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Saturday, July 4, 2015

The principle is derived from the Latin maxim ratihabitio mandato aequiparatur, namely, “a subsequent ratification of an act is equivalent to a prior authority to perform such act.” Therefore, ratification assumes an invalid act which is retrospectively validated.” “In the present case, the Managing Director’s order dismissing the respondent from service was admittedly ratified by the Board of Directors unquestionably had the power to terminate the services of the respondent. Since the order of the Managing Director had been ratified by the Board of Directors such ratification related back to the date of the order and validated it.” 40) Applying the aforementioned law of ratification to the facts at hand, even if we assume for the sake of argument that the order of dismissal dated 16.08.1996 was passed by the Principal & Secretary who had neither any authority to pass such order under the Rules nor there was any authorization given by the BOG in his favour to pass such order yet in our considered view when the BOG in their meeting held on 22.08.1996 approved the previous actions of the Principal & Secretary in passing the respondent's dismissal order dated 16.08.1996, all the irregularities complained of by the respondent in the proceedings including the authority exercised by the Principal & Secretary to dismiss him stood ratified by the Competent Authority (Board of Governors) themselves with retrospective effect from 16.8.1996 thereby making an invalid act a lawful one in conformity with the procedure prescribed in Rules. 41) In such circumstances, the respondent's grievance that the dismissal order had not been passed by the competent authority, i.e., the BOG is no longer survived. 42) In the light of foregoing discussion, we differ with the view taken by the High Court and accordingly hold that the dismissal order dated 16.08.1996 was passed by the Competent Authority, namely, the BOG as prescribed in the Rules and hence it was legal and proper. It is accordingly upheld. 43) As already mentioned above, no other point was urged by the respondent in the writ petition and also in intra court appeal of the appellant by filing cross objection therein for assailing the legality and correctness of the dismissal order on other grounds except the one which we have decided. It is, therefore, not necessary to go into any other question.

                                                                  Reportable
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL No. 5070 OF 2008


National Institute of Technology
& Anr.                                       Appellant(s)


                            VERSUS



Pannalal Choudhury & Anr.               Respondent(s)

                               J U D G M E N T
Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.
1)    This appeal  is  filed  against  the  final  judgment  &  order  dated
17.11.2006 passed by the High Court of Gauhati in W.A. No. 106/2004.
2)    In order to appreciate the issue involved in this appeal,  which  lies
in a narrow compass, it is necessary to set out the relevant facts in  brief
infra.
3)    The appellant is a reputed  Technical  Educational  Institute  in  the
country. It is known as  "National  Institute  of  Technology"  (hereinafter
referred to as “NIT”) at Silchar in the State of Assam. Till 28.06.2002,  it
was functioning as Regional Engineering College (hereinafter referred to  as
“REC”) in equal participation of State and Central Government.  However,  on
and after 28.06.2002, it became fully owned Central  Government  Educational
Institute under the exclusive control and supervision of Central  Government
and was accordingly named as NIT.
4)     The  respondent  was  originally  appointed   as   Deputy   Registrar
(Accounts) on 17.07.1986 by the erstwhile REC in their Institute. After  few
years, the respondent, on being selected, was appointed as Registrar of  the
REC. However, he was asked to hold the post of Deputy  Registrar  (Accounts)
till the said post was regularly filled up.
5)    In  the  year  1994-95,  it  was  noticed  in  the  audit  that  while
functioning as  Registrar/Deputy  Registrar(Accounts),  the  respondent  had
committed several serious financial as also  administrative  irregularities.
  The  irregularities  were  related  to  the   acts   of   insubordination,
dereliction of  duties  while  attending  to  the  work  of  the  Institute,
suppression of facts from the higher  authorities  and  misappropriation  of
Institution's funds thereby putting the Institute to suffer loss etc.
6)     The  Management  of  REC  accordingly   issued   three   show   cause
notices/charge sheets two on 24.10.1994 (Annexure-P-1collectively)  and  one
on 01.02.1995 (Annexure P-3) to the respondent under Rule  9  of  the  Assam
Services (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1964  (hereinafter  referred  to  as
“the Rules”). The details of the irregularities/misconduct committed by  the
respondent were enclosed with the charge sheets. The  respondent  was  asked
to file his written reply to the aforesaid charge sheets. He was also  asked
to inspect the relevant documents, if he so desired to do so.
7)    The matter was accordingly placed in the 66th meeting of the Board  of
Governors (in short “BOG”) held on 07.12.1994 as agenda Item Nos. 7 (a)  and
8 under the caption – “To receive  a  note  of  recent  financial  stalemate
created by Shri Pannalal Choudhary,  Registrar  who  was  also  holding  the
charge of Deputy Registrar  (Accounts)  and  suggest  remedial  measures  to
avoid such situation in future”  and second “To  consider  rectification  of
irregularities observed by A.G. Audit in the accounts of REC “Silchar”.
8)    The BOG discussed the matter under reference in the said  meeting  and
viewed the same as being serious  because  of  nature  of  charges  and  the
allegations made in support thereof. The BOG approved the  action  proposed,
initiated and taken by the Principal & Secretary against the  respondent  so
far and further directed to take  next  disciplinary  step  in  consultation
with the Chairman, BOG.
9)    This led to constitution of an inquiry Committee consisting  of  three
Members by the Management for holding a regular  departmental  inquiry  into
the charges leveled against the respondent.  Out of three Members,  one  Dr.
S.K. Das –  Head  of  the  Department  of  Humanities  of  REC  Silchar  was
appointed as the  Presiding  Officer  while  Sri.  R.  Gupta,  Head  of  the
Department of Applied  Mechanics  and  Sr.  A.I.  Laskar,  Lecturer  in  the
Department of Civil Engineering were the Members. Since the charges  leveled
against the respondent were serious in nature,   the  BOG,  by  order  dated
17.02.1995  put  the  respondent  under  suspension   pending   departmental
inquiry.
10)    The  Committee  then  issued  notices  to  the  respondent  for   his
appearance on various dates  such  as  04.07.1995,  20.07.1995,  03.08.1995,
14.08.1995 and 27.12.1995 to participate in the inquiry  but  he  failed  to
appear for the  reasons  best  known  to  him.  The  Management  accordingly
examined  four  witnesses  in  support  of  the   charges   on   14.08.1995.
Thereafter, on 27.12.1995 the respondent sent  a  letter  to  the  Committee
praying therein that since he has challenged his suspension order in  Court,
the departmental proceedings initiated against him be  stayed  awaiting  the
outcome of the Court proceedings.
11)   The Committee considered the prayer made by the respondent and was  of
the view that in the absence of stay order passed by any Court, there is  no
justification  to  stay  the  departmental  proceedings  as  prayed  by  the
respondent.  The Committee, therefore,  rejected  the  prayer  made  by  the
respondent and issued another notice to the  respondent  requesting  him  to
appear before the Committee on 10.01.1996. The  respondent  did  not  appear
and hence the inquiry proceedings were  adjourned  for  18.01.1996.  In  the
notice sent to the respondent for  his  appearance  on  18.01.1996,  it  was
specifically mentioned that in case the respondent fails to appear  on  that
date, no further notice would  be  sent  to  him  of  the  proceedings.  The
respondent, despite service of notice, remained absent even  on  18.01.1996.
The Committee then concluded  its  proceedings  on  the  basis  of  material
produced before it by the Management and submitted  its  16-page  report  on
29.02.1996 (Annexure-P-4), concluding therein that all the  charges  leveled
against the respondent in 3 charge sheets stood proved.
12)   On 11.03.1996, the report of the Committee was placed before  the  BOG
in their 68th meeting as Agenda Nos. 6  and  24  to  decide  further  action
keeping in view the findings of the Committee. The BOG, after  perusing  the
report, accepted all the findings of the Committee and accordingly  resolved
to impose  punishment  on  the  respondent.  The  BOG  also  authorized  the
Principal & Secretary to prepare the show cause notice  and  take  necessary
action as the Chairman/Board advises (Annexure-P-5) and do  the  needful  in
the matter.
13)   Accordingly, a show  cause  notice  was  sent  to  the  respondent  on
07.06.96 (Annexure-P-6) by registered  post  along  with  the  copy  of  the
Inquiry  report  dated  29.02.1996  proposing  therein  the  punishment   of
dismissal of the respondent from the service.  Even  after  receipt  of  the
show cause notice, the respondent did not file any reply.  The  Principal  &
Secretary accordingly informed the Chairman by his letter  dated  01.07.1996
(Annexure-P-7) about non-submission of any reply  by  the  respondent.   The
Principal & Secretary by his order dated 16.08.1996(Annexure-P-8)  dismissed
the respondent from the services of REC.
14)   The matter was then placed before the BOG in their 69th  meeting  held
on 22.08.1996 as Item No. 2 for appropriate orders, if any, in  relation  to
the  respondent's services. The BOG, in express  terms,  after  deliberating
the matter approved the minutes of earlier meeting and also approved of  the
action taken against  the  respondent  by  the  Principal  &  Secretary  and
accordingly noted its compliance made in that behalf.
15)   It is with these  aforementioned  facts,  which  are  undisputed,  the
respondent, felt aggrieved by the dismissal order  dated  16.08.1996,  filed
writ petition before the High Court. The challenge  to  dismissal  order  in
the  writ  petition  was  essentially  on  one  ground,  namely,  that   the
authority, which passed the dismissal order, had no power to pass and  hence
it was illegal and thus liable to be set aside. It was  contended  that  the
power to pass the dismissal order, as per the Rules,  vests  with  the   BOG
and hence only the BOG could pass such order. It was pointed out that  since
the dismissal order was passed by the Principal  &  Secretary,  who  had  no
authority to pass such order under the Rules, hence dismissal order was  bad
in law. It was also contended that even assuming that the BOG had  delegated
their powers  in  favour  of  Principal  &  Secretary  to  take  appropriate
disciplinary action against the  respondent  as  their  delegate,  yet  mere
reading of the resolutions passed by the BOG in  this  behalf  would  go  to
show that no such power was conferred or/and delegated to  the  Principal  &
Secretary so as to empower him to pass dismissal order of the respondent.
16)   The appellant (as respondent in the writ petition) while opposing  the
writ petition defended their action, which had  culminated  in  respondent's
dismissal from service and contended that it was passed as  per  the  Rules.
According to the  appellant,  the  entire  action  proposed,  initiated  and
eventually taken against the respondent  which  resulted  in  his  dismissal
from service was taken by the BOG and later approved by  the  BOG  in  their
meetings held on various dates and hence it was wrong on  the  part  of  the
respondent to contend that the dismissal order was not  passed  by  the  BOG
but was passed by the Principal & Secretary. It was  pointed  out  that  the
Principal & Secretary was also authorized by the BOG to  initiate  and  take
disciplinary  action  against  the  respondent  in  consultation  with   the
Chairman,  BOG and do the needful, which  he  did  pursuant  to  such  power
delegated to him, and later also  sought its approval from the BOG.  It  was
lastly  contended  that  when  the  BOG,  in  their  last  meeting  held  on
22.08.1996 approved the entire action including  passing  of  the  dismissal
order then all previous actions taken by the  Principal  &  Secretary  stood
ratified by the BOG from the date they were taken and thus became legal  and
proper. The appellant also  defended  the  entire  departmental  proceedings
initiated  against  the  respondent   contending   that   the   departmental
proceedings were held in accordance with law by following  proper  procedure
prescribed in the Rules and giving full opportunity  to  the  respondent  to
defend and hence no flaw can be noticed in the proceedings.
17)   As  mentioned  above,  the  writ  court  (single  judge)  allowed  the
respondent's  writ  petition  and  set  aside  the  dismissal  order   dated
16.08.1996 on the short ground that since the competent  authority  did  not
pass the dismissal order prescribed in the Rules, i.e., the BOG, whereas  it
was passed by the Principal & Secretary who had no authority  to  pass  such
dismissal order under the Rules and hence it was  liable  to  be  set  aside
being  against  the  rules.  The  writ  court  accordingly  set  aside   the
dismissal order dated 16.08.1996  with  a  direction  to  the  appellant  to
reinstate the respondent in their services by giving him  all  consequential
benefits.
18)   Aggrieved by the said order, the appellant filed intra  court  appeal.
By impugned order, the Division Bench concurred with the view taken  by  the
Single Judge (writ court) dismissed  the  appellant's  appeal.  Challenging,
the said order, the appellant filed this appeal  by  way  of  special  leave
before this Court.
19)   Heard Mr. Manoj Goel, learned  counsel  for  the  appellants  and  Mr.
Anshuman Sinha, learned counsel for contesting respondent No. 1.
20)   Mr Manoj Goel, learned  Counsel  appearing  for  the  appellant  while
assailing the legality and correctness of the view taken by the  writ  court
and appellate court contended that both the courts below erred  in  allowing
the respondent's writ  petition  and  quashing  the  dismissal  order  dated
16.08.1996.
21)   In the first place, learned counsel for the appellant  contended  that
no fault could be noticed in  the  entire  departmental  proceedings,  which
eventually resulted in respondent's ouster from the services because it  was
conducted strictly in accordance with the Rules prescribed.
22)   In  the  second  place,  his  contention  was  that  the  Principal  &
Secretary  was  duly  authorized  by  the  BOG  to   initiate   departmental
proceedings  and  to  take  appropriate  action  in  consultation  with  the
Chairman of the BOG against the respondent. In support  of  his  contention,
learned counsel placed reliance on various Resolutions  passed  by  the  BOG
from  time  to  time  and,  in  particular,  Resolutions  dated  07.12.1994,
08.06.1995, 11.03.1996, and 22.08.1996.
23)   In the third place, he contended that the BOG was involved in all  the
deliberations at every stage of the departmental  proceedings  as  would  be
clear from the minutes of meetings of the BOG and hence it can not  be  said
that the BOG did  not  take  any  decision  or  it  was  not  aware  of  the
proceedings or did not approve of the action taken  against  the  respondent
by the Principal & Secretary.
24)   In the fourth place, it  was  contended  that  the  entire  action  in
question having been approved or/and ratified  by  the  BOG  in  their  last
meeting held on 22.08.1996, whatever so-called defects even  if  existed  in
the departmental proceedings including passing of  the  dismissal  order  on
16.08.1996, the same stood ratified by the BOG  in  their  meeting  held  on
22.08.1996 and hence no fault can be noticed in the proceedings.
25)   In contra, learned counsel for the respondent supported the  reasoning
and the conclusion arrived at by the two Courts below and contended that  no
case is made out to interfere in the impugned order.  Learned  counsel  then
elaborated his submissions in support of the reasons  rendered  by  the  two
Courts.
26)   Having heard the learned counsel for the parties  and  on  perusal  of
the record of the case, we find force in all the contentions  urged  by  the
learned counsel for the  appellant.  This  we  say  so  for  the   following
reasons:
27)   At the threshold, it  is  noticed  that  in  the  writ  petition,  the
respondent had taken several grounds to challenge  the  dismissal  order  on
merits. However, a perusal of order of  the writ court would show  that  the
writ petitioner did not press any of the grounds. The only ground, which  he
pressed, while prosecuting  the  writ  petition,   was  that  the  order  of
dismissal was passed by the Principal & Secretary of the  NIT,  who  had  no
authority  to  pass  such  order.  Since  the  authority,  to  dismiss   the
respondent vested in the BOG of the  NIT  under  the  Rules  and  hence  the
dismissal order was bad in law. In view of the fact that the respondent  did
not press any of the grounds before the High Court except the one  mentioned
above we need not go into any of the ground. The only issue the  High  Court
was called upon to decide was whether the removal  of  the  respondent  from
service was by the competent authority?
28)   The High Court, as mentioned above, allowed the writ petition  holding
that the impugned order of dismissal dated 16.08.1996 was, in  fact.  passed
by the Principal & Secretary, who had no authority to pass such order  under
the Rules.  It was held that the competent authority to pass  the  dismissal
order under the Rules was the BOG. The High Court accordingly set aside  the
order of dismissal with a  direction  to  grant  all  consequential  service
benefits to the respondent. In appeal filed by the appellant,  the  Division
Bench concurred with the view taken by  the  Single  Judge  and  accordingly
dismissed the appellant's appeal, giving rise to filing of  this  appeal  by
the appellant (Management).
29)   Before we proceed to appreciate the submissions,  it  is  apposite  to
reproduce the relevant extracts of the meetings of the BOG, to  show  as  to
how the issue of the respondent was dealt with by the BOG:
                                     (1)
                  Minutes of the Meeting held on 07.12.1994
“Item-7(a): To receive a note of recent financial stalemate created by  Shri
Pannalal Choudhury, Registrar who was also  holding  the  charge  of  Deputy
Registrar (Accounts) and suggest remedial measures to avoid  such  situation
in future:

      The Board approved the action taken by the Principal &  Secretary,  on
the advice of the Hon’ble Chairman, BOG, regarding  financial  stalemate  as
ex-post facto.
       Further,  while  discussing  various  charges   of   insubordination,
dereliction  of  duty,  suppression  of  facts  etc.  brought  against   and
accordingly charge-sheets served to Shri Pannalal Choudhury,  Registrar  who
was  also  holding  the  charge  of  Deputy  Registrar  (Accounts),  by  the
Principal & Secretary, the Board of  Governors  took  the  matter  with  all
seriousness and directed the Principal & Secretary to take  necessary  legal
advice for further disciplinary actions in  consultation  with  the  Hon’ble
Chairman, BOG, REC Silchar.”

“Item-8: To consider rectification of irregularities observed by A.G.  Audit
in the accounts of Regional Engg. College, Silchar.

      The Board scrutinized various financial irregularities highlighted  by
A.G. Audit and also by the Principal & Secretary, BOG, and  took  the  whole
matter very seriously and directed the Principal & Secretary to  take  legal
advice and draw disciplinary proceedings against  Shri  Pannalal  Choudhury,
Registrar who was also holding the charge of Deputy Registrar (Accounts).

The Board further directed the Principal &  Secretary,  BOG,  to  take  next
disciplinary step in consultation with the Hon’ble Chairman, BOG.”

                                     (2)
                  Minutes of the Meeting held on 08.06.1995
Item 6:     To decide on the  case  of  Sri  Pannalal  Choudhury,  Registrar
(under suspension).
Sri Pannalal Choudhury, Registrar was put under suspension on 17.02.1995  by
the Secretary, Board of Governors obtaining necessary legal advice  as  well
as the written directive by the Hon’ble Chairman, Board of Governors.
The Hon’ble Board in its 66th meeting vide Item No. 7(a)  discussed  various
administrative charges of insubordination dereliction of  duty,  suppression
of  facts  etc.  and  accordingly  the  chargesheets  were  served  to   Sri
Choudhury.  The Board then directed the  Principal  and  Secretary  to  take
necessary legal advice for  further  disciplinary  actions  in  consultation
with the Hon’ble Chairman, Board of Governors.  And the Board  in  the  same
meeting vide item No. 8 also scrutinized  various  financial  irregularities
highlighted by the A.G. Audit and also by the Principal and Secretary.   The
Board took the whole matter very seriously and  directed  the  Secretary  to
take further legal advice and  draw  disciplinary  proceedings  against  Sri
Choudhury.
The Principal and Secretary accordingly  took  all  necessary  legal  advice
both from the High Court and the District Court Advocates duly appointed  by
the College and a Board of Inquiry was constituted on May 6, 1995  with  the
following Members for the purpose of Departmental proceedings:-
1.  Presiding Officer :     Dr. S.K. Das
2.  Members    : i) Dr. R. Gupta
                            ii) Prof. A.I. Laskar
3. Presenting Officer : Sri Sudipta Kr. Bhattacharjee

[However, at present a new Presenting Officer Sri F.A.  Talukdar,  Lecturer,
Deptt.  Of  Electrical  Engg.  has  been  appointed  as  Sri   Sudipta   Kr.
Bhattacharjee has informed his inability to continue as  Presenting  Officer
as he has applied for leave on medical ground.]
The Board of Inquiry has already completed its assigned job and  the  report
of the Board will be placed on the table  for  detailed  discussion  by  the
Hon’ble  Members  of  the  Board  of  Governors  and  for  necessary  action
thereafter.”

                                     (3)
                    Minutes of Meeting held on 11.03.1996
“Item-6:    To decide on the  case  of  Shri  Pannalal  Choudhury  Registrar
(under suspension).

      The report of the Board of inquiry was placed  before  the  Board  and
after  a  detailed  discussion,  the  board  authorized  the  Principal  and
Secretary to prepare a draft show cause notice on behalf of the Board to  be
served  to  Shri  Pannalal  Choudhury,  Registrar  (under  suspension)   for
imposing the punishment and to send a copy of the same to  the  Ministry  of
Human Resource Development, New Delhi with a request  to  communicate  their
comments, if any, within 21 days. The board also authorized the Principal  &
Secretary to submit the draft show cause notice after expiry  of  the  above
period of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and after taking  legal
advice to the Chairman, Board of Governors for serving the said  show  cause
notice by the Board to Sri Pannalal Choudhury, Registrar (under  suspension)
and to take necessary action as the Chairman/Board advices.”

      “Item-24:   To decide on the misappropriation of college money by  sri
Pannalal Choudhury in his capacity as Deputy Registrar (Accounts).
      The Board discussed this item in  relation  to  the  item  No.  6  and
authorized the Principal Secretary to do the needful accordingly.”

                                     (4)
                    Minutes of Meeting held on 22.08.1996
“Item-2: To receive a note on the actions taken and  progress  made  on  the
resolutions of the last meeting.
      Under item-6B68/96:
      In pursuance of the resolution and  direction  of  the  Board  actions
were taken and dismissal order had been issued to  Sri  Pannalal  Choudhury,
Registrar (under suspension) on 16.8.1996 and his name had been  struck  off
from the strength of the Regional Engineering College, Silchar Society.  The
Board noted the compliance of the action taken.

      The Board also noted the actions taken against item Nos.7, 8, 10,  15,
24 and 25 and approved the same.”

30)   Reading of the aforementioned four Resolutions passed by  the  BOG  in
juxtaposition in no uncertain terms show that the BOG monitored, dealt  with
and eventually decided the case of the respondent in their various  meetings
since inception and also authorized the Principal & Secretary to  deal  with
the same in consultation with the Chairman of Board of Governors and  to  do
the needful by passing appropriate orders. It is  also  clear  that  in  the
last meeting held on 22.08.1996, the BOG approved the Resolution  passed  in
the earlier 68th meeting held on 11.03.1996, which had dealt with  the  case
of respondent at Item Nos. 6 and 24.
31)   In our considered view,  the  expression   “authorization”   and   “to
take necessary action as the Chairman advises”  in Item No.  6  and  lastly,
the expression  “to do the needful accordingly”   in  Item  No.  24  in  the
Resolution dated 11.03.1996 were wide  enough  to  clothe  the  Principal  &
Secretary with a power to pass the dismissal order, if occasion so arises.
32)   As rightly argued by  the  learned  counsel  for  the  appellant,  the
Resolutions authorizing  the  Principal  &  Secretary  to  pass  appropriate
orders rightly, did not use the  expression   “to  dismiss  the  respondent”
because  at  that  point  of  time,  the   departmental   inquiry   was   in
contemplation against the respondent. It was, therefore, not known  at  that
time as to what  would  be  the  outcome  of  departmental  proceedings  and
secondly use of such expression  in  the  Resolution  before  the  start  of
departmental inquiry could have  been  construed  as  prejudging  the  issue
against the respondent thereby indicating existence of bias attitude of  the
Members of the Board of Governors towards the respondent and lastly as  said
above,  the  three  expressions  used  in  the  Resolution  did  clothe  the
Principal & Secretary with  the  power  to  pass  appropriate  orders  which
included the order imposing punishment of dismissal as   prescribed  in  the
Rules,  against  the  respondent  depending  upon   the   outcome   of   the
departmental inquiry and subject to grant of  final  approval  by  the  BOG.
Indeed the expression  “and to take necessary action as  the  Chairman/Board
advises”  and "to do the needful"  used in  the  Resolution  were  very  apt
words rightly used in the resolutions for taking intended action  which  was
in contemplation, against the respondent.
33)   In the light of aforesaid discussion and keeping in mind the  contents
of the Resolutions, it is difficult to agree with  the  view  taken  by  the
High Court that the BOG did not pass the dismissal order but it  was  passed
by the Principal & Secretary.  In other words, keeping in view the  contents
of the four Resolutions, we have no hesitation to hold  that  the  dismissal
order dated 16.08.1996 was passed by the BOG and the Principal  &  Secretary
only signed the order for and on behalf  of  the  BOG  on  the  strength  of
authorization  made  in  his  favour  by  the  BOG  vide  Resolution   dated
11.03.1996.
34)   That apart, the issue in question could be examined from  yet  another
angle by applying the law relating to "Ratification"  which  was  not  taken
note of by the High Court.
35)   The expression “Ratification”  means  “the  making  valid  of  an  act
already done”. This principle is derived from the Latin  maxim  “ratihabitio
mandato aequiparatur” meaning thereby “a subsequent ratification of  an  act
is equivalent to a prior authority to perform such  act.”  It  is  for  this
reason; the ratification assumes an invalid act,  which  is  retrospectively
validated.
36)   The expression “ratification”  was succinctly defined by  the  English
Court in one old case, Hartman Vs. Hornsby reported in  142  Mo  368  44  SW
242, 244 as under:
 “ ‘Ratification’ is the approval by act, word, or conduct,  of  that  which
was  attempted  (of   accomplishment),   but   which   was   improperly   or
unauthorisedly performed in the first instance.”

37)   The law of ratification was  applied  by  this  Court  in  Parmeshwari
Prasad Gupta Vs. U.O.I (1973) 2 SCC 543. In that case, the Chairman  of  the
Board of Directors had terminated the services of the General Manager  of  a
Company pursuant to a resolution taken by the Board at  a  meeting.  It  was
not in dispute that the meeting had been improperly  held  and  consequently
the resolution passed in  the  said  meeting  terminating  the  services  of
General Manager was invalid. However, the Board of Directors  then  convened
subsequent meeting and in this  meeting  affirmed  the  earlier  resolution,
which had been passed in improper meeting. On these facts, the Court held,

 “Even if it be assumed that the telegram and  the  letter  terminating  the
services of the appellant by the Chairman was in pursuance  of  the  invalid
resolution of the Board of Directors passed on 16-12-1953 to  terminate  his
services, it would not follow that the action of the Chairman could  not  be
ratified in a regularly convened meeting of  the  Board  of  Directors.  The
point is that even assuming that the Chairman was not legally authorised  to
terminate the services of the appellant, he was  acting  on  behalf  of  the
Company in doing so, because, he  purported  to  act  in  pursuance  of  the
invalid resolution. Therefore,  it  was  open  to  a  regularly  constituted
meeting of the Board of  Directors  to  ratify  that  action  which,  though
unauthorised, was done on behalf of the Company. Ratification  would  always
relate back to the date of the act ratified and so it must be held that  the
services of the appellant were validly terminated on 17-12-1953.”

38)   This view was approved by this Court in High Court of  Judicature  for
Rajasthan Vs. P.P. Singh & Anr.  (2003) 4 SCC 239.
39)   The aforesaid principle of law of ratification was  again  applied  by
this Court in Maharashtra State Mining Corpn. Vs. Sunil (2006) 5 SCC 96.  In
this case, the respondent was an  employee  of  the  appellant  Corporation.
Consequent to a departmental enquiry,  he  was  dismissed  by  the  Managing
Director of the appellant.   The  respondent  then  filed  a  writ  petition
before the High Court.  During the pendency of the writ petition, the  Board
of Directors of the appellant Corporation passed a resolution ratifying  the
impugned action of the Managing Director and also  empowering  him  to  take
decision in respect of the officers and  staff  in  the  grade  of  pay  the
maximum of which did  not  exceed  Rs.  4700  p.m.   Earlier,  the  Managing
Director had powers only in respect of those posts  where  the  maximum  pay
did not exceed Rs.1900  p.m.   The  respondent  at  the  relevant  time  was
drawing more  than  Rs.1800  p.m.  Therefore,  at  the  relevant  time,  the
Managing Director was incompetent to dismiss the  respondent.   Accordingly,
the High Court held the order of dismissal to be invalid.   The  High  Court
further held that the said defect could not  be  rectified  subsequently  by
the resolution of the Board of Directors.  The  High  Court  set  aside  the
dismissal order and granted consequential relief.  The appellant then  filed
the appeal in this Court by special leave.  Justice Ruma Pal,  speaking  for
three- Judge Bench, while allowing the  appeal  and  setting  aside  of  the
Court held as under :
      “The High Court rightly held that an  act  by  a  legally  incompetent
authority is invalid.  But it was entirely wrong in  holding  that  such  an
invalid act could not be subsequently “rectified”  by  ratification  of  the
competent authority.  Ratification by definition means the making  valid  of
an act already  done.   The  principle  is  derived  from  the  Latin  maxim
ratihabitio mandato aequiparatur, namely, “a subsequent ratification  of  an
act is equivalent to a prior authority to  perform  such  act.”   Therefore,
ratification assumes an invalid act which is retrospectively validated.”

“In  the  present  case,  the  Managing  Director’s  order  dismissing   the
respondent from service was admittedly ratified by the  Board  of  Directors
unquestionably had the power to terminate the services  of  the  respondent.
Since the order of the Managing Director had been ratified by the  Board  of
Directors such ratification related back  to  the  date  of  the  order  and
validated it.”

40)   Applying the aforementioned law of ratification to the facts at  hand,
even if we assume for the sake of  argument  that  the  order  of  dismissal
dated 16.08.1996 was passed by the Principal &  Secretary  who  had  neither
any authority to  pass  such  order  under  the  Rules  nor  there  was  any
authorization given by the BOG in his favour to pass such order yet  in  our
considered view when the BOG in their meeting held  on  22.08.1996  approved
the  previous  actions  of  the  Principal  &  Secretary  in   passing   the
respondent's  dismissal  order  dated  16.08.1996,  all  the  irregularities
complained of by the respondent in the proceedings including  the  authority
exercised by the Principal & Secretary to dismiss him stood ratified by  the
Competent Authority (Board  of  Governors)  themselves   with  retrospective
effect from 16.8.1996  thereby  making  an  invalid  act  a  lawful  one  in
conformity with the procedure prescribed in Rules.
41)   In such circumstances, the respondent's grievance that  the  dismissal
order had not been passed by the competent authority, i.e., the  BOG  is  no
longer survived.
42)   In the light of foregoing discussion, we differ with  the  view  taken
by the High Court and  accordingly  hold  that  the  dismissal  order  dated
16.08.1996 was passed  by  the  Competent  Authority,  namely,  the  BOG  as
prescribed  in  the  Rules  and  hence  it  was  legal  and  proper.  It  is
accordingly upheld.
43)    As  already  mentioned  above,  no  other  point  was  urged  by  the
respondent in the writ petition and  also  in  intra  court  appeal  of  the
appellant by filing cross objection therein for assailing the  legality  and
correctness of the dismissal order on other grounds except the one which  we
have decided.  It  is,  therefore,  not  necessary  to  go  into  any  other
question.

44)   In view of foregoing discussion, the appeal  succeeds  and  is  hereby
allowed. The impugned order  is  set  aside.  As  a  consequence,  the  writ
petition filed by the respondent stands dismissed. No costs.

                       …….….……............................J.
                            [VIKRAMAJIT SEN]



               …………..................................J.
                            [ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]


      New Delhi;
      July 01, 2015.


ITEM NO.1C               COURT NO.12               SECTION XIV
(For judgment)
               S U P R E M E  C O U R T  O F  I N D I A
                       RECORD OF PROCEEDINGS

                       Civil Appeal  No(s).  5070/2008

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY & ANR.            Appellant(s)

                                VERSUS

PANNALAL CHOUDHURY & ANR.                          Respondent(s)



Date : 01/07/2015      This appeal was called on for pronouncement
                 of judgment today.


For Appellant(s)       Mr. Shuvodeep Roy, AOR


For Respondent(s)      Mr. Renjith. B, AOR

                       M/s Corporate Law Group, Advs.


      Hon'ble Mr. Justice Abhay  Manohar  Sapre  pronounced  the  reportable
judgment of the Bench comprising Hon'ble Mr. Justice Vikramajit Sen and  His
Lordship.
      The appeal succeeds and is hereby  allowed  in  terms  of  the  signed
reportable judgment.


      (R.NATARAJAN)                                 (SNEH LATA SHARMA)
       Court Master                                    Court Master
            (Signed reportable judgment is placed on the file)



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