In the Supreme Court of India
|NAME OF THE CASE||State of U.P. v. Manoj Kumar Sharma|
|CITATION||Civil Appeal No. 2320 of 2021 (2021) 7 SCC 806|
|DATE OF JUDGEMENT||July 9th, 2021|
|APPELLANTS||State of Uttar Pradesh and Others|
|RESPONDENT||Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma|
|BENCH/JUDGE||Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta|
|STATUES/CONSTITUTION INVOLVED||Constitution of India|
|IMPORTANT SECTIONS/ARTICLES||Constitution of India- Article 226|
In the present case, the appellant filed an appeal challenging the order of the Division Bench of the High Court of Allahabad and the Lucknow Bench at Lucknow. In the case mentioned above, the court heard a writ petition challenging a medical officer’s transfer order. According to the judgment given, the appellants were ordered to calculate and pay 50% of the respondent’s back wages and provide any required consequent benefits according to the law. In the current case, it was ruled that the writ petitioner didn’t join the position and waited for years for the order, which is impossible, and asking back wages despite his misconduct is unacceptable. It is not reasonable that the petitioner postponed the court’s proceedings for 13 years. Also, the issue of public servants being summoned frequently by the courts was condemned as this burdens the officers and delays the task assigned to them.
“Writ Petition is an order by a higher court to a lower court or courts, directing them to do something or stop them from doing something. Writ is a form of written command in the name of the court. It directs you to act in a specific way”.
“Mandamus is a Latin word meaning ‘we command’. Mandamus is a court writ whereby the higher courts orders the lower court, tribunal, forum or any other public authority to do any act which otherwise also falls under the purview of their duty”.
“One issues the writ of mandamus when a public officer fails to perform his/her official duty or something which forms part of his/her official duty. Writ of Mandamus is a matter of grace and not a matter of right. But it is the discretionary power of the court to allow the writ of mandamus. This means if the court thinks that there may have been a failure in performing the duty by the lower court or public authority, then the court may allow the writ of mandamus”.
The petitioner in the Allahabad case ruling was a medical officer who was transferred to the State of Uttar Pradesh after the reorganisation of the State. He was then posted at Badaun, but instead of reporting at Badaun, he submitted a letter to the Director of Medical Health Services of Lucknow and requested a transfer. A writ petition was filed by him requesting a writ of mandamus and asking the State to post him in any other hospital near his home district of Saharanpur according to his qualifications and work experience. The court ordered a certain amount of money to be deposited before the court, observing that the state government failed to act as per its responsibilities. After this judgment, another writ petition was filed by the petitioner requesting for his back wages. In this ruling, the court granted him 50% of his back wages because the State had failed to produce any evidence to prove how and when the posting order was issued to the petitioner. This ruling was challenged by the appellant in the present case.
BACKGROUND OF THE CASE
- The petitioner, Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma, was a medical officer in Uttarakhand who was transferred to the State of Uttar Pradesh as part of the restructuring of the State of Uttar Pradesh.
- The release of the petitioner and 22 other medical officers was part of the second phase of phased discharge of the medical officers by the government. 
- Thereafter, the petitioner submitted a joining report to the Director of Medical Health Services of Lucknow and addressed another letter requesting to get posted in Muzaffarnagar, Ghaziabad, or Bijnore District, instead of where he was originally posted. 
- Although the writ petitioner was already posted at Badaun, he didn’t join there.
- Subsequently, the petitioner filed a writ petition in the year 2006 and sought a writ of mandamus ordering the State to post him based on his qualifications and expertise.
- The Division Bench of the Court had noticed that the State was unable to establish the fact that the alleged joining order was ever served or communicated to the petitioner.
- Therefore, the court ordered a cost of Rs. 50,000/- to be put before the court, stating that the State government failed to act in accordance with its responsibilities and that a judgment on the subject should have been made quickly.
- Following the petitioner’s posting, another writ petition seeking an order for back wages was filed. The court rejected it and ordered a ruling within four weeks.
- The Principal Secretary declined the grant of back wages for the reason that the writ petitioner had not performed any government work during the time period between 5-7-2003 and 9-12-2016 but was granted extraordinary leave for the aforesaid period.
- The writ petitioner challenged the said decision by way of another writ petition. The court ruled that since the State couldn’t prove when and how it had served the transfer order to the petitioner, he was entitled to 50% of the back wages.
- It is the said order that was given by the learned Division Bench, which is the subject matter of challenge in the present appeal.
ISSUES RAISED BEFORE THE COURT
- Whether the High Court’s decision to pay the respondent’s back wages is appropriate?
- Why was the Health Secretary summoned multiple times by the High Court?
ARGUEMNTS FROM THE APPELLANT’S SIDE
- Learned counsel for the appellant challenged the order passed by the High Court in favour of the respondent.
- More than 100 other medical officers were transferred on the same transfer order as the petitioner, who did not report even after being released.
- The counsel for the appellant contended that the petitioner did not arrive at his post in Badaun.
ARGUEMNTS FROM THE RESPONDENT SIDE
- Learned counsel for the respondent had filed a writ petition requesting the State to post him in any other hospital near his home district according to his qualifications and work experience.
- The petitioner filed another writ petition asking for the payment of his back wages.
- According to the petitioner’s counsel, all of the medical officers who were discharged had filed their reports to the Director of Medical Health Services rather than at their place of posting.
- The counsel argued that the State was unable to establish the fact that the alleged joining order was ever served or communicated to the petitioner.
Constitution of India
- Article 226: – Power of High Courts to issue certain writs. —
(1) Notwithstanding anything in Article 32, every High Court shall have power, throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction, to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases, any Government, within those territories directions, orders or writs, including [writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose.]
(2) The power conferred by clause (1) to issue directions, orders or writs to any Government, authority or person may also be exercised by any High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to the territories within which the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises for the exercise of such power, notwithstanding that the seat of such Government or authority or the residence of such person is not within those territories.
(3) Where any party against whom an interim order, whether by way of injunction or stay or in any other manner, is made on, or in any proceedings relating to, a petition under clause (1), without— (a) furnishing to such party copies of such petition and all documents in support of the plea for such interim order; and (b) giving such party an opportunity of being heard, makes an application to the High Court for the vacation of such order and furnishes a copy of such application to the party in whose favour such order has been made or the counsel of such party, the High Court shall dispose of the application within a period of two weeks from the date on which it is received or from the date on which the copy of such application is so furnished, whichever is later, or where the High Court is closed on the last day of that period, before the expiry of the next day afterwards on which the High Court is open; and if the application is not so disposed of, the interim order shall, on the expiry of that period, or, as the case may be, the expiry of the said next day, stand vacated.
(4) The power conferred on a High Court by this article shall not be in derogation of the power conferred on the Supreme Court by clause (2) of Article 32.
The learned Bench of the High Court had held that the State was unable to produce any substantiation on how and when the posting order was communicated to the petitioner. The court was aware of the facts that the writ petitioner had been relieved by the government of Uttarakhand and that he had submitted a joining report. It was ruled that when the petitioner was relieved from Uttarakhand, then the High Court in this scenario could not have returned a finding that the State had not shown how the transfer and posting orders were conveyed to the writ petitioner.
The High Court overlooked the judgment of State of Punjab v. Khemi Ram wherein a question arose as to whether the order of suspension was to be actually received by the employee to be affected. In this case, it was ruled that once an order is issued and it’s sent out to the government servant concerned, it’s considered to have been communicated to them, no matter when they actually received it.
Therefore, it was not open to the writ petitioner to defy the order of transfer on the ground of non-communication when more than 100 medical officers were transferred by the same common transfer order. Firstly, he was relieved by the State of Uttarakhand; and secondly, he did not report at the place of posting but submitted an application before the Director of Medical Health Services.
The pay-out was denied citing the fact that if the petitioner’s request for posting at a different place was not accepted, that didn’t stop him in any way from joining his current posting. He continued to wait for his new posting. This cannot be treated as a compulsory waiting period as he had already been allotted a posting and he didn’t comply with the posting orders. Thus, the back wages were declined since he did not work for the government during the mentioned time period. Granting 50% of back earnings for the whole period would be providing the benefit of one’s own wrong to someone who purposefully avoided duty for 13 years and now wants to take advantage of back wages. The writ petitioner’s stance was not only unreasonable but also entirely condemnable. The Bench stated that the State should have taken efforts to commence disciplinary proceedings and that the State erred in failing to take action against the writ petitioner for absence from duty.
Another matter addressed by the Bench was the unnecessary summoning of the Medical Health Secretary by the High Court judges.
The Division Bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hemant Gupta, JJ., while addressing the matter, expressed that,
“A practice has developed in certain High Courts to call officers at the drop of a hat and to exert direct or indirect pressure. The line of separation of powers between judiciary and executive is sought to be crossed by summoning the officers and in a way pressurising them to pass an order as per the whims and fancies of the Court.”
“The public officers of the Executive are also performing their duties as the third limbs of the governance. The actions or decisions by the officers are not to benefit them, but as a custodian of public funds and in the interest of administration, some decisions are bound to be taken. 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.”
In the similar case of Aravali Golf Club v. Chander Hassthe court had observed that the judges should know their limits and not exploit the power granted to them. “They must have modesty and humility, and not behave like emperors. The legislature, the executive, and the judiciary all have their own broad spheres of operation. It is not proper for any of these three organs of the State to encroach upon the domain of another, otherwise the delicate balance in the Constitution will be upset, and there will be a reaction”. 
As the petitioner Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma had written a transfer request, he should have attended his job and then waited for his transfer. He had no authority to request a transfer. A person who is not employed by the government cannot be compensated for labour that he has not performed. The petitioner’s acts did not warrant compensation. The petition should not have taken more than a decade to be resolved.
The petitioner did not join the office and waited for years for the order, which is impossible, and asking back pay for his own fault is unacceptable. It is also not justified that the petitioner delayed the court’s proceedings for 13 years.
In my opinion the Supreme court was right in telling High Court and its judges that they should not abuse their powers and frequently summon the public officers. It should maintain the distinction between the Judiciary and the Executive. The case is eye-opening for both the public and the court. Though the court was dealing with the matter of transfer and back pay, the court also addressed the improper actions of some High Courts and its judges.
 Author is a 3rd semester student of Amity Law School, Lucknow
 Prachi Darji, What is a Writ Petition? How do you file one in Court?, MyAdvo (Last visited on June 27, 2022, 5:25 PM), https://www.myadvo.in/blog/how-to-file-writ-petition-in-court/.
 Sushree Sahu, The State Of Uttar Pradesh And Ors Vs Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma: Unnecessary Summoning Of The Public Officers Is Strongly Condemnable, LawyersClubIndia (Last visited on June 27, 2022, 4:25 PM), https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/judiciary/the-state-of-uttar-pradesh-and-ors-vs-dr-manoj-kumar-sharma-unnecessary-summoning-of-the-public-officers-is-strongly-condemnable-5286.asp
 Indian Kanoon, ¶ https://indiankanoon.org/doc/176814201/ (Last visited on June 27, 2022, 6:25 PM).
 Supra note 4
 INDIA CONST. art. 226, cl. 1.
 INDIA CONST. art. 226, cl. 2.
 INDIA CONST. art. 226, cl. 3.
 INDIA CONST. art. 226, cl. 4.
 State of Punjab v. Khemi Ram, (1969) 3 SCC 28.
 2021 SCC Online SC 460 at page 811.
 2021 SCC Online SC 460 at page 812.
 2021 SCC Online SC 460 at page 814.
 Devika Sharma, Read SC’s opinion on HC’s developing a practice of calling upon Public Officers at drop of a hat and exerting direct or indirect pressure, SCC Online Blog, (June 27, 2022, 4:46 PM), https://www.scconline.com/blog/post/2021/07/12/public-officers/.
 Aravali Golf Club v. Chander Hass, (2008) 1 SCC 683.
 Supra note 16