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2010 (3) TMI 1183 - SUPREME COURT

2010 (3) TMI 1183 - SUPREME COURT - TMI - Dated:- 23-3-2010 - B. SUDERSHAN REDDY AND SURINDER SINGH NIJJAR JJ. JUDGMENT SURINDER SINGH NIJJAR, J. 1. Leave granted. 2. By this judgment, we shall dispose of the above three appeals as the facts and the legal issues involved in all the appeals are common. The writ petitioners before the High Court have been impleaded as respondent No.1 before this Court. 3. The appellant herein, TANMAG, is a company fully owned by the Government of Tamil Nadu. By G. .....

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l) and Deputy Manager (Mechanical) respectively by orders dated 12.9.1983, 23.11.1988 and 18.8.1989. At the time of joining, the respondents executed bonds to serve in TANMAG for a minimum period of three years. The TANMAG confirmed the services of the respondents through its proceedings dated 25.10.1985, 30.4.1991 and 24.8.1989 respectively. The respondents were paid the revised pay by the TANMAG as per the Pay Commission's recommendations made by the Government of Tamil Nadu. 4. In the yea .....

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th in TANMAG and called upon them to express their willingness to work in the Joint Venture Company with the then existing pay and other facilities without any disadvantage. It was also mentioned in the said communication that if no option is given, the appellant will have no option but to terminate their services under Clause 2.14 of the Service Rules of the Tamil Nadu Magnesite Limited (hereinafter referred to as the Service Rules). The respondents were reluctant to leave the service of TANMAG .....

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ugh under the transfer order it was provided that there would be no change in terms and conditions of employment, apart from other facilities he was monetarily losing more than ₹ 2,000/- a month. It was also pointed that since JVC had not been able to take up any work on chemical beneficiation project, he was apprehensive about his future employment prospects. Since there was uncertainty in the implementation of the project and originally his employment was for Rotary Kiln Plant, he be rev .....

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MPL). Accordingly, they were relieved from the service of the company from the afternoon of 31.7.1991. As such they have no lien in TANMAG and no right to claim a reversion of their services from M/s. IMPL to TANMAG. Thus their request was rejected. 8. The order dated 26.11.1998 was challenged by the respondents in the respective writ petitions contending that the respondents were recruited by TANMAG and were transferred with all service benefits, pay protection, etc., to M/s. IMPL (the JVC) whe .....

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ir immediate juniors, arrears of pay and allowances with service benefits that would have been accrued in favour of the respondents if they had continued in the service of TANMAG. 9. The TANMAG resisted the writ petitions by filing counter affidavit by contending that TANMAG is a separate entity and no writ is maintainable against it. It was pleaded that even though the Board of Directors are named by the Government, the Company is managed by the Managing Director under the control and superinte .....

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espondents have lost their lien. They became the employees of the JVC. Therefore they have no right to demand reversion to TANMAG merely because the JVC had been closed. It is also stated in the counter affidavit that the respondents having opted and given their willingness to be absorbed in the JVC, it was not open to them to claim that they should be re- transferred to TANMAG on the closure of the JVC. 10. The learned single Judge after considering the rival submissions held that the responden .....

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tted before the Division Bench that TANMAG was a shareholder of JVC. It had transferred the land and machinery to the aforesaid company. The services of the respondents had been transferred to the JVC as the appellant had an interest in JVC. In such circumstances the company was not justified in claiming that the respondents had lost their lien in TANMAG on being transferred to JVC. They are, therefore, entitled to be reverted back to TANMAG. It was emphasised that none of the respondents was wi .....

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ndents are entitled to be taken back by TANMAG in terms of the earlier transfer order, which protects the service conditions of the respondents. It was further held that TANMAG is not justified in contending that appellants having lost their lien in TANMAG cannot be retransferred. The assurance given in the letter dated 11.5.1991 clearly states that the transfer of service is without any disadvantage. It was, therefore, held that the stand taken by TANMAG is contrary to the assurance given to th .....

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ment enjoyed by them in TANMAG are protected. It is further held that since JVC was closed at the instance of TANMAG, the appellant has put the respondents in a disadvantageous position. Therefore, TANMAG is estopped from contending that the respondents will not be absorbed. With these observations the judgment of the learned Single judge has been set aside. The appellant has been directed to absorb the respondents with continuity of service and other attendant benefits without back wages. 14. W .....

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own they would be reabsorbed in the appellant. In any event learned senior counsel submitted that the writ petition did not even claim the relief on the basis of the promissory estoppel. There are no pleadings to lay the foundation to claim any relief on the basis of the doctrine of promissory estoppel. 15. Learned counsel for the respondents, however, submitted that initially 16 persons had been transferred to the JVC. Subsequently most of these persons joined some other concerns. They are, the .....

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ddressed a letter to the appellants that they would like to continue the services in TANMAG, otherwise as per Clause 2.17 of the Service Rules they were wiling to work in the JVC. Rule 2.17 of the Service Rules provides as under: "The Management reserves the Right to depute any staff member/officer of the company to any other organization, on terms not inferior to those enjoyed by him in the company." The request of the respondents to be sent on deputation was not accepted by the appel .....

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ents were well aware about the nature of terms and conditions which were protected. After the permanent transfer fresh letter of appointment dated 25.7.1991 was served upon the respondents. Therefore, it is clear that the services of the Respondents having been terminated, their lien in TANMAG, also stood terminated. 17. It was only when the respondent No.1 S. Manickam, petitioner in Writ Petition No.3707/2001 became apprehensive about the closure of the unit, he submitted a representation on 21 .....

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at all privileges, perquisites and other facilities enjoyed by him in TANMAG shall be protected. His grievance was that since his transfer to JVC, he has been working in the same cadre in which he had joined TANMAG in 1983. Had he remained in TANMAG, he would have become eligible for promotion. He also emphasized that there was a loss of more than ₹ 2000/- per month in his remuneration. Finally, he stated that it has not been possible for the JVC to take up the work on Chemical Beneficiati .....

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which would indicate that any promise of future continuous employment was held out to them by TANMAG. In fact they had been earlier categorically informed that their services were liable to be terminated as they had become surplus. They were offered an alternative to be transferred to the JVC. Therefore, with their eyes open, the respondents had accepted the job in JVC. Their request for deputation, as provided under Clause 2.17 of the Service Rules, had been specifically rejected. They were in .....

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There was no assurance that there will be no closure of the JVC under any circumstances. The Division Bench in its anxiety to help the respondents, who were in danger of losing their jobs at the age of 50 years and above, seems to have stretched the principle of promissory estoppel beyond the tolerable limits. Undoubtedly, while exercising the extraordinary original jurisdiction under Article 226/227 of The Constitution of India the High Court ought to come to the rescue of those who are victims .....

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he High Court under the said article even for purposes other than the enforcement of the fundamental rights and in that sense, a party who invokes the special jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 is not confined to cases of illegal invasion of his fundamental rights alone. But though the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 is wide in that sense, the concluding words of the article clearly indicate that before a writ or an appropriate order can be issued in favour of a pa .....

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ns against arbitrary executive action, nonetheless, the Judges have a constructive role and therefore there is always the need to use such extensive powers with due circumspection. There has to be in the larger public interest an element of self- ordained restraint." In this case, there is no finding recorded by the Division Bench as to which legal or fundamental right of the respondents has been infringed. The relief in this case is granted only on the basis of the doctrine of promissory e .....

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as developed in the administrative law of this country has been eloquently explained in Kaniska Trading Vs. Union of India (1995) 1 SCC 274 by Dr. A.S. Anand, J, in the following words : "11. The doctrine of promissory estoppel or equitable estoppel is well established in the administrative law of the country. To put it simply, the doctrine represents a principle evolved by equity to avoid injustice. The basis of the doctrine is that where any party has by his word or conduct made to the ot .....

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