Writ petition was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India the petitioners who were the employees of the erstwhile Department of Overseas Communication Services (OCS) of the Government of India absorbed in the services of the Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (for short ‘VSNL’) now known as ‘Tata Telecommunications Ltd-Respondent no.4, are seeking pensionary benefits under the Office Memorandum dated 5 July 1989 issued by the Government of India, Department of Pension and Pension Welfare. The High Court dismissed their plea holding that they were not eligible to avail pensionary benefits under the Government of India, since they had served for less than 10 years on the date of their absorption into VSNL which is squarely covered by Clause (c) of the Office Memorandum i.e. Appellants would be entitled to receive an amount equal to the Provident Fund contribution for the period of their service under the Government. Further, it stated the matter was squarely covered by the earlier decision of a Division Bench of the High Court in S.V. Vasaikar v. Union of India.
Constitution Bench views were acknowledged and agreed by the Apex court as the High Court decision in S.V. Vasaikarv Union of India was not challenged in the Apex Court and though it has attained finality and when the nature of issue in the present suit was directly and substantially is same in the aforesaid case therefore, it was stated that all litigations must come to an end.
Reference was made to the decision of the Constitution Bench in Direct Recruit Class II Engineering Officers’ Association v. State of Maharashtra & Ors. 2 wherein Sharma, J., on behalf of the five judge benches, held:
“The binding character of judgments of courts of competent jurisdiction is in essence a part of the rule of law on which the administration of justice, so much emphasized by the Constitution, is founded and a judgment of the High Court under Article 226 passed after a hearing on the merits must bind the parties till set aside in appeal as provided by the Constitution and cannot be permitted to be circumvented by a petition under Article 32.”
In other words it was held that The principles of Res Judicata are applicable to writ petitions.
Relaying on the aforesaid cases since nature of issue of both the cases was same SC dismissed the Writ Petition and held that:“Albeit the decision of the Constitution Bench was in the context of a Writ Petition filed under Article 32, it would apply with greater force to bar a Writ Petition filed under Article 226, like the one filed by the present Appellants, by the operation of the principle of res judicata.”