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Art 226 | Overriding Of Statutory Provisions Under Guise Of Plenary Jurisdiction Amounts To Transgression Of Well Defined Limits: Calcutta HC

Aaratrika Bhaumik
25 May 2022 4:04 PM GMT
Art 226 | Overriding Of Statutory Provisions Under Guise Of Plenary Jurisdiction Amounts To Transgression Of Well Defined Limits: Calcutta HC
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The Calcutta High Court has recently set aside an order vide which a school Headmistress was instructed to vacate her post and also demoted to the post of an assistant teacher by observing that Courts must exercise self-restraint in exercise of plenary powers and not pass an order in disregard to applicable statutory Rules.

A Bench comprising Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Rabindranath Samanta observed,

"The courts have imposed self-restraint in exercise of plenary powers and the judicial review in not overstepping the statutory provisions and passing an order in disregard to the statutory Rules or the Act applicable in this regard. The imposition of penalty in a disciplinary proceeding can only be achieved upon adhering the procedures and the norms set forth in the aforesaid Rules and, therefore, assuming the jurisdiction of the disciplinary authority and perceiving the misconduct in ignorance of the aforesaid procedural provisions cannot with stand of the anvil of the legal jurisprudence."

Justice Abjijit Gangopadhyay in the impugned order had found the concerned Headmistress to be wholly unfit to discharge her duties and had thus robbed off all such powers in exercise of the plenary jurisdiction assumed to have reserved in the Writ Court. The Judge had issued such a direction against the Headmistress for deliberately refusing to issue a No-Objection Certificate (NOC) and a release order to a teacher who had sought leave to get transferred to another school on health grounds.

While enumerating upon the scope of powers vested upon a Court in the exercise of plenary jurisdiction, the Court underscored,

"What can be discerned from the aforesaid observations from the aforesaid reports that the court does not embark upon the journey on a unchartered ocean of powers in an uninformed perception, what would be right and wrong for the society. The Judges must act on a well informed traditions, the procedure of law and impart justice with the rider that in proceeding on such terrain it should not cause injustice to the other."

The Court further opined that the plenary power inheres in every court to prevent the miscarriage of justice and can be traced from Article 142 of the Constitution of India where Supreme court can pass such decree or make such order necessary for doing complete justice in any cause or matter pending before it. It was noted further that Clause 2 of Article 142 creates a brindle and subject to the provision of any law made by the Parliament, the plenary power conferred under Article 142 of the Constitution of India being inherent but contemporary to those powers which are specifically conferred on the court by various statutes though not limited to those statutes. It was emphasised that such plenary power is supplementary and never intended to supplant the law.

Reliance was also placed on the Supreme Court decision in Supreme Court Bar Association v. Union of India & Anr wherein it was held that the statutory Rules or the Act which are operating in the field cannot be subverted in exercise of plenary jurisdiction.

"In view of the law enunciated from the above report there is no ambiguity to hold that the plenary power reserved upon the court is somewhat brindled with and is not to travel in an unchartered ocean having no limitations but within the circumference of the statutory provisions of law applicable in regard to a particular subject. Such power is eminent and apparent from the relevant provisions of Article 226 of the Constitution but must embark its journey on the statutory terrain to prevent any misuse or abuse of such powers", it was enumerated further.

The Court noted further that the power to impose penalty to a headmaster of an educational institution is governed by the Rule of 2018 and that assuming the jurisdiction of the disciplinary authority and perceiving the misconduct in ignorance of the aforesaid procedural provisions cannot with stand of the anvil of the legal jurisprudence.

Thus, the Court set aside the portion of the impugned order by which the Headmistress was denuded of the powers to discharge the duties and functions in such capacity and relegating to a lower post that of the assistant teacher by observing,

"..therefore, usurpation of the powers in the guise of a plenary jurisdiction overriding the provision of the substantive statute was unwarranted and amounts to exaggeration of the aforesaid powers and transgression of the well defined limits."

Case Title: The State of West Bengal & Ors v. Gandhi Memorial Girls' High School & Ors.

Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 210

Click Here To Read/Download Order


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