Supreme Court: The division bench of M.R. Shah* and C.T. Ravikumar J.J., quashed the order passed by Single Judge as well as the order passed by Division Bench of Gauhati High Court, stating that the Nursing Assistants shall not be entitled to Nursing Allowance on a par with the Staff Nurse due to different educational qualifications.
In the matter at hand, Union of India (‘appellant’), by way of Civil Appeal challenged the order passed by Gauhati High Court which had dismissed the appeal preferred by the appellants and had declared to not to interfere with the judgment passed by the Single Judge which had entitled the original petitioners to Nursing Allowance on a par with the Staff Nurse.
The claim of the Nursing Assistants working under the establishment of Border Security Force was opposed by the appellants stating that they were not qualified equivalent to a Staff Nurse, thus not entitled to Nursing Allowance on a par with the Staff Nurse.
The Single Judge, in the writ petition preferred by the Nursing Assistants had observed that they performed similar duties as a Staff Nurse and the educational qualification cannot be a ground for denial of Nursing Allowance.
Whether the Nursing Assistants are entitled to the Nursing Allowance on a par with the Staff Nurse when their educational qualifications are different?
Supreme Court’s Analysis and Observation
The Supreme Court stated that the High Court’s view that the educational qualifications cannot be a ground for denial of Nursing Allowance is contrary to catena of decisions of Supreme Court, one being Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers Federation Limited v Balbir Kumar Walia (2021) 8 SCC 784 which had held that different educational qualification and experience prescribed for appointment can be a ground to have different pay scales.
The Court also noted that the Nursing Assistants were being paid ‘Hospital Patient Care Allowance’. They neither had relevant experience nor possessed educational qualification for appointment as Staff Nurse. Therefore, held that the High Court erred in directing that the Nursing Assistants serving in Assam Rifles were entitled to Nursing Allowance on a par with the Staff Nurse.
The Court, consequently, set aside the order passed by the Single Judge and the Division Bench of the High Court and dismissed the claim of Nursing Staff being entitled to Nursing Allowance on a par with the Staff Nurse.
[The Union of India v. Rajib Khan, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 28, decided on 16-01-2023]
*Judgment by M.R. Shah
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For the petitioner- Advocate Arvind Kumar Sharma
For the respondent- Advocate Omanakuttan K.K.