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Prabhat Ranjan Deo Vs. Union Public Service Commission and Ors. - (High Court of Delhi) (13 Jul 2020)

Litigants cannot directly approach High Court by overlooking jurisdiction of Central Administrative Tribunal



The legal controversy that arises for consideration is the maintainability of the present petition before present Court. Petitioner successfully qualified the Civil Services Examination in the year 1986 and was allocated Indian Police Service ('IPS') and assigned Haryana Cadre. On 1st October, 2018, vacancy arose in the post of Director General Police (DGP), Haryana, pursuant whereto, State of Haryana, on 25th January, 2019, sent a list of 11 eligible officers, who had completed 30 years of service, to UPSC for consideration and empanelment. UPSC empanelled three IPS officers, but Petitioner was not amongst the three. Pursuant to empanelment by the UPSC, Respondent No. 4 herein was appointed as DGP, by State Government of Haryana.

Petitioner in the present petition assails the empanelment made by UPSC and the subsequent appointment of Respondent No. 4 as DGP, State of Haryana. Learned counsel for UPSC, at the outset, raises an objection to the maintainability of the present petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950 and submits that, present Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition. It is submitted that, IPS is an All India Service, and thus, Petitioner is amenable to the jurisdiction of Central Administrative Tribunal.

Admittedly, Petitioner is a member of an All India Service, which is covered under Section 14(1)(b)(i) of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985. Section 14(1)(b)(i) of Act, provides that, save as otherwise expressly provided in the Act, the Central Administrative Tribunal shall exercise on and from the appointed day, all the jurisdiction, power and authority exercisable immediately before that day, by all Courts in relation to all service matters concerning a member of any All India Service.

The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in L. Chandra Kumar vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. laid down that, the Tribunals created pursuant to Article 323-A or under Article 323-B of the Constitution of India, 1950 are competent to hear matters entrusted to them and will continue to act as only Courts of 'first instance' in respect of the areas of law for which they have been constituted. Supreme Court categorically observed that, it will not be open for litigants to directly approach the High Court even in cases where there is a challenge to the vires of statutory Legislation, by overlooking the jurisdiction of the concerned Tribunal. The Tribunals will continue to act as Courts of 'first instance' and will have the competence and jurisdiction to test the constitutional validity of statutory provisions and Rules.

It is clear that after the authoritative pronouncement of the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court, present Court cannot entertain the present petition and remedy of the Petitioner lies only before the Central Administrative Tribunal.

Reading of the judgment in L. Chandra Kumar vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. and Section 14(1) of the Act makes it clear, in the opinion of this Court, that in relation to service matters covered under the Act, there is an ouster of jurisdiction of the High Court as a Court of 'first instance' and the Tribunal is not an 'alternative', but is the 'only' Forum available to the Petitioner.

There cannot be a doubt on the proposition canvassed by Learned Senior Counsel that, jurisdiction conferred on High Courts under Article 226 of the Constitution is an inviolable basic framework of Constitution, however, with respect to service matters of the employees covered under the Act, High Courts cannot exercise jurisdiction in the first instance. As enunciated by the Supreme Court, all decisions of the Tribunal are subject to scrutiny by a Division Bench of the concerned High Court and it is at this stage that High Court exercises its power of Judicial Review.

No Court can usurp a jurisdiction, it lacks. In view of the judgment in (L. Chandra Kumar vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors.) and Section 14(1) read with Section 3(q) of the Act, present Petition is not maintainable in this Court. It would, however, be open to the Petitioner to approach the Central Administrative Tribunal for determination of his grievances on merits. Writ Petition dismissed.

Relevant : L. Chandra Kumar vs. Union of India (UOI) and Ors. MANU/SC/0261/1997


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