinforcing the position with the issuance of Resolution merging the two cadres on 07.07.2006 and conferring all benefits of merger on to the members of the Petitioner's Association, viz. teachers belonging to erstwhile BSES.

  12. According to the Petitioner, after the aforesaid judgment was given, several representations were made to the State Government, on a virtually daily basis, to restore the earlier position consequent upon the merger of the two cadres but it was of no avail. In these representations, the Petitioners also called upon the State Government to give the consequential benefits granted pursuant to merger notification by restoring the same and stated that these benefits would include upgradation of posts, fixation of higher pay, payment of arrears, promotions etc. However, instead of implementing the directions contained in the judgment, the Petitioner received letter dated 24.01.2013 from Respondent No. 4, namely, the Director (Admn.)-cum-Additional Secretary, Department of Education, Government of Bihar) stating therein that the proposal was sent for the approval of merger and the Petitioner were asked to provide details of pay scales etc. of the BSES teacher to expedite the matter. According to the Petitioner referring the matter to the Cabinet to approve the merger itself was a contemptuous act inasmuch as there was no question of fresh approval from the Cabinet regarding merger. According to the Petitioner with the upholding of the Resolution dated 7.07.2006, which was a Resolution of merger, that Resolution stood revived and restored by the Court itself and the Government was only required to grant the consequential benefits to the BSES teachers by passing formal orders in this behalf. Notwithstanding the same, in compliance with the request letter dated 24.01.2013, the Petitioner submitted the required details vide communication dated 28.01.2003. However, even thereafter nothing happened even when the matter was perused repeatedly and almost on daily basis with the Government. It is at that stage that present contempt petition was filed on 23.01.2013 alleging that the Respondents herein had deliberately, willfully and intentionally failed to comply with the directions contained in the judgment dated 23.11.2012 by refusing to grant all admissible benefits of mergers to the Petitioners.

  13. Notice in this contempt petition was issued. Thereafter various orders were passed from time to time taking note of the developments happening at the government's end which included approval for merger and grant of certain benefits by the State Cabinet. It would be apt to take note of steps taken by the State Government, in brief, hereunder:

    (a) On 01.03.2013, the State Cabinet approved the proposal for merger. This proposal which was approved was of the following nature:

  14. At the time...

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