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Writ Jurisdiction to be exercised only when the person or authority to whom the same is issued is within its territory: Delhi High Court

Delhi High Court has observed that it can exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution only when the person or authority to whom the same is issued is within its territory.  This was seen in the case of H.S. RAI v UOI & ORS (W.P.(C) 700/2005). The Judgement was presided over by the single judge bench of HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE CHANDRA DHARI SINGH.

Facts of the case-

The petitioner was an employer in Projects and Development India Limited (PDIL). The petitioner was accused of misappropriating the company’s money in the year 2002 by requesting reimbursement of medical expenses for abnormally large amounts by submitting false and fictitious medical claims for himself and his family. The charges against him were proved by the department after the enquiry and he was demoted to subordinate post and lower pay scale by the competent authority. Against this order he moved to Delhi High Court under writ jurisdiction under Article 226 to set aside the impugned order and direct PDIL to reimburse the petitioner to the extent of his entitlement.

It was argued that there is a violation of principles of natural justice, and the lack of proportionality between the charges framed and the punishment meted out to the petitioner. On the other hand The counsel for PDIL engaged with the various allegations of unfairness and illegality levelled against the disciplinary proceedings. However, the most important issue raised by him was that of maintainability. They argued that petitioner had never worked in Delhi and was posted at Sindri, Jharkhand. Further, it was when he was posted at Sindri, that the charges of misappropriation were levelled against him. Subsequently, the charge-sheet was issued, enquiry conducted, and penalty imposed upon him from Sindri. Moreover, PDIL only had an office in Noida, and not in Delhi. Therefore, they argued, that the Delhi High Court did not have the necessary territorial jurisdiction to adjudicate on the matter.

Judgement-

The court relied on the decision of the Supreme court in the case of Kusum Ingots & Alloys Ltd v. Union Of India where the apex court had explained that when an order is passed by a Court or Tribunal or an executive authority whether under provisions of a statute or otherwise, a part of the cause of action arises at that place. When the original authority is constituted at one place and the appellate authority is constituted at another, a writ petition would be maintainable in both places.

The court observed “The petitioner herein is seeking issuance of writ against an authority, that is, the PDIL, which does not have any office, much less its registered office, in Delhi. The order of penalty which has been assailed before this Court was passed in Jharkhand after enquiry proceedings and the report thereto was made in Sindri, Jharkhand. Hence, the respondent no. 2 and 3, as representatives of the PDIL, are not amenable to the jurisdiction of this Court. Therefore, the instant matter does not satisfy the condition under Article 226 (1) of the Constitution of India…All of the necessary cause of action arose within the territory of Jharkhand and not Delhi. The second alternative condition for exercise of writ jurisdiction under Article 226 also does not arise in favour of the petitioner and with this Court.”

The Court finally decided that the original authority as well as the appellate authority both were constituted and made their respective reports and orders at Jharkhand. For that reason, the petitioner could not have approached the Delhi High Court merely on the ground of being a resident of Delhi.

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Judgement reviewed by Utkarsh Sahu

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