In W.P.(C) 2367/2003-DEL HC- Grant of higher pay scale based upon recommendations of Pay Commission to class of employees, is purely policy decision of administrative nature: Delhi HC
Justices Satish Chandra Sharma & Subramonium Prasad [21-09-2022]
Read Order: UOI & ORS v. J. K. GOHRI & ORS
New Delhi, September 22, 2022: The classification/ categorization on the basis of educational qualification is primarily in the domain of the employer or the statutory authorities, the Delhi High Court has observed.
The Division bench of Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad disposed of the present petition stemming from the judgment of the Central Administrative Tribunal and held, “Grant of higher pay scale based upon the recommendations of the pay Commission to a class of employees is purely a policy decision of administrative nature and the Tribunal has certainly erred in law in allowing the Original Application and has also erred in law and facts in dismissing the review petition specially when the basic judgment delivered on the subject by the Central Administrative Tribunal, Bangalore Bench was set aside.”
The undisputed facts of the case were that the applicants-respondents were working on the post of Chargeman-II in the pre-revised grade of Rs 1400-2300 and the service conditions were governed by the Recruitment Rules known as Defence Research & Development Organisation Group C Non-Gazetted (Technical Scientific and other Ministerial) Posts Recruitment Rules, 1968. These Rules of 1968 were repealed and DRDO Technical Cadre Recruitment Rules, 1995 came into force.
The respondent employees were working on the post of Chargeman-II and a distinction was drawn in respect of Chargeman-II holding the qualification of Bachelors Degree in Science or 3 years Diploma in Engineering Technology and Chargeman-II holding 10th Class or equivalent certificate and a certificate from Industrial Training Institute.
The criteria of restructuring which came into force in 1995 placed the Chargeman-II into two other equivalent categories and after restructuring, those who were holding Diploma were called Technical Assistants – B (TA-B). However, both were granted the same pay scale of Rs 1400-2300 . There was no change in respect of the post of Chargeman-I and they continued in the pay scale of Rs.1640-2900.
The respondent employees who were the applicants before the Tribunal preferred an Original Application before the Tribunal challenging the disparity in pay scales and the same dispute which was the subject matter of the Original Application was also looked into by the Bangalore Bench of the Tribunal in which the Recruitment Rules were under challenge. The Tribunal allowed the Original Application of the employees posted at Bangalore of the same organization.
The CAT, Principal Bench, New Delhi based upon the order passed by the Bangalore Bench allowed the Original Application preferred by the employees. Meanwhile, the judgment delivered by the Bangalore Bench of the CAT was subjected to judicial scrutiny and the Division Bench of the High Court of Karnataka set aside that order and Rule 6(4)(a) A on the basis of which classification was done, was upheld.
The petitioner- Union of India preferred a review application before the Tribunal but the same was dismissed. The present writ petition was instituted by the petitioner-Union of India being aggrieved by the order passed by the CAT on the ground that the impugned order was passed based upon the Bangalore Bench order in which Rule 6(4)(a) of the DRCTC Rules was under challenge and once the judgment delivered by the Bangalore Bench itself was set aside by the Karnataka High Court, the Tribunal should have allowed the Review Petition.
After considering the submissions of the parties, the Court noted that the present case was not a case where promotions were made based upon administrative instructions. In the present case, Recruitment Rules were framed. They came into force in 1995 and based upon the Recruitment Rules, restructuring of the cadre took place.
In the considered opinion of this Court, once the basic judgment on the basis of which the relief was granted to the employees i.e. the judgment delivered by the CAT, Bangalore Bench in Original Application which was set aside by the Karnataka High Court, the Principal Bench, CAT certainly erred on law and facts in dismissing the Review Petition and therefore, the orders passed in Review Application and the Original Applicationwere quashed.
In furtherance of the same, the Court noted that the present case was certainly not a case of reduction in pay scale. It was a case of categorization of various trades/ cadres and as in the DRDO there were as many as 29 trades/cadres carrying different pay scales on account of the Recruitment Rules, they were merged into 8 pay scales and promotional avenues were also provided to the employees therein.
The employees who were holding higher qualification were placed in a separate category i.e. Degree Holder and the employees who were having lesser qualifications were placed in lower categories.
However, at the time of restructuring, the pay scale was not reduced to different categories and all Chargeman-II even after categorization were placed in the same pay scale. It was only after the recommendation of the Fifth Pay Commission, the higher pay scales were granted and it was nobody’s case that on account of restructuring pay scales were reduced for the employees. “The employees cannot compare their case with the cases of employees with higher qualification and a reasonable classification was done by the employer by placing employees in different cadres based upon the qualifications”, the Court further noted.
The Karnataka High Court upheld the validity of the statutory provisions governing the field and once the Division Bench of the Karnataka High Court upheld the validity of the Recruitment Rules, all consequential actions by the Department were certainly as per Recruitment Rules and couldnot be interfered with as prayed by the petitioners, the Court noted. Thus, the Bench set aside the order passed by the Tribunal in the Original Application and in the review petition.
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