SUPREME COURT RETERIATES THAT THE PURPOSE OF REVIEW OF EARLIER ORDER IS NOT TO SCRUTINIZE THE CORRECTNESS OF THE DECISION BUT TO CORRECT THE ERROR APPARENT ON THE FACE OF IT
A two Judge Bench of the Supreme Court presided by Justice V. Ramasubramanian and Justice Pankaj Mithal passed a Judgment dated 15.02.2023 in the case of Pancham Lal Pandey Versus Neeraj Kumar Mishra & Ors. in Special Leave Petition (C) No.3329 of 2021 and observed that the purpose of review under the provisions of law is not to scrutinize the correctness of the decision rendered, rather to correct the error, if any, which is visible on the face of the order/ record, without delving into the point at to whether there is possibility of another opinion different from the one expressed.
An Institution named Tripathi Ramroop Sanskrit Vidyalaya, Kaushambi situated in the State of Uttar Pradesh (UP), imparts Sanskrit education. The Government of UP vide its Order dated 11.08.2015 notified the List of Institutions which were taken in the Grant-in-Aid List of the Government, which included the above named Institution. The Principal Secretary, Government of UP issued a Circular dated 01.01.2016 granting approval for the payment of salary to all the teachers of the Institutions receiving GrantinAid, who were actually working prior to taking the Institution under the GrantinAid List.
Aggrieved by the said Circular, one of the teachers from the above Institution, Satya Prakash Shukla filed a Writ Petition No.29784 of 2016 before the Allahabad High Court. The said Writ Petition was allowed, vide Order dated 21.12.2016, based on the statement made by the Joint Secretary, Department of Secondary Education, State of UP “that the payment of salary to the teachers shall be made on the basis of seniority of teachers as disclosed in the Manager’s Return”.
However, without taking into consideration the observations of the High Court passed in the aforesaid Order dated 21.12.2016, the Director of Secondary Education, State of UP, vide Order dated 28.03.2017, directed for payment of salary to a Junior-ranked Teacher, Neeraj Kumar Mishra, the Respondent herein, before payment of salary to a higher-ranked Teacher, Pancham Lal Pandey, the Appellant herein.
The Appellant challenged the said Order dated 28.03.2017 before the Single Bench of the High Court and the same was allowed vide Order dated 15.04.2019 with directions to the Authorities to declare that the Appellant-Higher-ranked Teacher is entitled to payment of salary from the State Exchequer.
The aforesaid Order of the High Court dated 15.04.2019 was assailed by the Respondent-Junior-ranked Teacher as well as by the State Government by separate Special Appeals, wherein the Special Appeal No.578 of 2019 of Respondent-Junior-ranked Teacher was dismissed on 14.05.2019 and Special Appeal No.767 of 2019 filed by the State Government was also dismissed.
The Respondent-Junior-ranked Teacher preferred Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.23466 of 2019 before the Supreme Court which came to be dismissed vide Order dated 14.10.2019.
Upon dismissal of the Special Appeal filed by the State, a Special Leave Petition (Civil) Diary No.782 of 2020 was preferred by the State before the Apex Court and the same was dismissed on 24.01.2020 with the clarification that the liability of the State shall be limited to payment of salary to the Headmaster and four teachers up to the sanctioned strength. It is in the above background that Respondent- Junior-ranked Teacher applied for the review of the Order dated 14.05.2019 in Special Appeal No.578 of 2019, whereby, the High Court Order dated 15.04.2019 was dismissed, vide Division Bench Order dated 05.02.2021. Further, the Division Bench of the High Court directed the payment of salary to teachers’ subject wise. Aggrieved, the Appellant-higher-ranked Teacher challenged the said Order dated 05.02.2021 before the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Observations:
At the outset, the Apex Court noted that in the Review Petition the Order of the Division Bench was sought to be reviewed and not of the Single Judge. The illegality, if any, pointed out in the Order of the Single Judge is not material to review the decision of the Division Bench passed in Special Appeal.
The Bench observed that the Single Judge has allowed the Writ Petition in the light of the statement of the Joint Secretary, Department of Secondary Education that payment of salary to teachers shall be made on the basis of seniority and therefore, the subject of teaching had no relevance. The bifurcation of the sanctioned posts of Assistant Teachers of the institution subject wise is simply an internal matter of the institution which does not put any extra burden upon the State. The Institution was taken on GrantinAid list with a Headmaster and four Assistant Teachers in order of seniority and thus permitting only five persons to receive salary from the Government fund is not illegal. There is no creation of any new post of Assistant Teacher at the Institution by the Court. The Single Bench of the High Court, therefore, rightly allowed the writ petition and the Division Bench has not committed any error in dismissing the Special Appeal.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the provision of review is not to scrutinize the correctness of the decision rendered rather to correct the error, if any, which is visible on the face of the order / record without going into as to whether there is a possibility of another opinion different from the one expressed.
Hence, the Apex Court was of the considered view that the Division Bench exceeded its review jurisdiction in passing the Impugned Order dated 05.02.2021 as the High Court has virtually reversed the decision by taking a completely new stand for the payment of salary to teachers, subject wise. It amounts to rehearing and rewriting the judgment in appeal without there being any error apparent on the face in the earlier Order dated 14.05.2019.
Thus, for the reasons aforesaid, the Appeal was allowed by the Supreme Court and the Impugned Order dated 05.02.2021 of the Division Bench of the High Court allowing the Review of earlier Order dated 14.05.2019 was held unsustainable in law and was accordingly set aside.
The Indian Lawyer
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