HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
N H Shaikh
B M Raval
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(1.) These petitions arise out of common background. They are, therefore, disposed of by this common judgment. Brief facts are as under.
1.1 The respondents herein, the applicants of Original Application No. 491 of 1993 had been working as Ticket Collectors/Senior Ticket Collectors with the Railways since many years. Some of the telegraph staff of Rajkot division upon closure of telegraph office under the said division were rendered surplus. Such staff members in the cadre of Ticket Signallers/HSG Grade-II in the pay scale of Rs. 1200-2040 at the relevant time were absorbed in the cadre of Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE). Post of TTE also carries the same pay scale of Rs. 1200-2040/-. They were asked to undertake training for ticket checking. It was provided that on completion of the training period, they would be posted in respective cadres as per the said order.
1.2 The existing employees in the cadre of TTE thereupon approached the Central Administrative Tribunal, Ahmedabad by filing Original Application No. 491 of 1993 and challenged the very order of absorption dated 5.8.1993. At the time of hearing of the petitions, however, their counsel pressed only the question of granting seniority to the absorbed employees giving benefit of the past services. Their grievance apparently was that, they were working in the cadre of TTE since many years. Absorbed employees from other cadres by preserving their past seniority would be unjust to the existing employees. Such original application came to be allowed by judgment dated 13.8.1999. The Tribunal relied on the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of V.K. Dubey v. Union of India, 1997 5 SCC 81 making following observations:
"We have heard both the learned advocates and gone through the documents on record. The question of determining the seniority of the redeployed staff has now been decided by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of V.K. Dubey v. Union of India, 1997 5 SCC 81 where in the question of seniority of redeployed Diesel engine drivers and staff working was raised consequent to their transfer as Electric Engine Drivers. The Hon'ble Apex Court has mentioned that "Consequent upon the gradual displacement of diesel engines, instead of retrenching them from service they were sought to be absorbed by giving necessary training in the trains operating on electrical energy. As a consequence, they were shifted to a new cadre. Under these circumstances, they cannot have a lien on the posts on electrical side nor can they be entitled to seniority over the staff regularly working in the electrical locomotive department. Under these circumstances, this Court has held that they cannot have a seniority, over mem. Consequently, the Hon'ble Supreme Court upheld the judgment of the Tribunal that the seniority of the redeployed staff is required to be adjudged from the date of their deployment in the electrical operations and the previous service cannot be counted for the purpose of determination of inter se seniority.
In view of the above judgment, we allow the OA and quash and set aside the impugned order dated 5.8.93 at Annexure A-5 giving original seniority to the Signallers absorbed as Ticket Collectors. The seniority of deployed signallers shall be determined in accordance with the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court i.e., from the date of joining to the new cadre and not with reference to their original seniority as Signallers. No costs".
1.3 Such judgment was challenged by the Railways by filing Special Civil Application No. 706 of 2000. By an order dated 20.12.2000, the petition was summarily dismissed observing that the decision of the Tribunal does not require any interference since the Tribunal has disposed of the application on well settled principle. Against such order of the High Court, Railway administration approached the Supreme Court. Supreme Court by an order dated 8th August, 2003, quashed the order of High Court and remanded the proceedings for fresh consideration making following observations: "Heard the learned counsel appearing on either side. It was reiterated for the appellants that, as proposed the order under challenge requires to be set aside for total non application of mind, and remitted for consideration afresh on merits, objectively.
Shri Haresh A. Raichura, learned counsel appearing for the respondents seriously objected to the same contending that the matters are covered by the earlier decisions of court and, therefore, no exception could be taken to the order of the High Court. In our view, if that be, it has to be dealt with properly and appropriately taking note of the objections, if any, of the other side with reference to the applicability or otherwise of such judgments and then dispose of the matter. It is not clear from the order under challenge as to which are the decisions or principles the court had in mind. The High Court should not have disposed of me matter so summarily. On this only ground, the order of the High Court is set aside, as proposed and the matter is remitted to the High Court. The High Court shall restore the proceedings to its original file and after hearing both sides will dispose of the matter afresh on merits. The parties are at liberty to raise all such contentions as are permissible for them in accordance with law. The appeal is accordingly finally disposed of. No costs".
1.4 Some time later, the affected employees of the Railways who were under order of absorption by virtue of order dated 5.8.1993 filed Special Civil Application No. 3857 of 2004 challenging the very same judgment of the Tribunal dated 13.8.1999.
(2.) Ms. Grishma Ahuja with Mr. Shalin Mehta for the petitioners raised following contentions to challenge the judgment of the Tribunal.
(i) Petitioners were persons affected by the decision of the Tribunal. They were not joined as respondents and therefore, not heard by the Tribunal.
(ii) The original applicants had approached the Tribunal on mere apprehension that the seniority of the absorbed employees would be preserved when there was no such specification in the order of absorption.
(iii) The Railway Board's circular provided for preserving the past seniority in case of absorption of surplus staff when such absorption is in such small numbers.
(3.) Learned counsel, Shri Barot, for the Railways also raised similar contentions and requested that the judgment of me Tribunal be quashed.;
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