The Supreme Court has reiterated that the principle of Res Judicata is applicable to Writ petitions as well.
In P. Bandopadhya vs. Union of India, a judgment of Bombay High Court was challenged before the Apex Court. The impugned judgment was passed in a writ petition filed by former employees in the Overseas Communications Service [“OCS”], a Department of the Government of India.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. It also held that 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.
The bench comprising Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice Indu Malhotra agreed with the High Court view and observed that the decision in S.V. Vasaikar was not challenged before the Supreme Court, and had thus attained finality. The court also noted the following observation in Constitution bench judgment in Direct Recruit Class II Engineering Officers’ Association v. State of Maharashtra.
“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 emphasised 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.”
While dismissing the appeal, the bench added:
“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.”