Judicial discipline or propriety demands respect to the order passed by coordinate bench, the Supreme Court said on Monday while terming as “absolutely unwarranted” the observations made by the Uttarakhand High Court on an order passed by the Allahabad High Court.
The top court set aside the November 2019 order of the Uttarakhand High Court which had dismissed a petition observing that a coordinate bench of Allahabad High Court was not justified in permitting the appellants to withdraw the plea with liberty to file fresh petition before the appropriate court.
“The single judge of the High Court of Uttarakhand was not acting as an appellate court against the judicial order passed by the High Court of Allahabad permitting the appellants to withdraw the writ petition with liberty to file a writ petition before an appropriate court,” a bench of justices MR Shah and Aniruddha Bose said in its verdict.
“Judicial discipline/propriety demand to respect the order passed by the coordinate bench and more particularly the judicial order passed by the coordinate bench of the high court, in the present case the Allahabad High Court which as such was not under challenge before it,” the top court noted.
The bench was hearing a plea against the order passed by the Uttarakhand High Court.
The matter relates to an industrial dispute challenging the termination of an employee in June 1996.
The labour court at Dehradun, had passed an award in May 1997 holding that the termination order was illegal and directed reinstatement with full back wages.
The matter then reached the Allahabad High Court which passed a conditional interim order staying the execution of award and on condition to deposit the entire back wages before the labour court.
The amount of back wages was deposited but during the pendency of the matter, the state of Uttarakhand came to be created and jurisdiction of labour court, Dehradun came within Uttarakhand.
The top court noted in its verdict that in view of section 35 of the Uttar Pradesh Reorganization Act 2000, the proceedings pending before the Allahabad High Court were required to be transferred to the Uttarakhand High Court.
The bench noted the matter was initially not transferred by the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court “for whatever reason” and later in April 2014, the high court was of the view that since the award has been passed by labour court at Dehradun, the jurisdiction does not lie with the Allahabad High Court.
It permitted the petitioner to withdraw the plea with liberty to file fresh petition before the appropriate court.
Thereafter, a plea was filed in the Uttarakhand High Court challenging the award passed by the labour court at Dehradun.
In November 2019, the Uttarakhand High Court dismissed the petition without entering into the merits of the case on the ground that in view of the relevant provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Reorganization Act 2000, the power to transfer the case lie with the Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court.
The top court said that in the present case, the appropriate court would be the Uttarakhand High Court and no error was committed by the Allahabad High Court in permitting the appellants to withdraw the pending petition with liberty to file a fresh plea before the court having jurisdiction.
“Therefore, the observations made by the High Court of Uttarakhand in the impugned order on the judicial order passed by the single judge of Allahabad High Court dated April 24, 2014 permitting the appellants to withdraw the writ petition pending before it with liberty to file fresh writ petition before the appropriate court (the High Court of Uttarakhand) is absolutely unwarranted and is unsustainable,” it said.
The bench set aside the order of the Uttarakhand High Court and directed that the petition be restored on the file.
It requested the high court to decide the matter, preferably within a period of six months, considering the fact that the dispute is very old.