Courts cannot order recovery after annulling the appointment: Supreme Court

Courts cannot order recovery after annulling the appointment: Supreme Court

Hearing a PIL filed by Central Electricity Supply of Orissa (Civil Appeal NO. 9872 OF 2013), the apex court has ruled that courts cannot order recovery of the amount of an employee while abrogating the appointment as “denial of pay for the service rendered tantamounts to forced labor which is impermissible.”

The bench of Justice Anil. R. Dave and Justice Dipak Misra dismissed the order passed by Orissa High Court which quashed the appointment of BC Jena as the CEO of Central Electricity Supply Utility of Odisha (CESU) and also directed the PSU to recover the amount paid to Jena as honorarium. The bench said that ,”even while issuing a writ of quo warranto there cannot be any direction for recovery of the sum.,”While entertaining a PIL pertaining to a writ  of  quo  warranto  we  would  add  that  it  is  the obligation  of  the  court  to  pave  the  path  which  are governed  by  constitutional  parameters  and  the precedential  set-up.   It is to be borne in mind that laws  are  commended  to  establish  a  society  as required  by  the  paradigms  laid  down  by  law.   The courts  while  implementing  law  may  not  always  be guided by total legalistic approach but that does not necessarily  mean  to  move  on  totally  moralistic principle  which  has  no  sanction  of  law.”

On the issue of the recovery of the honorarium the Bench opined that a judgment  can  be  erroneous  but  when  there  is  a direction  for  recovery  of  the  honorarium,  it indubitably creates a dent in the honor of a person. “Honor once lost may be irredeemable or irresuscitable”, it said.

In the instant case Jena, who was earlier chairman of CESU (the distributor of electricity in the Central Zone of Odisha) was appointed CEO of CESU on March 31, 2010 and it was decided that he would enjoy all the perquisites/facilities as was being given to the earlier CEO except the monthly emoluments. Later, the scheme was amended and the Commission fixed consolidated honorarium of Rs 70,000 per month, which was later challenged in the High Court through a PIL. The High Court quashed the appointment by terming it as "illegal" and directed recovery of the amount from Jena.

The ape court set aside the order of the high court and ruled that,”The Court is required to see that the larger public interest and the basic concept pertaining to good governance are not thrown to the winds.”