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H.L. Sharma and ors. Vs. Union of India and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectConstitution;Service
CourtDelhi High Court
Decided On
Case NumberCivil Writ Petition No. 462, 937 of 1983
Judge
Reported inILR1986Delhi257; 1985(2)SLJ696(Delhi)
ActsConstitution of India - Article 14
AppellantH.L. Sharma and ors.
RespondentUnion of India and ors.
Advocates: S.C. Gupta,; L.R. Goel and ; D.K. Kapur, Advs
Excerpt:
.....successfully sought a mandamus (3) on the ground that what this court held earlier in the case of private secretaries and readers applied with full force to the superintendents as well, as they constituted 'a common category',and were, thereforee, entitled to the scale of pay to which the private secretaries and readers had already been held entitled. it was further urged that the assistants in various other high courts, like punjab and haryana, himachal pradesh, assam and karnatka are entitled to higher scales of pay than is being claimed by the petitioners, and in all the said high courts, the assistants have the benefit of a selection grade which is still higher. in the first instance, the history of the struggle of the staff for improvement in the scales of pay clearly brings out..........the purpose of extending the benefit of the recommendations to the staff of this court. while the delhi administration seemed to have taken the view, consistent with the position that obtained under rule 3 of the delhi high court officers and servants (salaries, leave, allowances and pension rules, 1970, for the purpose of leave, pension and allowances, that the private secretaries and readers could be equated with the superintendents in the delhi administration, the central government expressed the view that such an equation for the purpose of salary would not be appropriate although it could be justified for the purpose of leavs, allowances and pension, apparently because of the obvious distinction between the nature of the two benefits. a plea was, thereforee, made to the delhi.....
Judgment:

A.H.L. Anand, J.

(1) These petitions, C.W.P. 462183, by Assistants, and C.W.P. 937 83, by Junior Readers, working in this Court raise a common question as to the entitlement of these categories of employees to higher scale to bring them as par, in the matter of scales of pay, with the Senior Translators and are part of a chain reaction following the recommendation of the Third Pay Commission.

(2) The following facts and circumstances provide the historical backdrop. The Third Pay Commission set up by the Central Government, to make recommendations inter alia, with regard to the pay and allowances of the Central Government employees submitted its report in March, 1073, setting out its recommendations with regard to various categories of the Central Government employees. The Commission made separate recommendations, in respect of the Union Territories, including Delhi. By virtue, however, of Article 229 of the Constitution of India, the staff of this Court was considered outside the scope of the recommendations and but for the provision contained in that Article, the recommendations of the Commission would have applied to them by virtue of the fact that Delhi, being a Union Territory, the staff of this Court, including the petitioners, would be treated as employees of the Union and their salaries are paid out of the Consolidated Fund of India. In view, however, of the recommendations and their eventual acceptance by the Central Government, the then Chief Justice of this Court recommended to the Central Government the extension of the benefits of the recommendations to the staff of this Court. The benefit of the recommendations have since, by and large, been conferred on the different categories of the staff of this Court. There was, however, some controversy as to the precise classification of certain categories of the staff of this court for the purpose of giving benefit of the recommendations because the Commission did not deal with certain categories and, thereforee, had no occasion to consider the question of their equation with the existing categories of the staff of the Central Government or the Union Territories. with which it had to deal. The Private Secretaries to Hon'ble Judges of this Court and the Readers of this Court, now designated as Court masters, were among the categories of the staff of this Court which presented some problem with regard to classification for the purpose of extending the benefit of the recommendations to the staff of this Court. While the Delhi Administration seemed to have taken the view, consistent with the position that obtained under Rule 3 of the Delhi High Court Officers and Servants (Salaries, Leave, Allowances and Pension Rules, 1970, for the purpose of leave, pension and allowances, that the Private Secretaries and Readers could be equated with the Superintendents in the Delhi Administration, the Central Government expressed the view that such an equation for the purpose of salary would not be appropriate although it could be justified for the purpose of leavs, allowances and pension, apparently because of the obvious distinction between the nature of the two benefits. A plea was, thereforee, made to the Delhi Administration that the question of equating the posts of Private Secretaries and Readers be considered. The Delhi Administration, however, did not . relent with the result that -the Private Secretaries and Readers were equated with the Superintendents of Delhi Administration in terms of the .recommendation of the commission, and their scales were revised accordingly. The Private secretaries and Readers were, however, dissatisfied and assailed the classification and the consequent revision and sought a direction for their reclassification as being equivalent to the Reporters in the Delhi Administration and, thereforee, sought consequential enhancement of their scale, inter alias in the ground that the aforesaid equation was erroneous and militated against the Fundamental right of equality of opportunity in the matter of employment. In the hallenge, which became subject matter of a petition under Article 226(1) to this Court, the Private Secretaries and Readers sought support from the fact that in somewhat similar situation, the President of India had directed that the Private Secretaries and Readers of the Punjab and Haryana High Court be equated with the Private Secretaries in the Punjab Civil Secretariat, which gave them the benefit of superior scale to which they had laid a claim. In that case (Supra) a Division Bench of this Court expressed the view that the classification of the Private Secretaries and Readers with the Superintendents in the Delhi Administration was not based on a consideration of the relevant factors and being directly contrary to the Presidential Order, B made in relation to the. staff of the Punjab & Haryana High Court, must be held to be improper. This Court, however, was unable to give any relief to these two categories of staff because of the amended Article 226 of the Constitution, as it stood then, even though this Court expressed the view that it was unfair that as a result of the impugned classification, two equivalent categories of staff of two High Courts, with identical duties and other conditions of service, would be differently classified for the purpose of scale of pay, which have the effect of two sets of persons being paid differently for the same work, contrary to the principle of equal pay for equal work, which had the sanction of the Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in Article 39 of the Constitution of India. The petition was accordingly dismissed but not without giving expression to a feeling that by improper classification, injustice had been done to the said two categories of employees and a hope that the Administration would consider the matter of classification of the said two categories afresh keeping in view the various relevant factors and considerations. The Delhi Administration, however, did not relent, although the Registrar of this Court had taken up the matter afresh with the Delhi Administration in the light of the observations made by this Court in the above petition. This is how the Private Secretaries and Readers filed a fresh petition in this Court and succeeded on the basis of the earlier Judgment of this Court and because the difficulty arising out of clause (b) of Article 226 of the Constitution, as it then stood, had since been removed, by 44th Amendment of the Constitution, and the Article in so far as it affected that case, had been restored to the Position as obtained before the Forty-second Amendment of the Constitution. A Division Bench of this Court, thereforee, issued a mandamus directing the Administration to equate the posts of Private Secretaries and Readers to that of a Private Secretary to the Chief Secretary Delhi Administration with retrospective effect from January 1, 1973 O. Before parting with the case, this Court referred to the similar demand made by the Superintendents of this Court and expressed the hope that in view of the Judgment of this Court, the question of giving the same benefit to the Superintendents will also receive immediate and sympathetic consideration at the hands of the Administration. This addendum was perhaps considered necessary by this Court less it be taken that the Judgment of this Court was in any way adverse to the claims of the other category of staff of this Court, which was not party to the earlier proceedings. Delhi Administration, however, continued to maintain its position with the result that the Superintendents of this Court successfully sought a mandamus (3) on the ground that what this Court held earlier in the case of Private Secretaries and Readers applied with full force to the Superintendents as well, as they constituted 'a common category', and were, , thereforee, entitled to the scale of pay to which the Private Secretaries and Readers had already been held entitled. The following passage from the aforesaid Judgment brings out the rationale for the conclusion :-

'In support of the petitioner's case that it is a united category reference is made by Mr. Gupta, the learned counsel for the petitioners to the various Rules framed by this Court. Rule 3 reads with Explanationn and Schedule Ii of Delhi High Court Officers and Servants (salary, leave, allowances and pension) Rules, 1970 equate certain posts in the Court which shall correspond to posts in the Union Territory of Delhi. In this the Superintendents, Readers and Private Secretaries are treated as one unit. The importance is not to the equation but to the fact of treating Superintendents and Readers as one integral unit. Pay scales of these categories is admittedly the same under the Rules. Reference is then made to Delhi High Court Staff (Seniority) Rules, 1971 (hereinafter called to be the 1971 Rules) and to the definition of equal status posts clause (2) (iii) read with Schedule Ii shows the Superintendents, Readers, Private Secretaries, Interpreters Along with Librarians in the equal status posts. Reference was then made to Rule (c) of Delhi High Court Establishment (Appointment and Conditions of Service) Rules 1972 (hereinafter called the 1972 Rules), which sates that a person appointed to a post in one category may be transferred to a post of equal status in any other category indicating thereby that the Readers and the Superintendents could be interchanged and are in fact interchanged a number of times. But the moat important and clinching argument (apart from each other considerations) is provided by Rule 7 of 1972 Rules which lays down the mode of aah qualifications for appointment to the posts specified in Schedule II. It shows that the mode of appointment to the post of Assistant Registrar which is a selection post is restricted to selection on merits from confirmed officers of categories 5. 6, & 7 namely. Superintendents, Readers (Court Masters) and Private Secretaries. The equating of only these 3 categories for further promotion to 'he post of Assistant Registrar shows that the equation has been done not merely on the basis of same pay scale, but basically the posts of Superintendents and Readers (Court Masters) are manned by different officers at various times without any distinction, thus making them as officers doing the same kind of work.'

administration sought Special Leave, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court subject, however, to the clarification that so far as retrospectivity is concerned, the Superintendents would be entitled to the difference w.e.f. August 12, 1977 from any earlier date. As a result of the two last of this Court, (2) (3) the Private Secretaries, and A Readers of this Court were given the scales to which the Private Secretary to the Chief Secretary, Delhi Administration was entitled, in terms of the recommendations of the Central Pay Commission, and the Superintendent of this Court were held entitled to the scale to which the Private Secretries and Readers were thus entitled. The struggle for superior scales of pay did not stop at this. It was the turn of Senior Stenographers this Court. They wanted to be treated at par with the Senior Stenographers in Delhi Administration and sought a revision of their pay-scales. Their claim also prevailed and this Court issued a madams accordingly (4). The Judgment of this Court was upheld hi the Supreme Court when the petition for Special Leave to Appeal against it was dismissed in limini. It was now the turn of Senior and Junior Translators of this Court. The Junior Translators were held entitled to be placed in the scale of pay revised from time to time and drawn by the Technical Assistants (Hindi) in the Hindi Department of the Delhi Administration. The Senior Translators were held entitled to be placed in the pay-scales higher than the pay-scale to which the Junior Translators were so entitled. The Junior Translators were accordingly held entitled to the pay sale as revised, and applicable to the Technical Assistants (Hindi) in Hindi Department of the Delhi Administration. The Senior Translators were held entitled to the pay-scale payable to Grade (Senior Translators) under 1981 Rules (5).

(3) It is in this background that the claim of the Assistants and Junior Readers to parity with the Senior Translators of this Court, in the matter of pay scale, has to be examined. The claim to superior scales of pay, unlike the clarion by Private Secretaries and Readers, as indeed the Senior Stenographers and Senior Translators, is not based on any equivalent category in Delhi Administration, but is based primarily on the ground that, according to the various Rules applicable to the petitioners, posts held by the petitioners and the posts of Senior Translators are 'equal status posts', carrying at one time an identical scale, governed by common Rules and constitute a common channel of promotion to the next higher posts of Superintendents A and Court Masters. It is, thereforee, urged that any distantly in the scale of pay between the petitioners, on the one hand, and the incumbents of the equal status post of Senior Translators would not only be arbitrary but be tantamount to treating equals as unequal and, thereforee, militates against fundamental rights embodied in Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. It was further urged that the Assistants in various other High Courts, like Punjab and Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Karnatka are entitled to higher scales of pay than is being claimed by the petitioners, and in all the said High Courts, the Assistants have the benefit of a selection grade which is still higher. It was, thereforee, urged that such a disparity would militate against the principle of 'equal pay for equal work' which is not only enshrined in Article 39 of the Constitution of India, but must also be treated as part of the mandate of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.

(4) The claim of the petitioners is, however, resisted on behalf of the Administration primarily on the ground that inspire of a variety of factors, the different nature of the work of the Senior Translators would not justify the parity and the claim for the scale to which Senior Translators have been held entitled by this Court. According to the Administration, mere 'status' of a post is not the only criterion for determining the scales of pay of a particular post and the scales of pay are fixed taking into consideration the 'nature of duties and responsibilities attached to a post'. It is urged that the duties of Senior Translators are of a 'technical and specialised nature' and duties of Assistants are 'purely of a routine and clerical nature' and there cannot be common criteria for fixation of pay-scales of Senior Translators and Assistants. Dealing with the contention that certain Translators were posted as Assistants, it is urged on behalf of the Administration that while Senior Translators may be able to. work against the post of an Assistant, the latter being a post of routine clerical nature, but. Assistant could not dull charge the duties of a Senior Translator and that due to this reason, the post of Senior .Translators and Assistant are not completely 'changeable or transferable' because while one category of employees may be able to perform the duties of the other, the reverse was not true. It is further denied that the duties attached to the posts of Junior Readers and Assistants are of the same nature as those of Senior Translators. It was not disputed that the pay-scales allowed to comparable categories in sonic of the other High Courts are higher but it is urged that the pay-scales applicable to the staff of the other High Courts never formed basis for fixation of the scales of pay of Officers and employees of this Court. It is further urged that in granting relief in the case of Courtmasters, Superintendents and Private Secretaries, this Court did not base the decision on the scales applicable to equivalent categories in other High Courts as that was not a relevant factor.

(5) After hearing learned counsel for the parties it appears to us that the claim of the petitioners to parity with the Senior Translators in the matter of scales of pay is unassailable and there was no justification to treat the petitioners differently in the matter of scales of pay for a variety of reasons. In the first instance, the First Schedule to (Delhi High Court Officers & Servants) (Salary, Allowances and Pension), Rules 1970 inter-alia, enumerates the posts of Assistants, Senior Translators, Junior Readers in the category of Class Iii and each of the posts, among others, carrying a common scale of pay. Secondly, when following the recommendations of the Pay Commission the scales of pay were revised with effect from 1-1-1973, the Assistants, the Senior Translators and the Junior Readers were given a common revised scale of pay and the parity in the matter of scale, set out in the Second Schedule, was, consistently with it, maintained. Thirdly, the Second Schedule to the Delhi High Court Staff Seniority Rules, 1971, inter-alia, treats the posts of Junior Readers, Assistants, Senior Translators as 'equal status posts'. Explanationn to Rule 6 of these Rules provides that the continuous length of service in the category concerned shall include any service rendered by the employees on 'an equated post' or in an 'equal status post'. Fourthly, the Delhi High Court (Establishment, Appointment, & Conditions of Service) Rules, 1972, inter-alia, provides by Rules 8-C, transferability from a post in one category to a post of equal status in any other category. Fifthly, Schedule-II to the aforesaid Rules of 1972, further provides that the categories, to which the petitioners belong and the Senior Translators constitute a common channel of promotion to the next higher posts of Superintendents and Court Masters. Lastly, there is a joint seniority list of Assistants, Junior Readers and Senior Translators. It follows, thereforee, that the posts held by the petitioners and the other categories of posts referred to above Constitute a common category and must be treated alike in the matter of scales of pay.

(6) It was, however, urged on behalf of the Administration that even so the Assistants, and Junior Readers could not be treated as par with the Senior Translators because the nature of work of a Senior Translators would be different from the nature of duties of the Assistants and Junior Readers. While there can be no doubt that the work of a Senior Translator is, to an extent, different from the duties of an Assistant or a Junior Reader, but it would be carrying the difference too far to say that the gesture' of work is different. In the case of Senior Translators and Junior Translators (5), this Court while highlighting the responsible nature of the work entrusted to Translators in this Court observed that their work required 'close Study' of documents and that a wrong translation in a court of law could lead to 'serious consequences'. This Court, was, however, comparing in that case the- work of Translators in this Court and the duties of Upper Division Clerks or Assistants in the Delhi Administration. The observation made by this Court in that case has to be seen in that context. The work of Assistants and Junior Readers in this Court also involves considerable degree of responsibility, calling for close study of the records and some degree of confidentiality and integrity higher in degree than ordinary clerical work elsewhere. While it is ture that the work of translation is of considerable significance, but never the less, involves neither any course of training nor any particular expertise and: the only requirement would be proficiency in the two languages involved in the translation. The work is, by and large facility by the availability, of ready-recovers in the dictionaries of the two languages. The work of translation no doubt calls for a certain degree of. 'exactitude' and 'precision' but that by itself would not justify disparity between the two categories in the matter of scales of pay having regard not only to the rules referred to above .but also a variety of other factors and the historical background Whether the Assistants and Junior Readers on the one hand, and the Senior Translators on the other, constitute a common category for the purpose of scales of pay has to be determined in the context of totality of circumstances and not merely on account of slight difference in the duties. Moreover, in the present' case, this Court is not concerned with the problem of equation of certain categories of staff of this Court with the staff of the Delhi Administration, but only with a limited question if the categories to which the petitioners belong and the category with which they seek parity constitute a 'common category'. Such community of categorisation between the petitioners and the Senior Translators is, in any event, structured into the; Rules to which reference has been made above and inherent in the several features, catalogued above, slight divergence in duties, here and there, notwithstanding, it is noteworthy that in spite of variations in the duties of Private Secretaries, Readers and Superintendents, this Court treated them as constituting 'a common category' for the purpose of scales of pay and made a direction accordingly, which has since been upheld by the Court. There is no force in the contention that while a Senior Translator could perform the work of an Assistant or a Junior Reader bat. that the reverse would not be' true. An Assistant aad a Junior Reader would be competent to take to the work of Translation because both of them would have the necessary qualification to carry out the work even though, as always, proficiency in a particular type of work may vary with the experience in handling that work There was perhaps some justification the contention that the Assistants and Junior Readers could not claim parity' with the Senior Stenographers because, the incumbents of the former could not be 'expected to carry out the' work of a Stenographer. That probably is the reason.. why the' petitioners gave up the claim, of parity to the seals which has been given to the Senior Stenographers, in their amended petitions even though parity was given by this court to the Private Secretaries. Readers arid Superintendents-in 'spite of the; fact that neither the Readers nor the Superintendents could possibly discharge the functions Private Secretary It is no doubt true that in granting relief in earlier cases, this. Court did .not base its decision on 'the admitted fact that the scales' of 'pay applicable to equivalent posts in a number of other High .Courts were much higher than those claimed by 'the- various categories of the staff of this Court. But that again is a factor which cannot be easily ignored 'even though that, by. itself, may not justify the claim to superior scales of pay

(7) Having regard to all the circumstances; it appears to us that the disparity has, no. rationalble, is arbitrary and tantamounts. to treating equals as unequal in the matter of pay scales and, would, thereforee, .militate against mandate of Articles' and 16. of the Constitution of lnd,. besides violating the salutary rules embodied in the Directive Principles of State policy of equal pay for pay for equal work.

(8) We, thereforee, see no reason why a Mandamus be not issued directing the Administration to raise the scale of pay of the Assistants and Junior Readers of this Court consistently with there crease a howled the case, of. Senior Translators of this Court. The benefit would be be given to the Assistants and Junior readers with effect from the date from which similar benefit was given to the senior translators

(9) The petitioners would also 'have their cost Counsel fee is assessed at Rs. 7501- for both the cases.

(10) Before parting with this case, it is appropriate to invite attention to two facets of the problem of fixation of scales of pay of different categories of staff of this Court. In the first instance, the history of the struggle of the staff for improvement in the scales of pay clearly brings out administrative obduracy in that each of the categories had to take resort to judicial proceedings and in spite of a series of Judgments of this Court, the Admonition has not thought it fit to have a second look at the problem to avoid' unnecessary multiplicity of proceedings. Secondly there is need to rationalise the scales of pay of the different categories of the staff of this Court in the context of the scale of pay applicable to equivalent or comparable categories, other High Courts, subject to such adjustment as may be desirable having' regard to the cost of living in the various territories; In industrial law, the principle of .'region-cum-industry'is well 'recognised in the matter of scares of pay; as indeed, other conditions of service. If there is disparity in the scales of pay of staff of similar institutions in different parts of the country, it. is-bound to cause heartburning, frustration and avoidable unrest, all-of 'which are in congenial to efficient and effective administration.


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