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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sec.18,19 of Army Act and Art.309,310 and 311 - Doctrine of Pleasure -Doctrine of finality- whether amenable to judicial review on the ground of camouflage- Apex court held No - Some army officers were dismissed from service - all writ petitions are dismissed - wrong corregedum of issued unnecessarily adding 5% cut of in gratuity fund and the word dismissed was mentioned as termination - later the 5% cut of in gratuity fund was rectified - this raised to file several writ petitions alleging illegality, bias or malafide or based on any other extraneous ground, and camouflage. - Apex court held that review of it's own orders on the doctrine of finality is not maintainable when the petitioners failed to prove any illegality, bias or malafide or based on any other extraneous ground and no court should exercise it's right on mere camouflage =UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS … APPELLANT(S) VERSUS MAJOR S.P. SHARMA AND OTHERS … RESPONDENT(S)= 2014 (March. Part )judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41300

   Sec.18,19 of Army Act and Art.309,310 and 311 - Doctrine of Pleasure -Doctrine of finality- whether amenable to judicial review on the ground of camouflage- Apex court held No - Some army officers were dismissed from service - all writ petitions are dismissed - wrong corregedum of issued unnecessarily adding 5% cut of in gratuity fund and the word dismissed was mentioned as termination - later the 5% cut of in gratuity fund was rectified - this raised to file several writ petitions alleging illegality, bias or malafide or  based  on  any  other  extraneous ground, and camouflage.  - Apex court held that review of it's own orders on the doctrine of finality is not maintainable when the petitioners failed to prove any illegality, bias or malafide or based on any other extraneous ground and no court should exercise it's right on mere camouflage =

 High  Court  allowed  the  appeals  preferred  by   the
    respondents and quashed not only their termination orders but also  the
    General Court Martial (hereinafter referred to  as  ‘GCM’)  proceedings
    held against Captain Ashok Kumar Rana and Captain R.S. Rathaur.=
 Out of the 19 officers, 3 officers were tried by  GCM,   two  were
    convicted, namely, Captain Ranbir Singh Rathaur and Captain A.K.  Rana,
    and one was acquitted. Captain Ranbir Singh Rathaur  and  Captain  A.K.
    Rana were sentenced to RI for 14 years each and were cashiered. Against
    13 officers, disciplinary actions were initiated. However,  a  decision
    was taken not to try them and an administrative order under Section  18
    of the Army Act, 1950 (in short “the Army Act”) was passed  terminating
    their services.

3.  The present appeals arise out of the  order  passed  way  back  in  1980
    terminating the services of the respondents herein which  were  brought
    invoking the doctrine of pleasure as enshrined under Article 310 of the
    Constitution  of  India,  1950  (hereinafter   referred   to   as   the
    ‘Constitution’) coupled with the powers to be exercised  under  Section
    18 of the Army Act. 
 Initially, the orders of dismissal were passed  on
    11.1.1980, which  were  assailed  in  nine  writ  petitions  that  were
    dismissed by the High Court of Delhi on 21.4.1980.  The  special  leave
    petitions against these writ petitions came to  be  dismissed  by  this
    Court on 1.9.1980.
 In the meanwhile, a corrigendum came to be issued, as a result  whereof,
    the orders of dismissal were described as  orders  of  termination. 
 On
    account of the substituted  termination order, a decision for deducting
    5% of the gratuity amount was taken,  which  was  communicated  afresh.=
    One  of  the  appeals,  being  LPA
    No.116 of 1985, filed by one N.D. Sharma,  was  decided  vide  judgment
    dated 19.8.1986  upholding  the  order  of  termination  approving  the
    applicability of the doctrine of pleasure.  However, at the same  time,
    the appeal was partly allowed in relation to the post-retiral  benefits
    keeping in view the provisions under the Army Act and Rules and it  was
    found that the proposed 5% cut-off  was  not  in  accordance  with  the
    Act/Rules applicable therein.
Several LPAs were filed by other officers relying on the Division  Bench
    judgment extending the post-retiral benefits, and a  plea  for  similar
    relief was raised.

7.  When these appeals came up for hearing, the Division Bench of the  Delhi
    High Court hearing the matter differed with the view on  the  issue  of
    the applicability of doctrine of pleasure and  maintainability  of  the
    writ petitions on the ground of malafides vide order  dated  15.5.1991.
    Consequently, this question of law was referred  to  be  decided  by  a
    larger bench.
The Full Bench so constituted to answer  this  reference  held  that  an
    order under Section 18  of  the  Army  Act  invoking  the  doctrine  of
    pleasure  was  subject  to  judicial   review  if  it  is  assailed  on
    malafides.  It was held that the  onus  lay  on  the  petitioner/person
    alleging malafides and to bring material on record to satisfy the court
    in order to justify the interference.  Aggrieved, the  Union  of  India
    filed the Special Leave Petition, which stood dismissed.=

In the case arising out of these very proceedings reported in  Union  of
    India & Ors. v. Ranbir Singh Rathaur & Ors., (2006) 11  SCC  696,  this
    Court held:

       a) That review of  the  earlier  orders  passed  by  this  court  was

          "impermissible": approach of the High Court of reopening the  case
          was "erroneous"; the issue of maintainability of the petitions was
          of paramount importance:


       b) The finding recorded by the High Court that the entire record  was

          not produced by the Union of India was not factually correct;

       c) To say that "justice  stood  at  the  higher  pedestal"  then  the

          finality of litigation was not an answer  enabling  the  court  to
          reopen a finally decided case;

          (d) Persons behind the false implication  were  not  impleaded  as

              parties; and


          (e) Newspaper reports/statement made by any officer could  not  be

              considered as evidence.

84.  Violation of Fundamental Rights guaranteed under the Constitution  have

      to be protected, but at the same time, it is the duty of the court  to
      ensure that the decisions rendered by the  court  are  not  overturned
      frequently,  that  too,  when  challenged  collaterally  as  that  was
      directly  affecting  the   basic   structure   of   the   Constitution
      incorporating the power of judicial review of this Court. There is  no
      doubt that this Court has an extensive power to correct an error or to
      review its decision but that cannot be done at the cost of doctrine of
      finality. An issue of law can be overruled later on, but a question of
      fact or, as in the present  case,  the  dispute  with  regard  to  the
      termination of services cannot be reopened once it  has  been  finally
      sealed in proceedings inter-se between the parties up  to  this  Court
      way back in 1980.

85.   The term ‘dismissal’ in the original  order  was  substituted  by  the

      term  ‘termination’  issuing  the  corrigendum  to  ratify  a  mistake
      committed while issuing the order. In fact,  the  competent  authority
      had taken a decision only to terminate, and  therefore  it  was  found
      necessary  to  issue  the  corrigendum.  However,  in  view  of   such
      substitution of word ‘dismissal’ by the term ‘termination’,  does  not
      tilt the balance in favour of the respondents. More so, as pointed out
      by Mr. Paras Kuhad, learned ASG that the  proposed  5%  deduction  had
      been withdrawn, and therefore the issue did not survive.
86.   Analysing entire facts of the case and the material produced in  Court
      and upon an exhaustive consideration of the  matter,  we  are  of  the
      definite opinion that the power of pleasure exercised by the President
      in terminating the services of the respondents does  not  suffer  from
      any illegality, bias or malafide or  based  on  any  other  extraneous
      ground, and the same cannot be challenged on the ground that it  is  a
      camouflage.  As discussed above,  the  onus  lay  on  the  respondent-
      officers who alleged malafides.   No  credible  evidence  or  material
      produced before the Court impels us to come to the conclusion that the
      order of termination is baseless or malafide.
87.  For the reasons aforesaid, these appeals are allowed and  the  judgment
    and order passed by  the  Delhi  High  Court  is  set  aside.   Ordered
    accordingly. No costs.
2014 (March. Part )judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=41300

B.S. CHAUHAN, J. CHELAMESWAR, M.Y. EQBAL

                                                                REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                     CIVIL APPEAL NOs.2951-2957 OF 2001
UNION OF INDIA AND OTHERS           …     APPELLANT(S)
                                   VERSUS
MAJOR S.P. SHARMA AND OTHERS       … RESPONDENT(S)

                                  JUDGMENT

M.Y. EQBAL, J.:


1.  These appeals have been filed against  the  common  judgment  and  order
    dated 21.12.2000 passed by Delhi High Court in L.P.A. Nos. 4, 43,  139,
    148 of 1987, 21 of 1988, 77 of 1993 and  86  of  1994.    By  the  said
    judgment,  the  High  Court  allowed  the  appeals  preferred  by   the
    respondents and quashed not only their termination orders but also  the
    General Court Martial (hereinafter referred to  as  ‘GCM’)  proceedings
    held against Captain Ashok Kumar Rana and Captain R.S. Rathaur.
2.  Before we proceed with the matter, it would be appropriate to  highlight
    the factual background and brief history of the case.
           In February 1971, Gunner Sarwan Dass was cultivated  by  Pakistan
    Intelligence. In 1972 Captain Ghalwat and Gunner  Sarwan  Dass  crossed
    the international border. In 1973 Captain  Ghalwat  and  Gunner  Sarwan
    Dass were posted in  Babina  (M.P.).  In  1974  Gunner  Aya  Singh  was
    cultivated by Gunner Sarwan Dass for Pak Intelligence.  Captain  Nagial
    was then cultivated by Aya Singh for Pak Intelligence. In 1975 for  the
    first time the espionage racket came  to  be  noticed.  Aya  Singh  and
    Sarwan Dass were arrested. In 1976-77 pursuant  to  the  investigation,
    three more jawans were arrested. They corroborated the  involvement  of
    Sarwan Dass.  Sarwan  Dass  and  Aya  Singh  on  further  interrogation
    disclosed the names of Captain Ghalwat and Captain Nagial.  In  1976-77
    Captain  Ghalwat  and  Captain  Nagial  were  tried  by  GCM  and  were
    convicted. Ghalwat was cashiered and given 14  years’  RI.  Nagial  was
    given 7 years’ RI and was also cashiered. In addition, 12  jawans  were
    tried and they were given RI of various descriptions and were dismissed
    from services. Aya Singh and Sarwan Dass were also among the 12  jawans
    tried and held guilty. Later in 1978 it was discovered that  Aya  Singh
    was holding back certain relevant  information  relating  to  espionage
    activities under certain alleged threat and pressure. Wife of Aya Singh
    claimed to be killed. Reeling under the shock of the circumstances,  he
    made further disclosures wherein he named Captain Rathaur  and  Captain
    A.K. Rana; disclosed that he had been  receiving  threats  that  if  he
    disclosed anything his wife  would  be  killed.  Accordingly,  in  1978
    Captain Rathaur and Captain A.K. Rana were interrogated.  As a  result,
    42 army personnel i.e. 19  officers,  4  junior  commissioned  officers
    (JCOs) and 19 other ranks (ORs), were arrested.
          Out of the 19 officers, 3 officers were tried by  GCM,   two  were
    convicted, namely, Captain Ranbir Singh Rathaur and Captain A.K.  Rana,
    and one was acquitted. Captain Ranbir Singh Rathaur  and  Captain  A.K.
    Rana were sentenced to RI for 14 years each and were cashiered. Against
    13 officers, disciplinary actions were initiated. However,  a  decision
    was taken not to try them and an administrative order under Section  18
    of the Army Act, 1950 (in short “the Army Act”) was passed  terminating
    their services.

3.  The present appeals arise out of the  order  passed  way  back  in  1980
    terminating the services of the respondents herein which  were  brought
    invoking the doctrine of pleasure as enshrined under Article 310 of the
    Constitution  of  India,  1950  (hereinafter   referred   to   as   the
    ‘Constitution’) coupled with the powers to be exercised  under  Section
    18 of the Army Act.  Initially, the orders of dismissal were passed  on
    11.1.1980, which  were  assailed  in  nine  writ  petitions  that  were
    dismissed by the High Court of Delhi on 21.4.1980.  The  special  leave
    petitions against these writ petitions came to  be  dismissed  by  this
    Court on 1.9.1980.

4.  In the meanwhile, a corrigendum came to be issued, as a result  whereof,
    the orders of dismissal were described as  orders  of  termination.  On
    account of the substituted  termination order, a decision for deducting
    5% of the gratuity amount was taken,  which  was  communicated  afresh.
    These orders made a fresh ground of challenge before a  learned  Single
    Judge of the Delhi High Court.  The learned Single Judge dismissed  the
    petition by a detailed judgment dated 22.3.1985.   Simultaneously,  one
    Captain R.S. Rathaur had filed a Writ Petition No.1577  of  1985  under
    Article 32 of the Constitution before this Court, which stood dismissed
    refusing to re-open the issues already decided.

5.  Against the order of the learned Single Judge dated  22.3.1985,  several
    Letters Patent Appeals were filed.   One  of  the  appeals,  being  LPA
    No.116 of 1985, filed by one N.D. Sharma,  was  decided  vide  judgment
    dated 19.8.1986  upholding  the  order  of  termination  approving  the
    applicability of the doctrine of pleasure.  However, at the same  time,
    the appeal was partly allowed in relation to the post-retiral  benefits
    keeping in view the provisions under the Army Act and Rules and it  was
    found that the proposed 5% cut-off  was  not  in  accordance  with  the
    Act/Rules applicable therein.

6.  Several LPAs were filed by other officers relying on the Division  Bench
    judgment extending the post-retiral benefits, and a  plea  for  similar
    relief was raised.

7.  When these appeals came up for hearing, the Division Bench of the  Delhi
    High Court hearing the matter differed with the view on  the  issue  of
    the applicability of doctrine of pleasure and  maintainability  of  the
    writ petitions on the ground of malafides vide order  dated  15.5.1991.
    Consequently, this question of law was referred  to  be  decided  by  a
    larger bench.

8.  The Full Bench so constituted to answer  this  reference  held  that  an
    order under Section 18  of  the  Army  Act  invoking  the  doctrine  of
    pleasure  was  subject  to  judicial   review  if  it  is  assailed  on
    malafides.  It was held that the  onus  lay  on  the  petitioner/person
    alleging malafides and to bring material on record to satisfy the court
    in order to justify the interference.  Aggrieved, the  Union  of  India
    filed the Special Leave Petition, which stood dismissed.

9.   It appears that after the answer  of  reference,  the  pending  appeals
    were taken up for decision by the High Court.  On account of the answer
    given by the Full Bench, fresh petitions were filed by  those  officers
    whose petitions had been dismissed earlier upto this Court as  referred
    to hereinabove, in 1980.  Some writ petitioners,  whose  petitions  had
    been dismissed by learned Single Judge, filed  Letters  Patent  Appeals
    with applications for condonation of delay.  Appeals  were  also  filed
    against those  judgments  that  were  given  in  the  second  round  of
    litigation proposing to refuse 5% of the terminal benefits referred  to
    hereinabove.  These categories  of  petitions  were  described  by  the
    Division Bench hearing the matter in its order dated 2.5.1995, as under
    :-
             “LPA 77/93 & CM 823/95


             In these batch of cases, we find there are at least  two  LPAs
           which are directed against the Judgments  of  dismissal  of  the
           writ petitions holding that the particular issue cannot be  gone
           into in writ jurisdiction. Learned counsel for the appellants in
           those two cases rely upon the Full Bench Judgment and the recent
           Supreme Court Judgment to contend that the  issue  can  be  gone
           into by the Court. They have also wanted us to call for  certain
           records from the respondents and in  regard  to  those  records,
           respondents are claiming privilege and that is a  matter  to  be
           decided.


             There is another group of cases in which fresh writ  petitions
           are filed on the ground that notwithstanding  the  dismissal  of
           the earlier writ petitions or dismissal  of  the  S.L.Ps,  fresh
           writ petitions are maintainable inasmuch as it is only now  that
           the Full Bench and the  Supreme  Court  have  decided  that  the
           particular issue can be gone into by the  High  Court.  In  that
           batch  of  cases  the  question  of  res  judicata   falls   for
           consideration.


             There is yet another group of cases where writ petitions  were
           dismissed by the learned Single Judges on the  ground  that  the
           Court cannot go into the issue and the LPAs were preferred  with
           application for condonation of delay with delay of more  than  9
           years.


            There is yet another group of cases where writ  petitions  were
           filed against  some  latter  orders  passed  by  the  Government
           imposing a cut of 5% from the pension and upon dismissal of  the
           writ petitions challenging the said orders, LPAs have been filed
           and in those appeals the appellants want to take up  the  issue,
           that the Court  can  go  into  the  validity  of  the  order  of
           dismissal order once again.


            Inasmuch as there are four classes of cases, we are of the view
           that first we should decide the batch where fresh writ petitions
           are filed, and in case we hold that  fresh  writ  petitions  are
           maintainable, then the question  of  going  into  the  privilege
           claimed by the respondents will have to be decided. If the fresh
           writ petitions are held  to  be  maintainable,  then  the  batch
           wherein appeals are filed with  delay  condonation  applications
           can also be taken up for consideration. In one case the question
           of laches is to be decided whereas in another  the  question  of
           sufficient   cause   for   condonation   of   delay   fall   for
           consideration. In the matters challenging  the  orders  imposing
           cut in pension, it will be for the parties to watch the view the
           court may take in other three batches mentioned  above  so  that
           they can pursue one or the other remedies which the  Court  will
           be able to accept.
            Therefore, we will first take up  fresh  writ  petitions  filed
           after the passing of the full Court  Judgment  and  the  Supreme
           Court Judgment.”




10. Thereafter two writ petitions that were filed  afresh,  namely,  in  the
    case  of  Major  Subhash  Juneja  and  Harish  Lal  Singh,  were  heard
    separately  and  dealt  with  the  principle  of   res   judicata   and
    constructive res judicata.  The said writ petitions  were  held  to  be
    barred by  law  vide  judgment  dated  8.3.1996.  The  other  connected
    petitions also appeared to have been dismissed as not  maintainable  by
    another Division Bench vide order dated 7.9.1992.


11. The Letters Patent  Appeals  which  were  filed  with  applications  for
    condonation of delay and also against the judgment proposing 5% cut-off
    in the terminal benefits were heard  by  another  Division  Bench  that
    reserved the judgment on 14.8.1998 by passing the following order:

             "LPA Nos.4/87, 43/87, 139/87, 148/87, 21/88, 77/93, 86/94  and
           C.W. Nos.3063/95, 4082/95:


             Synopses have been placed on record.  Mr. Tikku states that by
           17.8.1998,  photocopy  of  the  relevant  record  will  be  made
           available to Court. Originals have been shown to us.
             Judgment reserved."



12.    The Division  Bench  that  went  on  to  reserve  the  said  judgment
    delivered it after almost 3 years and allowed the appeals. Therein,  it
    was held that the proceedings initiated against the writ petitioners as
    also against other officers, who were appellants  in  the  other  LPAs,
    were vitiated as there was no material to support the  impugned  orders
    of termination which were camouflaged and thus, the same  were  subject
    to judicial  review.  Accordingly, vide judgment dated 21.12.2000,  the
    relief of consequential benefits was granted after  setting  aside  the
    order of termination.   The relevant part thereof is extracted herein:

            "On a consideration of all the facts and circumstances  we  are
           of the view that there is no other conclusion possible except to
           say that the orders which are the subject  matter  of  the  writ
           petitions  and  in  the  Letters  Patent  Appeals   are   merely
           camouflage and orders have been passed  for  extraneous  reasons
           under the cloak of innocuous form of orders of  termination.  To
           give an air on verisimilitude the respondents had held the Court
           Martial proceedings which are wholly void.


             Accordingly, we declare that the proceedings initiated against
           the petitioners in the two writ petitions are void  in  law  and
           the orders passed against the other officers, the appellants  in
           L.P.As. are  vitiated  being  without  any  material  and  being
           camouflage. Having  dropped  the  idea  not  to  conclude  Court
           Martial proceedings knowing fully well that  the  officers  were
           likely to be acquitted, without producing relevant record before
           the  concerned  authority  orders  of  termination  were  passed
           flouting all norms.  The  appellants  in  the  L.P.A's  and  the
           petitioners in the two writ petitions are entitled  to  all  the
           consequential benefits. We also hereby declare that  the  orders
           passed against the appellants in the L.P.As are void in law  and
           the conviction  and  sentence  by  the  GCMs  against  the  writ
           petitioners are void in law. Consequently, the judgments of  the
           learned Single Judge which are subject matter in  Latent  Patent
           Appeals are set aside and the writ petitions in those cases  are
           allowed and the Letters Patent Appeals stand allowed and the two
           writ petitions also stand allowed. All the writ petitions  stand
           allowed to the above extent indicated and other  reliefs  prayed
           for cannot be considered by this Court and it  is  for  the  law
           makers to attend to the same. There shall  be  no  order  as  to
           costs."


13. Another relevant event in this journey of  judicial  conflict  which  is
    worth mentioning is that  two  officers,  namely,  Subhash  Juneja  and
    Harish Lal Singh, whose writ petitions had been dismissed on the ground
    of constructive res judicata, filed special leave petitions  that  were
    converted to Civil Appeal Nos. 1931 and 1932 of 1997 and  were  finally
    dismissed by a  three-Judge  Bench  of  this  Court  vide  order  dated
    23.4.2003, which is quoted as under:

            "The grievance of the appellants that is sought to be  agitated
           in these appeals is already settled by an  earlier  judgment  of
           the Delhi High Court in a Writ Petition filed by the  appellants
           themselves. The appellants herein challenged the  said  judgment
           by filing  Special  Leave  Petitions  and  those  Special  Leave
           Petitions having been dismissed by this Court,  the  contentions
           raised by them have been finally decided against the  appellants
           herein.
                       The appellants are now trying  to  re-agitate  those
           issues because the High Court in some other  case  has  taken  a
           different view. Mr. Yogeshwar Prasad, the learned senior counsel
           appearing for the appellants states that these cases  should  be
           heard along with the cases of Union of India which  are  pending
           against the latter view of the High Court. We find no reason  to
           do so. The  contention  of  the  appellant  raised  was  rightly
           dismissed by the High Court in the impugned judgment by applying
           the principles of constructive res  judicata.  The  appeals  are
           accordingly dismissed."
                                                            (Emphasis added)


14. Thus, it can be seen from the narration of facts hereinabove  that  with
    regard to some  of  the  officers,  who  were  involved  in  this  very
    incident, the evidence which had already  been  assessed  by  the  High
    Court, had been looked into and it  was  found  that  the  doctrine  of
    pleasure had been upheld  in  the  earlier  round  of  litigation  and,
    therefore, the matter stood foreclosed and could not be  reopened.  The
    adjudication, therefore, between the Union of India who is the  present
    appellant and the officers  who  were  involved  in  the  same  set  of
    incidents had attained finality up  to  this  Court.  It  was  in  this
    background that the Union of India filed the appeals in the  year  2001
    against the judgment dated  21.12.2000  referred  to  hereinabove.  The
    judgment  dated  21.12.2000  in  relation  to  all  the  four  sets  of
    litigations that have been referred to by the High Court in  its  order
    dated 2.5.1995 is, therefore,  extracted hereinabove.

15. The appeals filed by the Union  of  India,  pending  before  this  Court
    against the judgment dated 21.12.2000, were split into two parts by the
    order of this Court dated 14.2.2006, which is extracted herein:

           "C.A. Nos.2949-2950/2001:

           Arguments heard.

           Judgment reserved.
           The entire original record including the administrative receipts
           be called for either by FAX or by telephonic message immediately
           by the Registrar (Judicial).
           C.A.Nos.2951-2957/2001:
           De-linked.
           These  matters  shall  be  heard  separately.  List  after  four
           months."



16. Accordingly, the arguments were heard and judgment was reserved  in  the
    matter arising out of the two writ petitions  filed  by  Ranbir   Singh
    Rathaur  and Ashok  Kumar  Rana  alongwith which delinked  seven   LPAs
    were  also disposed of  even though it was  observed  by   this   Court
    that  they   arose  out  of  the  same    incident.   This  Court  vide
    judgment dated 22.3.2006 in   the case of Union of  India  &  Ors.  vs.
    Ranbir Singh Rathaur & Ors.,  (2006) 11 SCC  696  reversed the judgment
    of the High Court dated 21.12.2000 vis-a-vis the  two  writ   petitions
    and held as follows:


           "On a bare reading of the High Court's order and  the  averments
           in the writ petitions, one thing is crystal clear that there was
           no definite allegation against any person  who  was  responsible
           for the so-called manipulation. It is also not clear as  to  who
           were the parties in the writ petitions  filed.  In  the  grounds
           indicated in the writ petitions it was stated that there  is  no
           bar or impediment on the High Court reviewing  the  petitioner's
           case as also connected cases to enquire into the validity of the
           acts done against the writ  petitioner.  Therefore,  it  was  an
           accepted position that the writ petitioners wanted review of the
           High Court's order, which is clearly  impermissible.  No  ground
           for seeking such review apparently was made out. In any event we
           feel that the High Court's approach is  clearly  erroneous.  The
           present appellants in the counter-affidavit filed had  raised  a
           preliminary objection as regards the maintainability of the writ
           petitions and had requested the  High  Court  to  grant  further
           opportunity if the  necessity  so  arises  to  file  a  detailed
           counter-affidavit after the preliminary objections were decided.
           The High Court in fact in one of the  orders  clearly  indicated
           that the preliminary objections were to be  decided  first.  But
           strangely it did  not  do  so.  It  reserved  the  judgment  and
           delivered the final judgment after about three years.  There  is
           also dispute as to whether the relevant documents were produced.
           What baffles us is that in the High Court, records with original
           documents were shown to it and the Bench wanted the copies to be
           filed. In the impugned judgment the High Court proceeded on  the
           basis as if only a few pages of the files were  shown.  If  that
           was really the case, there was no necessity for the  High  Court
           to direct the  present  appellants  to  file  copies.  If  after
           perusal of the documents the High Court felt that these were not
           sufficient the same would have been stated. But  that  does  not
           appear to have been done. The High Court also had not  discussed
           as to how the matters which stood concluded could he reopened in
           the manner done. No sufficient grounds have been even  indicated
           as to why the High Court felt it necessary to do so. To say that
           though finality had been achieved, justice  stood  at  a  higher
           pedestal is not an answer to the basic question  as  to  whether
           the High Court was competent to reopen the whole issue which had
           become concluded. The persons whom  the  High  Court  felt  were
           responsible for alleged manipulation  or  persons  behind  false
           implication were not impleaded as parties. Newspaper reports are
           not to be  considered  as  evidence.  The  authenticity  of  the
           newspaper reports was not established by the  writ  petitioners.
           Even otherwise,  this  could  not  have  been  done  in  a  writ
           petition,  as  disputed  questions  of  fact   were   apparently
           involved. The matters which the High Court found  to  have  been
           established were really not so. The conclusions  were  based  on
           untested materials, and the writ petitioners had not established
           them by evidence. Since the High Court has not  dealt  with  the
           matter in the proper perspective we feel that it would be proper
           for the High Court to rehear the matter. The  High  Court  shall
           first decide the preliminary objections raised  by  the  present
           appellants about the non-maintainability of the writ  petitions.
           Normally such a course is not to be adopted. But in view of  the
           peculiar facts involved, it would be the appropriate  course  to
           be adopted in the present case. Therefore, we remit  the  matter
           to the High Court for fresh hearing.   We  make  it  clear  that
           whatever we have observed  should  not  be  treated  to  be  the
           conclusive findings on the subject-matter  of  controversy.  The
           appeals are allowed without any order as  to  costs.  Since  the
           matter is pending since long,  we  request  the  High  Court  to
           dispose of the matter as early as practicable, preferably within
           four months from the date of receipt of the judgment. No  costs.
           "  (Emphasis added)


On remand, the High Court dismissed the writ petitions vide  judgment  dated
20.12.2007 and the same has been placed on record by the appellants.

So far these appeals are concerned, the High Court by  the  impugned  common
order dated 21.12.2000, not only quashed the  termination  orders  but  also
court martial proceedings held against some of the officers.

The Division Bench of this Court, after hearing the  counsel  appearing  for
the parties and legal contentions urged, formulated   the  following  points
for consideration by a larger bench [Union of India vs. S.P. Sharma,  (2013)
10 SCC 150]:-



           “31. With reference to the aforesaid  rival  factual  and  legal
           contentions  urged,  the  following  points  would   arise   for
           consideration in these appeals:

           31.1. Whether the orders of  termination  passed  by  the  first
           appellant in absence of material evidence and improper  exercise
           of power by the first appellant amount to fraud being played  on
           the respondent officers and are vitiated in law  on  account  of
           legal malafides and legal malice?

           31.2. Whether the order of dismissal of earlier writ proceedings
           and confirming the same by this Court vide order dated  1-9-1980
           in relation to the same respondent officers in C.As. Nos.  2951,
           2954, 2955, 2956 and 2957 of 2001 amounts to doctrine of  merger
           and operates as res judicata against the present appeals?

           31.3. Whether the exercise of doctrine of pleasure under Section
           18 of the Army Act read with Article 310 of the Constitution  by
           the first appellant in the  absence  of  any  material  evidence
           against  the  respondent  officers  and  non-production  of  the
           relevant records/files of these officers render  the  orders  of
           termination as illegal and invalid?

           31.4. Whether the order of termination is arbitrary, capricious,
           unreasonable and violative of Articles 14, 16, 19 and 21 of  the
           Constitution of India?

           31.5. Whether the impugned judgment and order of the High  Court
           is vitiated either on account of erroneous reasoning or error in
           law and warrant interference by this Court?”



20. The learned Additional Solicitor General at the  very  outset  submitted
    that issues involving security of the State were extremely complex  and
    the issue related to  the  expediency  and  desirability  of  retaining
    officers in the Army who had  become  security  suspects.  The  instant
    cases of the respondent officers were examined at various levels in the
    Army Headquarters as also in  the  Central  Government  and  the  final
    decision to exercise the power to pass  an  order  of  termination  was
    taken by it under Section 18 of the Army Act.  Learned  counsel  relied
    upon the judgment of this Court in B.P. Singhal vs. Union  of  India  &
    Ors. (2010) 6 SCC 331  and  contended  that  the  parameters  that  are
    required to be taken into consideration for  exercise  of  power  under
    Article 310 of the Constitution are varied. Several of these parameters
    entail evaluation of issues relevant to the security of the State.  The
    factors that form the basis of exercise of power under Article  310  of
    the Constitution cannot be said to be  objective  parameters  that  are
    amenable to judicially manageable standards. The reasons that form  the
    basis of exercise of power under  Article  310  can  extend  to  varied
    levels of subjective assessments and evaluations  in  entailing  expert
    knowledge as to issues of security of the State. In that  view  of  the
    matter it is submitted that exercise of power of judicial review  would
    accord great latitude to the bona fide evaluation made by the competent
    authorities in the course of discharge of the duties.  The  correctness
    of the opinion formed or the sufficiency of material forming the  basis
    of their decision  to  pass  an  order  of  termination  would  not  be
    subjected to judicial scrutiny of either the High Court or this  Court.
    Further, placing strong reliance upon B.P. Singhal case, (supra) it  is
    contended by the learned Additional Solicitor General that exercise  of
    power of judicial review under Article 310 is extremely narrow  and  is
    limited to only one parameter, namely,  violation  of  fundamentals  of
    constitutionalism. The standard of judicial review which applies to the
    case of exercise of executive  or  statutory  or  quasi-judicial  power
    cannot be extended to the case of  judicial  review  of  constitutional
    power under Article 310. Learned counsel submitted that the  fact  that
    Article 311 does not apply to the case of officers/employees  of  armed
    forces, the power under  Article  309  also  cannot  be  exercised  for
    limiting the ambit of Article 310. The Army Act is an  enactment  under
    Article  309.  The  aforesaid  legal  principle   has   been   followed
    consistently in  all  subsequent  decisions  of  this  Court.  In  this
    connection learned counsel relied upon  the judgment of this  Court  in
    Moti Ram Deka vs. North  East  Frontier  Railways  (1964)  5  SCR  683.
    Further, the Constitution Bench of this Court in Ram Sarup vs. Union of
    India,  AIR  1965  SC  247  with  reference  to  Article  33   of   the
    Constitution, has laid down limitations provided on  the  applicability
    of fundamental rights guaranteed to the officers/employees of the  Army
    under Articles 14, 16 and 21 of the Constitution and under  Section  21
    of the Army Act. He has further contended that each of  the  provisions
    of the Army Act also carries the sanction  of  Parliament  against  the
    applicability of all other fundamental rights contained under Part  III
    of the Constitution to the extent to which the rights contained in  the
    fundamental rights are inconsistent with the  provisions  of  the  Army
    Act.  The  aforesaid  enunciation  of  law  has  again  been   followed
    consistently by this Court in subsequent decisions.

21. The learned Additional Solicitor General further  contended  that  in  a
    matter of civilian employees, Article 311 represents a limitation  over
    the absoluteness of pleasure doctrine contained in Article 310. In Moti
    Ram Deka (supra)  and in the subsequent cases,  this  Court  laid  down
    that Article 311 introduces a twofold procedural safeguard in favour of
    an employee/officer in relation to the exercise of  pleasure  doctrine.
    However, Article 311 applies  only  in  cases  of  punishment  and  not
    otherwise. The  availability  of  the  safeguards  provided  for  under
    Article 311 is contingent upon and limited to cases where the power  of
    termination of services of an  employee/officer  is  exercised  by  the
    disciplinary authority by  way  of  punishment.  The  applicability  of
    Article 311 of the Constitution being dependent on the  factum  of  the
    order of termination being in the  nature  of  a  punishment,  judicial
    review undertaken in case of civilian employees entails  the  necessity
    for and the power of determining as to whether the order impugned is in
    the nature of a  punishment  or  not.  The  doctrine  of  “foundation”,
    “camouflage” and the principles of judicial  review,  encompassing  the
    necessity and the power of determining, whether the order  impugned  is
    by way of a punishment  is  thus  a  direct  emanation  and  a  logical
    corollary of the nature of enquiry warranted when Article  311  applies
    to a case.

22. Since the provisions of Article 311 of the  Constitution  admittedly  do
    not apply to  these  cases,  it  relates  to  the  domain  of  civilian
    employees/officers  service  jurisprudence,  which  is  controlled   by
    Article 311, cannot be invoked in the  case  of  employees/officers  of
    armed forces. Since the protection of Article 311 cannot be claimed  in
    the case of employees of armed forces, no enquiry  as  to  whether  the
    order is by way of  a  punishment,  which  is  the  sine  qua  non  for
    applicability of Article 311, is warranted. The legal issue requires to
    be considered by this Court in the context of the fact as to whether by
    virtue of anything contained in the language  of  Article  310  or  the
    other provisions of the Constitution, the  constitutional  power  under
    Article 310 can be construed to be  limited  to  cases  of  termination
    simpliciter. It is contended on behalf of the appellants  that  neither
    the language of Article 310 nor any other provision of the Constitution
    warrants adoption of such a narrow construction. Further,  the  learned
    Additional  Solicitor  General  has  contended  that  this  Court   has
    consistently held that the ambit of the doctrine of pleasure, contained
    under Article 310, is an absolute power, save to  the  extent  provided
    otherwise by an express provision of the Constitution. The only express
    limitation on the power of Article 310 exists under the Constitution in
    relation to the tenure of certain constitutional functionaries such  as
    the Hon’ble Judges of the High Court and the Supreme Court. He  further
    contends, placing reliance upon Moti Ram Deka (supra) that  this  Court
    has laid down the legal principle; that the ambit  of  Article  310  is
    circumscribed only by the provisions  of  Article  311  and  that  even
    Article 309 does not circumscribe the said  power.  The  conferment  of
    power upon the President of India under  Article  310  is  in  absolute
    terms. Therefore, there is no basis for suggesting that the power under
    Article 310 ought to be construed as excluding the power to dismiss  an
    employee or officer for misconduct. The  very  fact  that  Article  310
    makes the tenure subject to the  absolute  pleasure  of  the  President
    means that the President can exercise the said power for any reason and
    without assigning any cause or reason and this is  precisely  what  has
    been laid down by this  Court  in  B.P.  Singhal  (supra).  He  further
    contends that the power under Article 310 also encompasses the power to
    dismiss an employee or  officer  for  misconduct  and  Article  311  is
    inapplicable in respect of an employee or officer of the armed  forces.
    It is further submitted that in case of armed  forces  scrutiny  of  an
    order passed under Article 310 would neither warrant an enquiry  as  to
    the foundation of the order nor an enquiry as to whether the  order  is
    in the nature of punishment. Therefore, he submits that  the  necessary
    corollary thereof would be that the competent authority is also free to
    abandon any statutory procedure at any stage and  take  resort  to  the
    constitutional power under Article 310 by the  President  to  terminate
    the services of an employee/officer of the armed forces. The  ambit  of
    such power cannot be circumscribed with reference to the concepts  that
    govern  the  exercise  of   the   power   in   relation   to   civilian
    employees/officers.

23. Learned Additional Solicitor General  put  reliance  on  Chief  of  Army
    Staff vs. Major Dharam Pal Kukrety, (1985) 2 SCC 412 where  this  Court
    has also upheld the competent authority’s power to switch over  to  its
    power under Section 18 of the Army Act  upon  abandonment  of  the  GCM
    proceedings  against  its  employees/officers.  The   authorities   are
    competent to take recourse to their statutory power under Section 19 in
    a case where the court  martial  exercise  initiated  by  them  becomes
    futile. It cannot be contended by the officer  that  where  alternative
    powers under the statute can be resorted  to  in  such  situations  the
    authority cannot resort to its constitutional power under  Article  310
    but pass an order of termination against the officer of the Army.  Such
    provision of the statutory power including Section 19 of the  Army  Act
    can be said to be subject to the limitations of the scheme of the  Army
    Act. Power under Article 310, which is constitutional power,  is  wider
    and certainly cannot be subjected to the constraints flowing  from  the
    scheme of the Army Act. It is further contended  that  this  Court  has
    examined the legality and validity of similar orders of termination  in
    exercise of  power  under  Article  310  of  the  Constitution  by  the
    President upholding the orders of termination passed in exercise of the
    aforesaid constitutional statutory provisions.


24. Shri P.P. Rao, learned senior counsel  appearing  for  respondent  Major
    S.P. Sharma, firstly brought to our notice the sequence of  the  events
    happened so far as this respondent  is  concerned.   According  to  the
    learned counsel in spite of unblemished career and academic  experience
    Major Sharma was arrested in 1979 and was lodged  in  a  cell  and  was
    denied the basic facilities.  The said respondent  represented  to  the
    Chief of Army Staff and  Deputy  Chief  of  Army  Staff-GOC  about  the
    inhuman treatment.  However, in 1979 a charge report was handed over to
    the respondent on 14.04.1979 for which he was arrested.  It was alleged
    by the respondent that the army authorities released false,  defamatory
    and fabricated press release stating that the respondent was  the  ring
    leader of the group with 15 others and was spying for Pakistan,  having
    received huge sum in Indian currency  for  passing  of  information  to
    Pakistan about the Indian Army.  A second charge report was handed over
    to the respondent.  Later on a summary of evidence was commenced on the
    basis of false allegation.
             Mr. Rao, then contended that  about  27  prosecution  witnesses
    were examined and all of them spoke about his honesty and integrity and
    uprightness.  Learned senior counsel submitted that  when  the  charges
    against the present respondent were not substantiated he  was  released
    from arrest and suspended from duties.  He was granted leave and  after
    that he  was  recalled  for  duty  and  an  order  of  dismissal  dated
    11.01.1980 was served and handed over to the respondent.  Subsequently,
    by  a  corrigendum  the  order  of  dismissal  of  the  respondent  was
    substituted by an order of termination.

25. Mr. Rao, has not disputed the fact that the said respondent  Major  S.P.
    Sharma filed a writ petition being W.P. No.418 of 1980 challenging  the
    order of dismissal  dated  11.01.1980.   The  said  writ  petition  was
    dismissed by a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court and  against  the
    said order the respondent preferred a  Special  Leave  Petition  before
    this Court being 7225 of 1980 which was also dismissed.  When the order
    of dismissal attained finality, the respondent was served with  a  show
    cause notice as to why a cut-off 5%  in  the  retirement  gratuity  and
    Death-Cum-Retirement Gratuity be not imposed as  his  service  was  not
    satisfactory.  The respondent Sharma again challenged the  said  notice
    by filing a writ petition in the High Court being W.P. No.1643 of 1982.
     In the said Writ Petition the respondent  also  challenged  the  order
    dated 03.03.1980 by which the dismissal was substituted by an order  of
    termination.  The said writ petition was dismissed by the High Court on
    22.03.1985 holding that the said order of termination is a  termination
    simpliciter without being any stigma  attached.   The  said  order  was
    challenged by the respondent by filing LPA No.77 of 1993.   The  matter
    then travelled to a Full Bench and finally concluded  by  the  impugned
    order passed by the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court.

26. Mr. P.P. Rao, learned  senior  counsel  advanced  his  argument  on  the
    points formulated by this Court and  submitted  that  the  second  writ
    petition cannot, at any stretch of imagination, be held to be barred by
    the principles of res judicata.  Learned counsel further submitted that
    by issuing an order of termination in place of  dismissal,  the  entire
    finding recorded by the Court while considering the order of  dismissal
    got washed off, hence there can be no res judicata.

27. Mr. Rao then drew our attention to the counter affidavit  filed  by  the
    appellant Union of India before the High Court and  submitted  that  if
    the offence was so grave then the respondent should have been  punished
    instead of dismissal from service.

28. Mr. Rao vehemently argued by giving reference to  the  finding  recorded
    by the High Court that non-production  of  records  and  the  materials
    which are the basis for passing the  order  of  termination  is  wholly
    illegal, arbitrary and unjustified.  He reiterated that  for  the  non-
    production of materials and records in spite of being directed  by  the
    Court, adverse inference has to be drawn.   According  to  the  learned
    senior  counsel,  withholding  of  documents  by   the   constitutional
    authority and the Government is a serious matter  and,  therefore,  the
    High Court has rightly held the order of termination bad  in  law.   In
    this regard learned counsel referred and relied upon the  decisions  of
    this Court in Gopal Krishnaji Ketkar  vs. Mahomed  Haji  Latif  &  Ors.
    1968 (3) SCR 862 and Ghaio Mall & Sons  vs. State of Delhi & Ors., 1959
    SCR 1424.
29. On the question of doctrine of  pleasure,   Mr.  Rao  firstly  contended
    that the constitutional provisions contained in Article  309,  310  and
    311 are subject to Article  14 of the Constitution.  According  to  the
    learned counsel, Article 14, 15 and 21 constitute the core  values  and
    such right cannot be taken away on the plea of  doctrine  of  pleasure.
    In this connection he relied on   I.R. Coelho    vs.   State  of  Tamil
    Nadu,  (2007) 2 SCC 1.

30. Mr. Rao then contended that Article 33 of the  Constitution  is  in  the
    nature of exception but it does not abrogate  the  fundamental  rights.
    In other words, Article 33 does not speak about the basic structure  of
    the Constitution.  Learned counsel relied upon  the  decision  of  this
    Court  in B.P. Singhal  vs.  U.O.I., (2010) 6 SCC 331.
31. Mr. Rao then contended that Article 33  in  any  event  shall  be  given
    restricted interpretation for the reason that any law  which  restricts
    the  fundamental  rights  shall  be  strictly  interpreted.   In   this
    connection learned counsel referred to (1974) 1 SCC 645: Bhut Nath Mete
    vs. State of West Bengal.   Mr.  Rao  addressed  on  legal  malice  and
    malice in law and referred a decision of this Court  in  Ravi  Yashwant
    Bhoir vs. District Collector, Raigad & Ors., (2012) 4 SCC 407.

32. Mr. Rao submitted that only notings were produced before the High  Court
    but the material on the basis of  which  opinion  was  formed  was  not
    produced.  The detailed summary of evidence, different memos and  other
    documents produced in  the  court  martial  proceeding  were  also  not
    produced before the High Court.  Learned counsel submitted  that  those
    notings produced  before  the  High  Court  are  not  material,  rather
    advisory material.  Learned counsel referred to some of the  paragraphs
    of the judgment rendered in S.R. Bommai and Ors.  vs.  Union  of  India
    and Ors., (1994) 3 SCC 1.
            Learned  counsel  lastly  submitted  that  although  5%  cut  in
    gratuity has been withdrawn by the appellant, the termination has to be
    held as bad.



33.   Mr. Deepak Bhattacharya, learned counsel appearing on behalf of  Major
    Ajwani in C.A. No.2953 of 2001, firstly submitted  that  the  order  of
    termination under Section 18 of the Army Act is a  colourable  exercise
    of power which is  arbitrary,  capricious  and  unreasonable.   Learned
    counsel submitted that the pleasure doctrine is the residual  executive
    power under Section 53  of  the  Constitution  and  hence  amenable  to
    judicial review to ensure that the same follows the satisfaction of the
    President after due application of  mind  and  without  any  arbitrary,
    capricious and un-reasonable  exercise  of  power.   According  to  the
    learned counsel the respondent Major Ajwani was arrested  and  kept  in
    solitary confinement without being informed of any reason for the  same
    and, thereafter, criminal proceedings were initiated against  him.   It
    was contended that the criminal proceedings against him  was  abandoned
    without informing him any reason  for  the  same  and  finally  he  was
    illegally terminated under Section 18 of the Army Act.

34.         On the question of res judicata, learned counsel submitted  that
    there is no pleading of res judicata  ever  raised  by  the  appellant.
    However, learned counsel adopted the argument advanced by Mr. P.P.  Rao
    on the question of res judicata.



35.         Mrs. Kiran  Suri,  learned  counsel  appearing  for  Capt.  Arun
    Sharma and Capt. J.S. Yadav in C.A.No.2954 of 2001 and C.A.No. 2957  of
    2001, firstly submitted that there is  no  decision  on  merit  in  the
    earlier writ petition and, therefore, the question  of  application  of
    res judicata does not arise.  The writ petition was dismissed since the
    pleasure doctrine was invoked  and  it  is  open  to  judicial  review.
    Learned counsel relied upon the decision  of  this  Court  in   Mathura
    Prasad Bajoo Jaiswal  vs.  Dossibai N.B. Jeejeebhoy (1970) 1  SCC  613;
    Supreme Court Employees’ Welfare Association vs.  Union  of  India  and
    Anr. (1989) 4 SCC 187; Isabella Johnson (Smt.)  vs.   M.A.  Susai(dead)
    by LRs. (1991) 1 SCC 494 and  Kishan Lal   vs.  State of J&K  (1994)  4
    SCC 422.  Learned counsel then contended that the issue involved in the
    later proceedings was not an issue in the earlier proceedings  inasmuch
    as the later writ petition was filed challenging the  subsequent  order
    converting the order of dismissal to order of termination  and  also  a
    notification as to cut of gratuity.

36.         Mrs. Suri then submitted that the order in the first  proceeding
    is an order which has been the result of suppression of documents/facts
    by the appellant  when  these  facts/documents  were  only  within  the
    knowledge of the appellant.   Hence suppression of facts and  documents
    would not entitle the appellant to raise  the  technical  plea  of  res
    judicata and to take advantage of the same.  It was contended that  the
    appellant is under the public duty to disclose the true  facts  to  the
    court which has not been done and it will amount to obtaining the order
    by fraud.




37.         On the issue of doctrine of pleasure Mrs.  Suri  submitted  that
    exercise of doctrine  of  pleasure  in  the  absence  of  any  material
    evidence against the respondent and non-production of relevant  records
    of these officers render  the  order  of  termination  as  illegal  and
    invalid.  Learned counsel  submitted  that  the  justiciability  of  an
    action by the executive government is open to challenge on  the  ground
    of malafide and also that the formation of  opinion  is  on  irrelevant
    material.  Learned counsel in this regard referred  to  a  decision  of
    this Court in the case of B.P. Singhal  (supra)  and   Jay  Laxmi  Salt
    Works (P) Ltd.  vs.  State of Gujarat (1994) 4 SCC 1.  Lastly,  it  was
    contended that the President has  been  misled  without  producing  the
    relevant material and on the basis  of  false  and  misleading  noting,
    order was obtained which amount to fraud and legal malafide.

38.   Mr.  A.K.  Panda,  learned  senior  counsel  appearing  on  behalf  of
    respondent  Capt.  V.K.  Diwan  in  C.A.  No.2956  of  2001,  made  his
    submission with regard to the interpretation of Articles 309,  310  and
    311 of the Constitution. According to the learned counsel  Article  310
    is not controlled by any legislation, on the contrary it  is  contended
    that Article 310 is subject to Article 309 or 311 of the  Constitution.
    It was contended that the respondent would have been exonerated had the
    court-martial proceedings been continued.   But  just  to  avoid  court
    martial the appellant  took  recourse  to  terminate  the  services  by
    applying the ‘pleasure’ doctrine.  On the point of res judicata learned
    counsel relied upon the decision in the case  of  V.  Rajeshwari  (Smt)
    vs.  T.C. Saravanabava, (2004) 1 SCC 551 and Maneka Gandhi  vs.   Union
    of India & another, (1978) 1 SCC 248.

39.   Mr. Panda, learned senior counsel further contended that  in spite  of
    the  several   opportunities  given  by  the  Delhi  High  Court,   the
    appellants  failed  to  produce  any  material  against   the   present
    respondents  to satisfy the Court that the termination  was  justified.
    Learned counsel submitted that the High Court  has  carefully  analysed
    all the facts of the case and recorded a finding that  the  termination
    was wholly malafide and devoid of any substance.

40.     Mr.  Kameshwar  Gumber,  learned  counsel  appearing  on  behalf  of
    Ex.Major R.K. Midha (now deceased) in C.A. No. 2952  of  2009,  at  the
    very outset submitted that although the respondent  is  dead  now,  the
    instant appeal is contested only with an object to restore  the  honour
    and to remove the stigma cast on him and the family.  Learned  counsel,
    however, admitted that the family of the deceased respondent  has  been
    getting all pensionary benefits.
41.  Ms. Amrita Sanghi, learned counsel  appearing  for  the  respondent  in
    C.A. No.2955 of 2001 on the issue of res  judicata,  firstly  contended
    that the earlier writ petition filed by the respondent challenging  the
    order of dismissal was dismissed up to this Court  without  going  into
    the merit of the case and the issue of malafide was not discussed.   It
    was contended that the second writ petition challenging  the  order  of
    termination and the show cause notice for deducting 5% of the  gratuity
    was on the basis of a fresh cause of action inasmuch as  the  dismissal
    of writ petition up to this Court put an  end  to  the  proceedings  of
    dismissal until the Government came out with the order  of  termination
    with ulterior motives.  Learned counsel then contended that this  Court
    in the order dated 17.11.1994 in Special Leave Petition agreed with the
    Full Bench and the matter was sent back to the High Court for  decision
    on merit.  It was for the first time the appellant-Union of India  made
    out a case that petitioners had been caught  doing  espionage  activity
    and thus considered a security suspect. Adopting the  argument  of  Mr.
    P.P. Rao, learned senior counsel  submitted  that  Article  33  of  the
    Constitution does not contemplate restricting or abrogating  the  basic
    structure of the Constitution or the core values of the Constitution.
42.  First of all,  we  shall  deal  with  the  following  important  points
    formulated by this Court referred hereinabove i.e.

            a) Whether the exercise of doctrine of  pleasure  under  Section
               18 of the Army Act read with Article 310 of the  Constitution
               in absence of any material evidence against  the  respondent-
               officer and the non production of relevant  records/files  of
               these officers rendered the order of termination  as  illegal
               and invalid?
            b) Whether the order of termination  is  arbitrary,  capricious,
               unreasonable and violative of Articles  14,16,19  and  21  of
               the Constitution of India.
            c) xxxxxxxx
            d) Whether  the  order  of  termination  passed  by   the  first
               appellant  in  absence  of  material  evidence  and  improper
               exercise of power  by the first appellant   amount  to  fraud
               being played  on the respondent officers and are vitiated  in
               the law on account of legal malafides and legal malice?

43.  All these three points  are  interconnected  and,  therefore,  will  be
      discussed together.  Admittedly, the Division Bench while hearing  the
      matter called for the relevant records from  the  appellant  and  same
      were produced in the Court. The Division Bench took  notice  of  those
      files and observed:-

           “55. The respondents had submitted for  our  perusal  four  thin
           files without proper pagination and indexing.

             56.     From   a    reading of the files  one     could    see
           that    the proposal had  come  from  the  Army     Headquarters
           Directorate of Military Intelligence for termination of services
           of certain officers under Section 18 of the Army act,  1950  and
           that was accepted by the concerned Ministry.  The  circumstances
           under which the Directorate  Military  Intelligence  formed  the
           opinion has not been disclosed. A single  sheet  file  has  been
           submitted to show that on 17.12.1980 there was a review  of  the
           decision taken earlier and it appears  from  a  note  typed  out
           without any signature of any authority, that the  very  Director
           of the Military Intelligence who proposed  action  have  been  a
           party to the  review  meeting.  From  the  records  produced  no
           authority can come to any conclusion on the decision to be taken
           by the authorities concerned  for  terminating  service  of  the
           officers. We wanted to satisfy  ourselves  about  the  basis  on
           which the  action  was  proposed  by  the  Directorate  Military
           Intelligence.   Apparently,   the   Directorate   of    Military
           Intelligence though that they are not obliged in law to  produce
           any record before the Court and the decision of the  Directorate
           Military Intelligence cannot be scrutinised by this Court.


                              xxxxx
                                    xxxxx

             129. It  has    now    become     absolutely  necessary     to
           Notice the records produced by the  respondents.  When  one  the
           learned  addl.  Solicitor  General  submitted  that  though  the
           respondents had claimed privilege they had no objection to place
           all the records for the perusal of this Court to satisfy whether
           the respondents had acted in accordance with law. It is a little
           disturbing to note that respondents  instead  of  producing  the
           relevant records pertaining to  the  officers  involved  in  the
           cases had just produced three flaps. No numbers  are  given.  On
           flap contains three sheets. The  first  sheet  is  mentioned  as
           Index sheet. Index sheet itself mentions that there is only  one
           page in the file. The other sheet contains a note  which  states
           that all  the  cases  have  been  thoroughly  reviewed  at  Army
           Headquarters.  The  other  sheet  shows  that  the  matter   was
           discussed in a meeting held in  the  Home  Secretary's  Room  on
           1.10.1980.


             130. The next flap is empty. The same note, as  found  in  the
           earlier flap, is found pinned on to  the  flap  itself.  In  the
           third flap there are 15 sheets. The  first  sheet  is  typed  as
           Index Sheet. It states that "this file contains a  total  of  12
           pages". When there are 14 sheets besides the Index Sheet and  in
           some sheets both sides are typed. Therefore, the  flap  contains
           12 pages is not accurate. These sheets also do not give  us  any
           relevant material to form an opinion   about    the action taken
              by    the     respondents.  Therefore,  -  the   irresistible
           conclusion is that the respondents have suppressed the  material
           records from this Court and are not  willing  to  part  with  or
           produce the  same  for  perusal  of  the  Court.  It  cannot  be
           pretended by the respondents  that  there  are  no  other  files
           available with them except the three flaps produced before  this
           Court, as in the written notes submitted by  the  learned  Addl.
           Solicitor General reference is made to file No. 9, 10, 18, 1,  2
           and pages of the files are also  given  in  the  written  notes,
           some files    containing more than 600   pages.”

44.   On the basis of the aforesaid findings, the Division Bench  held  that
      the respondent-appellant has not placed any material justifying  their
      action.  The Court has, therefore, concluded its findings in para  168
      of the judgment which is reproduced hereunder:-


           “168. The whole of the bundle of facts in the instant  batch  of
           cases would appear to be a pot boiler to project  the  image  of
           the Military Intelligence Directorate,    leaving    us  at  the
           end   with    the    cliff hanger without any iota of  materials
           to form an opinion about the involvement of the  appellants  and
           the petitioners. They have chosen  not  to  produce  the  entire
           records without realising their constitutional obligation.  Just
           to make an apology they have produced  some  flaps  as  if  they
           constitute all the records in the case. In a system  where  rule
           of law reigns supreme the deportment of the  respondents  cannot
           at all be tolerated. Justice Holmes of the Supreme Court of  the
           United States of America  Speaking  for  the  Supreme  Court  in
           Wisconsin vs. Illinois,   281 US 179.

                 "The State "must... yield to an authority that is paramount
                 to the State".



45.  Mr. Paras Kuhad, learned  Additional  Solicitor  General  assailed  the
      aforesaid finding as  being  incorrect  and  submitted  that  all  the
      relevant materials were produced before the Court  and  after  hearing
      was concluded, all those original papers were  returned  back  to  the
      appellant. The appellant  had  submitted  the  photocopy  of  all  the
      relevant material.

46.   During the course of hearing,  Learned  Additional  Solicitor  General
      produced before us all those files and documents which  were  produced
      before the High Court. The Additional Solicitor General also  produced
      the link  file as directed by us.

47.    Mrs. Kiran Suri, learned senior  counsel  appearing  in  one  of  the
      Civil Appeal No.2954  of  2001,  submitted  a  note  wherein  she  has
      mentioned that on 3.1.2001 the Advocate received  back  the  following
      original file from the High Court as per the receipt produced  by  the
      appellant in L.P.A. No.43 of 1987 and other connected matters.


           i) GCM proceedings in respect  of  Capt.  A.K.  Rana  IC  23440H
           (Page 1-615)
           ii) GCM Proceedings in respect of Capt
           R.S. Rathaur IC 23720 N (Page 1-
           577)

           iii)  File containing analysis of Espionage
           cases in the respect of all the Appellants.
           (Page 1-13)

           iv)   Brief of Samba spy Cases      (Page 1-6)

           v)    File showing approval of Chief of Army
           Staff in respect of all cases.     (Page 1-9)
           vi)   File showing approval of Govt, of India in
           respect of all the cases.       (Page 1-12)
           vii)  File showing note from PMO's Office
           regarding review note of review at office of
           Home Secretary (Page 1-2)



48.   We have minutely perused all the records including notings along  with
      link file produced by the Additional Solicitor  General.   On  perusal
      and scrutiny of all those materials we are of the view that  the  High
      Court has committed grave error of record  and  there  is  total  non-
      application of mind in recording the  aforesaid  findings.   From  the
      record,  it  is  evidently  clear  that  the  inquiry  against   these
      respondents were initiated  by  the  Army  Headquarters,  Director  of
      Military Intelligence.  The file traveled from Chief of the Army Staff
      to Ministry of Defence with the strong recommendation to terminate the
      services of the respondents in the interest of security of  the  State
      as there was some material to show that  these officers were  involved
      in espionage cases.   The  recommendation  for  termination  of  their
      services up to the Defence Ministry was finally approved by the  Prime
      Minister who also happened to be the Defence Minister of India at that
      time.  The file was then placed before the President of India  who  in
      exercise of the constitutional power terminated the services of  these
      officers.

49.   The link file further reveals that confessional statements of  Captain
      Rana and other officers were also recorded and strong prima facie case
      was found relating to the involvement of these officers  in  espionage
      activities and sharing information with the Pakistani intruders.
50.   On assessing the materials contained in  link  file  and  the  notings
      showing the  suggestions  and  recommendations  up  to  the  level  of
      defence ministry and the Prime Minister, it cannot be  held  that  the
      impugned order of termination of services have been passed without any
      material available on record.  There  is  no  dispute  that  order  of
      termination passed against the Army personnel in exercise of ‘pleasure
      doctrine’,  is  subject  to  judicial  review,  but  while  exercising
      judicial review, this court cannot substitute its  own  conclusion  on
      the basis of materials on record.  The Court exercising the  power  of
      judicial review has certain limitations, particularly in the cases  of
      this  nature.   The  safety  and  security  of  the  nation  is  above
      all/everything.  When the President in exercise of its  constitutional
      power terminates the services of the Army officers,  whose  tenure  of
      services are at the pleasure of the President and such termination  is
      based on materials on record, then this court in exercise of powers of
      judicial review should be slow in interfering with  such  pleasure  of
      President exercising constitutional power.  In  a  constitutional  set
      up, when office is held during the pleasure of the President, it means
      that the officer can be removed by the Authority on whose pleasure  he
      holds office without  assigning  any  reason.  The  Authority  is  not
      obliged to assign any reason or disclose any cause for the removal.

51.   Thus, it is not a case where the decisions to terminate  the  services
      of these officers were taken under the ‘pleasure doctrine’ without any
      material against the officers. On  the  contrary,  as  noticed  above,
      charges were leveled that these  officers  were  involved  in  certain
      espionage activities.

52.   In the instant case, on  perusal  of  the  link  file  it  is  further
      revealed that detailed investigation was conducted  and  all  evidence
      recorded were examined by the Intelligence Department and finally  the
      Authority came to the finding that retention of  these  officers  were
      not expedient in the interest and security of the State.  In our view,
      sufficiency of ground cannot be questioned,  particularly  in  a  case
      where termination order is issued by the President under the  pleasure
      doctrine.

53.   A Constitution Bench of this  Court  in  the  case  of  the  State  of
      Rajasthan & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors. 1977  (3)  SCC  592,  while
      considering a constitutional power of the President under Article  356
      of the Constitution observed:-

           “81.  A  challenge  to  the  exercise  of  power  to   issue   a
           proclamation under Article 352 of the Constitution would be even
           more difficult to entertain than to one under Article 356(1)  as
           all these considerations would then arise which Courts take into
           account when  the  Executive,  which  alone  can  have  all  the
           necessary information and means to judge such  an  issue,  tells
           Courts that the nation is faced with a grave national  emergency
           during which its very existence or stability may  be  at  stake.
           That was the principle which governed the decision of the  House
           of Lords in Liversidge v. Anderson. The principle is  summed  up
           in the salutary maxim: Salus Populi Supreme Lex. And it was that
           principle which this Court, deprived of the power to examine  or
           question any materials on which such declarations may be  based,
           acted in Additional District Magistrate, Jabalpur  v.  Shivakant
           Shukla We need not go so far as that when we have before us only
           a proclamation under Article 356(1).
              xxxxxxxx
              xxxxxxxx


           87. Courts have consistently held issues  raising  questions  of
           mere sufficiency of grounds of executive action, such as the one
           under Article 356(1) no doubt  is  to  be  non-justiciable.  The
           amended Article 356(5) of the Constitution  indicates  that  the
           Constitution-makers did not want such an issue  raising  a  mere
           question of sufficiency of grounds to  be  justiciable.  To  the
           same effect are the provisions  contained  in  Articles  352(5),
           360(5). Similarly, Articles 123(4), 213(4),  239  B(4)  bar  the
           jurisdiction of courts to examine matters which lie  within  the
           executive discretion. Such discretion is  governed  by  a  large
           element of policy which is not amenable to the  jurisdiction  of
           courts except in cases of patent  or  indubitable  malafides  or
           excess of power. Its exercise rests on materials which  are  not
           examinable by courts. Indeed, it is difficult to   imagine   how
           the  grounds of
           action under Article 356(1) could be examined when Article 74(2)
           lays down that “the question whether any, and if so, what advice
           was tendered by the Ministers to the  President,  shall  not  be
           inquired into in any court”.

54.   In order to appreciate the application  of  constitutional  provisions
      in respect of defence services,  it  would  be  appropriate  to  quote
      Articles 309, 310 and 311 of the Constitution. These articles read  as
      under:-
              “Article 309:-  Recruitment  and  conditions  of  service  of
           persons serving the Union or a State Subject to  the  provisions
           of this Constitution, Acts of the  appropriate  Legislature  may
           regulate the recruitment, and conditions of service  of  persons
           appointed, to public services and posts in connection  with  the
           affairs of the Union or of any State: Provided that it shall  be
           competent for the President or such person as he may  direct  in
           the case of services and posts in connection with the affairs of
           the Union, and for the Governor of a State or such person as  he
           may direct in the case of services and posts in connection  with
           the  affairs  of  the  State,  to  make  rules  regulating   the
           recruitment, and the conditions of service of persons appointed,
           to such services and posts until provision  in  that  behalf  is
           made by or under an Act of  the  appropriate  Legislature  under
           this article, and any rules so made shall have effect subject to
           the provisions of any such Act.”


           Article 310:- Tenure of office of persons serving the Union or a
           State


           (1) Except as expressly provided  by  this  Constitution,  every
           person who is a member of  a  defence  service  or  of  a  civil
           service of the Union or of an all India  service  or  holds  any
           post connected with defence or any civil post under  the  Union,
           holds office during the pleasure of  the  President,  and  every
           person who is a member of a civil service of a  State  or  holds
           any civil post under a State holds office during the pleasure of
           the Governor of the State.


           (2) Notwithstanding that a person holding a civil post under the
           Union or a  State  holds  office  during  the  pleasure  of  the
           President or, as the case may be, of the Governor of the  State,
           any contract under which a person,  not  being  a  member  of  a
           defence service or of an all India service or of a civil service
           of the Union or a State, is appointed under this Constitution to
           hold such a post may, if the President or the  Governor  as  the
           case may be, deems it necessary in order to secure the  services
           of a person  having  special  qualifications,  provide  for  the
           payment to him of compensation, if before the expiration  of  an
           agreed period, that post is abolished or he is, for reasons  not
           connected with any misconduct on his part,  required  to  vacate
           that post.”


           Article 311:- Dismissal, removal or reduction in rank of persons
           employed in civil capacities under the Union or a State
           (1) No person who is a member of a civil service of the Union or
           an all India service or a civil service of a State  or  holds  a
           civil post under the Union or a  State  shall  be  dismissed  or
           removed by a authority subordinate  to  that  by  which  he  was
           appointed
           (2) No such person as aforesaid shall be dismissed or removed or
           reduced in rank except after an inquiry in  which  he  has  been
           informed of the charges  against  him  and  given  a  reasonable
           opportunity of being heard in respect of those charges  Provided
           that where it is proposed after such inquiry, to impose upon him
           any such penalty, such penalty may be imposed on  the  basis  of
           the evidence adduced during such inquiry and  it  shall  not  be
           necessary  to  give  such  person  any  opportunity  of   making
           representation on the penalty proposed:  Provided  further  that
           this clause shall not apply
           (a) where a person is dismissed or removed or reduced in rank on
           the ground of conduct which has  led  to  his  conviction  on  a
           criminal charge; or


           (b) where the authority empowered to dismiss or remove a  person
           or to reduce him in rank ins satisfied that for some reason,  to
           be recorded by that authority in writing, it is  not  reasonably
           practicable to hold such inquiry; or


           (c) where the President or the Governor, as the case may be,  is
           satisfied that in the interest of the security of the State,  it
           is not expedient to hold such inquiry;


           (3) If, in respect of any such person as aforesaid,  a  question
           arises whether it is reasonably practicable to hold such inquiry
           as is referred to in clause (2), the  decision  thereon  of  the
           authority empowered to dismiss  or  remove  such  person  or  to
           reduce him in rank shall be final.”

55.  Article 309  empowers  the  appropriate  legislature  to  regulate  the
      recruitment and conditions of services of persons appointed in  public
      services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or  the
      State.   But  Article  309  is  subject  to  the  provisions  of   the
      Constitution.  Hence, the Rules and Regulations made relating  to  the
      conditions of service are subject to  Articles  310  and  311  of  the
      Constitution. The Proviso to  Article  309  confers  powers  upon  the
      President in case of services and posts in connection with the affairs
      of the Union and upon the Governor of a State in connection  with  the
      services and posts connected with the affairs of  the  State  to  make
      rules regulating the recruitment and the conditions of services of the
      persons appointed. The service condition shall be regulated  according
      to such rules.


56.  Article 310 provides that every person, who is a member of the  defence
      service or of a civil service of the Union or All  India  Service,  or
      any civil or defence force shall hold such posts during  the  pleasure
      of the President.  Similarly, every person who  is  a  Member  of  the
      Civil Services of a State or holds any civil post under a State, holds
      office during the pleasure of the Governor of the State.  It is  worth
      to mention here that the  opening  word  of  Article  310  “Except  as
      expressly provided  by  this  Constitution”  makes  it  clear  that  a
      Government servant  holds  the  office  during  the  pleasure  of  the
      President  or  the  Governor  except  as  expressly  provided  by  the
      Constitution.

57.   From bare perusal of the provisions contained in Article  311  of  the
      Constitution, it is manifestly clear that  clauses  (i)  and  (ii)  of
      Article 311 impose restrictions upon the  exercise  of  power  by  the
      President or the Governor of the State of his pleasure  under  Article
      310 (1) of the Constitution. Article  311  makes  it  clear  that  any
      person who is a member of civil services of the Union or the State  or
      holds civil posts under the Union or a State shall not be  removed  or
      dismissed from service by an authority subordinate to that by which he
      was appointed.  Further, clause (ii) of Article 311 mandates that such
      removal or dismissal or reduction in rank of the members of the  civil
      services of the  Union  or  the  State  shall  be  only  after  giving
      reasonable opportunity of hearing in respect of  the  charges  leveled
      against him.  However, proviso to Article 311 (2) makes it clear  that
      this clause shall not apply inter-alia  where  the  President  or  the
      Governor, as the case may be, is satisfied that in the interest of the
      security of the State it is not expedient to hold such enquiry.

58. The expression “except as otherwise provided  in  the  Constitution”  as
      contained in Article 310 (1) means this Article is subject only to the
      express provision made in  the  Constitution.   No  provision  in  the
      statute can curtail the provisions of Article 310 of the Constitution.
       At this juncture, I would like to refer Sections 18  and  19  of  the
      Army Act as under:-
           “18. Tenure of service under the Act – Every person  subject  to
           this Act shall hold office during the pleasure of the President.


           19. Termination of service by Central Government. Subject to the
           provisions of this Act and the rules and regulations made  there
           under the Central Government may dismiss,  or  remove  from  the
           service, any person subject to this Act.

59.   The aforesaid two Sections i.e. 18 and 19 are distinct  and  apply  in
      two different stages. Section 18 speaks about the absolute  discretion
      of the President exercising pleasure doctrine.  No provisions  in  the
      Army Act curtail, control or limit  the  power  contained  in  Article
      310(1) of the Constitution. Article 309  enables  the  legislature  or
      executive to make any law, rule or regulation with regard to condition
      of services without impinging upon  the  overriding  power  recognized
      under Article 310 of the Constitution.  A Constitution Bench  of  this
      Court in  State of Uttar Pradesh and others vs.  Babu  Ram  Upadhayay,
      (1961) 2 SCR 679, held that the Constitution practically  incorporated
      the provisions of Sections 240 and 241 of the Government of India Act,
      1935  in  Articles  309  and  310  of  the  Constitution.    But   the
      Constitution has not made “the tenure of pleasure” subject to any  law
      made by the legislature.  On the other hand, Article 309 is  expressly
      made subject to the provisions  of  Article  310  which  provides  for
      pleasure doctrine.  Hence, it can safely be concluded  that  the  Army
      Act cannot in any way override or  stand  higher  than  Constitutional
      provisions contained in Article 309 and consequently no  provision  of
      the Army Act could cut down the pleasure tenure in Article 310 of  the
      Constitution. In another Constitution Bench Judgment of this Court  in
      Moti Ram Deka case (1964) 5 SCR, 683, their  Lordships  observed  that
      Article 309 cannot impair or affect  the  pleasure  of  the  President
      conferred by Article 310.  There is no doubt, Article 309  has  to  be
      read subject to Articles 310 and 311 and Article 310 has  to  be  read
      subject to Article 311.

60.  In the case of B.P. Singhal  (supra),  a  Constitution  Bench  of  this
      Court has elaborately discussed the  application  and  object  of  the
      doctrine of pleasure and considered  most  of  the  earlier  decisions
      rendered by this Court. Some of the paragraphs are worth to be  quoted
      herein below:-
             “22. There is a distinction between the doctrine  of  pleasure
             as it existed in a feudal set-up and the doctrine  of  pleasure
             in a democracy governed by the rule of  law.  In  a  nineteenth
             century feudal set-up unfettered power and  discretion  of  the
             Crown was  not  an  alien  concept.  However,  in  a  democracy
             governed by rule of law, where arbitrariness  in  any  form  is
             eschewed, no Government or authority has the right to  do  what
             it pleases. The doctrine of pleasure does not mean a licence to
             act arbitrarily, capriciously or whimsically.  It  is  presumed
             that discretionary powers conferred in absolute and  unfettered
             terms on any public authority will necessarily and obviously be
             exercised reasonably and for the public good.

             33. The  doctrine  of  pleasure  as  originally  envisaged  in
             England was a prerogative power which was unfettered. It  meant
             that the holder of an office under pleasure could be removed at
             any time, without notice, without assigning cause, and  without
             there being a need for any cause. But where  the  rule  of  law
             prevails,  there  is  nothing  like  unfettered  discretion  or
             unaccountable action. The degree of need for reason  may  vary.
             The degree of scrutiny during judicial review may vary. But the
             need for reason exists. As a result when  the  Constitution  of
             India provides that  some  offices  will  be  held  during  the
             pleasure of the President, without any express  limitations  or
             restrictions, it should however necessarily be  read  as  being
             subject to the “fundamentals of  constitutionalism”.  Therefore
             in a constitutional set-up, when an office is held  during  the
             pleasure  of  any  authority,  and   if   no   limitations   or
             restrictions are placed on the “at pleasure” doctrine, it means
             that the holder of the office can be removed by  the  authority
             at whose pleasure he holds office, at any time, without  notice
             and without assigning any cause.
             34. The doctrine of pleasure, however, is not a licence to act
             with unfettered discretion to act arbitrarily, whimsically,  or
             capriciously. It does not dispense with the need  for  a  cause
             for withdrawal of the pleasure. In other words,  “at  pleasure”
             doctrine enables the removal of a person holding office at  the
             pleasure of an authority, summarily, without any obligation  to
             give any notice or hearing to the person removed,  and  without
             any obligation to assign any reasons or disclose any cause  for
             the removal, or  withdrawal  of  pleasure.  The  withdrawal  of
             pleasure cannot be at the sweet will, whim  and  fancy  of  the
             authority, but can only be for valid reasons.”



61.  In fact the ‘pleasure doctrine’ is a Constitutional necessity, for  the
      reasons  that  the  difficulty  in  dismissing  those  servants  whose
      continuance in office is detrimental  to  the  State  would,  in  case
      necessity arises to prove some offence  to  the  satisfaction  of  the
      court, be such as to seriously impede the working of public service.
62.  There  is  no  dispute  with  regard  to  the  legal  proposition  that
      illegality, irrationality and procedural non-compliance are grounds on
      which judicial review is permissible.  But the question is  as to  the
      ambit of judicial review.  This court in Civil  Appeal  filed  by  the
      respondents challenging the order of termination passed under  Section
      18 of the Army Act observed that  the  order  of  termination  can  be
      challenged only on the ground of malafide.  It  was  further  observed
      that it is for the person alleging malafide to make out a prima  facie
      case.  For better appreciation, the order  passed  by  this  Court  is
      quoted herein below.
             “1. Special leave granted.
              2. Heard both sides. According to us, all that  the  impugned
           judgment holds is that an order passed under Section 18  of  the
           Army Act can be challenged on  the  ground  of  malafides.  This
           statement of law is  unexceptional.   However,  it  is  for  the
           person who challenges it on the ground of malafides, to make out
           a prima facie case in that behalf. It is only if  he  discharges
           the said burden, that the Government is called upon to show that
           it is not passed in the malafide exercise of its  powers.  While
           doing so, the Government is  not  precluded  from  claiming  the
           privilege in respect  of  the  material  which  may  be  in  its
           possession and on the basis of which the order  is  passed.  The
           Government may also choose to show  the  material  only  to  the
           court. With regard to the pleadings in respect of the  challenge
           to the order on the ground of malafides, no  particular  formula
           can be laid down. The pleadings will depend upon  the  facts  of
           each case.


        3. The appellants are permitted to withdraw from  the  appeal-memo,
           pp. 221 to 232 which according to the learned Solicitor  General
           have been annexed to the memo inadvertently.
        4. The appeals are disposed of accordingly with no order as to
           costs.”

63. The Full Bench of the Delhi High Court  while  answering  the  reference
      has observed in paragraphs 37 and 38 which is quoted hereunder:-

           “37.  Undoubtedly,  the  power  under  Section  18   cannot   be
           ordinarily invoked for dealing with cases of misconduct and  the
           other provisions in the Army Act dealing with the various  kinds
           of misconduct have to be invoked for dealing  with  such  cases.
           This power under Section 18 must be used sparingly only when  it
           is expedient to deal with such cases under the other  provisions
           of the Army Act. In  view  of  the  sensitive  nature  of  cases
           involving security of State that may come  up  in  the  case  of
           armed forces it cannot be said that in  no  case  of  misconduct
           section 18 can be invoked. There may be cases where security  of
           State is involved and it may not be expedient to  continue  with
           the inquiry  provided  under  the  Army  Act  for  dealing  with
           misconduct.  It appears that it is specifically for this  reason
           that section 18 has been incorporated in the  Army  Act  despite
           the fact that Article 310 of the Constitution  already  provided
           that tenure of an Army personnel would be at the pleasure of the
           President. This is a power given to the Supreme Commander of the
           Armed Forces, i.e. the President of India to be invoked in  such
           cases where inquiry in  other  form  is  not  advisable  and  is
           inexpedient. This power is similar to second proviso (a), (b)  &
           (c) of Article 311 (2) which provides for  dispensing  with  the
           inquiry in certain cases even in the case of civil service.  The
           safeguard provided for a government servant  by  clause  (2)  of
           Article 311 is taken away when second proviso to Article  311(2)
           becomes applicable. The Supreme Court in Tulsi Ram Patel's  case
           (supra) observed that "the second proviso has been mentioned  in
           the Constitution as a matter of  public  policy  and  in  public
           interest for public good." The Supreme  Court  further  observed
           that much as it may seem harsh and oppressive  to  a  government
           servant, the court must repel the temptation to be carried  away
           by  feelings  of  commiseration  and  sympathy  in  such  cases.
           Therefore, even if an order under  Section  18  for  removing  a
           defense personnel for misconduct is passed if it is  found  that
           there were sufficient reasons for resorting to Section  18,  the
           same would not be open to challenge on merits. The Supreme Court
           in Chief of Army Staff & Anr. v. Major Dharam Pal Kukrety,  1985
           CriLJ 913, has held that even after  Court  Martial  proceedings
           had been concluded, the finding of  the  general  court  martial
           having not been confirmed by the Chief of  Army  Staff,  further
           retention of the Army personnel being undesirable, the Chief  of
           Army Staff could resort to Rule 14, indicating thereby that even
           after resorting to court martial  proceedings  if  it  is  found
           inexpedient to continue with the Court  Martial  proceedings  it
           was open to resort to proceedings under Section 19 of  the  Army
           Act. The Supreme Court observed:

                 "The crucial question, therefore, is  whether  the  Central
                 Government or the Chief of the Army Staff can  have  resort
                 to Rule 14 of the Army Rules. Though  it  is  open  to  the
                 Central Government or the Chief of the Army Staff  to  have
                 recourse  to  that  rule  in  the  first  instance  without
                 directing  trial  by  a  court-martial  of  the   concerned
                 officer, there is no provision in the Army Act or  in  Rule
                 14 or any of the  other  rules  of  the  Army  Rules  which
                 prohibits the Central Government or the Chief of  the  Army
                 Staff from resorting in such a case to  Rule  14.  Can  it,
                 however, be said that in such a case a trial  by  a  court-
                 martial is inexpedient or impracticable? The Shorter Oxford
                 English  Dictionary,  Third  Edition,  defines   the   word
                 'inexpedient' as meaning "not expedient; disadvantageous in
                 the  circumstances,  inadvisable,   impolite".   The   same
                 dictionary  defines  'expedient'  inter  alias  as  meaning
                 "advantageous;   fit,   proper,   or   suitable   to    the
                 circumstances   of   the   case".   Webster's   Third   New
                 International Dictionary also defines the term  'expedient'
                 inter  alias  as  meaning  'characterized  by  suitability,
                 practicality, and efficiency in achieving a particular end;
                 fit, proper or advantageous under the circumstances."



           38. That being  the  position  even  after  resorting  to  court
           martial proceedings if it is found inexpedient to continue  with
           the same it is always open to the respondent to resort to either
           section 18 or 19 of the Army Act.”





64.   Indisputably,  defence  personnel  fall  under  the   category   where
      President has absolute pleasure to discontinue the services.   Further
      in our considered  opinion  as  far  as  security  is  concerned,  the
      safeguard available  to  civil  servants  under  Article  311  is  not
      available to defence personnel as judicial review is very limited.  In
      cases where continuance of Army officers in service is not practicable
      for security purposes and there is loss of  confidence  and  potential
      risk to the security issue then such officers can be removed under the
      pleasure doctrine.  As a matter of fact, Section 18 of the Army Act is
      in  consonance  with  the  constitutional  powers  conferred  on   the
      President empowering the President to terminate the  services  on  the
      basis of material brought to his notice.   In  such  cases,  the  Army
      officers are not entitled to claim an opportunity of hearing.  In  our
      considered opinion  the  pleasure  doctrine  can  be  invoked  by  the
      President at any stage of enquiry on being satisfied that  continuance
      of any officer is not in the interest of and security of the State. It
      is therefore not a camouflage as urged by the respondents.

65.  The next question that arises for consideration is as  to  whether  the
      order of dismissal of the earlier writ petitions and  confirmation  of
      the same by this court amounts to “Doctrine of Merger” and operates as
      res judicata against the present appeals.  As  discussed  above,   the
      services  of  the  present  respondents  along  with  other  permanent
      commissioned officers of the Indian Army were terminated,  since  they
      were  found  suspected  to  be  involved  in   espionage   activities.
      Aggrieved by the termination order, the  present  respondents,  except
      Major R.K. Midha and Major N.R. Ajwani,  filed  writ  petitions  being
      C.W.P. Nos. 418, 419, 421, 424 and 425 of 1980 before the  Delhi  High
      Court. These respondents challenged  the  said  termination  order  as
      being illegal and malafide.  The High Court vide order dated 21.4.1980
      dismissed the writ petitions.  The  Order  dated  21.4.1980  reads  as
      under:-

                  “Dismissal from service is under Section 18  of  the  Army
                 act  which  is  complimentary  to  Article   310   of   the
                 Constitution. This means that the Officer held  the  tenure
                 during the pleasure of the President. It has been contended
                 that it was not in accordance with the  provisions  of  the
                 Act and that due procedure for dismissal for misconduct has
                 not been followed. The impugned order does not say  whether
                 the dismissal is for misconduct or otherwise. It only  sets
                 out the pleasure doctrine. In this view of the  matter,  no
                 case made out for interference.    Dismissed.”

66.   Respondents  then  preferred  special  leave  petitions  against   the
      aforesaid order dated 21.4.1980 being SLP Nos. 7225 and 7233 of  1980.
      A three-Judge Bench of this Court dismissed the special leave petition
      by order dated 1.9.1980.  In the year 1982,  the  show  cause  notices
      dated 10.5.1982 were  issued  to  the  officers  whose  services  were
      terminated informing them that  their  services  were  not  considered
      satisfactory by the Pensionary Authority and, therefore, why not 5% of
      the gratuity or pension be deducted.  On  receipt  of  the  said  show
      cause notices, eight of the officers, whose services  were  terminated
      initiated the second round of  litigation  by  filing  writ  petitions
      being C.W.P Nos. 1643-1646 of 1982, 1777 of 1982, 804 of 1982, 1666 of
      1982 praying not only to quash the show cause  notices,  but  also  to
      quash the order of termination of  their  services.   All  those  writ
      petitions were finally heard and came to be  dismissed  by  the  Delhi
      High Court vide judgment  dated  22.3.1985.   Aggrieved  by  the  said
      order, the respondents filed Letters Patent Appeal  before  the  Delhi
      High Court. The Division Bench of the High  Court  after  hearing  the
      appeal formulated questions of law and referred the same to  the  Full
      Bench by order dated 15.5.1991.  The question of  law  framed  by  the
      Division Bench was “whether the order of termination passed by and  in
      the name of President under Section 18  of  the  Army  Act  read  with
      Article 310 of the Constitution invoking doctrine of pleasure  of  the
      President be challenged on the ground that it  is  camouflage  and  as
      such is violative of principles of natural justice and the fundamental
      rights guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution?”.

67.   From the above,  it  is  clear  that  the  Union  of  India  has  been
      consistently contesting these  petitions  and  this  Court  has  found
      substance in the argument of the appellants that the High Court  while
      delivering the judgment dated  21.12.2000  overlooked  this  important
      legal aspect of finality coupled with the doctrine  of  res  judicata.
      In our considered opinion, this aspect cannot be ignored and the issue
      of fact cannot be re-opened in the instant case as well  as  has  been
      done under the impugned judgment by relying on certain material  which
      the High Court described to have been fraudulently withheld  from  the
      courts. In our opinion, fraud is not a term or ornament nor can it  be
      presumed to exist on the basis of a mere  inference  on  some  alleged
      material that  is  stated  to  have  been  discovered  later  on.  The
      discovery of a reinvestigated fact could have been a ground of  review
      in the same proceedings, but the same cannot be in  our  opinion  made
      the  basis  for  re-opening  the  issue  through  a  fresh  round   of
      litigation. A fresh writ petition or Letters   Patent   Appeal   which
      is  in  continuation   of  a   writ   petition   cannot    be    filed
      collaterally to set aside the judgment of the same High Court rendered
      in earlier round of litigation upholding the  termination  order.   In
      our view, the High  Court  has  committed  a  manifest  error  by  not
      lawfully defining the scope of the fresh round of  litigation  on  the
      principles of res judicata and  doctrine  of  finality.  To  establish
      fraud, it is the material available which may lead to  the  conclusion
      that the failure to produce the material was deliberate or  suppressed
      or even otherwise occasioned a failure of justice. This also,  can  be
      attempted if legally permissible only in the said proceedings and  not
      in a collateral challenge raised after the  matter  has  been  finally
      decided in the first round of litigation. It is to be noticed that the
      judgment which had become final in 1980 also  included  writ  petition
      no.418 of 1980 filed by the respondent S.P. Sharma. Once,  this  Court
      had put a seal to the said litigation  vide  judgment  dated  1.9.1980
      then a second round of litigation by the  same  respondents  including
      S.P. Sharma in writ petition no. 1643 of 1982 was misplaced.

68.   The very genesis of  an  identical  challenge  relating  to  the  same
      proceedings of termination on the pretext of  a  5%  cut  in  terminal
      benefits was impermissible apart from the attraction of the  principle
      of merger. This aspect of finality,  therefore,  cannot  be  disturbed
      through a collateral challenge.


69. In Naresh Shridhar Mirajkar vs. State of Maharashtra & Anr. AIR 1967  SC
      1, this Court by a majority decision laid down the  law  that  when  a
      Judge deals with the matter brought before him for  his  adjudication,
      he first decides the questions of fact on which  the  parties  are  at
      issue, and then applies the relevant law to the  said  facts.  Whether
      the findings of fact recorded by the Judge are  right  or  wrong,  and
      whether the conclusion of law drawn by him suffers from any infirmity,
      can be considered and decided if the party aggrieved by  the  decision
      of the Judge takes up the matter before the appellate court.

70.   A decision rendered by a  competent  court  cannot  be  challenged  in
      collateral proceedings for the reason that if it is permitted to do so
      there would be "confusion and chaos and the  finality  of  proceedings
      would cease to have any meaning".



71.   In the case of Mohd. Aslam vs. Union of India, AIR  1996  SC  1611,  a
      writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution was  filed  seeking
      reconsideration of the judgment rendered by this Court on  the  ground
      that the said judgment is incorrect.  Rejecting the prayer, this Court
      held that Article 32 of the Constitution is not  available  to  assail
      the  correctness  of  the  decision  on  merit   or   to   claim   its
      reconsideration.

72.   In the case of Babu Singh Bains etc. versus Union of India and  others
      etc., AIR 1997 SC 116, this Court reiterated the settled principal  of
      law that once an order passed on merit by this  Court  exercising  the
      power under Article 136 of the Constitution has become final  no  writ
      petition under Article 32 of the Constitution on the  self-same  issue
      is maintainable.  The principle of constructive res  judicata   stands
      fast in his way in his way to raise the same contention once over.

73.   In Khoday Distilleries  Limited  &  Anr.  vs. The  Registrar  General,
      Supreme Court of India, (1996) 3 SCC 114, this Court  re-iterated  the
      view as under:

           "In a case like the present, where in substance the challenge is
           to the correctness of a decision on merits after it  has  become
           final, there can be no question of  invoking  Article 32 of  the
           Constitution to claim reconsideration of  the  decision  on  the
           basis of its effect in accordance with law. Frequent  resort  to
           the decision in Antulay (AIR 1988 SC 1531) in such situations is
           wholly misconceived and impels us to emphasis this fact."

74.   In M. Nagabhushana vs. State of Karnataka & Ors., AIR  2011  SC  1113,
      this Court held that doctrine of  res-judicata  was  not  a  technical
      doctrine but a fundamental principle which sustains the rule of law in
      ensuring finality in litigation. The main object of the doctrine is to
      promote a fair administration of  justice  and  to  prevent  abuse  of
      process of the court on the issues which have become final between the
      parties. The doctrine was based on two  age  old  principles,  namely,
      'interest reipublicae ut sit finis litium' which means that it  is  in
      the interest of the State that there should be an  end  to  litigation
      and the other principle is 'nemo debet bis vexari  si  constat  curiae
      quod sit pro una et eadem causa' meaning thereby that no one ought  to
      be vexed twice in a litigation if it appears to the Court that  it  is
      for one and the same cause.

75.   Thus, the principle of finality of litigation  is  based  on  a  sound
      firm principle of public policy. In the absence of  such  a  principle
      great oppression might result under the colour  and  pretence  of  law
      inasmuch as there will be no end to litigation. The doctrine  of  res-
      judicata has been evolved to prevent such an anarchy.

76.    In a country governed by the rule of law,  finality  of  judgment  is
      absolutely imperative and great sanctity is attached to  the  finality
      of the judgment and it is not permissible for the  parties  to  reopen
      the concluded judgments of the court as it would not  only  tantamount
      to merely an abuse of the process of the  court  but  would  have  far
      reaching adverse affect on the administration  of  justice.  It  would
      also nullify the doctrine of stare decisis a well established valuable
      principle of precedent which cannot be departed from unless there  are
      compelling circumstances to do so. The  judgments  of  the  court  and
      particularly the Apex Court of a country  cannot  and  should  not  be
      unsettled lightly.

77.  Precedent keeps the law  predictable  and  the  law  declared  by  this
      Court, being the law of the land, is binding on  all  courts/tribunals
      and authorities in India in view of Article 141 of  the  Constitution.
      The judicial system "only works if someone is allowed to have the last
      word" and  the  last  word  so  spoken  is  accepted  and  religiously
      followed. The doctrine of  stare  decisis  promotes  a  certainty  and
      consistency in judicial decisions and this helps in the development of
      the law. Besides providing guidelines for individuals as to what would
      be the consequences if he  chooses  the  legal  action,  the  doctrine
      promotes confidence of the  people  in  the  system  of  the  judicial
      administration. Even otherwise it is an imperative necessity to  avoid
      uncertainty, confusion. Judicial propriety and decorum demand that the
      law laid down by the highest Court of the land must  be  given  effect
      to.

78.   In Rupa Ashok Hurra v. Ashok Hurra & Anr.,  AIR  2002  SC  1771,  this
      Court dealt with the issue and held that reconsideration of a judgment
      of this Court which has attained finality is not normally permissible.
      A decision  upon  a  question  of  law  rendered  by  this  Court  was
      conclusive and would bind the court in  subsequent  cases.  The  court
      cannot sit in appeal against its own judgment.

79.   In Maganlal Chhaganlal (P) Ltd. v. Municipal  Corporation  of  Greater
      Bombay, AIR 1974 SC 2009, this Court held as under:


                 "At the same time,  it  has  to  be  borne  in  mind  that
               certainty and continuity are essential  ingredients  of  the
               rule of law. Certainty in law would be  considerably  eroded
               and suffer a serious setback if the  highest  court  of  the
               land readily overrules the view expressed by it  in  earlier
               cases, even though that view has held the field for a number
               of years. In quite a number of cases which  come  up  before
               this Court, two views are possible, and simply  because  the
               Court considers that the view not taken by the Court in  the
               earlier case was a better  view  of  the  matter  would  not
               justify' the overruling of the view. The law  laid  down  by
               this Court is binding upon all courts in the  country  under
               Article 141 of the Constitution, and numerous cases all over
               the country are decided in accordance with the view taken by
               this Court. Many people  arrange  their  affairs  and  large
               number of transactions also take place on the faith  of  the
               correctness of the view taken by this Court. It would create
               uncertainty, instability and confusion if the law propounded
               by this Court on the basis of which numerous cases have been
               decided and many transactions have taken place is held to be
               not the correct law. "
      Thus, in view of above, it can be held that doctrine of  finality  has
      to be applied in a strict legal sense.



80. While dealing with the issue this  court  in  Ambika  Prasad  Mishra  v.
    State of U.P. & Anr., AIR 1980 SC 1762, held as under:

           "6. It is wise to remember that fatal flaws silenced by  earlier
               rulings cannot survive after death because a  decision  does
               not lose its authority 'merely because it was badly  argued,
               inadequately considered and fallaciously reasoned'".

81.    The view has been expressed by a three-Judge Bench of this  Court  in
    these very proceedings while dismissing the special leave petitions  of
    Subhash Juneja and Harish Lal Singh vide order  dated  23.4.2003.  This
    court applied the doctrine of finality of judgment and res-judicata and
    refused to reopen these very proceedings.


82.   Mrs. Kiran Suri, learned counsel appearing  for  the  respondent,  put
    heavy reliance on a decision of this Court  in  the  case  of   Mathura
    Prasad Bajoo Jaiswal & Ors. v. Dossibai N.B.  Jeejeebhoy,  (1970)1  SCC
    613, for the proposition that question relating to the jurisdiction  of
    a court cannot  be  deemed  to  have  been  finally  determined  by  an
    erroneous decision of the court.  Further by an erroneous  decision  if
    the court resumes jurisdiction which it  does  not  possess  under  the
    Statute, the question cannot operate as res judicata between  the  same
    parties whether the cause of action in  the  subsequent  litigation  is
    same or otherwise.  In our opinion, the aforesaid  decision  is  of  no
    help to the respondent for the simple reason that the facts and the law
    involved in the instant case and the earlier round  of  litigation  are
    the same.  In para 5 of the aforesaid judgment,  this  Court  has  laid
    down the principle, which reads as under:-

           “5. But the doctrine of res judicata belongs to  the  domain  of
           procedure: it cannot be exalted to the status of  a  legislative
           direction between the parties so as to  determine  the  question
           relating  to  the  interpretation  of  enactment  affecting  the
           jurisdiction of a Court finally between  them,  even  though  no
           question of fact or mixed question of law and fact and  relating
           to the right in dispute between the parties has been  determined
           thereby. A decision of a competent Court on a  matter  in  issue
           may be res judicata  in  another  proceeding  between  the  same
           parties: the “matter in issue” may be an issue of fact, an issue
           of law, or one of mixed law and fact. An issue  of  fact  or  an
           issue of mixed law and fact decided  by  a  competent  Court  is
           finally determined between the parties and cannot  be  re-opened
           between them in another proceeding. The previous decision  on  a
           matter in issue alone is  res  judicata:  the  reasons  for  the
           decision are not res judicata. A matter  in  issue  between  the
           parties is the right claimed by one  party  and  denied  by  the
           other, and the claim of right from its very nature depends  upon
           proof of facts and application of the relevant  law  thereto.  A
           pure question of law unrelated to facts which  give  rise  to  a
           right, cannot be deemed to be a matter in issue. When it is said
           that a previous decision is res judicata, it is meant  that  the
           right claimed has been adjudicated  upon  and  cannot  again  be
           placed in contest between the same parties. A previous  decision
           of a competent Court on facts which are the  foundation  of  the
           right and the relevant law applicable to  the  determination  of
           the transaction  which  is  the  source  of  the  right  is  res
           judicata. A  previous  decision  on  a  matter  in  issue  is  a
           composite decision: the decision on law  cannot  be  dissociated
           from the decision on facts on which  the  right  is  founded.  A
           decision on an issue of  law  will  be  as  res  judicata  in  a
           subsequent proceeding between the same parties, if the cause  of
           action of the subsequent  proceeding  be  the  same  as  in  the
           previous proceeding,  but  not  when  the  cause  of  action  is
           different, nor when the law has since the earlier decision  been
           altered by a competent authority, nor when the decision  relates
           to the jurisdiction of the Court to try the earlier  proceeding,
           nor when the earlier decision declares valid a transaction which
           is prohibited by law.

83. In the case arising out of these very proceedings reported in  Union  of
    India & Ors. v. Ranbir Singh Rathaur & Ors., (2006) 11  SCC  696,  this
    Court held:

       a) That review of  the  earlier  orders  passed  by  this  court  was
          "impermissible": approach of the High Court of reopening the  case
          was "erroneous"; the issue of maintainability of the petitions was
          of paramount importance:


       b) The finding recorded by the High Court that the entire record  was
          not produced by the Union of India was not factually correct;

       c) To say that "justice  stood  at  the  higher  pedestal"  then  the
          finality of litigation was not an answer  enabling  the  court  to
          reopen a finally decided case;

          (d) Persons behind the false implication  were  not  impleaded  as
              parties; and


          (e) Newspaper reports/statement made by any officer could  not  be
              considered as evidence.

84.  Violation of Fundamental Rights guaranteed under the Constitution  have
      to be protected, but at the same time, it is the duty of the court  to
      ensure that the decisions rendered by the  court  are  not  overturned
      frequently,  that  too,  when  challenged  collaterally  as  that  was
      directly  affecting  the   basic   structure   of   the   Constitution
      incorporating the power of judicial review of this Court. There is  no
      doubt that this Court has an extensive power to correct an error or to
      review its decision but that cannot be done at the cost of doctrine of
      finality. An issue of law can be overruled later on, but a question of
      fact or, as in the present  case,  the  dispute  with  regard  to  the
      termination of services cannot be reopened once it  has  been  finally
      sealed in proceedings inter-se between the parties up  to  this  Court
      way back in 1980.

85.   The term ‘dismissal’ in the original  order  was  substituted  by  the
      term  ‘termination’  issuing  the  corrigendum  to  ratify  a  mistake
      committed while issuing the order. In fact,  the  competent  authority
      had taken a decision only to terminate, and  therefore  it  was  found
      necessary  to  issue  the  corrigendum.  However,  in  view  of   such
      substitution of word ‘dismissal’ by the term ‘termination’,  does  not
      tilt the balance in favour of the respondents. More so, as pointed out
      by Mr. Paras Kuhad, learned ASG that the  proposed  5%  deduction  had
      been withdrawn, and therefore the issue did not survive.
86.   Analysing entire facts of the case and the material produced in  Court
      and upon an exhaustive consideration of the  matter,  we  are  of  the
      definite opinion that the power of pleasure exercised by the President
      in terminating the services of the respondents does  not  suffer  from
      any illegality, bias or malafide or  based  on  any  other  extraneous
      ground, and the same cannot be challenged on the ground that it  is  a
      camouflage.  As discussed above,  the  onus  lay  on  the  respondent-
      officers who alleged malafides.   No  credible  evidence  or  material
      produced before the Court impels us to come to the conclusion that the
      order of termination is baseless or malafide.
87.  For the reasons aforesaid, these appeals are allowed and  the  judgment
    and order passed by  the  Delhi  High  Court  is  set  aside.   Ordered
    accordingly. No costs.

                                                              …………………………….J.
                                                                  (Dr.  B.S.
    Chauhan)



                                                              …………………………….J.
                                                                         (J.
    Chelameswar)


                                                              …………………………….J.
                                                                       (M.Y.
    Eqbal)
New Delhi,
March 6, 2014.




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