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State Of Orissa V Binapani Dei – Case Analysis

Introduction

As an M.B.B.S from Punjab University in the field of gynaecology and obstetrics, as well as a diploma from London, the petitioner was appointed as an assistant surgeon in the Orissa medical services by the state government. It was also verified by his father and accepted the accurate date of birth that was reported in the documents as a record or history by both the Orissa government and departmental officers that the candidate was born on April 10, 1910. However, for government employees who retired after December 1, 1962, the retirement age was raised to 58 years after they reached the age of 55. As well as at the High Court, the writ petition claimed that the State Government’s retirement programme violated the law, the constitution, and natural justice principles. As a result, anonymous letters were sent to the state’s accountant general, asking him to explain why a birth certificate had not been validated in accordance with the laws.

The court determined that the issue of verifying the date of birth was relevantly highly significant in determining the age matter under the retirement statute, but that the date of birth was recorded wrongly in this case, which was not permitted by the system. So, the court set aside the state’s ruling and determined that, due to the system’s negligence, the system must bear responsibility for the error, and that the retirement statute should cover the petitioner’s issue.

Citations of State Of Orissa V Binapani Dei case: (1967) 2 SCR 625 : (1967) 2 LLJ 266 : 1967 MPLJ 932 : (1967) 15 FLR 209 : 1967 Mah LJ 993 : 12 Law Rep 519 : AIR 1967 SC 1269

Facts Of State Of Orissa V Binapani Dei Case

In the State of Orissa v Binapani Dei case, the respondent, Binapani Dei was the MBBS degree holder of Punjab University. She was a diploma in the gynecology and obstetrics from Madras University and also a diploma in obstetrics from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of London. She was appointed as an Assistant Surgeon in the Orissa medial service in 12th June, 1938. So, according to the records, Binapani’s birth date was determined to be April 10, 1910, which was also verified by her father and acknowledged as the true date of birth that was mentioned there. Construing to the same, the Government of Orissa registered the same as it is. As asserted by the employees retiring after December 1, 1962, the age of superannuation was raised to 58 years from the age of 55. A writ petition under Article 226 of the constitution of India was also filed at the High Court of Orissa, asserting the fact that the State Government’s retirement decision was unconstitutional and it also violated constitutional law and natural justice principles. Additionally, certain anonymous letters were received by the state’s accountant general, petitioning the explanation why the birth certificate issued had not been validated and the same if exposed to the enquiry is not notified to the respondent in the present case therefore the respondent claiming the breach of natural justice.

Issues Rose In State Of Orissa V Binapani Dei Case

The following issues were rose in State Of Orissa V Binapani Dei Case –

  1. Why the verification of the date of birth of the respondent was done wrong?
  2. Is it possible that the age that is allegedly reaffixed by the government authorities will fall under the new Act passed by the state government for the superannuation process regarding the increase in age?
  3. Whether the pension will be given to the respondent according to the new retirement act?

Judgment of State Of Orissa V Binapani Dei Case

The Hon’ble Supreme Court decided and emphasized the correct verification of the age and the date of birth of the respondent as it was one of the most important factor for the retirement and accordingly the pension has to be decided. In the case of Binapani, the date of birth was arranged on the registers of the government authorities and the institution arbitrarily thus detaining her from doing her job and there was a compulsory retirement that was imposed on her as according to the arbitrary listing of the age, she became eligible to retirement. The Supreme Court of India set aside the decision of the state government regarding the arbitrary listing of Binapani’s age in the register and show causing her to justify for the same. In its decision, the Supreme Court also made the state government responsible for e arbitrary listing of the age contrary to the real age of the respondent and also acting contrary to the principle of natural justice and the principle of ‘Audi Alteram Partem’.

Analysis of the case

As the respondent, named Binapani Dei was an MBBS holder of Punjab University and a diploma holder in gynaecology and obstetrics from the madras university and also a diploma holder in obstetrics from the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, she was appointed as an Assistant Surgeon in the Orissa medical service on 12th of June 1938. The respondent had declared concretely that her date of birth was April 10, 1910 and her claim was also concreted by the documentary evidence that was tendered by her father. The same was accepted and also verified as listed in the civil list and also in the history of the services of gazetted officers of the government of Orissa which was maintained by the Accountant General of the State of Orissa. Also, some anonymous letters were received by the accountant general about the mis-stating of the age of the respondent after her admission in the service of the state. In that case, after the enquiry, the respondent was required to prove the fact that why her date of birth should not be considered as April 4, 1907? The respondent also asserted that she had already listed her date correctly while joining the services and the date listed in the school register which was being relied upon by the state was erased, altered or overwritten. So by the letter dated on June 27, 1963, the Orissa government asserted and declared the birth date of the respondent as April 16, 1962 and owing to this order, the respondent was required to be retiring on July 15, 1963.[1]

The application was filed by the respondent in the High Court contending that the decision of the government made mandatory against the respondent was however contrary to law and was against the principle of natural justice. She also claimed that along with the contrary approach to the principle of natural justice, the actions of the state government were somewhere mala fide so that the order of the retirement had certain consequences such as pay loss, status loss and deprivation of service.

My opinion asserts that as the decision was made arbitrarily and with a malafide contention failing to be in contention with the Article 311 of the constitution, the decision was liable to be quashed as irrelevant or void. I am in full countenance with the decision of the High Court as it was held in its decision that the same was, however, contrary to the rules of the services condition and also was in consequence with the removal within Article 311 of the Constitution. It is noteworthy that the respondent, Binapani Dei was not given a fair chance to be heard and showing cause against the action of the state administration that the order was irrelevant and void.[2]

It was very right on the side of the High Court that it did not try to express anything on the aspect of malafide or the deliberate arbitrariness that was contended or claimed by the respondent in the present case and the same cannot be determined in such a petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India and also the appeal has been preferred by the state of Orissa. however, I am in full countenance with the state advocate’s contention that the High Court should not have decided the questions of fact in the writ petition and as such it is evident that the order granted by the government of Orissa regarding the refixation of the date was purely an administrative order, the High Court has no authority to entertain the appeal regarding the decision of the state authorities in refixation of the age of the respondent.[3]

But it is noteworthy and to be borne in mind that under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the High Court is not at all barred from considering the questions of fact that was raised in the petition in the present case. If an aggrieved party seeks some relief under the Article 226 of the Constitution of India, the High Court has the full authority to abstain itself from entering into the enquiry and also refer the part who is claiming the relief to a suit.

In this scenario, in my opinion, the main question to be pondered upon was not of the jurisdiction but of ‘discretion’. The High Court questioned the regularity of the enquiry if made and was discretely of the opinion that the question, whether the state’s actions were arbitrary failed to raise any question about the question of investigation and the same was converted into complicated issues of fact. In this issue, it is ostensible to note that the parties, the state and the respondent have agreed that under the provision of Article 311 of the Constitution of India, there was no enquiry made by the state government. As it was contended by the state that Article 311 holds no significance in this matter as the respondent, Binapani was not terminated from her service at that stage. The state also contended that the state had declared her superannuated with the subtle provisions of the order that had been passed by the state government in accordance with the findings that were received in an enquiry. Here in my view, the state arbitrarily relied upon only one source in regards to the date of birth. In my view, if the state realized the fact that there was some mischief regarding the date of birth of the respondent, the state government should have taken the initiative to scrutinize all the sources and registers of the schools and college in which the respondent was admitted.

As claimed by the respondent that the date of birth which was given by her to the state was accepted by the same, it shows the ill intention of the state and arbitrary nature of changing the original date into another one. It is justifiable to consider and confine to Rule 13 of the Orissa Civil Service Classification, Control and Appeal Rules, 1962 which declares that “compulsory retirement” according to the rules related to the superannuation is not a ‘penalty’.

In my opinion, Binapani, the respondent had the absolute right to continue with the service as an Assistant Surgeon in accordance with the rules of Article 309. And also she cannot be arbitrarily removed from the service prior to superannuation except for “good and sufficient reasons”. Also, I am in countenance with the fact the state had absolutely justified in accepting the date of birth of Binapani in the service register and holding enquiry on sufficient grounds, but such enquiry must have been based on the principles of natural justice which in this was lacking. The deciding authority has an absolute duty to provide the person with a fair chance to establish his defense and a chance to controvert any of the evidences in the possession of the authority that is relied upon against him.

It is ostensibly accepted by my conscience that in case the requisites of justice is being neglected, and also an order to the prejudice of an individual is made, the order or the decision is deemed to be void or a nullity. I would like to clarify both the sides of the contentions by agreeing to the aspect from the side of the state that in 1961, an investigation was initiated through the Vigilance Department as it was informed by the same to the respondent that the state government had the information about her admission into class X in Ravenshaw Girl’s school and her date was 15 years and after when she was admitted into the First year in the college, her age was 17 years and 2 months and also she was show caused on the basis of the same and the entry in the register that why May 9, 1907 should not be considered to be her actual date of birth. But also in 1957, when there were anonymous letters received by the director of health services, no step was initiated to enquire about the same from the respondent.[4]

It was found that from the side of the respondent it was contended that she never attended the Ravenshaw Girl’s school and there were irregularities found in the register of the school regarding entries. It was also revealed that the Director of Family Planning submitted that the registries and the irregularities were not shown to the respondent before and the action was arbitrarily taken by the state government. I shall also lay emphasis on the fact as pin pointed by the High Court that there were four different dates before the state authorities regarding the age of the respondent in Ravenshaw School, admission register in first year, the report of the principal in lady Hardinge medical college and respondent’s statement supported by her father. It is noteworthy in this analysis that the High Court decided that where an enquiry was to be initiated, it was the duty of the state to place before the respondent all the materials and should have asked the respondent to explain about the discrepancies and also to tender the evidence in support of her claim regarding the date of birth.[5]

Also in my opinion, I submit that the previous enquiry was made but the report of that enquiry by the enquiry officer was never shown to the respondent and then after, the respondent was show caused, she was show caused to prove why the date asserted by the state should not be accepted. Also the recording of the evidence was not done and the order was passed, which in my view was an arbitrary move and also contrary to the principle of natural justice. I hereby submit to the fact that however, the order, passed was administrative in nature, but if the administrative order is involving a civil consequence, the respondent has the right to be fairly heard and must be allowed to tender his evidence in support of his claim and must be in consonance with the principle of natural justice which was not construed to by the state government.

[1] Verkuil, Paul R. “PRIVATIZING DUE PROCESS.”, vol. 57 Administrative Law Review.

[2] Imam, Mohammed. “REVIEWABILITY OF COMPULSORY RETIREMENT ORDER.”, vol. 12  Journal of the Indian Law Institute

[3] Pawan Kr. Singh v. State of U.P., (2009) 73 AIC 922 (All)

[4] Johnson, Brian R. “THE GOLDEN GOOSE IN THE CROSSHAIRS: THE TRANSITION TO DEFINED CONTRIBUTION PENSION PLANS IN THE PUBLIC SECTOR: UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.”, vol. 35 Journal of Health and Human Services Administration

[5] Imam, Mohammed., vol. 12 “REVIEWABILITY OF COMPULSORY RETIREMENT ORDER.” Journal of the Indian Law


About Author –

This Article is written by Mridul Sinha. He is a 3rd year student of Dharmashastra National Law University, Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.

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