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Brij Lal and ors. Vs. Rajasthan State Electricity Board - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectElectricity
CourtRajasthan High Court
Decided On
Case NumberS.B. Civil Writ Petition Nos. 396, 397 and 1947 of 1973 and 3115 and 3118 of 1974 and 29 and 30 of 1
Judge
Reported in1979WLN(UC)221
AppellantBrij Lal and ors.
RespondentRajasthan State Electricity Board
DispositionAppeal allowed
Cases ReferredConstitution In Bashesharnath v. Commissioner of Income Tax
Excerpt:
electricity (supply) act, 1978 - section 19(2)--first settlement in operation -second settlement modifying conditions of service of workers--held, it was not permissible to eater into second settlement;the second settlement thus modifies the conditions of service of the workmen i.e. meter readers, as laid down in 'he first settlement it cannot regarded as a settlement which resolves any difficulty or doubt arising as to the interpretation of any provisions of the first settlement and, therefore, it was not permissible for the management of the respondent board and the prantiya vidhyut mandal mazdoor federation, the recognised trade union, to enter into second settlement so long as the first settlement was in operation.;(b) electricity (supply) act, 1948 - section 19(2)--no conciliation.....s.c. agrawal, j.1. all these writ petitions raise common question for consideration and, therefore, they are disposed of by a common judgment.2. the petitioners are the employees of the rajasthan state electricity board (hereinafter referred to as the board) which is an electricity board established under the electricity (supply) act, 1948,. the government of india by it resolution dated 20th may, 1966, had constituted a general wage board for electricity undertakings for evolving a wage structure, standardisation of nomenclatures and job descriptions. the recommendations of the said wage board were accepted by the government of india in july, 1970 and there after, the prantiya vidhyut mandal mazdoor federation, which is a recognised trade union of the employees of she respondent board,.....
Judgment:

S.C. Agrawal, J.

1. All these writ petitions raise common question for consideration and, therefore, they are disposed of by a common judgment.

2. The petitioners are the employees of the Rajasthan State Electricity Board (hereinafter referred to as the Board) which is an Electricity Board established under the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948,. The Government of India by it resolution dated 20th May, 1966, had constituted a General Wage Board for electricity undertakings for evolving a wage structure, standardisation of nomenclatures and job descriptions. The recommendations of the said Wage Board were accepted by the Government of India in July, 1970 and there after, the Prantiya Vidhyut Mandal Mazdoor Federation, which is a recognised trade union of the employees of she respondent Board, presented a demand before the Labour Department of the Government of Rajasthan for the implementation of the recommendations of the Wage Board by the respondent Board While the said industrial dispute between management of the respondent Board and its employees was pending before the Conciliation Officer, a settlement was arrived at between the management of the respondent Board and the aforesaid trade union on 22nd Feb., 1972, (hereinafter referred to as the 'First Settlement') whereby, it was agreed that the existing scales of pay of various categories of posts would be revised with effect from 1st April, 1969 in accordance with the pay scales set out in Annexure(A) to the settlement Annexure (A) to the settlement prescribed six pay scales for the various categories of the employees of the respondent Board. pay scale No. 2 was 80-5 110-6 152-7-194 & Pay scale No. 3 was 126-8-150-10-250. In the schedule to Annexures (A) the various posts falling under each of the aforesaid scales of pay have been set out. The post of Meter Reader/ Checker was placed under Pay scale No. 3 i e. 126 250 In accordance with the just Settlement, the respondent Board issued a notification dated 22nd March 1972, revising the pay scales of its employees with effect from 1st April, 1, 1969.' Under the said notification Meter Reader/Checkers were placed in pay scale No. 3, i e. 126-250 Subsequently, on 2nd December, 1972, another agreement, (hereinafter referred to as the 'Second Settlement') was entered into by the management of the respondent Board and the Prantiya Viohyut Mardal Mezdoor Federation. In the Second Settlement it is stated that some anomalies and difficulties had cropped-up during the implementation of the agreements dated 26th January, 1970, 28th April, 1971 and 20th July, 1972 and that it was felt desirable to remove the anomalies and to clarify the point; by mutual negotiations. By the Second Settlement certain modifications were made in the First Settlement. One such modification was that the entry No. 21 under Pay Scale No. 3-Technical in the Schedule to Annexure (A) of she First Settlement relating to Meter Reader/Checker was modified to read as 'Meter Reader-I/ Meter Checker I Another modification that was made by the Second Settlement in the First Settlement was that a new entry No. 7 Meter reader-II/Meter Checker II' was inserted under pay scale No. 2 Technical in the Schedule to annexure (A) and below Pay Scale No. 2 the following note was note was inserted:

Meter Reader-II /Meter Checker-II appointed/fixed/promoted adjustero on or before 31-3- 1968 will be fixed in pay scale No. 3 instead of pay scale No. 2

3. In accordance with the Second Settlement, the respondent Board issued. a notification dated 6th December, 1972, whereby the Schedule to Annexure 'A' to notification dated 22r.d March 1972 was amended so as to incorporate the modification made by the Second Settlement. It may be observed that the First Settlement as well as the Second Settlement contained recitals to the effect that the said settlements have been arrived during the course of conciliation proceedings. The validity of the Second Settlement and the aforesaid notification dated 6th December, 1972 which gives effect to the Second Settlement is challenged by the petitioners. Brijlal and Chander. Bhan (Petitioners in Civil Writs Nos. 396 and 397 of 1973) were originally appointed as bill distributors in the respondent Board and they were promoted as Meter Readers some lime in 1968. Madho Singh and M. Samuel (petitioners in Civil Writs Nos. 1947/73 and 30/1975) were appointed directly as Meter Readers by orders dated 18th March, 1970 and 18th December, 1971 respectively Brij Mohan Sharma, Jagdish Prasad and Prakash Chandra (Petitioners in Civil Writs Nos. 3115/74, 3118/74 and 29/1975) were appointed directly as Meter Readers in the pay Scale of Rs. 126-250 by order dated 10th August, 1972, i. e. after the issue of the notification dated 22nd March, 1972 bat before the issue of the notification dated 6th December, 1972.

4. The validity of the notification dated 6th December, 1972 and the Second Settlement is challenged by the petitioners in these writ petitions on the following grounds:

(i) On 2nd December, 1972, the date on which the Second Settlement was entered into, the First Settlement was in operation and it was not competent for the respondent Board to enter into the Second Settlement so as to take away the rights which have been conferred on the work man under the First Settlement. The Second Settlement which has the effect of reducing the wages of the workmen fixed under at the earlier Settlement which is in operation is not permissible under the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, (hereinafter referred to as the 'Act').

(ii) Even assuming that a Second Settlement is permissible under the provisions of the Act the Second Settlement and notification dated 6th December, 1972 are unconstitutional being violative of fundamental rights of the petitioners guaranteed under Article 31(2) of the Constitution in as much as a result of the second settlement, the respondent Board was acquiring the property of the petitioners viz., their wages, without payment of any compensation.

(iii) The Second Settlement and the notification dated 6th December 1972 arbitrarily divide Meter Readers into two classes in the matter of fixation of their pay on the basis of the date of appointment and that such a classification has no rational basis and, therefore, the second settlement and the notification are violative of the fundamental rights of the petitioners guaranteed under Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

(iv) Under the Electricity (Supply) Act 1948, the respondent Board can prescribe conditions of service of its employees by framing regulations under Section 79(c) of the said Act. The power conferred on respondent Board under the aforesaid provisions does not empower the Board to frame regulations having retrospective effect. The impugned notification dated 6th December, 1972 which is in the nature of a regulation laying down the conditions of service of the employees is illegal in as much as it has been given retrospective effect so as to reduce the wages of the employees who were working as Meter Readers prior to the issue of the said notification.

5. On behalf of the respondent Board, it is submitted that a mistake had been committed with regard to the fixation of the pay of Meter Reader/ Meter Checkers in the First Settlement and (hat the Second Settlement had become necessary to rectify the said mistake. The case of the respondent Board is that there is no bar in the Act against modification of a settlement by a second settlement, and that it is not necessary to terminate an exiting settlement for the purpose of modifying the terms of the existing settlement by a second settlement. It is also submitted by the respondent Board that merely because due to a mistake, the Meter Reader II had been placed in Pay scale No. 3 under the first Settlement, it does not mean that they had acquired any right under Article 31 of the Constitution and a settlement which rectifies the said mistake is not open to challenge on the ground of violation of Article 31(2) of the Constitution. With regard to the challenge to the Second Settlement and the impugned notification on the basis of Article 11 and 16 of the Constitution, it has been submitted on behalf of the respondent Board that the impugned notification and the second settlement in substance have promoted Meter Readers II who had been appointed before 1st April, 1968 as Meter Readers I

6. At this stage I may point out that the stand taken by the respondent Board in the replies filed by it in these writ petitions is not consistent. In its replies filed in Civil Writ Petitions Nos. 396 and 397 of 1973, the respondent Board has pleaded that the respondent Board had only one category of Meter Readers and that previously they were placed in the grade of Rs. 65-93 which grade was later revised to Rs. 75-140 and that on 22nd February, 72, when the First Settlement was arrived at, all the Meter Readers employed with the respondent Board were in the grade of Rs. 75-140 In the said reply the respondent Board has submitted that the Meter Readers should have been absorbed in pay scale No. 2 i e. Rs. 80-194, but due to a mistake, instead of being absorbed in pay scale No. 2, they were absorbed in Pay scale No. 3 i e. Rs. 126-250 and that subsequently when it was discovered that it was not possible to put all the Meter Readers/Meter Checkers into one category and put all of them in the pay scale of Rs. 126-250 directly from the pay scale of Rs. 65-93, the Second Settlement was entered into, whereby the posts of Meter Readers were divided into two categories and Meter Readers I were placed in the pay scale of Rs. 126- 250 and Meter Reader II, were placed in the pay scale of 80-194. Thus from the replies in the aforesaid writ petitions (Civil Writs No. 396-397/1973), it appears that the mistake which was committed in the First Settlement was that one category of Meter Reader as it existed at that time, was retained and that this gave rise to dissatisfaction amongst meter readers who had pat in many years of service as Meter Reader and that in order to resolve the said difficulty the second settlement was arrived at so as to divide the posts of Meter Readers in two categories. In the replies which have been filed on behalf of the respondent Board in the other five writ petitions, (Civil Writs Nos. 1947/1973,3115/197, 3118/1974, 29. 30/1975) it has been pleaded that even before the First Settlement was arrived at the posts of meter readers had been divided into two grades, Meter Reader I, and Meter Readers II, and on the date when the First Settlement was entered into Meter Reader I, was having a pay scale of Rs. 110 230, whereas Meter Reader II was having a pay scale of Rs. 75-140. In the said replies, it is stated that this distinction between the two grades of Meter Readers was omitted by mistake in the Schedule to Annexure 'A' to the 'First Settlement and Meter Readers were all placed in one category and that the Second Settlement was entered into for the purpose of rectifying the said mistake As the reasons which necessitated the Second Settlement have no bearing on the question of the validity of the Second Settlement, it is not necessary to go into the question as to which of the two versions represents the correct position

7. The first question which arises for consideration is whether a Settlement arrived at during the course of conciliation proceedings can be modified by another settlement so as to take away the rights which have been conferred on the workmen under the earlier settlement. The learned Counsel for the petitioners have submitted that such a settlement is binding on the management as well as workmen till it is terminated in accordance with the provisions contained in Section 19(2) of the Act and that during the period the Settlement is in operation no industrial dispute can be raised either by the management or the workmen in relation to matters covered by the Settlement and, therefore, another settlement cannot be arrived at so as to alter or to modify the terms of an existing settlement The learned Counsel for the respondent Board has, on the other hand, submitted that Section 19(2) of the Act only prevents a unilateral change in the terms of a settlement and that Section 19(2) does not prevent the modification of the terms of an existing settlement by a Second Settlement and (hat it is not necessary to terminate the first settlement for the purpose of entering into a Second Settlement.

8. The term 'Settlement ' is defined in Section 2(p) of the Act to mean a settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceeding and to include a written agreement between the employer arrived at otherwise than in the course of conciliation proceeding where such agreement has been signed by the parties there to in such manner as may be prescribed and copy thereof has been sent to an officer authorised in this behalf by the appropriate Government and the conciliation officer. The Act thus contemplates two types of Settlements, a .settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceeding and a settlement arrived at otherwise than in the course of conciliation proceeding. As laid down in Section 18 of the Act a settlement arrived at other wise than in the course of conciliation proceeding is binding only on the parties to the said settlement whereas a settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceeding is binding not only on the parties to the settlement but is binding in the case of employer, on his heirs, successors or assigns in respect of the establishment to which the disputes relates and, in the case of workmen, on all persons who were employed in the establishment to which the disputes relates on the date of the dispute & all persons who subsequently become employed in that establishment. Section 19(2) of the Act lays down that a settlement shall be binding for such period as is agreed upon by the parties and if no such period is agreed upon, for a period of six months from the date on which the memorandum of settlement is signed by the parties to the dispute and shall continue to be binding on the parties after the expiry of the period aforesaid until the expiry of two mouths from the date on which a notice in writing of an intention to terminate the settlement is given by one of the parties to the other party or parties to the settlement. Section 23(c) prohibits strikes as well lockouts during any period in which a settlement is in operation in respect of any of the matters covered by the settlement. Section 36A provides that it, in She opinion of the appropriate Government, any difficulty or doubt arises as to interpretation of any provision of a settlement it may refer the question to such Labour Court, Tribunal or National Tribunal as it may think fit.

9. The provisions referred to above indicate that the necessary postulate of a settlement contemplated by the Act is that an industrial dispute must exist on the date when the settlement is arrived at and the said industrial dispute is sought to be resolved by the settlement This means that during the period a Settlement is in operation a second settlement can be arrived at for the purpose of resolving an industrial dispute which can be raised despite the earlier settlement. During the period a settlement is in operation an industrial dispute can be raised:

(a) by persons who are not a party to the Settlement and are not bound by it,

(b) by any of the parties to the Settlement in respect of any of the matters not covered by the settlement, and

(c) by any of the parties to the Settlement as regards the interpretation of any provision of the Settlement.

10. Second settlement can, therefore, be arrived at during the period a settlement is in operation in cases where the earlier settlement is a settlement arrived at otherwise than in the course of conciliation and an industrial dispute has been raised by persons who are not a party to the Settlement are not bound by it. The parties who are bound by any existing Settlement may also enter into a Second Settlement during the period the earlier settlement is in operation, for the purpose of resolving a dispute relating to matters not covered by the existing Settlement. But so long as a Settlement is in operation the parties or persons who are bound by the said Settlement cannot raise ass industrial dispute in respect of matters covered by the Settlement except a with regard to the interpretation of any provision of the earlier Settlement and a Second Settlement can be arrived at only for the purpose of resolving the said dispute with regard to interpretation of any provision of the earlier Settlement and in respect of all other matters covered by the existing Settlement a Second Settlement is barred.

11. This bar to a Second Settlement being arrived at during the period an existing settlement is in operation arises from the provisions of Sub-section (2) of Section 19 of the Act which imposes an obligation that a Settlement shall be binding on all persons, who are bound by it under Section 18 of the Act till the Settlement is terminated by a notice givers by one of the parties to the other party or parties to the Settlement. A Second Settlement which modified the terms of an existing Settlement, and thereby nullifies a part of the existing settlement impinges on the binding effect of the existing settlement. Therefore so long as an existing Settlement is not terminated in accordance with the provisions of Section 19(2), a Second Settlement which has the effect of modifying the rights and obligations of the persons bound by the existing Settlement, cannot be arrived at It is not possible to accept the contention urged by the learned Counsel for the respondent Board that Section 19(2) prevents only unilateral change in the terries of a Settlement and that it does not prevent the modification of the terms of an existing settlement by a second Settlement. Section 19(2) does not make a distinction between a unilateral change in the terms of a settlement and the modification of the terms of a settlement by agreement of parties, A change in the terms of an existing Settlement, whether by unilateral action or by mutual agreement, can be brought about only after the existing Settlement has been validly terminated Section 19(2) does not provide for termination of a settlement by mutual agreement but requires the giving of a notice in writing. An agreement can result in termination of a settlement only if the notice which is required to be given under Section 19(2) can be waived by either of the parties bound by the Settlement. In Workmen of Continental Commercial Company Pvt. Ltd. v. Government of West Bengal 1962 (1) LLJ 85 a learned Judge of the Calcutta High Court had taken the view that the notice required to be given under Section 19(2) could be waived by the party to whom the notice is to be sent. But the Supreme Court in Indian Link Chain . as The Workmen 1971 LLJ 581 has rejected the said view and has laid down that there cannot be any waiver by conduct or implication of a written notice terminating the Settlement. If the notice, which is required to be given under Section 19(2) of the Act cannot be waived the result would be that a settlement cannot be terminated by mutual agreement and no distinction can be drawn between a unilateral change in the terms of a Settlement and the modification of the terms of a settlement by agreement of parties. It must, therefore, be held that during the period a Settlement is in operation the persons bound by the said Settlement cannot arrive at a, second Settlement so as to modify the terms of the existing Settlement.

12. Now coming to the present case, we find that the First Settlement was a settlement which was arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings When the First settlement was in operation the Second Settlement was entered into on 2nd December, 1972. The Second Settlement covers matters which are also covered by the First Settlement, i.e. fixation of the pay scale of Meter Readers. The first settlement had laid down that all Meter Readers will be placed in Pay Scale No. 3 i e. Rs. 126-250 By the Second Settlement it has been provided that Meter Readers will be divided into two categories and that Meter Reader Readers. I will be placed in pay scale No. 3 whereas Meter Readers II will be placed in pay scale No. 2 Rs. 80 194. The Second Settlement thus modifies the conditions of service of the workmen i. e. Meter Readers, as laid down in the First Settlement. It cannot regarded as a settlement which resolves any difficulty or doubt arising as to the interpretation of any provisions of the First Settlement and, therefore, it was not permissible for the management of the respondent Board and the Prantiya Vidhyut Mandal Mazdoor Federation, the recognised Trade Union, to enter into Second Settlement so long as the First Settlement was in operation,

13. Even if it be assumed that the Second Settlement is a settlement which resolves a difficulty or doubt arising as to the interpretation of any provisions of the First Settlement the question which will arise for consideration is whether the Second Settlement could be regarded as a settlement arrived in the course of conciliation proceedings so as to be binding on all the workmen, present as well as future. Section 12 of the Act, which deals with the duties of the conciliation officers, lays down that where any industrial dispute exists or is apprehended the conciliation officer may hold conciliation proceedings in the prescribed manner and may do all such things as he thinks fit for the purpose of inducing the parties so come to a fair and amicable settlement of the dispute Section 20(2) Jays down that conciliation proceeding shall be deemed to have concluded where a settlement is arrived at when a memorandum of the Settlement is signed by the parties to the dispute and where no settlement is arrived at, when the report of the conciliation officer is received by the appropriate Government In the present case the conciliation proceedings had concluded on 22nd February, -1972 when the First Settlement was signed by the parties to the dispute. Thereafter, no industrial dispute arose and no fresh conciliation proceedings commenced and on 2nd December, 1972 when the Second Settlement was arrived at, no conciliation proceedings were pending The Second Settlement cannot, therefore, be regarded as a Settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings but is a Settlement arrived at otherwise than in the course of conciliation proceedings. The mere fact that the Second Settlement bears the signatures of the conciliation officer will not convert the said Settlement from a settlement arrived at otherwise than in the course of conciliation proceeding to a Settlement arrived at in the course of conciliation proceedings.

14. If the Second Settlement is a settlement which was arrived at otherwise than in the course of conciliation proceedings then it can bind only the parties to the Second Settlement, i.e. the workmen who were members of the trade union which has entered into he Second Settlement and it cannot bind the workmen who were not members of the said Union or who become the employees of the respondent Board after the First Settlement was arrived at. In that view of the matter, Supplementary Settlement cannot bind the petitioners in Civil writ petitions Nos. 3115/74,3118/74 and 29/75 who were all employees on 10th August, 1972 after the signing of the First Settlement & who were appointed in the Pay Scale of Rs. 126 250. The conditions of service of the aforesaid petitioners could not be altered to their detriment on the basis of the Second Settlement and the notification dated 6th December. 1972 placing them in Pay Scale No. 2 and there by reducing their wages, cannot be upheld. The consequence which necessarily flows from this finding is that the notification dated 6th December, 1972 cannot also be upheld in respect of petitioners who had been appointed as Meter Readers prior to the First Settlement and who were placed in Pay scale No. 3 in pursuance of the First Settlement and the notification dated 22nd March, 1972. As laid down by the Supreme Court in Rajasthan State Electricity Board v. Mohan Lal : (1968)ILLJ257SC the respondent Board is 'State' for the purpose of Part III of the Constitution and is bound by the Constitutional mandate contained in Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution In Bashesharnath v. Commissioner of Income Tax : [1959]35ITR190(SC) , the Supreme Court has laid down that no person can by any act or conduct relieve the State of the solemn obligation which has been imposed on it by Article 14 of the Constitution. Article 16, which is only a facet of the general right to equality guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution, stands on the same footing. The validity of the notification dated 6th December, 1972 is, therefore, open to challenge on the ground of violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution and the fact that the said notification was issued with a view to implement the term of the Second Settlement can be of no avail to the respondent Board. If it is held that it was not permissible for the Respondent Board to reduce the wages of the petitioners in writ petitions Nos. 3115/74, 3118/74 and 29/75, who were employed as Meter Readers after the First Settlement was arrived at, it will equally not be permissible for respondent Board to reduce the wag of the petitioners in the other writ petitions who were appointed as Meter Readers before the First Settlement was arrived at because ail the Meter Readers are similarly situate and redaction of the wages of only some of the Meter Readers, including the petitioners in writ petitions 396, 397 and 1947 of 1973 and 30 of 1975, would be hit by Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. The result is that the Second Settlement and the notification dated 6th December, 1972 which seeks to implement the Second Settlement whereby the Meter Readers have been divided into two categories and Meter Readers II have bean given a lower pay scale cannot be upheld.

15. There is another infirmity in the notification dated 6th December, 1972 By the said notification even amongst the class of Meter Readers II, a distinction has been made in the matter of fixing the pay scale on the basis of the date of their appointment on the post Meter Readers II who were appointed before 1st April, 1968 have been placed in pay scale No. 3. Rs. 126-250, whereas Meter Readers II who were appointed on or after 1st April, 1968 have been placed in pay scale No. 2, Rs. 80-194 The said classification of Meter Readers II into two classes on the basis of the date of their appointment on the post has been sought to be justified by the respondent Board on the ground that Meter Readers who hold experience of more than one year on 1st April, 1969 were entitled to a higher pay scale as compared to Meter Readers who had experience of less than one year on 1st April, 1969. If one year's experience was the consideration for giving the higher pay scale No. 3, a provision should have been made in the notification at the every Meter Reader-II after attaining one year's experience will be placed in Pay Scale No. 3, but the notification dated 6th December, 1972 does not contain such a provision. What the said notification seeks to do is to fix an arbitrary date i.e. 1st April, 1968 for the purpose of classifying Meter Readers II info two categories and gives a higher Pay Scale No. 3 to all Meter Readers who were appointed before 1st April, 1968 and gives the lower Pay Scale No. 2 to all the Meter Readers who were appointed on or after 1st April, 1968. As a result of the notification a person who was appointed as Meter Reader II on 31st March, 1968 would be given the higher Pay Scale of Rs. 126 250 whereas a person who was appointed as Meter Reader II a day later on 1st April 68 would be given the lower pay scale of Rs. 80-194. This classification of Meter Readers II into two classes is thus dependent on the fortuitous circumstance of their being appointed as Meter Reader II either before 1st April, 1968 or on or after 1st April, 1968. In the present case we find that Brijlal and Chanderbhan (Petitioners in Civil Writ Nos. 396 and 397 of 1973) were appointed as Meter Reader after 1st April, 1968 in the year 1968 and they have been placed in Pay Scale No. 2 in pursuance of the impugned notification Thus it cannot be said that the discrimination resulting from the impugned notification is a mere hypothetical possibility & is of no practical significance. This classification of Meter Reader II on the basis of an arbitrary date i e. 1st April 1968, which has no rational basis and has no nexus whatsoever with the object sought to be achieved by the impugned notification viz improvement in the conditions of service of the employees of the respondent Board, cannot therefore, be upheld and it must be held that the notification dated 6th December, 1972 is so far as it divides Meter Readers-II into two categories and places Meter Readers-II who were appointed before 1st April, 1968 in Pay scale No. 3 and places Meter Readers-II who were appointed on or after 1st April, 1968 in Pay scale No. 2 is violative of the provisions of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

16. In view of my findings aforesaid, I do not consider it necessary to examine the question as to whether the Second Settlement and the notification dated 6th December, 1972 are violative of the provisions of Article 31(2) of the Constitution or the question as to whether the said notification constitutes the regulations framed by the Board under Section 79(c) of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948.

17. In the result these writ petitions are allowed and the notification dated 6th December, 1972 issued by the respondent Board in so far as it relates to the fixation of pay scales of Meter Readers employed with the respondent Board is quashed. Taking into consideration the circumstances of the case, it is directed that the parties shall bear their own costs in these writ petitions.


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