Read Order: UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS v. VINOD KUMAR AND OTHERS

Tulip Kanth

Chandigarh, October 8, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has reiterated that in case there was any mistake on the part of the Government authorities, it can be corrected by following due process of law. 

The petitioners had filed the Writ Petitions to challenge the orders passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh Bench(third respondent) whereby the original applications filed by the private respondents who were working in the Military Engineer Services (MES) on various posts like Fitter General Mechanic, Mate, Carpenter, Master Crafts Man etc. were allowed and they were held entitled to grant of dress allowance. The Tribunal also held that no recovery could be effected from the said private respondents.

In the original applications, the private respondents challenged letters whereby the Department had decided to recover the amount of dress allowance paid to them by the Government during the period from 2017-2018 to 2019-2020. 

It was the case of the private respondents that they were rightly given the benefit of dress allowance in terms of office memorandum dated August 31,2017 issued by Department of Personnel & Training (DoP&T) and letter dated August 2,2018 issued by Ministry of Defence, Department of Expenditure, New Delhi. The Tribunal had allowed the original applications. 

The petitioners being not satisfied, filed these writ petitions challenging the impugned orders passed by the Tribunal.

While referring to office memorandum dated August 2,2017,the petitioners herein submitted that the private respondents who were industrial employees and working in MES, are not covered under the said office memorandum. However, the authorities being under wrong impression, gave clarification dated June 5,2018 and further clarification dated August 2,2018 to the effect that the benefit of dress allowance may be extended to civilians of MES including industrial personnel. 

The counsel for the petitioners further contended that it being a factual mistake, was later on rectified by the authorities and consequently impugned letters dated November 15,2019 and November 18,2019 were issued and the amount of dress allowance paid to the private respondents was ordered to be recovered, as they were not entitled to get the same.

The petitioners had also submitted that the authorities are competent to recover the amount of dress allowance paid to the private respondents for the period from 2017-2018 to 2019-2020, which they were not entitled to get. The counsel for the petitioners further contended that in such a situation the payees are under obligation to return the said amount, otherwise it would amount to unjust enrichment.

The Division Bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh observed that from the perusal of the aforementioned letters, it transpired that before grant of dress allowance to the private respondents and other similarly situated employees, the concerned authorities took conscious decision regarding the same.

It was added by the Bench that it being so the petitioners could not now effect recovery of the amount of dress allowance already paid to the private respondents in the light of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of State of Punjab and Others vs. Rafiq Masih which clearly debars the Government from effecting recovery of any excess amount mistakenly paid to the Government employees belonging to Class-III and Class-IV service.

Referring to the decision of the Supreme Court of India in Union of India and another vs. Narendra Singh, wherein it was held that if the respondent was erroneously promoted, though he was not eligible and qualified, the department can always rectify its mistake by following due process of law, the Bench opined that if some benefit is given to the employees by the Government authorities under mistake, the said benefit would subsist till the mistake is corrected. 

“In the instant case, it appears that the Government authorities had not taken any conscious decision as per law, to withdraw clarifications dated 5.6.2018 and 2.8.2018, or to withdraw the benefit of dress allowance”, noted the Court.

Finding no illegality or perversity in the impugned orders passed by the Tribunal,the Bench dismissed the all the Writ Petitions.

0 CommentsClose Comments

Leave a comment