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Important Judgements


A.D.M. Jabalpur v. Shiv Kant Shukla (The Habeas Corpus Case), (1976) 2 SCC 521
FACTS IN BRIEF :- On June 25 th, 1975 the President in exercise of powers conferred by clause (1) of
Articles 352 (Proclamation of Emergency) of the Constitution declared that a grave emergency existed
whereby the security of India was threatened by internal disturbances. On June 27 th, 1975 in exercise of
powers conferred by clause (1) of Articles 359 the President declared that the right of any person
including a foreigner to move any court for the enforcement of the rights conferred by Article 14, Article
21 and Article 22 of the Constitution and all proceedings pending in any court for the enforcement of the
abovementioned rights shall remain suspended for the period during which the proclamations of
emergency made under clause (1) of Article 352 of the Constitution on December 3 rd, 1971 and on June
25 th, 1975 were in force. The Presidential Order of June 27, 1975 further stated that the same shall be in
addition to and not in derogation of any order made before the date of the aforesaid order under clause
(1) of Article 359 of the Constitution.
On January 8 th, 1976 there was a notification passed in the exercise of powers conferred by clause (1) of
Article 359 of the Constitution whereby the President declared that the right of any person to move any
to court for the enforcement of the rights conferred by Article 19 of the Constitution and all proceedings
pending in any court for the enforcement of the abovementioned rights would remain suspended for the
period during which the proclamation of emergency made under clause (1) of Article 352 of the
Constitution on December 3 rd, 1971 and on June 25 th, 1975 were in force. Several illegal detentions
were thereupon made across the country, pursuant to which various writ petitions were filed throughout
the country. Nine High Courts gave decision in favour of detunes, holding that that though Article 21
cannot be enforced, yet the order of detention was open to challenge on other grounds such as that the
order passed was not in compliance of the Act or was mala fide. Against these orders, many appeals were
filed before the Supreme Court. Disposing of all the appeals together, the Supreme Court set aside that the
decisions of the High Courts which had held the declaration and the subsequent detentions as illegal and
upheld the declaration and suspension of the said rights.
ARGUMENTS:- Before the Supreme Court, the Attorney General pleaded that Article 21 of the
Constitution, fundamental right which provides for security of life and liberty of any person, had been
suspended and therefore, the suspension of that Article meant that the detenu had no remedy even
against an illegal detention i.e. all the remedy to secure life and the personal freedom ended with the
suspension of Article 21. The detunes agued that they had a right to seek remedy under Article 226
(Power of HC to issue Writs) and therefore a remedy against illegal detention was available to them
despite the suspension of Article 21 as the remedy under Article 226 which provided for enforcing any
other legal right, was not suspended by the Presidential Order.
JUDGMENTS: – Marking the black day of Indian legal history, the Supreme Court rejected the arguments
of the Respondents and held that Article 21 of the Constitution was the sole repository of right to life and
liberty and therefore, the suspension of it implied that all the remedies protecting this right under any
other law shall also be suspended. The Court while construing Article 21 as the sole repository of life and
personal liberty denied all available remedies to the detenus on any ground that any challenge to the
detention order for the enforcement of the right to personal liberty under Article 21 could not be so done
on account of the presidential order suspending it being in force. The majority further held that even the
order of detention could not be challenged even on any other ground, even if the detention order was
passed mala fide, rendering the detenu without any remedy even against an illegal detention. Therefore,
the Court declared, “in view of the Presidential Order dated June 27 th, 1975 no person has any locus
standi to move any writ petition under Article 226 before a High Court for habeas corpus or any other
writ or order or direction to challenge the legality of an order of detention on the ground that the order is
not under or in compliance with the Act or is illegal or is vitiated by mala fides factual or legal or is based
on extraneous considerations”, closing its doors to any sort of relief whatsoever to any person suffering
from illegal detention.
FOR COMMON MAN:- Dubbed as “a scar on Indian Judiciary”, the judgment exposed the dangers facing
the Constitution (read total anarchy) if the judicial wing was unwilling to stand firm and intolerant to
violation of constitutional mandate. However Justice Khanna, who gave the dissenting judgment, was
praised for his integrity of duty to deliver justice. Later, with the next government came in power, the
Constitution was amended whereby it was provided that Article 21 could not be ever suspended, even in
case of emergency. Thus the reoccurrence of such a situation has been amended by a Constitutional
Amendment where the right of life and personal liberty cannot be suspended in any situation.

Ajit Singh (II) v. State of Punjab, (1999) 7 SCC 209
FACTS IN BRIEF :- The Indian Railways issued a circular on February 28 th, 1997 to the effect that the
reserved candidates promoted at roster points could not claim seniority over the senior general
candidates promoted later. This was done following the law laid down by the Supreme Court – that it was
“permissible” to follow that reserved candidates who get promotion at the roster points would not be
entitled to claim seniority at the promotional level as against senior general candidates who got
promoted at a later point of time to the same level and that “it would be open” to the State to provide that
as and when the senior general candidate got promoted to the level to which the reserved candidate was
promoted earlier, the general candidate would have to be treated as senior to the reserved candidate at
the promotional level as well, unless, of course, the reserved candidate got a further promotion by that
time to a higher post. Similarly, the State of Punjab was proceeding to revise seniority lists and make
further promotions of the senior general candidates who had reached the level to which the reserved
candidates had reached earlier.
At that point of time, another three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court held that the general rule in the
Service Rules relating to seniority from the date of continuous officiation would be attracted even to the
roster point promotees as otherwise there would be discrimination against the reserved candidates. In
light of above two contrary decisions, State was in a quandary what to do and the same was brought
before the Supreme Court wherein the issues inter alia were;
 Could the roster point promotees (reserved category) count their seniority in the promoted
category from the date of their continuous officiation vis-à-vis the general candidates who were
senior to them in the lower category and who were later promoted to the same level?
 Whether the ‘catch-up’ principles claimed by the general candidates are tenable?
JUDGMENT:- The judgment of the Court can be summarized as follows;
 The roster point promotees (reserved category) could not count their seniority in the promoted
category from the date of their continuous officiation in the promoted post vis-à-vis the general
candidates who were senior to them in the lower category and who were later promoted. On the
other hand, the senior general candidate at the lower level, if he reached the promotional level
later but before the further promotion of the reserved candidate would have to be treated as
senior, at the promotional level, to the reserved candidate even if the reserved candidate was
earlier promoted to that level.
 The Apex Court held that decision of Jagdishlal v. State of Haryana (AIR 1997 SC 2366) arrived at
an incorrect conclusion because of applying a rule of continuous officiation which was not
intended to apply to the reserved candidates promoted at roster points. There was no conflict in
the principles laid down in the two judgments of Union of India v. Virpal Singh (1993) 6 SCC 685
and Ajit Singh Januja v. State of Punjab (1996) 2 SCC 215. In Ajit Singh the Court had to consider
the validity of such a Circular dated 19.7.69 which positively declared that the “roster points were
seniority points. Thus, the decision in Ajit Singh was correct.
 In case any senior general candidate at initial level (suppose L-3) reached next level before the
reserved candidate (roster point promotee) at next level (i.e. L-2) goes further up to higher level
(L-1), then the seniority at next level (i.e. L-2) had to be modified by placing such a general
candidate above the roster promotee, reflecting their inter se seniority at Level 2. Further
promotion to higher level (L-1) must be on the basis of such a modified seniority at L-2, namely,
that the senior general candidate of L-3 will remain senior also at L-2 to the reserved candidate,
even if the latter had reached L-2 earlier
 After decision in Ajit Singh, it becomes necessary that a reserved candidate who has been
promoted to higher level (say level 2) under reservation quota and the general category candidate
(senior to reserved candidate at level 3) who was promoted to same level (i.e. level 2) later and for
promotion to next level (level 1) the reserved category candidate was promoted to disregard of
general category candidate who was promoted to same level (level 1) later, then in such situations
it become necessary to review the promotion of the reserved candidate to level 1 and reconsider
the same, without causing reversion to the reserved candidate who reached level 1. As and when
the senior reserved candidate was later promoted to level 4, the seniority at level 4 was also to be
re-fixed on the basis of when the reserved candidate at level 3 would have got his normal
promotion, treating him as junior to the senior general candidate at level 3
FOR COMMON MAN:- After the above decision, it is clear that r eserved Category promotees cannot
count their seniority in the promoted category from the date of their continuous officiation in the
promoted post vis-à-vis general candidates who were senior to them in lower category and were later
promoted.

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