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Case :- SPECIAL APPEAL No. – 48 of 2020
Appellant :- Smt. Krishna Shri Gupta w/o Late Syamal Gupta, Lecturer, Jalaun Balika Inter College, Jalaun.
Respondent :- State Of U.P. through Secretary, Department of Education (Secondary), Govt. of U.P. Lucknow and 4 Others.
Counsel for Appellant :- Amit Saxena (Senior Advocate) assisted by Amit Shukla
Counsel for Respondents :- C.S.C., Ashok Khare (Senior Advovate) assisted by Siddharth Khare
Hon’ble Biswanath Somadder,J.
Hon’ble Dr. Yogendra Kumar Srivastava,J.
(Per : Dr. Yogendra Kumar Srivastava,J.)
1. Heard Sri Amit Saxena, learned Senior Counsel assisted by Sri Amit Shukla, for the appellant and Sri Ashok Khare, learned Senior Counsel assisted by Sri Siddharth Khare, for the respondent-petitioner.
2. This intra-court appeal has been preferred against the judgment and order dated 19.12.2019 passed in Writ-A No.48219 of 2013 (Anita Singh Vs. State of U.P. and others) whereby the order dated 16.05.2013, which was impugned in the writ petition, has been set aside and the District Inspector of Schools, Jalaun, has been directed to pass a fresh order in light of the observations made in the judgment for the senior most eligible person to be allowed to officiate as Principal of the Institution so long as regularly selected Principal is not made available. Further, the respondent-petitioner has been held to be entitled to salary as officiating Principal in accordance with the provisions of Section 18(2) of the U.P. Secondary Education Services Selection Board Act, 19821.
3. Briefly stated, the facts of the case are that the post of Principal at Jalaun Balika Inter College2, Jalaun fell vacant on 30.6.2009. The aforementioned Institution is a recognized Institution under the provisions of the Intermediate Education Act, 19213 and the payment of salaries to teachers and other employees of the said Institution is regulated in terms of the provisions of the Uttar Pradesh High School and Intermediate Colleges Payment of Salaries of Teachers and Other Employees Act, 19714.
4. A question arose as to who is entitled to officiate as Principal of the Institution and by an order dated 16.5.2013 the District Inspector of Schools5, Jalaun accepted the candidature of the appellant herein to officiate as Principal as against the claim of the respondent-petitioner primarily on the ground that on the date of occurrence of the vacancy on 30.06.2009 the petitioner did not fulfil the prescribed eligibility criteria.
5. The learned Single Judge while adverting to the rival claims of the two teachers has taken notice of a judgment rendered by a Full Bench of this Court in Amal Kishore Singh Vs. State of U.P. and others6, on the point as to whether a person possessing Bachelor’s degree in physical education is qualified to be appointed as Principal in a recognised intermediate college. Following the view expressed by the Full Bench that a teacher having B.P.Ed. degree is not eligible to be appointed as Principal of an intermediate college, the learned Single Judge drew an inference that the training qualification possessed by the appellant being a diploma in physical education she could not be treated to possess the requisite training qualification for the purposes of appointment to the post of Principal in a recognised intermediate college.
6. As regards the petitioner not possessing the requisite qualification for the post of Principal on the date of occurrence of the vacancy on 30.06.2009, since she obtained the necessary qualification only later on 15.12.2010, the learned Single Judge applying the doctrine of necessity held that though the initial appointment of the appellant as officiating Principal in such circumstances may be justified but such necessity would continue only so long as a qualified and eligible teacher was not available to be appointed as officiating Principal. It has been further held that the petitioner having acquired the necessary eligibility on 15.12.2010, the appellant had no right to continue as Principal any further and accordingly the order dated 16.5.2013 has been set aside and the District Inspector of Schools has been directed to pass a fresh order in light of the observations made in the judgment for the senior most eligible person to be allowed to officiate as Principal of the Institution so long as regularly selected Principal is not made available. Simultaneously, the petitioner has also been held entitled to salary for the post of officiating Principal in accordance with the relevant statutory provision.
7. The principal contention raised by the learned Senior Counsel for the appellant is that the Hon’ble Single Judge had erred in failing to consider that on the date of occurrence of vacancy on 30th June, 2009, the appellant was having a postgraduate degree with second division in the subject Sanskrit and also more than ten years’ teaching experience in intermediate classes and as such she was fully eligible to be appointed as Principal as per eligibility criteria specified under Entry 1, clause (2) of Appendix A under Chapter II, Regulation 1 of the Regulations framed under the Act, 1921.
8. It is submitted that even though the appellant may not possess the requisite training qualification as per the law laid down in the Full Bench Judgment in the case of Amal Kishore Singh, she still fulfills the requisite qualification as per terms of clause (2) under Entry 1 of Appendix A of the Regulations referred to above.
9. The finding recorded by the learned Single Judge that “there has never been any disciplinary action” against the petitioner have also been assailed by submitting that the material facts with regard to initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the petitioner have been concealed including the fact that she had also been placed under suspension.
10. Per contra, the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the respondent writ petitioner has supported the order passed by the learned Single Judge by submitting that in view of the pronouncement made by the Full Bench in the case of Amal Kishore Singh, the appellant did not possess the requisite training qualification for being appointed as Principal as per the Regulations and her initial appointment as officiating Principal could only be justified on the touchstone of doctrine of necessity and that such necessity came to an end when the writ petitioner obtained the necessary training qualification for being appointed as Principal in December, 2010, and accordingly the continuance of the appellant as officiating Principal thereafter was not permissible in law.
11. In order to appreciate the rival contentions, the necessary statutory framework with regard to the subject matter of the controversy may be adverted to.
12. The Intermediate Education Act, 1921 was enacted for the establishment of a Board of High School and Intermediate Examination for the purposes of regulating and supervising the system of High School and Intermediate Education in Uttar Pradesh and to prescribe courses therefor.
13. The institution in question is a recognised institution as per terms of the aforementioned Act, 1921. Section 16E of the Act, deals with the procedure for selection of teachers and heads of institutions. Section 16-F pertains to the selection committees for making the aforesaid appointments and Section 16-FF is in respect of minority institutions.
14. The power to make regulations for the purposes of carrying into the effect the provisions of the Act, 1921 is as per terms of sub-section (1) of Section 15 of the Act. It is in exercise of the aforesaid powers that regulations have been framed and the subject matter of “appointment of heads of institutions and teachers” has been dealt with under Chapter II thereof, which is referable to the provisions contained under Sections 16-E, 16-F and 16-FF of the Act, 1921.
15. Regulation 1 under Chapter II of the Regulations stipulates that the minimum qualifications for appointment as heads of institution and teachers in any recognised institution, whether by direct recruitment or otherwise, shall be as given in Appendix A. The educational qualifications and training experience for appointment as head of the institution is provided under Entry 1 of Appendix A, and the same are being extracted below:-
Name of the Post & Educational Training Experience
Head of institution (1) trained M.A. or M.Sc. or M.Com or M.Sc. (Agri) or any equivalent Post-graduate or any other degree which is awarded by corporate body specified in above-mentioned para one and should have at least teaching experience of four years in classes 9-12 in any training institute or in any institution or university specified in above-mentioned para one or in any degree college affiliated to such University or institution, recognized by Board or any institution affiliated from Boards of other States or such other institutions whose examinations recognised by the Board, or should the condition is also that he/she should not be below 30 years’ of age.
(2) First or second class post-graduate degree along with teaching experience of ten years in Intermediate classes of any recognized institutions or third class post-graduate degree with teaching experience of fifteen years,
(3) Trained post-graduate diploma-holder in science. The condition is that he has passed this diploma course in first or second class and have efficiently worked for 15 or 20 years respectively after passing such diploma course.
Notes: (1) Assistant teachers having at least second class postgraduate degree and specified teaching experience of ten years in Intermediate classes of a recognised institution may be exempted from training qualifications, (as per the provisions contained in the Act.)
(2) Teaching experience includes teaching prior to or after teaching or both.
(3) Higher classes means classes from 9 to 12 and experience of teaching these classes is admissible for the post of Head Master of Intermediate college.
16. The provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Secondary Education Service Selection Boards Act, 19827, which was enacted to establish Selection Boards for the selection of teachers in institutions recognised under the Act, 1921, may also be taken note of.
17. The powers and duties of the Uttar Pradesh Secondary Education Services Selection Board8 are prescribed under Section 9 of the said Act and it inter alia includes the power to prepare guidelines in respect of matters relating to the method of recruitment and promotion of teachers; to conduct examinations, where necessary, and hold interviews and make selection, of candidates for being appointed as teachers and to make recommendations regarding appointment of selected candidates.
18. Section 16 of the Act, 1982, which begins with a non-obstante clause, provides that notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained under the Intermediate Education Act, 1921 or the Regulations made thereunder but subject to certain specified provisions of the Act, every appointment of a teacher shall on or after the date of commencement of the U.P. Secondary Education Service Selection Board (Amendment) Act, 20019 be made by the management only on recommendation of the Board, and any appointment made in contravention thereof shall be void.
19. Section 18 of the Act, as substituted by the U.P. Act No.5 of 2001 w.e.f. 30.12.2000 provides for appointment of ad hoc Principals or Headmasters, and it runs as follows:-
“18. Ad hoc Principals or Headmasters.–(1) Where the management has notified a vacancy to the Board in accordance with sub-section (1) of Section 10 and the post of the Principal or the Headmaster actually remained vacant for more than two months, the Management shall fill such vacancy on purely ad hoc basis by promoting the senior most teacher, –
(a) in the lecturer’s grade in respect of a vacancy in the post of the Principal;
(b) in the trained graduate’s grade in respect of a vacancy in the post of the Headmaster.
(2) Where the Management fails to promote the senior most teacher under sub-section (1), the Inspector shall himself issue the order of promotion of such teacher and the teacher concerned shall be entitled to get his salary as the Principal or the Headmaster, as the case may be, from the date he joins such post in pursuance of such order of promotion.
(3) Where the teacher to whom the order of promotion is issued under sub-section (2) is unable to join the post of Principal or the Headmaster, as the case may be, due to any act or omission on the part of the Management, such teacher may submit his joining report to the Inspector, and shall thereupon be entitled to get his salary as the Principal or the Headmaster, as the case may be, from the date he submits the said report.
(4) Every appointment of an ad hoc Principal or Headmaster under subsection (1) shall cease to have effect from the date when the candidate recommended by the Board joins the post.”
20. In terms of Section 32 of the Act, 1982 the provisions of the Act, 1921 and the Regulations made thereunder in so far as they are not inconsistent with the provisions of the Act, 1982 or the Rules or Regulations made thereunder are to continue to be in force for the purposes of selection, appointment, promotion, dismissal, removal, termination or reduction in rank of a teacher.
21. In exercise of rule making power conferred under Section 35 of the Act, 1982, the U.P. Secondary Education Service Selection Board Rules, 1998, were made and Rule 5 thereof provides the academic qualifications for appointment to the post of teachers, and the same reads as under:-
“5. Academic qualifications.–A candidate for appointment to a post of teacher must possess qualifications specified in Regulation 1 of Chapter II of the Regulations made under the Intermediate Education Act, 1921.”
22. As per terms of the aforesaid rule, in order to be appointed as a teacher, which term includes a Principal or a Headmaster, the qualifications would be as specified under Regulation 1 of Chapter II of the Regulations framed under the Intermediate Education Act, 1921. Thus, in order to be considered for appointment as an ad hoc Principal or Headmaster under Section 18 of the Act, 1982, the teacher concerned has to possess the qualifications which are prescribed for appointment as Principal or Headmaster under the Regulations, as provided under Entry 1 of Appendix A of Chapter II thereof.
23. The minimum educational qualifications/training experience for the purposes of appointment as head of an institution, as set out under Entry 1 of Appendix A of Chapter II, Regulation 1 of the Regulations under the Act, 1921, envisages three alternatives, which are as follows:-
(1) trained M.A. or M.Sc. or M.Com or M.Sc. (Agri) or any equivalent Post-graduate or any other degree which is awarded by corporate body specified in above-mentioned para one and should have at least teaching experience of four years in classes 9-12 in any training institute or in any institution or university specified in above-mentioned para one or in any degree college affiliated to such University or institution, recognized by Board or any institution affiliated from Boards of other States or such other institutions whose examinations recognised by the Board, or should the condition is also that he/she should not be below 30 years’ of age; or
(2) first or second class post-graduate degree along with teaching experience of ten years in Intermediate classes of any recognized institutions or third class post-graduate degree with teaching experience of fifteen years, or
(3) trained post-graduate diploma-holder in science. The condition is that he has passed this diploma course in first or second class and have efficiently worked for 15 or 20 years respectively after passing such diploma course.
24. Notice may be had of the fact that the three sets of alternative eligibility criteria mentioned aforesaid under Entry 1 of Appendix A are connected by the word “or”.
25. In logic, mathematics and in the context of statutory interpretation, the word “or” has generally been construed as being disjunctive i.e. a connective that marks alternatives. It has been used to connect words, phrases or classes representing alternatives.
26. The meaning of the word “or” as a tool of statutory construction fell for consideration in the context of interpretation of Section 25-N (6) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, in Cable Corporation of India Limited Vs. Additional Commissioner of Labour and others10, and it was held that the word “or” is normally disjunctive and its use in a statute manifests the legislative intent of the alternatives prescribed under law. The relevant observations made in the judgment are as follows :-
“11. The word “or” is normally disjunctive and “and” is normally conjunctive. But at times they are read as vice versa to give effect to the manifest intention of the legislature as disclosed from the context. As stated by Scrutton, L.J.:
“You do sometimes read ”or’ as ”and’ in a statute. But you do not do it unless you are obliged because ”or’ does not generally mean ”and’ and ”and’ does not generally mean ”or’. And as pointed out by Lord Halsbury the reading of ”or’ as ”and’ is not to be resorted to, ”unless some other part of the same statute or the clear intention of it required that to be done’. But if the literal reading of the words produces an unintelligible or absurd result ”and’ may be read for ”or’ and ”or’ for ”and’ even though the result of so modifying the words is less favourable to the subject provided that the intention of the legislature is otherwise quite clear. Conversely if reading of ”and’ as ”or’ produces grammatical distortion and makes no sense of the portion following ”and’, ”or’ cannot be read in place of ”and’…”
12. In Fakir Mohd. v. Sita Ram [(2002) 1 SCC 741] it was held that the word “or” is normally disjunctive. The use of the word “or” in a statute manifests the legislative intent of the alternatives prescribed under law.
14. A plain reading of the provision makes the position clear that two courses are open. Power is conferred on the appropriate Government to either on its own motion or on an application made, review its order or refer the matter to the Tribunal. Whether one or the other of the courses could be adopted depends on the fact of each case, the surrounding circumstances and several other relevant factors.
15. Under sub-section (6) of Section 25-N it is open to the appropriate Government or the specified authority to review its order granting or refusing to grant permission under sub-section (3).
16. “24. When the words of a statute are clear, plain or unambiguous i.e. they are reasonably susceptible to only one meaning, courts are bound to give effect to that meaning irrespective of consequences. (See State of Jharkhand v.Govind Singh [(2005) 10 SCC 437 and Nathi Devi v. Radha Devi Gupta [(2005) 2 SCC 271] .)
25. In Sussex Peerage case [(1844) 11 Cl & Fin 85 : 8 ER 1034] , Cl & Fin at p. 143 Tindal, C.J. observed as follows: (ER p. 1057)
”If the words of the statute are in themselves precise and unambiguous, then no more can be necessary than to expound those words in their natural and ordinary sense. The words themselves alone do, in such case, best declare the intention of the lawgiver.’
26. When the language is plain and unambiguous and admits of only one meaning no question of construction of a statute arises, for the Act speaks for itself.
27. As observed in Nathi Devi case [(2005) 2 SCC 271] if the words used are capable of one construction only, then it would not be open to the courts to adopt any other hypothetical construction on the ground that such construction is more consistent with the alleged object and policy of the Act. The spirit of the law may well be an elusive and unsafe guide and the supposed spirit can certainly be not given effect to in opposition to the plain language of the sections of the Act.[Ed.: As observed in Orient Paper & Industries Ltd. v. State of M.P., (2006) 12 SCC 468.]”
27. In a similar set of facts, as in the present case, where two sets of eligibility criteria were prescribed for admission to a University course and they were connected by the word “or”, the Supreme Court in the case of Guru Nanak Dev University vs. Sanjay Kumar Katwal and another11, held that the use of “or” between two qualifications conveyed a disjunctive sense indicating alternatives and possession of either of the qualifications would make a candidate eligible. It was reiterated that the word “or” is normally used in the disjunctive sense unless the context warrants otherwise. The relevant extract from the judgment is as follows :-
“9. The prescription of eligibility criteria is very clear. It requires a Bachelor’s degree with not less than 45% marks or a Master’s degree. The University’s contention that the candidate must have a Bachelor’s degree and only if his marks are less than 45% in the Bachelor’s degree course, was the Master’s degree to be considered, would mean that the word “or” should be substituted by the words “in the event of the candidate not having 45% marks in the Bachelor’s degree”. Reading such words into the provision is impermissible. The word “or” is disjunctive. No doubt, in some exceptional circumstances, the word “or” has been read as conjunctive as meaning “and”, where the context warranted it. But the word “or” cannot obviously be read as referring to a conditional alternative, when such condition is not specified. In view of the provision relating to eligibility being unambiguous and using the word “or”, it is clear that a Master’s degree without a Bachelor’s degree will satisfy the eligibility requirement.”
28. The interpretation of the word “or” in the context of an exemption notification issued under the U.P. Trade Tax Act, 1948 came up for consideration in the case of G.P. Ceramics (P) Ltd. Vs. Commissioner, Trade Tax, Uttar Pradesh12, and it was held that the three contingencies provided for under the notification which were connected by the word “or”, were disjunctive in nature. It was stated thus :-
“24. The eligibility criteria is contained in the notification. Sub-clause (ii) of Clause 2-B of the notification envisages three contingencies i.e. (i) the unit is established on land or building or both owned by the dealer; or (ii) the unit is established on land or building or both taken on lease for a period of not less than 15 years; or (iii) the unit is established on land or building or both allotted to such unit by the State or the Central Government or any government company or any corporation owned or controlled by the Central or the State Government.
27. The eligibility criteria are laid down in the notification, which, as noticed hereinbefore, provide for three contingencies. They are disjunctive in nature and not conjunctive…”
29. In this regard, we may also refer to the observations made by Lord Halsbury in Mersey Docks and Harbour Board vs. Henderson13, which are as follows :-
“……I know no authority for such a proceeding unless the context makes the necessary meaning of “or” “and” as in some instances it does; but I believe it is wholly unexampled so to read it when doing so will upon one construction entirely alter the meaning of the sentence unless some other part of the same statute or the clear intention of it requires that to be done….”
30. In the instant case, the use of the word “or” as a connective between the three sets of eligibility criteria is indicative of the disjunctive sense marking the three alternatives. The three sets of eligibility criteria under Entry 1 of Appendix A have thus been prescribed, alternatively, as minimum qualifications for being appointed as head of the institution. Accordingly, in terms of clause (2) thereof a person having a first or second class postgraduate degree alongwith teaching experience of ten years in Intermediate classes of any recognised institution or having a third class postgraduate degree with teaching experience of fifteen years, would be held to be eligible.
31. The facts of the present case, as reflected from the order dated 16.05.2013 passed by the DIOS, which was under challenge in the writ petition, indicate that the appellant herein possessed a second class post gratuate degree (M.A. in Sanskrit), and had been granted the Lecturer’s pay scale with effect from 17.02.2001. She also had a teaching experience of ten years in intermediate classes as on the date of occurrence of vacancy against the post of Principal on 30.06.2009. In addition, the appellant also possessed the training qualifications of C.P.Ed and D.P.Ed.
32. In respect of the petitioner the order dated 16.5.2013 records that at the time of occurrence of vacancy against the post of Principal in the Institution the petitioner in addition to possessing the educational qualification of M.A. (Economics) in third class, had a teaching experience of only six years in intermediate classes.
33. In view of the aforementioned position, the DIOS, in terms of the order 16.5.2013, held that the appellant having posssessed a second class post graduate degree along with teaching experience of ten years in intermediate classes at the institution in question, as on the date of occurrence of vacancy on the post of Principal on 30.6.2009, was qualified for the post of Principal. The order also records that since the petitioner had a post graduate degree in third class with teaching experience of only six years as on the aforesaid date of occurrence of vacancy, she did not possess the necessary eligibility qualification for the post of Principal.
34. The principal ground on which the learned Single Judge has non-suited the claim of the appellant to be appointed as officiating Principal is by placing reliance upon the judgment of the Full Bench in the case of Amal Kishore Singh referred to above. The learned Single Judge by placing reliance upon the judgment has held that since the appellant only possessed a diploma in physical education she was not having the requisite training qualification in order to make her eligible for the post of Principal.
35. In order to appreciate the import of the judgment rendered in the case of Amal Kishore Singh (supra), it may be apt to take note of the questions referred for consideration by the Full Bench, which are as follows:-
“(i) Whether training qualification B.P.Ed. is equivalent qualification to that of B.Ed., L.T., B.T./C.T. Etc. so as to be covered by the phrase “equivalent qualification” of training degree/diploma as contained by Clause-2 of Appendix-A of Chapter-II of the Regulations framed under the Intermediate Education Act, 1921?
(ii) Whether a teacher possessed of a degree of Post Graduate and training qualification of B.P.Ed. from an institute duly recognized by National Council for Teachers Education is qualified for being considered for appointment as Principal/Headmaster of a recognized High School/Intermediate institution?
(iii) Whether the law laid down by the Division Bench in the case of Vindhyachal Yadav (Supra) is the correct law or not.”
36. The Full Bench in the case of Amal Kishore Singh thus principally considered the question as to whether a B.P.Ed. degree which is a post graduate training qualification, would entitle a person to hold the post of Principal of an Intermediate college. The aforementioned question was answered by Full Bench by stating that a B.P.Ed. degree holder is eligible to be appointed as Headmaster of a High School, but not as Principal of an Intermediate college. The relevant extract from the judgment in the case of Amal Kishore Singh, answering the questions referred, is as follows :-
“47. We, thus, answer question (i) in affirmative and question (iii) by holding that Vindhyachal Yadav does not lay down the correct law. However, question (ii) has to be answered, subject to certain riders. A B.P.Ed. degree being a post graduate training qualification, would entitle a person to hold post of Headmaster of a recognised High School but not that of Principal of an Intermediate college. The reason is that under Regulations, 2001 as well as under Minimum Qualification Regulations, 2014 framed by NCTE, B.P.Ed. is recognised as eligibility qualification for teaching Classes IX – X (Secondary/ High School) but not for Classes XI – XII (Senior Secondary/Intermediate). For teaching Intermediate classes, the person should possess M.P.Ed. degree of at least two years duration from any National Council for Teacher Education recognised institution. These regulations do not prescribe any separate qualification for Head of institution and thus the qualification prescribed for a teacher of Intermediate classes (Senior-Secondary) would also apply to Head of such an institution. We have already held above that the qualifications prescribed by NCTE would be binding on the State, therefore, the qualifications prescribed by Minimum Qualification Regulations, 2014 have to be read alongwith Appendix-A and thus, a teacher possessing B.P.Ed. degree, would not be eligible to hold post of Principal of an Intermediate College.
48. We, thus, reply to question (ii) by holding that a teacher in physical education having B.P.Ed. degree is eligible to be appointed as Headmaster of a High School, but not as Principal of an Intermediate college.”
37. The principal question which fell for consideration before the Full Bench in the case of Amal Kishore Singh was thus as to whether a person holding a B.P.Ed. Degree would be held to possess the necessary training qualification for being appointed to the post of Principal in a recognised intermediate college, and the said question was answered by holding that a teacher having B.P.Ed. degree is eligible to be appointed as Headmaster of a High School, but not as Principal of an Intermediate college.
38. As we have already taken note of, Entry 1 under Appendix A of Chapter II of the Regulations, prescribes three alternative sets of qualifications for being eligible for appointment as Head of the institution. The requirement of possessing a training qualification is prescribed under clause (1) and clause (3) under Entry 1, whereas there is no such prescription of a training qualification under clause (2) thereof. In terms of clause (2), a person having a first or second class post-graduate degree along with teaching experience of ten years in Intermediate classes of any recognized institution or a third class post-graduate degree with teaching experience of fifteen years, has been held to be eligible. The qualifications prescribed in terms of clause (2) being one of the alternative sets of eligibility criteria which specifically omits to mention any training qualification, a candidate possessing the qualifications thereunder would not require to possess a training qualification which is required under the alternative sets of criteria as per clause (1) and clause (3) of the aforesaid Entry.
39. The question under consideration in the case of Amal Kishore Singh being with regard to the training qualifications as prescribed under clause (1) and the interpretation thereof, the law laid down in the aforesaid judgment, would not be applicable to the facts of the present case, inasmuch as the claim of the appellant herein rests on the other alternative eligibility criterion as prescribed under clause (2) whereunder there is no requirement of any training qualification and a second class post graduate degree along with teaching experience of ten years in intermediate classes in any recognised institution, alone is sufficient for the purpose of being eligible for the post of Principal in terms thereof.
40. The law with regard to applicability of the doctrine of precedents is well settled. It has been consistently held that a judgment is only an authority for what it actually decides and not what logically follows from the various observations made in the judgment. In order to fully understand and appreciate the binding force of a decision, it is always necessary to see what were the facts of the case in which the decision was given and what was the point decided.
41. In the case of The State of Orissa Vs. Sudhansu Sekhar Misra and Ors.14 referring to the observations made by Earl of Halsbury LC in Quinn Vs. Leathem15, it was stated thus :-
“12…A decision is only an authority for what it actually decides. What is of the essence in a decision is its ratio and not every observation found therein nor what logically follows from the various observations made in it. On this topic this is what Earl of Halsbury L.C. said in Quinn v. Leathem, 1901 AC 495.
“Now before discussing the case of Allen v. Flood, (1898) AC 1 and what was decided therein, there are two observations of a general character which I wish to make, and one is to repeat what I have very often said before, that every judgment must be read as applicable to the particular facts proved, or assumed to be proved, since the generality of the expressions which may be found there are not intended to be expositions of the whole law, but governed and qualified by the particular facts of the case in which such expressions are to be found. The other is that a case is only an authority for what it actually decides. I entirely deny that it can be quoted for a proposition that may seem to follow logically from it. Such a mode of reasoning assumes that the law is necessarily a logical Code, whereas every lawyer must acknowledge that the law is not always logical at all.”
42. A similar view was taken in Union of India vs. Amrit Lal Manchandra and others16, and after referring to the decisions in London Graving Dock Co. Ltd. Vs. Horton17, Home Office Vs. Dorcet Yacht Co.18 and Herrington Vs. British Railways Board19, it was stated that observations of Court must be read in the context in which they appear and that one additional or different fact may make a world of difference.
“15…Courts should not place reliance on decisions without discussing as to how the factual situation fits in with the fact situation of the decision on which reliance is placed.
Observations of Courts are neither to be read as Euclid’s theorems nor as provisions of the statute and that too taken out of their context. These observations must be read in the context in which they appear to have been stated. Judgments of Courts are not to be construed as statutes. To interpret words, phrases and provisions of a statute, it may become necessary for Judges to embark into lengthy discussions but the discussion is meant to explain and not to define. Judges interpret statutes, they do not interpret judgments. They interpret words of statutes; their words are not to be interpreted as statutes. In London Graving Pock Co. Ltd. v. Horton (1951 AC 737 at p. 761), Lord Mac Dermot observed:
“The matter cannot, of course, be settled merely by treating the ipsissima verba of Willes, J. as though they were part of an Act of Parliament and applying the rules of interpretation appropriate thereto. This is not to detract from the great weight to be given to the language actually used by that most distinguished Judges.”
16. In Home Office v. Dorset Yacht Co.(1970 (2) All ER 294), Lord Reid said, “Lord Atkin’s speech….is not to be treated as if it was a statute definition. It will require qualification in new circumstances.” Megarry, J. in (1971) 1 WLR 1062 observed:
“One must not, of course, construe even a reserved judgment of even Russell L.J. as if it were an Act of Parliament.” And, in Herrington v. British Railways Board (1972 (2) WLR 537) Lord Morris said:
“There is always peril in treating the words of a speech or judgment as though they are words in a legislative enactment, and it is to be remembered that judicial utterances made in the setting of the facts of a particular case.”
17. Circumstantial flexibility, one additional or different fact may make a world of difference between conclusions in two cases. Disposal of cases by blindly placing reliance on a decision is not proper.
18. The following words of Lord Denning in the matter of applying precedents have become locus classicus:
“Each case depends on its own facts and a close similarity between one case and another is not enough because even a single significant detail may alter the entire aspect, in deciding such cases, one should avid the temptation to decide cases (as said by Cordozo) by matching the colour of one case against the colour of another. To decide therefore, on which side of the line a case falls, the broad resemblance to another case is not at all decisive.”
“Precedent should be followed only so far as it marks the path of justice, but you must cut the dead wood and trim off the side branches else you will find yourself lost in thickets and branches. My plea is to keep the path to justice clear of obstructions which could impede it.”
43. The judgment in the case of Amal Kishore Singh (supra) being on a point of law, which does not arise in the fact situation of the present case, reliance placed on the said decision was therefore misplaced and the judgment of the writ court cannot be sustained for the said reason.
44. In the facts of the present case, since the appellant possessed the requisite eligibility criteria as per the relevant Regulations, as on the date of occurrence of vacancy on the post of Principal in the institution as against the writ petitioner who was not eligible on the said date, the order dated 16.05.2013 passed by the DIOS, which was under challenge in the writ petition, could not be held to be erroneous so as to warrant interference.
45. The Special Appeal is, accordingly, allowed and the judgment dated 19.12.2019 passed in Writ-A No.48219 of 2013 is set aside.
46. The writ petition stands dismissed.
Order Date :- 11.02.2020
(Dr. Y.K. Srivastava,J.)