TAMILNADU TERMINATED FULL TIME TEMPORARY LIC EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION Vs. S.K. ROY, THE CHAIRMAN, LIFE INSURANCE CORPORATION OF INDIA AND ANR.

 

Supreme Court of India (Division Bench (DB)- Two Judge)

Appeal (Civil), 6950 of 2009, Judgment Date: Aug 09, 2016

                                                        NON REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                    CONTEMPT PETITION (C) NO. 459 OF 2015
                                     IN
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6950 OF 2009


 TAMILNADU TERMINATED FULL TIME
 TEMPORARY LIC EMPLOYEES ASSOCIATION                   …PETITIONER

                                     Vs.

  S.K. ROY, THE CHAIRMAN, LIFE
  INSURANCE CORPORATION OF INDIA & ANR.                …CONTEMNORS

                     WITH
                    CONTEMPT PETITION (C) NO. 634 OF 2015
                     IN
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.6956 OF 2009,

                     REVIEW PETITION (C) NO. 3846 OF 2015
                                     IN
                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6950 OF 2009,

                    REVIEW PETITION (C) NO. 2994 OF 2015
                                     IN
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.6953 OF 2009,

                    REVIEW PETITION (C) NO. 2991 OF 2015
                                     IN
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.6956 OF 2009,

                    CONTEMPT PETITION (C) NO. 637 OF 2015
                                     IN
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.6953 OF 2009,

                    REVIEW PETITION (C) NO. 2990 OF 2015
                                       IN
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.6954 OF 2009,

                    REVIEW PETITION (C) NO. 2993 OF 2015
                                       IN
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.6952 OF 2009,

                    CONTEMPT PETITION (C) NO. 502 OF 2015
                                     IN
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.6952 OF 2009,

                     REVIEW PETITION (C) NO. 2989 OF 2015
                                     IN
          CIVIL APPEAL NO.6951 OF 2009
                                       AND

                     CONTEMPT PETITION (C) NO. 21 OF 2016
                        IN
                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.6950 OF 2009


                               J U D G M E N T

V. GOPALA GOWDA, J.


      Delay condoned in filing the Review Petitions.

 These Review Petitions arise from the impugned  judgment  and  order  dated
18.03.2015 passed by this Court  in  Civil  Appeal  No.  6950  of  2009  and
connected appeals, whereby it was held that  the  Award  passed  by  Central
Government Industrial Tribunal, New Delhi (CGIT) in I.D. No. 27 of  1991  is
legal and valid and the  same  be  restored  and  implemented  by  the  Life
Insurance Corporation of India (hereinafter referred to  as  the  “LIC”)  by
absorbing the concerned workmen in the permanent posts. It was further  held
that the Corporation would be  liable  to  pay  all  consequential  benefits
including monetary benefits taking into consideration the revised pay  scale
in the cases of those workmen who had attained the age of superannuation.

As the facts of the case are already stated in the judgment in Civil  Appeal
No. 6950 of 2009, the same need not be reiterated herein  for  the  sake  of
brevity. The following contentions were  advanced  by  the  learned  counsel
appearing on behalf of the parties in support of their case:


    Mr. Mukul Rohatgi, the learned Attorney General appearing on  behalf  of
the review petitioner-LIC  contends  that  this  Court,  while  passing  the
judgment and order dated 18.03.2015, failed to appreciate that  the  Tulpule
and Jamdar awards stood substituted by the “Terms of  Compromise”  way  back
on 01.03.1989, which stood finally  disposed  of  vide  judgment  and  order
dated 07.02.1996 passed by this Court in Civil Appeal No. 1790 of  1989.  It
is further contended that this Court failed  to  appreciate  the  effect  of
settlement of an award, in the light of the decision of this  Court  in  the
case of Herbertsons Ltd. v. Workmen[1], which has further been  followed  by
this Court in the cases of Transmission Corpn., A.P. Ltd. v.  P.  Ramchandra
Rao[2] and ITC Ltd. Workers Welfare Assn. v. ITC Ltd.[3]


The learned Attorney General further submits that under Section  24  of  the
Life Insurance Corporation Act, 1956 (hereinafter referred to  as  the  “LIC
Act, 1956”), the Central Government does not allocate any fund for LIC,  and
the funds for LIC are generated from the payments made to it  and  that  the
Central Government does not contribute towards the funding  of  LIC.  It  is
further submitted that under Section 28 of the LIC Act,  1956,  95%  of  the
surplus of LIC is to be allocated to or  reserved  for  its  life  insurance
policy-holders. Thus, the contention that LIC has a huge surplus and  is  in
a position to implement the order of this Court is misconceived as the  same
goes against the statutory provisions of the LIC Act, 1956.


The  learned  Attorney  General   further   submits   that   the   financial
implications on LIC in complying with the impugned  judgment  and  order  of
this Court cannot be ignored.


At this stage, we would deem it fit to point out  that  the  same,  however,
does not find any mention in the Review Petition filed by  LIC  before  this
Court and does not form a part of its pleadings.



The learned Attorney General further submits that as on 31 03.2015, LIC  had
55,427 Class III employees and 5,190 Class IV employees. If LIC is  directed
to consider the absorption of the workmen to  the  advertisement,  then  the
number of  Class  III  employees  will  increase  by  11.14%  and  Class  IV
employees by 56.65% and  the  same  will  affect  the  employee’s  ratio  in
addition to the increase in its financial burden and that the same  will  be
contrary to  the  interests  of  the  policyholders.  The  learned  Attorney
General estimates the financial liability  for  implementing  the  order  of
this Court at approximately Rs.7087 crores, with  the  annual  liability  at
around Rs.728 crores per year and that this will be a huge financial  burden
for LIC to bear.


On  the  other  hand,  the  learned  counsel  appearing  on  behalf  of  the
respondents-workers submit that it becomes  clear  from  a  perusal  of  the
Review Petitions filed by LIC that it is trying to re-agitate  the  case  on
merits. The learned counsel placed reliance on the decision  of  this  Court
in the case of Enviro Legal Action v. Union of India[4] wherein  this  Court
elaborated the scope of the review power of this Court under Article 137  of
the Constitution. It was held as under:


“The ratio of these judgments is that a court of final appeal has  power  in
truly exceptional circumstances to recall its order  even  after  they  have
been entered in order to avoid irremediable injustice.

Reviewing of various cases of different jurisdictions lead  to  irresistible
conclusion that though the judgments of the apex court can also be  reviewed
or recalled but it must  be  done  in  extremely  exceptional  circumstances
where there is gross violation of principles of natural justice.”


Further reliance is placed on the decision of this  Court  in  the  case  of
Kamlesh Verma v. Mayawati[5], wherein this Court held as under:

“20.1 When the review will be maintainable:-

Discovery of new and important matter or evidence which, after the  exercise
of due diligence, was not within knowledge of the petitioner  or  could  not
be produced by him;

Mistake or error apparent on the face of the record;

Any other sufficient reason.

The words “any other sufficient reason” has been interpreted in Chhajju  Ram
vs. Neki, AIR 1922 PC 112 and approved by this Court in Moran Mar  Basselios
Catholicos vs. Most Rev. Mar Poulose Athanasius & Ors., (1955)  1  SCR  520,
to mean “a  reason  sufficient  on  grounds  at  least  analogous  to  those
specified in the rule”. The same principles have been  reiterated  in  Union
of India vs. Sandur Manganese & Iron Ores Ltd. & Ors.

20.2 When the review will not be maintainable:-

(i) A repetition of old and overruled  argument  is  not  enough  to  reopen
concluded adjudications.

(ii) Minor mistakes of inconsequential import.

(iii) Review proceedings cannot be equated with the original hearing of  the
case.

(iv) Review is not maintainable unless the material error, manifest  on  the
face of the order, undermines its soundness or  results  in  miscarriage  of
justice.

(v) A review is by no means an  appeal  in  disguise  whereby  an  erroneous
decision is re-heard and corrected but lies only for patent error.

(vi)The mere possibility of two views on the subject cannot be a ground  for
review.

(vii) The error apparent on the face of the record should not  be  an  error
which has to be fished out and searched.

(viii) The appreciation of evidence on record is fully within the domain  of
the appellate court, it cannot be permitted to be  advanced  in  the  review
petition.

(ix) Review is not maintainable when the same relief sought at the  time  of
arguing the main matter had been negatived.”


The learned counsel contend that the ground raised in the  review  petitions
filed by LIC do not warrant any interference by this Court in  the  name  of
exercise of power of review under Article 137 of the  Constitution,  as  all
the averments in the Review petition are nothing but attempts  made  by  the
review petitioner-LIC to protract the implementation of the order passed  by
this Court.


We have heard the learned counsel appearing on behalf  of  the  parties.  At
this stage, it would be useful to reiterate what this Court had held in  the
impugned judgment and order dated 18.03.2015:

“27. In view of the law laid by this Court in the case  referred  to  supra,
both the Award of Justice Tulpule reiterated by way of  clarification  Award
by Justice Jamdar are still operative as the  same  are  not  terminated  by
either of the parties as provided  under  Section  19(6)  of  the  Act.  The
compromise between the parties in SLP No.  14906  of  1988  and  the  Scheme
formed in E. Prabhavathy & Ors. and G. Sudhakar &  Ors.  cases  referred  to
supra do not amount to substitution of the Awards passed by  Justice  R.  D.
Tulpule and by Justice S.  M.  Jamdar.  Hence,  in  view  of  the  aforesaid
reasons, the submissions made by Mr.  Naphade,  learned  Amicus  Curiae,  in
justification of the Award passed by the CGIT is  based  on  the  terms  and
conditions laid down in the Awards passed by the  NIT  (by  Justice  Tulpule
and Justice Jamdar) in favour of the workmen for  absorption  as  they  have
been rendering their service to the Corporation in the perennial  nature  of
work for a number of years and hence, the High Court was  not  justified  in
interfering with the said Award passed by  the  CGIT.  The  said  contention
urged by the learned amicus curiae  is  accepted  by  us,  as  the  impugned
judgment and order of the High Court is contrary to the Awards  referred  to
supra, the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act and the law  laid  down
by this Court in the aforesaid cases.  The  Awards  passed  by  the  NIT  is
binding upon the Corporation till it is  substituted  by  another  Award  or
replaced by another settlement in relation to the service conditions of  the
workmen of the Corporation in accordance with law as provided under  Section
12 read with Section 18(3) of the Act or another Award that is  required  to
be passed by the Jurisdictional  CGIT  in  relation  to  the  above  subject
matter after the Awards which are in operation are terminated by  either  of
the parties as provided under Section 19(6) of  the  Act.  Until  then,  the
said Award passed by the NIT will still be operative in law. Therefore,  the
same has been rightly applied to the fact situation on  hand  in  the  Award
passed by the CGIT and it could not have been set aside by the  High  Court.
Thus, we are of the opinion that the single Judge erroneously set aside  the
Award passed by the CGIT and the said judgment of the single judge has  been
further erroneously affirmed by the Division Bench of the  High  Court.  The
said judgments of the High Court are  clearly  contrary  to  law  and  legal
principles laid down by this Court in cases referred to  supra.  Hence,  the
same are liable to be set aside by allowing these appeals and restoring  the
Award of the CGIT.”


The review petitioner-LIC has not submitted anything on  record  to  suggest
that the impugned judgment and order suffers from an error apparent in  law.
While in the review petitions the factual and  legal  submissions  urged  in
the Civil Appeal have been reiterated, in  the  written  submissions  placed
before  us,  the  emphasis  shifted   to   the   practical   difficulty   in
implementation of the order of this Court. It has been well settled by  this
Court that a mere repetition of the same arguments which were urged  in  the
appeal and have been rejected, is not sufficient to justify the exercise  of
power of review under Article 137 of the Constitution by this Court. In  the
case of Kamlesh Verma (supra), this Court has held as under:

“Review is not re-hearing of an original matter. The power of review  cannot
be confused with appellate power which enables a superior court  to  correct
all errors committed by  a  subordinate  court.  A  repetition  of  old  and
overruled argument is not enough to re-open  concluded  adjudications.  This
Court, in Jain Studios Ltd. v. Shin Satellite Public Co. Ltd. (2006)  5  SCC
501, held as under:

11. So far as the grievance of the applicant on  merits  is  concerned,  the
Learned Counsel for the opponent is right in submitting that  virtually  the
applicant seeks the same relief  which  had  been  sought  at  the  time  of
arguing the main matter and had been negatived. Once such a prayer had  been
refused, no review petition would lie which would convert rehearing  of  the
original matter. It is settled law  that  the  power  of  review  cannot  be
confused with appellate power which enables a superior court to correct  all
errors committed by a subordinate court. It is not rehearing of an  original
matter. A repetition of old and overruled argument is not enough  to  reopen
concluded adjudications. The power of review can be exercised  with  extreme
care, caution and circumspection and only in exceptional cases.”
                          (emphasis laid by this Court)

While  ordinarily,  the  aspect  of  financial  hardship  would  not  be   a
sufficient ground to warrant our  interference  in  the  instant  case,  but
keeping in view the fact that LIC is a statutory  Corporation  operating  in
the interest of the public at large, on the  limited  point  of  payment  of
full back wages to the temporary and badli  workers  who  are  entitled  for
regularisation, we may reconsider the same. A  constitution  bench  of  this
Court in the case of Keshav Mills Co. v. CIT[6] held as under:

“23. ………In reviewing and revising its earlier decision,  this  Court  should
ask itself whether in the interests of the public  good  or  for  any  other
valid and compulsive reasons, it is  necessary  that  the  earlier  decision
should be revised. When this Court decides questions of law,  its  decisions
are, under Art. 141, binding on all courts within the  territory  of  India,
and so, it must be the constant endeavour  and  concern  of  this  Court  to
introduce and maintain  an  element  of  certainty  and  continuity  in  the
interpretation of law in the country. Frequent exercise  by  this  Court  of
its power to review its earlier  decisions  on  the  ground  that  the  view
pressed before it later appears to the Court  to  be  more  reasonable,  may
incidentally tend to make law uncertain and introduce confusion  which  must
be consistently avoided. That  is  not  to  say  that  if  on  a  subsequent
occasion, the Court is satisfied  that  its  earlier  decision  was  clearly
erroneous, it should hesitate to correct the error; but  before  a  previous
decision is pronounced to be plainly erroneous, the Court must be  satisfied
with a fair amount of unanimity amongst its members that a revision  of  the
said view is fully justified. It is not possible or desirable,  and  in  any
case it would be inexpedient to lay down any principles which should  govern
the approach of the Court in dealing with  the  question  of  reviewing  and
revising  its  earlier  decisions.  It  would  always  depend  upon  several
relevant considerations: What is the nature of the  infirmity  or  error  on
which a plea for a review and revision of the earlier view is based? On  the
earlier occasion, did some patent aspects of the question remain  unnoticed,
or was the attention of the Court not drawn to  any  relevant  and  material
statutory provision, or was any previous decision of this Court  bearing  on
the point not noticed? Is the Court hearing such plea fairly unanimous  that
there is such an error in the earlier view? What would be the impact of  the
error on the general administration of  law  or  on  public  good?  Has  the
earlier decision been followed on subsequent occasions either by this  Court
or by the High Courts? And, would the reversal of the earlier decision  lead
to public inconvenience, hardship or  mischief?  These  and  other  relevant
considerations must be carefully  borne  in  mind  whenever  this  Court  is
called upon to exercise its jurisdiction to review and  revise  its  earlier
decisions.”


For the limited purpose of modifying the relief granted in the Civil  Appeal
only with regard to the Back wages, we directed  Mr.  Ashok  Panigrahi,  the
learned counsel appearing on behalf of the review petitioner-LIC  to  submit
a document containing the pay scales indicating  the  basic  pay  and  other
emoluments payable to the concerned workmen. The same  were  furnished  with
the periodic revisions in  the  years  1992,  1997,  2002,  2007  and  2012,
without furnishing the other component figures  which  would  be  the  gross
salary of the different classes of workmen in  the  present  dispute.  These
periodic revisions of pay  of  basic  salary,  along  with  other  component
figures comprising the gross  salary  including  Dearness  Allowance,  House
Rent Allowance etc.  etc.,  as  applicable,  must  be  accounted  for  while
computing the amount due to the workmen towards the back wages.


The temporary and badli workers of LIC, who are entitled for  regularisation
as permanent workmen in terms of  the  impugned  judgment  and  order  dated
18.03.2015 passed by this Court, by applying the  terms  and  conditions  of
the modified award dated 26.08.1988 passed by Justice Jamdar,  are  held  to
be entitled to full back  wages  as  well.  However,  keeping  in  mind  the
immense financial burden this would cause to LIC, we deem it fit  to  modify
the relief only with regard to the back  wages  payable  and  therefore,  we
award 50% of the back wages with  consequential  benefits.  The  back  wages
must be calculated on  the  basis  of  the  gross  salary  of  the  workmen,
applicable as on the date as per the periodical revisions of  pay  scale  as
stated supra. The computation must be made from the date of  entitlement  of
the workmen involved in these cases, that is,  their  absorption,  till  the
age of superannuation, if any concerned workman  has  attained  the  age  of
superannuation as per the  regulations  of  the  review  petitioner-LIC,  as
applicable to the concerned workman.


With the above  modifications  to  the  judgment  and  order  sought  to  be
reviewed, these review petitions are disposed of in the terms  as  indicated
above. Since the judgment and order is  passed  in  favour  of  workmen  and
their  dispute  is  being  litigated  for  nearly  twenty  five  years,  the
directions contained in the judgment and order  dated  18.03.2015  with  the
above modifications shall be complied  with  by  the  review  petitioner-LIC
within eight weeks of the receipt of the copy of this order.


 In view of the disposal of the Review  Petitions,  the  Contempt  Petitions
are also disposed of, but in case  of  non-compliance  of  the  above  order
within the stipulated time, the parties will be at liberty to file  Contempt
Petitions afresh. All pending applications are disposed of.



                                                  …………………………………………………J. 
                                                  [V. GOPALA GOWDA]


                                                  …………………………………………………J.
                                                    [C. NAGAPPAN]

New Delhi,
August 9, 2016

-----------------------
[1]   (1976) 4 SCC 736

      [2]
[3]   (2006) 9 SCC 623

      [4]
[5]   (2002) 3 SCC 411

      [6]
[7]    (2011) 8 SCC 161

      [8]
[9]   (2013) 8 SCC 320

      [10]
[11]   AIR 1965 SC 1636

      [12]