Read Order: Rajesh Kumar and others v. State of Haryana and others

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 02, 2022: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently held that the pay scale of a higher post cannot be less than the scale of the feeder post and not to grant the same scale which is admissible to the feeder post is arbitrary and unreasonable.

The petition herein, was for issuance of a writ in the nature of Mandamus commanding the respondents to rectify the pay anomaly qua the petitioners, working as Laboratory Technician (direct recruits) and grant them the same pay scale as was admissible to the Laboratory Technician (Malaria) appointed by way of promotion. 

Succinctly stated, the facts of the case are that the petitioners (four in number) were appointed as Laboratory Technician (Malaria) by way of direct recruitment in 1999. Earlier the post of Laboratory Technician (Malaria) used to be filled up by way of promotion from Sanitary Inspector now re-designated as Multi-Purpose Health Supervisor (Male). 

Prior to January 1986, the pay scale of the post of Sanitary Inspector was Rs.420-600/-, and for the post of Laboratory Technician (Malaria), it was Rs.480-760/-. From January 1989, the pay scale for the post of Laboratory Technician was revised from Rs. 480-760 to Rs.1200-2040 and the pay scale of the feeder post of Sanitary Inspector now redesignated as Multi-Purpose Health Supervisor (Male) was revised to Rs.1400- 2600. 

All the Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) who were appointed by way of promotion from the post of Sanitary Inspector were granted the pay scale of Rs.1400-2600 w.e.f. January 1986. Subsequently, said benefit was withdrawn. Being aggrieved, one Sh. Dina Nath, Laboratory Technician (Malaria) preferred Writ Petition which was allowed by the Division Bench of the High Court. The respondent-State of Haryana filed an SLP and the same was dismissed. 

Accordingly, all the Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) who were appointed by way of promotion from the post of Sanitary Inspector were granted the scale of Rs.1400-2600 w.e.f. January 1986 and the Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) who were appointed by way of direct recruitment were granted the scale of Rs.1200-2040. 

Pay Scale of Rs.1400-2600 was further revised to Rs.5000-7850, while the pay scale of Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) who were appointed by way of direct recruitment was revised from Rs.1200-2040 to Rs.4000-6000. 

Aggrieved against the pay disparity, petitioners served a demand notice raising grievance that the action of the respondents was arbitrary but their notice was to no avail claiming that no discrimination can be made in the pay scale between the persons who were appointed either by direct recruitment or by promotion, the petitioners filed the present petition.

The counsel for the petitioners argued that no distinction could be made in pay scales between direct recruit and promotee, therefore, all the Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) whether appointed by way of promotion or direct recruitment were entitled to the same scale.

On the other hand, the State counsel contended that petitioners were appointed as Laboratory Technicians (Malaria), by way of direct recruitment and at the relevant time, the Haryana Health Department miscellaneous staff (Malaria) Group ‘C’ service Rules, 1998 (‘Rules of 1998’) were applicable and as per Rule 9, there were two modes for recruitment to the said post. In the appendix ‘A’ of said Rules, a pay scale of Rs.4000-6000 was mentioned and the same was granted to the petitioners. He further argued that while applying for the said post, said pay scale was well within the knowledge of the petitioners and accordingly, they applied for and accepted appointments too. Thus, the Counsel contended that the petitioners should be estopped by their own act and conduct. 

At the very outset, the Single Judge Bench of Justice Arun Monga reiterated that undisputedly all the Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) appointed by way of promotion were granted the scale of Rs.1400-2600 and the same was further revised to Rs.5000-7850, but the Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) appointed by way of direct recruitment were granted scale of Rs.1200-2040 and were further granted the scale of Rs.4000-6000. 

After taking note of this disparity, the Court observed that the qualification for the direct recruitee was Matriculate with Science and one-year diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology while qualification for promotion is Matric and six-month training of Sanitary Inspector (i.e. lower than the qualification needed for the former category). Further, the Court also noted that there was no difference in duties and responsibilities of direct recruitees and promotees. 

In this context, reliance may be had to the Division Bench judgment in Krishan Chand Bhardwaj v. State of Haryana, reported as 2002 (2) SLR 540 wherein it was held that no distinction can be made in the scale for those appointed on the same post from two different sources i.e. direct recruits/promoters.

Even otherwise, the granting of the scale of Rs.4000-6000 w.e.f. January 1996 to the direct recruitee Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) appeared to the Court to be per se arbitrary since at the relevant time the feeder post for Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) was Multipurpose Health Supervisor and the higher pay scale of Rs.1400-2600 w.e.f. January 1986 and scale of Rs. 5000-7850 w.e.f. January 1996 was provided for Laboratory Technicians (Malaria). Thus, the Court held that the pay scale of a higher post cannot be less than the scale of the feeder post and that not to grant the same scale which is admissible to the feeder post is on the face of it arbitrary and unreasonable. 

Against this backdrop, the Court held that if Multipurpose Health Supervisor (a feeder post for Laboratory Technician (Malaria)) was getting the scale of Rs.5000-7850 w.e.f. January 1996, then there was no justification to grant a lower pay scale of Rs. 4000-6000 w.e.f. January 1996 to the Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) appointed by way of direct recruitment.

“If the Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) appointed by way of promotion were getting the scale of Rs.5000-7850 w.e.f. 01.01.1996 then the direct recruitee Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) are also entitled to the scale of Rs.5000-7850 w.e.f. 01.01.1996 onwards”, held Justice Monga. 

Thus, as an upshot, it was held that the direct recruitee Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) were entitled to the same scale as admissible to the Laboratory Technicians (Malaria) appointed by way of promotion. 

To that extent, the writ petition was allowed and the respondents were directed to accord the benefit of the same pay-scale to the petitioners w.e.f. the date, it was made applicable to the promotee Laboratory Technicians. 

“The benefit shall be allowed to the petitioners from the dates they assumed charge of their respective posts. Arrears of the salary to the petitioners be paid alongwith interest at the rate of 6% per annum from due date till payment. Needed exercise be carried out within a period of 60 days from today”, held the Bench. 

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