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LPA 162/2020 and CM 13006/2020

Decided On: 22.06.2020

Appellants: Jitendra Singh and Ors. Vs. Respondent: Securitrans India Pvt. Ltd.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad


1. The appellants/petitioners are aggrieved by the judgment dated 20th May, 2020 passed by the learned Single Judge dismissing a writ petition filed by them praying inter alia 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.

2. 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. 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. Lastly, the learned Single Judge has held that even if the Labour Courts are not functioning, as contended by the appellants/petitioners, the dispute raised by them can be agitated before the Labour Courts within a period of one year from the date of the cause of action and it is expected that by that time, the Labour Courts shall start functioning.

3. Mr. Gunjan Singh, 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 inasmuch 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.

4. The contention that the respondent/company enters into contracts with various banks to replenish the ATM branches with currency handed over to it, can hardly be treated as a public function. The respondent/company is not a State or an Authority against which a writ petition is maintainable within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India.

5. 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, MANU/SC/0048/1979 : (1979) 3 SCC 489, 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. The said judgment has been summarized by a Five-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court in Zee Telefilms Ltd. & Another v. Union of India & Ors., MANU/SC/0074/2005 : (2005) 4 SCC 649 as under:

"(1) "[O]ne thing is clear that if the entire share capital of the corporation is held by Government, it would go a long way towards indicating that the corporation is an instrumentality or agency of Government."

(2) "[W]here the financial assistance of the State is so much as to meet almost entire expenditure of the corporation, it would afford some indication of the corporation being impregnated with governmental character."

(3) "It may also be a relevant factor whether the corporation enjoys monopoly status which is Stat........