By Adv. R. S. Agrawal :
According to the SC , Rajpal’s case having been dismissed on the ground that no sufficient cause was shown for the delay in re-filing , in the Court’s considered view Rajpal’s case ought not to have been quoted as a precedent of this Court by the High Courts.
THROUGH the judgment of the case – Union of India and others vs. M.V. Mohanan Nair, delivered on March 5, 2020, a 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court, consisting of Justices R. Banumathi, A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, have made it abundantly clear that “A decision, unaccompanied by reasons can never be said to be a law declared by the Supreme Court though it will bind the parties inter se in drawing the curtain on the litigation”.
When in the present case, SLP preferred by Union of India against the order of October 19, 2011, passed by the High Court was dismissed on the ground that the delay in re-filing had not been satisfactorily explained; the question which arose for consideration was that when the SLP was dismissed on the ground of delay in filing or of re-filing (like in the case – Union of India and Others v.Rajpal and another- CWP No. 19387 of 2011), whether it can be taken as a binding precedent on the merits of the case as the “law declared by the Supreme Court within the meaning of Article 141 of the Constitution of India”. According to the SC , Rajpal’s case having been dismissed on the ground that no sufficient cause was shown for the delay in re-filing , in the Court’s considered view Rajpal’s case ought not to have been quoted as a precedent of this Court by the High Courts.
Article 141 of the Constitution of India provides that the law declared by the SC shall be binding on all courts within the territory of India, that is, the pronouncement of law on the point shall operate as a binding precedent on all courts within India. Law declared by the Supreme Court has to be essentially understood as a principle laid down by the Court and it is this principle which has the effect of a precedent. A principle as understood from the word itself is a proposition which can only be delivered after examination of the matter on merits. It can never be in a summary manner, much less be rendered in a decision delivered on technical grounds, without entering into the merits at all.
In the judgment of the case – Union of India vs. All India Service Pensioners’ Association and Another – (1988) 2 SCC 580 , the Supreme Court has held that “when reasons were made by the Supreme Court for dismissing the SLP , the decision becomes one which attracts Article 141 of the Constitution, which provides that the law declared by the Supreme Court shall be binding on all the courts within the territory of India....”. The Supreme Court has observed in the judgment of the case-Supreme court Employees’ Welfare Association vs. Union of India and Others- (1989) 4 SCC 187, that when a special leave petition is dismissed by a non-speaking order, by such dismissal, the Supreme Court does not lay down any law as envisaged under Article 141 of the Constitution of India and it further held as under: “Twenty two...... it is now a well-settled principle of law that when a special leave petition is summarily dismissed under Article 136 of the Constitution, by such dismissal this Court does not lay down any law as envisaged by Article 141 of the Constitution, as contended by the learned Attorney General. In the case-Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. v State of Bihar – (1986) 4 SCC 146 it has been held by this Court that the dismissal of a special leave petition in limine by a non-speaking order does not justify any interference that, by necessary implication, the contentions raised in the special leave petition on the merits of the case have been rejected by the Supreme Court. “ It has been further held that the effect of a non-speaking order of dismissal of a special leave petition without anything more indicating the grounds or reasons of its dismissal must, by necessary implication, be taken to be that the Supreme Court had decided only that it was not a fit case where special leave petition should be granted .
In the case– Union of India v. All India Services Pensioners’ Association- (1988) 2 SCC 580, this Court has given reasons for dismissing the SLP. When such reasons are given, the decision becomes one which attracts Article 141 of the Constitution and makes it binding on all the courts within the territory of India. It, therefore, follows that when no reason is given , but a special leave petition is dismissed simpliciter, it cannot be said that there has been a declaration of law by this Court under Article 141 of the Constitution.” Through these appeals, the orders passed by the various High Courts were challenged dismissing the petitions filed by the appellants, thereby upholding decisions rendered by different benches of Central Administrative Tribunal granting financial upgradation of grade pay in the next promotional hierarchy by placing reliance upon Raj Pal’s case.
The Court has said that in these batch matters, it is concerned with the question whether MACP (Modified Assured Career Progression) Scheme entitles financial upgradation to the next grade pay or to the grade pay of the next promotional hierarchy. The Court has noted that in all these appeals, almost all the HCs have followed the Raj Pal and Ved Prakash’s case and granted relief as prayed for by the respondents. Being aggrieved the appellant – Union of India has filed these appeals. The Supreme Court has stated that the ACP Scheme which is now superseded by MACP Scheme is a matter of Government policy. Interference with the recommendations of the expert body like Pay Commission and its recommendations for the MACP, would have serious impact on the public exchequer.
These recommendations have been accepted by the Government and implemented. There is nothing to show that the Scheme is arbitrary or unjust warranting interference. Without considering the advantages of the MACP Scheme , the HCs erred in interfering with the Government’s policy in accepting the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission by simply placing reliance upon Raj Pal’s case. The impugned orders could not be sustained and Supreme Court has set aside the impugned orders and allowed appeals filed by the Union of India.