M.L. Jain, J.
(1) - The petitioners were skilled helpers and helper tailors in the Directorate of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Department of Social Welfare, Ministry of Education & Social Welfare, New Delhi. Their Recruitment Rules of 1972 provided that the scale of pay of the psrsons like the petitioners will be Rs. 95-115. Their minimum qualification was certificate in the trade. Junior Instructors were also placed in the same scale but their qualifications were diploma in tailoring, embroidery, cutting or weaving with three years experience in the trade.
(2) With effect from 1-1-1973 the pay scale of Junior Instructors was revised to Rs. 260-350 by the Central Civil Services (Revised Pay) Twenty- fourth Amendment Rules, 1974. The revision of the pay scale of the helpers was made first by an order of 22-10-1975 and later on by the Civil Services (Revised Pay) Eleventh Amendment Rules, 1975 albiet with effect from 1-1-1973, see the Gazette of India Extraordinary Part If. sec. 3, sub-seotion (i),dated 9-12-1974 and 28-11-1975 respectively.
(3) In between, the posts of Junior Instructors and helpers in the Social Welfare Department were abolished and they were taken over by the Delhi Administration with effect from 2-12-1974 upon certain conditions. One of them which is relevant for our pupose, was that their existing pay and scale in the post held on the date of transfer will be protected. A memo was attached with the order of transfer in which they were shown in the pay scale of Rs. 260-350. Posts were also created by the Delhi Administration for that purpose in the pay-scale of Rs. 260-350. The petitioners were asked to give their options in the prescribed form in January, 1975. Accordingly, their pay was revised and fixed at various stages in the scale of Rs. 260-350 on 12 2-1975 provisionally subject to approval by audit. On 22-10-1975 their pay scale was reduced from Rs. 260-350 to 225-350, in order to give effect to the Eleventh Amendment Rules, 1975. This order is under challenge in this writ petition on the ground that the pay scales once allowed cannot be reduced and that too without notice to the petitioners. The petitioners also maintain 'that the posts of the petitioners and that of the Junior Inustructors have been and even now are interchangeable and have a common seniority. The down' ward fixation of their pay scale is discriminatory.
(4) I have heard arguments. There is no doubt that the higher grade given to the petitioners was given by mistake long before it was specified by the relevant rules and as I held in Gulabchand v. State of Rajasthan, 1979 (1) Slr 802, the Government has a right to correct its mistake even without giving a hearing. But at the same time, here it must be remembered that the pay and scales of pay of the petitioners were both directed to be protected and the Government did so protect. The question then is whether in the said circumstances the impugned order can bejustified and what it is that the court can do in the illatter.
(5) The case of the Government is that the difference in two grades is because the qualifications of the two classes of employees are different. But that was so even When both the categories carried the same difference in qualifications as is evident from the Recruitment Rules of 1972.
(6) In Ajay Hasia efc. V. Khalid Mujib Sehravardi and others, : (1981)ILLJ103SC , it was observed that the doctrine of classification is no more than 'a judicial formula for determining whether the legislative or executive Action in question is arbitrary......Wherever, thereforee,, there is arbitrariness in State action whether it be of the legislature or of the executive or of an 'authority' under Article 12, Article 14 immediately springs into action and strikes down such State action'.
(7) In Ramana Dayaram Shetty v. The international Airport Authority of India and others, : (1979)IILLJ217SC , it was observed that :-
'THEaction of the Government would be liable to be struck down; unless it can be shown by the Government that the departure was not arbitrary, but was based on some valid principle which in itself was not irrational, unreasonable or discriminatory'.
(8) But in M/s. Kasturi Lal Lakshmi Reddy v. State of Jammu & Kashmir and another, : 3SCR1338 , it was said :-
'BUTone basic principle which must guide the court in arriving at its determination on this question is that there is always a presumption that the governmental action is reasonable and in public interest and it is for the party challenging its validity to show that it is wanting in reasonableness or is not informed with public interest ....Since it is not an uncommon phenomenon in some countries that the legislative check is getting diluted, it is left to the court as the only other reviewing authority under the Constitution to be increasingly vigilent to ensure observance with the rule of law and in this task, the court must not flinch of falter.'
(9) Now, let us examine the present case in these lights. This is a case in which it is difficult to assume that the act of the Government is reasonable and the rule made by it must satisfy the test of reasonableness, rationality, relevance and public interest and that it is neither arbitrary or capricious in order to escape invalidation. There is no rationale or reasonableness much less relevance or public interest involved in reducing the scale of the petitioners and lowering them below those who were their compeers even up to October 1975. If with the same difference in qualifications, the petitioners were equal in pay, then to use it after some years to create inequality will be devoid of relevance and reason. Such a situation demanded that the petitioners were heard before their pay-scale was reduced retrospectively even if it were in pursuance of the amendment in the rule. Violation of Article 14 of the Constitution has, thereforee, occurred.
(10) I, thereforee, accept this writ petition and direct that the impugned order shall not apply to the petitioners. It will, however, be not inapplicable to those who have joined in their category after 28-11-1975. No order as to costs.