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#CaseBrief: Rajasthan Electricity Board v/s Mohanlal & Ors



A.I.R 1967 S.C. 25.


PETITIONER: Rajasthan Electricity State Board

 

RESPONDENT: Mohanlal & Ors

 

DATE: 03rd April, 1967

 

BENCH: BHARGAVA, VISHISHTHA RAO, K. SUBBA (CJ) SHAH, J.C. SHELAT, J.M. MITTER, G.K.  

 

FACTS OF THE CASE


· Mohanlal and 10 other workers were provisionally placed at the disposal of the Rajasthan Electricity Board by a government notification in 1958 under the powers of section 78A of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948.

 

· All 11 workers were originally permanent employees of the State Government, holding posts of Foremen in the Electrical and Mechanical Department.

 

·The government notification included a directive for the framing of new grades and service conditions for the transferred employees, giving them the option to accept the new terms, continue in existing conditions (except for conduct and disciplinary rules), or claim pension or gratuity upon abolition of posts.

 

·The Board did not create additional grades or service criteria until the issue leading to the lawsuit emerged.

 

·Mohanlal worked under the Board for two years before being deputed to the Public Works Department by the State Government in 1960.

 

.The government suggested in 1960 that Mohanlal and 10 other workers would be considered on deputation to the Board.

 

·Mohanlal was restored to his parent department in 1962 but was returned to the Board in 1963 and posted as a Foreman.

 

·While in the Public Works Department, the Board promoted the other 10 employees to Assistant Engineers, but Mohanlal was promoted to Assistant Engineer within the Public Works Department.

 

·Mohanlal's request for promotion as Assistant Engineer under the Board was denied, leading him to file a petition in the Rajasthan High Court under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution.

 

·Mohanlal argued that the Board's decision not to consider him for promotion alongside the other 10 workers violated Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

 

·The High Court accepted Mohanlal's argument, overturned the promotion of the other 10 workers, and ordered the Board to reconsider the promotions, taking Mohanlal's case into account.

 

 

what is the nature of the litigation?

 

This case has two distinct parts with different nature of litigation:

·  1966: Service Dispute - Mohanlal claimed permanent employee status in the Rajasthan Electricity Board (REB) despite lacking a formal order.

·  1990: Judicial Review - Mohanlal and others challenged the REB's decision to terminate their services.

 

who is asking the particular for court for what


  • 1966: Mohanlal sought recognition as a permanent REB employee with related rights and benefits.

  • 1990: Mohanlal and others requested the court to quash the REB's termination order and reinstate them.


why did they sue?


  • 1966: Mohanlal felt wronged by being denied permanent status despite years of service and references to him as a permanent employee.

  • 1990: Mohanlal and others believed the termination was unfair and possibly violated their rights and service regulations.

 

what are the relevant laws in question?


  • 1966: Electricity (Supply) Act 1948, Rajasthan Service Rules

  • 1990: Indian Constitution - Articles 12, 226, 227, Rajasthan Electricity Board Act

 

what has been already decided so far?

 

  • 1966: Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mohanlal, recognizing his permanent employee status within the REB.

  • 1990: Rajasthan High Court ruled in favor of Mohanlal and others, considering the REB a "State" under Article 12, allowing the court to intervene in the termination decision.

 

ISSUES RAISED


1.  Whether The Electricity Board be considered under the definition of “State” under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution?

2.  Whether the Board violated the provisions of Article 14 & 16 of the Indian Constitution as raised by the Respondents?

3. Whether Respondent Mohanlal was an employee of the Electricity Board?

 

JUDGMENT



Mohanlal held a lien on a post within the Rajasthan Electricity Board as per a government order from January 27, 1960. The Board acknowledged that the term "reversion" in the order signified Mohanlal's transfer back to his original department after a temporary assignment elsewhere.

 

It is noteworthy that there is no documentation indicating a permanent transfer of other employees to the Board after their provisional placement under the Board's jurisdiction in the February 12, 1958 notification. Despite this, they were recognized as permanent employees and promoted to Assistant Engineers from Foremen roles.

 

Therefore, the High Court rightly concluded that Mohanlal, like his counterparts, was entitled to promotion under the Board's rules. The Court erred in applying the ejusdem generis principle to interpret "other authorities" in Article 12 of the Constitution, as it failed to consider the essential requirement of a distinct category shared by the already mentioned bodies.

 

The Board's engagement in trade or commerce activities under the Electricity Supply Act does not exclude it from being considered a "State" under Article 12. Clauses in the Electricity Supply Act empower the Board to issue instructions, and non-compliance is a criminal offense.

 

The term "other authorities" in Article 12 is sufficiently broad to encompass any authority established by legislation within India's territory or under Indian government supervision. There is no need to restrict this interpretation in the context of Article 12, as the term "other authorities" inherently includes the Board as an authority falling under the definition of 'State' in the Indian Constitution.

 

Conclusion:

The Supreme Court's decision in Rajasthan Electricity Board v/s Mohanlal & Ors (1967) had a significant impact on the definition of "State" under Article 12 of the Indian Constitution and its implications for government-affiliated bodies. Here's a summary of the key points in the conclusion:

 

Mohanlal's Victory:

  • The High Court's decision, upheld by the Supreme Court, granted Mohanlal equal treatment with other promoted workers. This meant the Board had to reconsider his promotion alongside others, taking into account his legitimate claims.

Reshaping "State" Definition:

  • The case clarified the scope of "State" under Article 12, holding that even entities not directly part of the government structure but performing essential functions could fall under its ambit. This expanded the reach of judicial oversight and accountability for such entities.

Impact on Rajasthan Electricity Board:

  • The Board was not considered "State" due to its specific legal structure and limited autonomy. However, the Court's reasoning set a precedent for holding similar bodies accountable for fair employment practices despite not being directly part of the government machinery.

Broader Significance:

  • This case established a crucial principle: individuals working for entities performing essential public functions can seek legal recourse under Article 12 if they face unfair treatment. This strengthened employee rights and ensured adherence to constitutional principles even in complex organizational structures.

Future Implications:

  • The evolving nature of state-affiliated bodies and privatization efforts necessitates ongoing reevaluation of the "State" definition and its application in future cases. The Rajasthan Electricity Board case provides a valuable reference point for such interpretations.

Overall, the conclusion of Rajasthan Electricity Board v/s Mohanlal & Ors marked a significant victory for individual rights and accountability within the complex landscape of government-connected entities. Its impact continues to shape legal considerations and employee protections in India.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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