Jurisdiction, Powers and Authority of Central & State Administrative Tribunals [JUDGMENT]

Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 - Sections 14 and 15 - Jurisdiction, powers and authority of the Central Administrative Tribunal and State Administrative Tribunals - All service matters concerning a member of any All-India Service pertaining to the service of such member in connection with the affairs of any State can only be decided by the CAT which has jurisdiction - Persons covered by Section 14(1)(b) of the Act are expressly excluded from the gamut of Section 15(1)(b) of the Act in the grant of reliefs by the KAT in an application.

Overruled : Ajithkumar v. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd., 2014 (4) KLT 914
IN THE HIGH COURT OF KERALA AT ERNAKULAM
PRESENT THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE V.CHITAMBARESH & THE HONOURABLE MR.JUSTICE ASHOK MENON
FRIDAY, THE 31ST DAY OF MAY 2019 / 10TH JYAISHTA, 1941
OP(KAT).No. 203 of 2019
AGAINST THE ORDER DATED 10.4.2019 IN UNNUMBERED O.A.NO. OF 2019 OF KERALA ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM.
PETITIONER:
DR.P.SURESH BABU IAS, AGED 58 YEARS, S/O.PRABHAKARAN R., CONTROLLER, LEGAL METROLOGY, VIKAS BHAVAN P.O., THIRUVANANTHAPURAM-695 033
BY ADV. SRI.D.KISHORE
RESPONDENTS:
1 THE STATE OF KERALA, REPRESENTED BY CHIEF SECRETARY, GOVERNMENT OF KERALA, GOVERNMENT SECRETARIAT, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM-695 001.
2 THE PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT GENERAL (A & E), AG'S OFFICE, THIRUVANANTHAPURAM-695 001.
BY SRI.ANTONY MUKKATH, SR.GOVT.PLEADER
J U D G M E N T
Chitambaresh, J.
1. The petitioner joined the State Service as Deputy Collector by direct recruitment and has since been promoted to the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and therefore currently a member of the All-India Service. The petitioner moved the Kerala Administrative Tribunal ('KAT' for short) under Section 19 of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 ('the Act' for short) for reliefs. The petitioner sought to quash the communication dated 7.2.2019 from the Office of the Accountant General (A & E), Kerala negativing his claim for earned leave of 14 months. The petitioner also sought a direction to the Principal Accountant General (A & E) to reckon the pre-service training period as earned leave for the purpose of leave surrender benefits.
2. The KAT has by the order impugned refused to entertain the original application on the premise that only the Central Administrative Tribunal ('CAT' for short) has the jurisdiction to deal with the same. The petitioner challenges the order of the KAT on the ground that the dispute in hand pertains to the preservice training period for 14 months from 29.10.2005 to 28.12.2006. The petitioner contends that the period of training was after the appointment as Deputy Collector before he joined the post of Revenue Divisional Officer in the State Service. It is the case of the petitioner that his present status as a member of the All-India Service is irrelevant and that the KAT has the jurisdiction since the dispute relates to his State Service.
3. We heard Mr D.Kishore, Advocate for the petitioner and Mr Antony Mukkath, Senior Government Pleader for the respondents in extenso.
4. Sections 14 and 15 of the Act delineate the jurisdiction, powers and authority of the CAT and KAT respectively which are clear and specific and do not overlap in the disposal of an original application. Section 14(1)(b) of the Act which is relevant is extracted below:
“14. Jurisdiction, powers and authority of the Central Administrative Tribunal.-(1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, the Central Administrative Tribunal shall exercise, on and from the appointed day, all the jurisdiction, powers and authority exercisable immediately before that day by all courts (except the Supreme Court in relation to-
(a) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(b) all service matters concerning-
(i) a member of any All-India Service; or
(ii) a person not being a member of an All-India Service or a person referred to in clause (c) appointed to any civil service of the Union or any civil post under the Union; or
(iii) a civilian not being a member of an All-India Service or a person referred to in clause (c) appointed to any defence services or a post connected with defence,
and pertaining to the service of such member, person or civilian, in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State or of any local or other authority within the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India or of any corporation or society owned or controlled by the Government;” (emphasis supplied)
Thus all service matters concerning a member of any All-India Service pertaining to the service of such member in connection with the affairs of any State can only be decided by the CAT which has jurisdiction.
5. Section 15(1)(b) of the Act which is relevant is extracted below:
“15. Jurisdiction, powers and authority of State Administrative Tribunals.-(1) Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, the Administrative Tribunal for a State shall exercise, on and from the appointed day, all the jurisdiction, powers and authority exercisable immediately before that day by all courts (except the Supreme Court) in relation to-
(a) xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
(b) all service matters concerning a person not being a person referred to in clause (c) of this subsection or a member, person or civilian referred to in clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 14 appointed to any civil service of the State or any civil post under the State and pertaining to the service of such person in connection with the affairs of the State or of any local or other authority under the control of the State Government or of any corporation or society owned or controlled by the State Government;” (emphasis supplied)
Thus statutory provisions are amply clear that persons covered by Section 14(1)(b) of the Act are expressly excluded from the gamut of Section 15(1)(b) of the Act in the grant of reliefs by the KAT in an application.
6. The service matter concerns the petitioner who is a member of the All-India Service (currently an officer in the Indian Administrative Service) and pertains to his service in connection with the affairs of the State as Deputy Collector. The dispute in essence is as to how the pre-service training period of 14 months after the appointment of the petitioner as Deputy Collector in the State Service should be reckoned for the purpose of earned leave. The reliefs if granted to the petitioner would add on to his terminal benefits after his retirement from the All-India Service no matter the period pertains to his stint in State Service. We have no hesitation to hold that only the CAT has the jurisdiction to deal with the original application filed by the petitioner and that the KAT has rightly declined jurisdiction.
7. The petitioner heavily relies on Ajithkumar v. Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation Ltd. [2014 (4) KLT 914] and our attention was invited to the following passage in paragraph 17 thereof:
“As such, it is manifest that the status of the petitioner may not be of much relevance in determining the jurisdiction of the Administrative Tribunal. Ipso facto, it can be stated that the relief sought plays a vital role in determining the jurisdiction.”
We do not think that such sweeping observations are correct in the context of Sections 14(1)(b) and 15(1)(b) of the Act which lay emphasis on the status of the petitioner also in determining the jurisdiction. We are therefore constrained to overrule the decision in Ajithkumar's case (supra) notwithstanding the vehement and persuasive arguments of Mr.D.Kishore, Advocate for the petitioner. The case of the petitioner squarely falls under Section 14(1)(b) of the Act excluded from the gamut of Section 15(1)(b) of the Act and therefore only the CAT has jurisdiction.
The original petition fails. Dismissed. No costs.

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