24 June 2024


Judgments

High Court of Delhi

Jitendra Singh and Ors. Vs. Securitrans India Pvt. Ltd.

MANU/DE/1286/2020

22.06.2020

Service

Matters which come purely under the realm of a contract between two parties are not amenable to writ jurisdiction

The Appellants/Petitioners are aggrieved by the judgment passed by the learned Single Judge dismissing a writ petition filed by them praying for issuance of a writ/direction to the Respondent/company, where they were employed, not to terminate their services and further, to release all arrears of wages. By the impugned order, the learned Single Judge has dismissed the writ petition filed by the Appellants/Petitioners on the ground that, the same does not lie under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950. The learned Single Judge has held that, the Respondent/Company is a private company and is not a State or any other Authority and nor is it funded by the Government.

The claim of the Appellants/Petitioners that termination of their services during the COVID-19 period is illegal, has been rejected by the learned Single Judge by holding that, termination of the services of the Appellants/Petitioners is for the reasons other than COVID-19, i.e., for their alleged misconduct on account of misappropriation of currency handed over to them by the respondent/company as custodians, for topping up in ATM branches of different banks. Learned counsel for the Appellants/Petitioners states that, the learned Single Judge fell into an error by observing that, the Respondent/company is not a State and nor is it discharging duties of the State as it undertakes the work of distributing currency in different AT M branches operated by banks and the same ought to be treated as a public duty.

The test for determining as to whether an Authority is an instrumentality of the State or not is no longer res-integra. The Supreme Court in Ramana Dayaram Shetty v. International Airport Authority of India, has laid down the parameters or guidelines for determining whether a body falls within the sweep of the definition of "other Authorities", as contemplated in Article 12 of the Constitution of India. Applying the tests, it cannot be said that, the Respondent/company herein would by any stretch of imagination be treated as an Authority or an instrumentality of State within the definition of Article 12 of the Constitution of India.

Present Court concurs with the finding of the learned Single Judge that, the Respondent/company is not performing any public function and therefore, a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is not maintainable against it. It is well settled that matters which come purely under the realm of a contract between two parties are not amenable to writ jurisdiction. In Binny Ltd. & Anr. v. V. Sadasivan & Ors., while dealing with a writ petition which arose from a contract between an employer and an employee, the Supreme Court has laid down the guidelines as to what should be termed as a public function.

In the instant case, services of the Appellants/Petitioners have been terminated by the Respondent/Company. The contention of the counsel for the Appellants/Petitioners that the Respondent/Company herein is discharging a public function, cannot be accepted. The Respondent/Company has entered into contracts with different banks to collect currency from them and top up the AT M branches being run by them, which activity cannot be described as a public function in the light of the test laid down by the Supreme Court. Thus, the Respondent/company is neither an instrumentality of the State nor is it carrying out any public function for this Court to entertain the present petition.

Present Court is also in complete agreement with the findings returned by the learned Single Judge that the termination having already come into effect, there cannot be any stay thereof as prayed for by the appellants/petitioners in the writ petition. Disputed questions of facts as raised in the present case, cannot be gone into in proceedings under Article 226 of the Constitution of India. There is no reason to interfere with the impugned judgment. The appeal is dismissed.

Relevant

Binny Ltd. & Anr. v. V. Sadasivan & Ors., MANU/SC/0470/2005
, Ramana Dayaram Shetty v. International Airport Authority of India, MANU/SC/0048/1979

Tags : Alleged misconduct Termination Legality

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