State of Punjab versus Rafiq Masih

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 11527 OF 2014

(Arising out of SLP(C) No.11684 of 2012)

State of Punjab and others etc. … Appellants

versus

Rafiq Masih (White Washer) etc. … Respondent(s)

All the private respondents in the present bunch of cases, were given monetary benefits, which were in excess of their entitlement. These benefits flowed to them, consequent upon a mistake committed by the concerned competent authority, in determining the emoluments payable to them. The mistake could have occurred on account of a variety of reasons; including the grant of a status, which the concerned employee was not entitled to; or payment of salary in a higher scale, than in consonance of the right of the concerned employee; or because of a wrongful fixation of salary of the employee, consequent upon the upward revision of pay scales; or for having been granted allowances, for which the concerned employee was not authorized. The long and short of the matter is, that all the private respondents were beneficiaries of a mistake committed by the employer, and on account of the said unintentional mistake, employees were in receipt of monetary benefits, beyond their due. Another essential factual component in this bunch of cases is, that the respondent-employees were not guilty of furnishing any incorrect information, which had led the concerned competent authority, to commit the mistake of making the higher payment to the employees. The payment of higher dues to the private respondents, in all these cases, was not on account of any misrepresentation made by them, nor was it on account of any fraud committed by them. Any participation of the private respondents, in the mistake committed by the employer, in extending the undeserved monetary benefits to the respondent-employees, is totally ruled out. It would therefore not be incorrect to record, that the private respondents, were as innocent as their employers, in the wrongful determination of their inflated emoluments. The issue that we have been required to adjudicate is, whether all the private respondents, against whom an order of recovery (of the excess amount) has been made, should be exempted in law, from the reimbursement of the same to the employer. For the applicability of the instant order, and the conclusions recorded by us hereinafter, the ingredients depicted in the foregoing two paragraphs are essentially indispensable….read more