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Telangana HC Directs AP HC To Pay Salary, Pension, Costs To Retired Employees Who Were Denied Option Of Induction To New HC For Residuary State Of AP At Amaravathi [Read Judgment]

Mehal Jain
31 Aug 2020 8:56 AM GMT
Telangana HC Directs AP HC To Pay Salary, Pension, Costs To Retired Employees Who Were Denied Option Of Induction To New HC For Residuary State Of AP At Amaravathi [Read Judgment]
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In a rare instance, the Telangana High Court imposed fine on its counterpart in Andhra Pradesh, besides its own self, for arbitrarily extending the option only to the officers and staff working in the erstwhile common High Court for the two states as on a stipulated date, to either continue in the service of the High Court at Hyderabad (which became the Telangana High Court) or for being considered for induction to the service of the AP High Court at Amravati, and for denying exercise of such option to the petitioners who retired from service prior to the said date.

Justices M. S. Ramachandra Rao and T. Amarnath Goud directed that the High Court of Telangana and the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Amaravathi to each pay to each of the petitioners Rs.3,000 towards costs for the manner in which they were denied their right to exercise options in the Guidelines dated November 1, 2018 published by the common High Court at Hyderabad and the subsequent unfortunate rejection by the separate High Courts of the legally valid request of the petitioners for allocation to the newly-constituted High Court of Andhra Pradesh.

The bench also required both the High Courts to pay in ratio 1:1 to the petitioners the salary and other benefits they would have earned from 1.1.2019 (the date when the separate High Court of Andhra Pradesh was constituted) till each of the petitioners reached the age of superannuation of 60 years, with interest at 6% from the date on which the said payments were due till the date of actual payment.

Facts

On 1.11.2018, well before 01.01.2019, when the division of the Common High Court took place, Guidelines were issued by the common High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for both the new State of Telangana and the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh for officers and staff of the said High Court to express their options for consideration to be continued in the service of the High Court at Hyderabad which would be the High Court for the State of Telangana, or for being duly considered for induction and absorption to the service of the High Court for the State of Andhra Pradesh upon its constitution.

Para 3 of the said Guidelines defined the word "employees" for the purpose of the said Guidelines as "those who are working in the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh as on the date of these Guidelines and those who may be appointed thereafter into such service."

Thus, only such of those employees of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for both the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh who were working as on 01.11.2018 in the said High Court were declared to be covered by the Guidelines dt.01.11.2018 framed by the High Court of the Judicature at Hyderabad.

Justices Rao and Goud were considering the case of the petitioners who had retired after 2.6.2014 ( the 'appointed day' for the bifurcation of the composite State of Andhra Pradesh) but prior to 01.11.2018, were thus excluded from giving options under the Guidelines.

After 2.6.2014, the date of the bifurcation of the composite State of Andhra Pradesh into the new State of Telangana and the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh, the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh enacted the A.P. Public Employment (Regulation of Age of Superannuation) (Amendment) Act, 2014 extending the age of superannuation of employees of the State of Andhra Pradesh from 58 years to 60 years.

Thereafter, a Government Order was issued by the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh stating that all Government employees belonging to the State Cadre and Multi-zonal Cadre falling in the territories of both the new State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh as on 01.06.2014, i.e one day prior to bifurcation of the composite State of Andhra Pradesh, and who by a general or special order of the Government of India under Sub-Section (1) of Section 77 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014, were ordered to serve provisionally in connection with the affairs of the State of Telangana and who had retired on attaining the age of 58 years while serving in the State of Telangana and who are tentatively allotted to the State of Andhra Pradesh, may be re-inducted into service with effect from the date of reporting before the Secretary or Head of the Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh; and that these orders would be subject to final allocation of employees to be issued by the Government of India under Sub-Section (2) of Section 77 of the Act.

The State of Andhra Pradesh later issued Government Order dt.29.01.2019 extending the benefit of the enhancement of age of superannuation of the employees of the State Government from 58 years to 60 years to the employees of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Amaravathi. Thus, the age of superannuation of the employees of the High Court with effect from 01.01.2019 became 60 years.

But, the petitioners were working in the composite High Court at Hyderabad after 2.6.2014, but retired prior to 01.11.2018, the date when the Guidelines were issued by the Common High Court at Hyderabad. On that count, they were not allowed to exercise options and opt to work in the State of Andhra Pradesh. So they had to retire at the age of 58 years, and could not get the benefit of serving, if allotted to the State of Andhra Pradesh, till they attain the age of superannuation of 60 years.

Whether the Telangana High Court had jurisdiction to entertain and adjudicate the Writ Petition ?

The division bench observed that the Guidelines were admittedly framed by the High Court at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh on 01.11.2018 before 01.01.2019, the date when the separate High Court for the State of Andhra Pradesh was constituted. The cause of action arose at Hyderabad on 1.11.2018 when options were not granted to the employees like petitioners.

As on 1.11.2018, the date of framing of the said guidelines, there was no separate High Court for the State of Andhra Pradesh.

Therefore, it opined that any challenge to the order/guidelines passed/framed by the said High Court at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh, relating to a cause of action of giving of options/ refusal to give options/allocation of employees, has got to be entertained only by the High Court of Judicature for the State of Telangana at Hyderabad, its successor; and the High Court of Andhra Pradesh has no jurisdiction to consider the same.

"The same result could be arrived at if one considers Sub-Clause

(2) of Article 226 of the Constitution of India as well", concluded the bench.

The bench opined that the above provision enables the High Court of Judicature for the State of Telangana to exercise jurisdiction in relation to cause of action of refusal to give options to petitioners pursuant to guidelines framed on 01.11.2018 at Hyderabad by the erstwhile High Court at Hyderabad for both the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh since it is the said High Court which currently has territorial jurisdiction over Hyderabad, and it is also the successor High Court after 01.01.2019 to the erstwhile High Court at Hyderabad for both the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh; though the Government, authority (High Court of Andhra Pradesh) or person, is not within its territory.

Conclusions of the bench

The bench declared that all employees of the composite High Court at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh as on 02.06.2014 form a 'single class', and exclusion of persons who retired prior to 01.11.2018 without any valid differentia is violative of Art.14 and the mandate of clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 80 of the AP Reorganisation Act to frame guidelines ensuring that there is fair and equitable treatment to all persons affected by the provisions of the Part VIII.

The bench further proclaimed that the common High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh erred in law in confining the operation of the Guidelines of 01.11.2018 only to those employees who were working in the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh as on the date of issuance of the said Guidelines.

Besides, the bench expressed the view that the orders of rejection passed by the separate High Courts of Telangana and the High Court of Andhra Pradesh denying options to petitioners to opt for the High Court of Andhra Pradesh from the date it is constituted, are legally unsustainable, and set aside the same.

"A Writ of Mandamus is issued directing that petitioners shall be deemed to have been allotted by the Union of India under sub-Section (2) of Section 77 of the Act to the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Amaravathi after 02.06.2014", ordered the bench, requiring the Telangana High Court of Telangana to forward the service records of the petitioners to the AP HC.

Moreover, the bench ruled that the petitioners shall be notionally deemed to have rendered service in the separate High Court of Andhra Pradesh from 1.1.2019 till they attained the age of 60 years, and the said notional service shall be taken into account for the purpose of calculation of their pensionary benefits, and the High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Amaravathi shall calculate the said benefits and pay the same to the petitioners within eight weeks.

Finally, the bench opined that the 'appointed day' used in Sub-Section (2) of Section 77 of the Reorganisation Act, as regards the High Court for the State of Andhra Pradesh and for purposes of considering allocation of employees of the erstwhile High Court of the composite State of Andhra Pradesh / common High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad for the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh cannot be taken as 01.01.2019, the date when the High Court for the State of Andhra Pradesh at Amaravathi was constituted by the President of India and started functioning.

"We declare that there can only be one 'appointed day' i.e., 02.06.2014 as defined in Section 2(a) of the Act; and 01.01.2019 cannot be treated as an 'appointed day' in relation to allocation of employees of the common High Court at Hyderabad to the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and the High Court of Telangana", held the bench.

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