Case BriefsHigh Courts

Meghalaya High Court: The Bench comprising of Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, CJ. and S.R. Sen, J. directed the government to adhere to the principles of equal pay for equal work.

The writ petition was filed wherein it was contended that the government teachers were getting their pension and other benefits after their retirement while the deficit/Adhoc/aided college teachers were not getting anything except the Contributory Provident Fund (CPF).

It was to be admitted that both the categories were equally qualified who gave the same services rather some teachers in the deficit colleges were giving better service than the government teachers along with the fact that the former were also assigned with other duties from time to time. Thus it was against Articles 14, 16 and 39(d) of the Constitution of India as it was in deprivation of their right to receive a pension which was a post-retirement necessity.

The Court appreciating the petition stated that, “We must remember that teachers are the backbone of the society and it is through their contribution, dedication and hard work which has molded us to become what we are today; be it a Judge, a Minister, a Lawyer, a Doctor or an IAS Officer etc., and that, we can never forget.” Hence the respondent shall strictly adhere to the spirit the principle of Doctrine of Equality, Articles 14, 16 and 39(d) of the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution of India i.e., equal pay for equal work.

Accordingly, the Court provided for the correction of the Contributory Provident Fund immediately with retrospective effect.[Meghalaya College Teachers Association v. State of Meghalaya,2018 SCC OnLine Megh 218, decided on 01-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Stating that the Court would fail in it’s duty if it did not took note of the grievance of the BSF, CRPF, CISF, ITBP, RPF and SSB who are grieved by non-grant of equal pay for equal work, that is, benefit that has been granted to the organized services, the bench of Dipak Misra and M.M. Shantagoudar, JJ asked the respondents to file their duty chart in respect of each of the forces. The Court also asked the Union of India to file the duty chart and the job allocation so that a comparison can be made that can render assistance in the process of adjudication.

The Court was hearing the appeal filed against the order of the Delhi High Court creating Organized Group ‘A’ Services on the basis of certain notes, correspondences and the letters issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Government of India, for it is the Home Department which has the jurisdiction/authority under the Railway Protection Force Act, 1957, Border Security Force Act, 1968, Central Industrial Security Force Act, 1968, Central Reserve Police Force Act, 1949, Sashastra Seema Bal Act, 2007 and Indo Tibetan Border Police Force Act 1992. The respondents, referring to an Office Memorandum which gives list of Central Group ‘A’ Services category wise, had contended that once an office memorandum has been issued accepting the position, it cannot be stated that it is based on office notes or a policy decision

The Court, agreeing to hear the matter, framed the following issues for consideration:

  • Whether by virtue of issuing the office memorandum by the DoPT classifying the categories with regard to Centralized Group ‘A’ Services, as a natural corollary, the respondents can have the similar benefits with the Organized Group ‘A’ Services, for Group ‘A’ Organized Services has drawn from the Central Group ‘A’ Services and their attributes thereof are provided for in the O.M. dated 20th November 2009?
  • Whether the Home Department alone responsible to take the decision or other departments can confer the benefit of equivalence subject to approval by the Cabinet?
  • Whether the nature of work of the persons who are engaged in this service would be a factor to extend the benefit by the Union of India on the principle of parity?

In addition to framing the above issues, the Court said that if the conferment of monetary benefit can assuage the grievance of the respondents, the Union of India may rethink over the matter without disturbing its sense of discipline as it conceives. The Court gave 12 weeks’ time to the Union of India to deliberate upon the matter so as to take a sound decision and listed the matter on 09.08.2017. [Union of India v. Shri Harananda, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 391, order dated 06.04.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with the question as to whether temporarily engaged employees (daily-wage employees, ad-hoc appointees, employees appointed on casual basis, contractual employees and the like), are entitled to minimum of the regular pay-scale, alongwith dearness allowance (as revised from time to time) on account of their performing the same duties, which are discharged by those engaged on regular basis, against sanctioned posts, the Court said that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ constitutes a clear and unambiguous right and is vested in every employee – whether engaged on regular or temporary basis.

The bench of J.S. Khehar and S.A. Bobde, JJ said that in a welfare state, an employee engaged for the same work, cannot be paid less than another, who performs the same duties and responsibilities. Such an action besides being demeaning, strikes at the very foundation of human dignity as any one, who is compelled to work at a lesser wage, does not do so voluntarily.

The Court, however, clarified the legal position for the application of the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’. Some of the principles highlighted by the Court are as follows:

  • The ‘onus of proof’, of parity in the duties and responsibilities of the subject post with the reference post, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, lies on the person who claims it.
  • Mere fact that the subject post occupied by the claimant, is in a “different department” vis-a-vis the reference post, does not have any bearing on the determination of a claim, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’. However, for equal pay, the concerned employees with whom equation is sought, should be performing work, which besides being functionallyequal, should be of the same quality and sensitivity.
  • Persons performing the same or similar functions, duties and responsibilities, can also be placed in different pay-scales. Such as – ‘selection grade’, in the same post. But this difference must emerge out of a legitimate foundation, such as – merit, or seniority, or some other relevant criteria.
  • The reference post, with which parity is claimed, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, has to be at the same hierarchy in the service, as the subject post.
  • A comparison between the subject post and the reference post, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, cannot be made, where the subject post and the reference post are in different establishments, having a different management. Or even, where the establishments are in different geographical locations, though owned by the same master.
  • Different pay-scales, in certain eventualities, would be permissible even for posts clubbed together at the same hierarchy in the cadre if the duties and responsibilities of one of the posts are more onerous, or are exposed to higher nature of operational work/risk, the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ would not be applicable and also when, the reference post includes the responsibility to take crucial decisions, and that is not so for the subject post.

In the present case, all the temporary employees in the present bunch of appeals, were appointed against posts which were also available in the regular cadre/establishment. It was also accepted by the State of Punjab, that during the course of their employment, the concerned temporary employees were being randomly deputed to discharge duties and responsibilities, which at some point in time, were assigned to regular employees. The Court hence, held that there can be no doubt, that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ would be applicable to all the concerned temporary employees, so as to vest in them the right to claim wages, at par with the minimum of the pay-scale of regularly engaged Government employees, holding the same post. [State of Punjab v. Jagjit Singh, , 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1200, decided on 26.10.2016]