All claims based on the Larsgess Scheme must now be closed: Supreme Court of India
The court dismissed a petition requiring it to invoke Article 32 seeking a grant of relief under Larsgess Scheme that was terminated in 2017. The scheme enabled a certain category of railway employees to seek ‘voluntary retirement’ after they complete a service of 33 years or reach an age group of 55-57 years and can seek appointment of their wards in their place. In the matter of Manjit and Ors vs Union of India and Anr [Writ Petition (Civil) No 78 of 2021], the petition was called on for hearing on 29-01-2021 with a three bench of Hon’ble Dr. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Hon’ble Ms. Justice Indira Banerjee and Hon’ble Mr.Justice Sanjiv Khanna.
The dispute in this case was related to the Larsgess Scheme adopted by the Railway Administration. In 2016, Punjab and Haryana High Court asked Union of India to reconsider the scheme since it provided an entry to certain wards without undergoing competitive selection consistent with the requirements under Article 14 and Article 16 of the Indian Constitution. The petition sought relief for writ of mandamus to the Union of India to appoint the petitioners in their respective cadres. The reliefs cited under Article 32 were as following:
“(a) Issue a writ in the nature of mandamus directing the respondent to appoint the petitioners in their respective cadres; and
(b) Issue any other appropriate writ, order or direction in the facts and circumstances of the case.”
In 2018, the court ordered Union of India to take a conscious decision within a specified period and the Union of India terminated the scheme henceafter. Following the decision, this Court disposed a matter in 2019 by observing that since the Scheme stands terminated and is no longer in existence, nothing further need be done in it. The Scheme provided a back door entry to the railways which was fundamentally at odds with Article 16 of the Constitution.
In a subsequent order dated 26 March 2019, which was rendered in Writ Petition (C) No 219 of 2019 (Narinder Siraswal v Union of India), a Bench of two Judges permitted the petitioners to approach the authorities with an appropriate representation with a direction to consider it.
In view of the above factual background, the court observed that “we are not inclined to entertain the petition under Article 32. The grant of reliefs to the petitioners would only enable them to seek a back door entry contrary to the orders of this Court. The Union of India has correctly terminated the Scheme and that decision continues to stand.”
The Union government discontinued the scheme with justification. The petitioners can claim neither a vested right nor a legitimate expectation under that scheme, and all the claims based on the scheme must now be closed. With regard to the above facts and circumstances, the court dismissed the petition.