The Supreme Court observed that a stale claim of an employee does not become a live claim merely by filing representations before the employer belatedly.
In this case (Union of India vs. C. Girija), the claim of the railway employee for inclusion of her name in the select panel, which was issued on 09.01.2001, was first raked up by her, by filing representation on 25.09.2007. As the representation was rejected, the employee had approached the Central Administrative Tribunal, which ruled in her favour.
The Union of India had approached the Apex Court contending that the Tribunal and the Kerala High Court erred in entertaining the claim of the applicant and issuing direction for inclusion in panel. It was contented that the employee had participated in the selection without raising any objection and it was only after more than 06 years, she filed a representation on 25.09.2007. By filing of the representation after more than 06 years, delay and laches cannot be condoned.
While considering the issue of delay and latches, the bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice KM Joseph, referred to various earlier judgments on this regard which held that that representations relating to a stale claim or dead grievance does not give rise to a fresh cause of action.
So, the bench observed that, in this case also, the claim of the applicant for inclusion of her name in the panel, which was issued on 09.01.2001 and for the first time was raked up by her, by filing representation on 25.09.2007, i.e., after more than 06 and half years, had become stale by that time and filing of representation will not give any fresh cause of action.
The court said:
it is clear that the claim of the applicant for inclusion of her name in the panel, which was issued on 09.01.2001 and for the first time was raked up by her, by filing representation on 25.09.2007, i.e., after more than 06 and half years. The claim of inclusion in the panel had become stale by that time and filing of representation will not give any fresh cause of action. Thus, mere fact that representation was replied by Railways on 27.12.2007, a stale claim shall not become a live claim. Both Tribunal and High Court did not advert to this important aspect of the matter. It is further to be noted from the material on record that after declaration of panel on 09.01.2001, there were further selection under 30% promotion by LDCE quota, in which the applicant participated. In selection held in 2005 she participated and was declared unsuccessful. With regard to her non-inclusion in panel in 2005 selection, she also filed O.A. No. 629 of 2006 before the Tribunal, which was dismissed. After participating in subsequent selections under 30% quota and being declared unsuccessful, by mere filing representation on 27.09.2007 with regard to selection made in 2001, the delay and laches shall not be wiped out."
The bench then allowed the appeal against the orders of the Tribunal and the High Court observing that they ought not to have entertained the stale claim.