Read Order: The Managing Director, Ajmer Vidhyut Vitran Nigam Ltd., Ajmer & Anr. vs. Chiggan Lal & Ors. 

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, March 21, 2022: While considering a case of employees seeking regular pay scale by contending that they should be brought at par with those employees who had been fixed at the regular pay scale, the Supreme Court has opined that the date of regularization and grant of pay scale is a prerogative of the employer/screening committee and no parity can be claimed in the matter of regularization in different years. 

A Division Bench of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer and Justice Krishna Murari therefore observed that the High Court was not justified in directing payment of arrears to the respondent employees and in fixing the grant of regular pay-scale w.e.f April 1, 1983. 

Going by the background of the case, Chiggan Lal (respondents) were engaged by the Managing Director, Ajmer Vidhyut Vitran Nigam (appellant) as unskilled labour on daily wages on different dates. Later, the appellant passed an office Order in view of the financial condition, by which the strength of the employees, inclusive of casual labour, was frozen to the number of employees. It was also decided that until further orders, no addition was to be made to the strength of the employees as it stood in 1980. The respondents were declared work charged employees between the period January 6, 1981 to March 16, 1981. According to the respondents, they have completed two years of service after March 31, 1982.

In 1987, the appellant issued Office Order in respect of employees who had completed two years of continuous service as on March 31, 1982, who could not be considered earlier. In 1988, the appellant issued an Office Order by which the earlier Screening Committee was authorized to screen the work charged/casual-monthly or daily rated workmen, who have completed two years of service as on March 31, 1983, or thereafter to adjudge suitability for regularization and grant of regular pay-scale. The respondents vide Office Order were regularized and allowed regular pay scale with effect from April 1, 1989 as per the recommendation of the Screening Committee. 

The respondents thereafter approached the High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan against the Order passed by the appellant, seeking regular pay scale with effect from April 1, 1983 instead of April 1, 1989 by contending that they should be brought at par with those employees who had been fixed at the regular pay scale. The High Court allowed such petition. 

After considering the submissions, the Top Court noted that the date from which regularization is to be granted is a matter to be decided by the employer keeping in view a number of factors like the nature of the work, number of posts lying vacant, the financial condition of the employer, the additional financial burden caused, the suitability of the workmen for the job, the manner and reason for which the initial appointments were made etc. 

The said decision will depend upon the facts of each year and no parity can be claimed based on regularization made in respect of the earlier years, added the Court. 

The Apex Court found that this Court in Jodhpur Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd. V. Nanu Ram and Others , (2006) 12 SCC 494, has held that the employer is required to examine the question as to how many workmen could be regularized keeping in mind, the budget provisions, availability of the posts, the number of muster roll workers engaged in construction work without their being existence of any vacant sanctioned posts and the manner in which these muster roll workers were initially recruited i.e. whether with or without the approval of the management, thereafter examining the above, the employer has to recommend their absorption in regular service on the basis of eligibility as determined by the Screening Committee. 

In case of Jodhpur Vidyut Vitran Nigam (Supra), it was further held that mere completion of two years is not the only criterion and that the State is not under an obligation to constitute Screening Committee at the end of each year, added the Court. 

Accordingly, the Apex Court allowed the appeal.  

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