Writ Jurisdiction Discretion Should Not Ordinarily be Exercised if there is an Alternative Remedy: High Court of New Delhi

The writ jurisdiction is discretionary jurisdiction, and the discretion should not ordinarily be exercised if there is an alternative remedy which is by raising an application in industrial dispute. This honorable judgement was passed by High Court of New Delhi in the case of ONGC Diploma Engineers Technical Association (DETA) v. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. and Ors[W.P.(C) 10482/2019, CM Nos. 43342/2019 & 29274/2020] by Hon’ble Mr. Justice V. Kameswar Rao.

The writ petition was filed by the petitioners seeking implementation of Oil and Natural Gas Commission (Recruitment and Promotion) Regulation 1980 and Modified Recruitment & Promotion Regulation 1997 and for quashing and setting aside the Memorandum of Understanding of 2004 with regard to the recruitment and promotion policy of the Diploma holders who were inducted at A-II level after 2004. Some of facts as noted from the record were that the members of the petitioner association were the Diploma holder who had been appointed in terms of the policy under the MoU. The Diploma holders were promoted to the executive cadre EO / AE after four years. The impugned MoU was signed between the ONGC and recognized unions of ONGC primarily for modifying R&P 1980. This down gradation is unfair, illegal and arbitrary. There was also down gradation in the pay scale from Rs.16,000/- to Rs.12,000/-, as per the revised rates of 2000. Therefore, this difference of eight long years deprives the petitioners, their right to be considered for promotion. The respondents were of the view that the writ petition filed by the appellants should be dismissed by the High Court on the ground of existence of an alternative remedy under the Industrial Disputes Act. It is well settled that writ jurisdiction is discretionary jurisdiction, and the discretion should not ordinarily be exercised if there is an alternative remedy available to the appellant.

The learned council referred the case of ONGC v. Petroleum Coal Labour Union and Ors. (2015) that ONGC being instrumentality of State is covered under Article 12 of the Constitution of India and M.P. Junior Engineers’ Assn. & Sangarsh Samiti v. State of M.P. 1990 Supp. SCC 229

The court opinioned that, “the MoU / MoS has been entered by ONGC with the recognised unions, one of which is before the Conciliation Officer under Section 12(3) & 18 of the ID Act and statutory remedy is available for the petitioners to raise dispute under the ID Act. Hence, it must be held that the appropriate remedy for the petitioners is to raise an industrial dispute and proceed thereof in accordance with law.”

 The court dismissed the petition stating that, “this order has been passed on the application filed by the petitioners for certain reliefs but the issue goes to the root on the maintainability of the petition in view of the statutory remedy available to the petitioners.”

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