Temporary employee to be paid at par with regular worker

The Supreme Court of India has once again risen to defend the interest of employees.

The readers are requested to go thru the following slowly and passionately.

>>> The Governments, both the Central and the States have been engaging employees on a temporary basis…………….this practice has been held to be bad …….

Public employment in a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic……………….Equality of opportunity is the hallmark, and the

Constitution has provided also for affirmative action to ensure that unequal's are not treated as equals.

The power of a State as an employer is more limited than that of a private employer inasmuch as it is subjected to constitutional limitations and cannot be exercised arbitrarily. Article 309 of the Constitution gives the Government the power to frame rules for the purpose of laying down the conditions of service and recruitment of persons to be appointed

to public services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or any of the States.

>>> In a big relief to lakhs of temporary employee who have been hired by government departments and agencies across the country on contractual basis, the Supreme Court  held in recent judgment on dated; October 26, 2016, that they are entitled to wages at par with permanent employees and principle of 'equal pay for equal work' must be followed.

The decision of the Apex Court shall have far reaching consequences in service jurisprudence.

The bench of Justices JS Khehar and SA Bobde said the principle had been expounded through a large number of judgments rendered by the apex court and constitutes law declared by the Supreme Court.

The employees working with private companies would also look for similar relief as many employees have to work with consultants/consultancies ‘hired by private companies.

And employees due to their financial needs and constraints are exploited and are made to work for more than 8hourts/day and are not paid any overtime. 

The bench has decided that the principle of 'equal pay for equal work' constitutes a clear and unambiguous right vested in every employee whether engaged on regular or temporary basis. There can be no doubt, that the principle of equal pay for equal work would be applicable to all the concerned temporary employees, so as to vest in them the right to claim wages, at par with the minimum of the pay-scale of regularly engaged government employees, holding the same post…

>>> The bench has observed that………………. Any one, who is compelled to work at a lesser wage, does not do so voluntarily. He does so, to provide food and shelter to his family, at the cost of his self respect and dignity, at the cost of his self worth, and at the cost of his integrity. For he knows, that his dependents would suffer immensely, if he does not accept the lesser wage…………..Any act, of paying less wages, as compared to others similarly situate, constitutes an act of exploitative enslavement, emerging out of a domineering position. Undoubtedly, the action is oppressive, suppressive and coercive, as it compels involuntary subjugation, 

>>> The Apex Court has laid down that….. it is fallacious to determine artificial parameters to deny fruits of labour. An employee engaged for the same work, cannot be paid less than another, who performs the same duties and responsibilities. Certainly not, in a welfare state. Such an action besides being demeaning, strikes at the very foundation of human dignity…………….

>>> In the decision the apex court has firmly explained the highlights of the judgment;

  • Contractual employees are entitled to wages at par with permanent employee
  • Principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ must be followed
  • Undoubtedly, the action of paying lesser wage is oppressive

>>> The Apex Court passed the verdict on a bunch of petition filed by temporary employee working for state of Punjab seeking wage parity with regular employee.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court held that temporary employees were not entitled to the minimum of the regular pay-scale, merely for reason, that the activities carried on by them and the regular employees were similar.

Setting aside the HC order, the apex court held that the principle of equal pay for equal work must be followed in the country as India was a signatory of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights…………………………India is a signatory to the covenant, having ratified the same on April 10, 1979. There is no escape from the above obligation, in view of different provisions of the Constitution and in view of the law declared by this court under Article 141 of the Constitution of India, the principle of 'equal pay for equal work' constitutes a clear and unambiguous right and is vested in every employee - whether engaged on regular or temporary basis..

>>> The present Letters Patent Appeal has been filed by the State of Punjab against the judgment dated 5.2.2003 passed by learned single Judge in CWP No.1536 of 1988, whereby it has been ordered that the respondents-petitioners, daily wagers, be paid the minimum of pay scales, as revised from time to time with permissible allowances for a period of three years prior to the date of filing of writ petition; and with a further direction for regularization of their services.

Aggrieved against the aforesaid direction, the appellant/State of Punjab has filed the present Letters Patent Appeal.

It is, therefore, clear from the contents of the affidavit that the above stated nine respondents-petitioners were regularized and they are getting pay and allowances at par with their counterparts, in terms of the instructions dated 20.1.1995,…………….. Thus, so far as the directions for considering the case of the respondents-petitioners for regularization as per decision rendered in the case of State of Haryana v. Piara Singh, stands satisfied.

Learned counsel for the appellants has contended that the directions issued by the learned single Judge for grant of minimum of pay scale with permissible allowances; similar to regular employees for the period of three years prior to the date of filing of writ petition is illegal and not sustainable.

On the other hand learned counsel for the respondents/ petitioners has argued that the directions passed by the learned single Judge are in accordance with law and therefore valid.

There cannot be any dispute about the proposition of law apparent from the judgments cited and relied upon on behalf of the respondents-petitioners unless one goes through the law declared by the Hon'ble Apex Court in later points of time. Learned counsel for the appellant-State of Punjab placed reliance on decisions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of State of Haryana v. Tilak Raj's case (supra) in which their Lordships have taken a contrary view in as much as in that case the daily wagers had claimed equal pay for equal work at par with regular and permanent staff. Their Lordships held that since daily wagers hold no post and scale of pay and scale of pay is attached only to a definite post, therefore, they cannot be granted equal pay for equal work. However, the need to pay such daily wagers the minimum wages was recognized.

In so far contractual employees are concerned, it was held that this category cannot claim equal pay on the doctrine of equal pay for equal work.

In the present case, keeping in view the aforestated legal principles, it is incumbent upon the respondents-petitioners to discharge the burden of establishing wholesale equivalence between them and their regular counterparts in terms of (i) qualification, (ii) mode of recruitment, (iii) discharge of duties; and (iv) degree of responsibility. On examining the pleadings we find that the respondents-petitioners have failed to discharge that onerous burden which would entitle them to invoke the doctrine of equal pay for equal work.

Admittedly they have been getting the minimum wages. During the pendency of the Letters Patent Appeal their services have been even regularised in view of the policy framed in view of Piara Singh's case (supra). Therefore, having regard to the aforestated decision rendered by the Hon'ble Supreme Court especially in State of Haryana v. Tilak Raj's case (supra), we have no doubt in our mind that the respondents/petitioners who were working on daily wage basis prior to their regularization are not entitled to payment of equal pay for equal work at par with regular employees or in that matter even the minimum of the pay scales as revised from time to time with permissible allowances. The decisions rendered by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in support of said view are definitely in later points of time as compared to decisions cited by respondents-petitioners and as such those are of no help to them. In the light of the above discussions, we have no hesitation in holding that this Letters Patent Appeal merits acceptance. It is accordingly allowed. The impugned judgement and order dated 5.2.2003 passed by the learned Single Judge in CWP No.1536 of 1988 is set aside to the extent it directs the appellants to pay the petitioners minimum of the pay scale as revised from time to time with permissible allowances which are being given to the similarly placed regular employees for the last three years prior to the date of filing of the writ petition.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT

CHANDIGARH.

LPA NO. 337 of 2003

in CWP No.1536 of 1988

Date of Decision: 7 .1.2009.

The State of Punjab and others ..........Appellants

Versus

Rajinder Singh etc. ..........Respondents.

>>> The Apex Court has step by step illustrated the sound reasons in the recent judgment and gone thru a plethora of judgments to arrive at it decision to provide relief to the community of employees.

It also includes the much discussed; Secretary, State of Karnataka v. Umadevi

2…………..A division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in State of Punjab & Ors. v. Rajinder Singh & Ors. (LPA no. 337 of 2003, decided on 7.1.2009), set aside, in an intra-court appeal, the judgment rendered by a learned single Judge of the High Court, in Rajinder Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Ors. (CWP no. 1536 of 1988, decided on 5.2.2003).

3. Another division bench of the same High Court, in State of Punjab & Ors. v. Rajinder Kumar (LPA no. 1024 of 2009, decided on 30.8.2010), dismissed an intra-Court appeal preferred by the State of Punjab, arising out of the judgment rendered by a learned single Judge in Rajinder Kumar v. State of Punjab & Ors. (CWP no. 14050 of 1999, decided on 20.11.2002), and affirmed the decision of the single Judge, in connected appeals preferred by employees. The letters patent bench held, that the writ petitioners (working as daily-wage Pump Operators, Fitters, Helpers, Drivers, Plumbers, Chowkidars, Ledger Clerks, Ledger Keepers, Petrol Men, Surveyors, Fitter Coolies, Sewermen, and the like), were entitled to minimum of the pay-scale, alongwith permissible allowances (as revised from time to time), which were being given to similarly placed regular employees. Arrears payable to the concerned employees were limited to three years prior to the filing of the writ petition. In sum and substance, the division bench in State of Punjab & Ors. v. Rajinder Kumar (LPA no. 1024 of 2009) affirmed the position adopted by the learned single Judge in Rajinder Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Ors. (CWP no. 1536 of 1988). It is apparent, that the instant division bench, concluded conversely as against the judgment rendered in State of Punjab & Ors. v. Rajinder Singh (LPA no. 337 of 2003), by the earlier division bench.

4. It would be relevant to mention, that the earlier judgment rendered, in State of Punjab & Ors. v. Rajinder Singh & Ors. (LPA no. 337 of 2003) was not noticed by the later division bench – in State of Punjab & Ors. v. Rajinder Kumar (LPA no. 1024 of 2009). Noticing a conflict of views expressed in the judgments rendered by two division benches in the above matters, a learned single Judge of the High Court, referred the matter for adjudication to a larger bench, on 11.5.2011. It is, therefore, that a full bench of the High Court, took up the issue, for resolving the dispute emerging out of the differences of opinion expressed in the above two judgments, in Avtar Singh v. State of Punjab & Ors. (CWP no. 14796 of 2003), alongwith connected writ petitions.

The full bench rendered its judgment on 11.11.2011. The present bunch of cases, which we have taken up for collective disposal, comprise of a challenge to the judgment rendered by the division bench of the High Court in State of Punjab & Ors. v. Rajinder Singh & Ors. (LPA no. 337 of 2003, decided on 7.1.2009); a challenge to the judgment, referred to above, in State of Punjab & Ors. v. Rajinder Kumar (LPA no. 1024 of 2009, decided on 30.8.2010); as also, a challenge to the judgment rendered by the full bench of the High Court in Avtar Singh v. State of Punjab & Ors. (CWP no. 14796 of 2003, decided on 11.11.2011). This bunch of cases, also involves challenges to judgments rendered by the High Court, by relying on the judgments referred to above.

5. The issue which arises for our consideration is, whether temporarily engaged employees (daily-wage employees, ad-hoc appointees, employees appointed on casual basis, contractual employees and the like), are entitled to 5 minimum of the regular pay-scale, alongwith dearness allowance (as revised from time to time) on account of their performing the same duties, which are discharged by those engaged on regular basis, against sanctioned posts. The full bench of the High Court, while adjudicating upon the above controversy had concluded, that such like temporary employees were not entitled to the minimum of the regular pay-scale, merely for reason, that the activities carried on by dailywagers and the regular employees were similar.

However, it carved out two exceptions, and extended the minimum of the regular pay to such employees.

The exceptions recorded by the full bench of the High Court in the impugned judgment are extracted hereunder:-

“(1) A daily wager, ad hoc or contractual appointee against the regular sanctioned posts, if appointed after undergoing a selection process based upon fairness and equality of opportunity to all other eligible candidates, shall be entitled to minimum of the regular pay scale from the date of engagement.

(2) But if daily wagers, ad hoc or contractual appointees are not appointed against regular sanctioned posts and their services are availed continuously, with notional breaks, by the State Government or its instrumentalities for a sufficient long period i.e. for 10 years, such daily wagers, ad hoc or contractual appointees shall be entitled to minimum of the regular pay scale without any allowances on the assumption that work of perennial nature is available and having worked for such long period of time, an equitable right is created in such category of persons. Their claim for regularization, if any, may have to be considered separately in terms of legally permissible scheme. (3) In the event, a claim is made for minimum pay scale after more than three years and two months of completion of 10 years of continuous working, a daily wager, ad hoc or contractual employee shall be entitled to arrears for a period of three years and two months.”

6. The issue which has arisen for consideration in the present set of appeals, necessitates a bird’s eye view on the legal position declared by this Court, on the underlying ingredients, which govern the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’. 6 It is also necessary for resolving the controversy, to determine the manner in which this Court has extended the benefit of “minimum of the regular pay-scale” alongwith dearness allowance, as revised from time to time, to temporary employees (engaged on daily-wage basis, as ad-hoc appointees, as employees engaged on casual basis, as contract appointees, and the like). For the aforesaid purpose, we shall, examine the above issue, in two stages. We shall first examine situations where the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has been extended to employees engaged on regular basis. And thereafter, how the same has been applied with reference to different categories of temporary employees.

7. Randhir Singh v. Union of India1 , decided by a three-Judge bench:

(i)……………………….. The principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, was held to be applicable to cases of unequal scales of pay, based on no classification or

(ii)…………. Even though he belonged to a different department, the petitioner was held as entitled to the pay-scale…….

8. D.S. Nakara v. Union of India2 , decided by a five-Judge Constitution Bench:

……………… the main issue which arose for consideration pertained to pension, and not to wages…..

…..this Court observed that where all relevant considerations are the same, persons holding identical posts may not be treated differently in the matter of their pay merely because they belong to different departments…If that can't be done when they are in service, can that be done during their retirement? Expanding this principle, one can confidently say that if pensioners form a class, their computation cannot be by different formula affording unequal treatment solely on the ground that some retired earlier and some retired later. Art. 39 (e) requires the State to secure that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and children of tender age are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength. Art. 41 obligates the State within the limits of its economic capacity and development, to make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to provide assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want. Art. 43 (3) requires the State to endeavour to secure amongst other things full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities.”

the Constitution Bench noticed the Randhir Singh case1 , and while affirming the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, extended it to pensionary entitlements also

9. Federation of All India Customs and Central Excise Stenographers (Recognized) v. Union of India3 , decided by a two-Judge bench:

The petitioners ….. Personal Assistants and Stenographers attached to heads of departments in the Customs and Central Excise Department, of the Ministry of Finance….were placed in the pay-scale of Rs.550-900. ………… claimed, that the basic qualifications, the method, manner and source of recruitment, and their grades of promotion were the same as some of their counterparts (Personal Assistants and Stenographers) attached to Joint Secretaries/Secretaries and other officers in the Central Secretariat. The above counterparts, it was alleged, were placed in the pay-scale of Rs.650-1040. The petitioners’ contention was, that their duties and responsibilities were similar to the duties and responsibilities discharged by some of their counterparts. Premised on the instant foundation, it was their contention, that the differentiation in their pay-scales, was violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. The petitioners claimed ‘equal pay for equal work’

(ii) ………… it was pointed out, that their counterparts working in the secretariat, constituted a class, which was distinguishable from them……………………It was contended, that the principle of ’equal pay for equal work’ depended on the nature of the work done, and not on the mere volume and kind of work. The respondents also asserted, that people discharging duties and responsibilities which were qualitatively different, when examined on the touchstone of reliability and responsibility, could not be placed in the same payscale.

(iii) ……………….., this Court arrived at the conclusion, that the differentiation of the pay-scale was not sought to be justified on the basis of the functional work discharged by the petitioners and their counterparts in the secretariat, but on the dissimilarity of their responsibility, confidentiality and the relationship with the public etc. …………… It was therefore held, that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ could not be translated into a mathematical formula. …………….. unless it could be demonstrated, that either the differentiation in the pay-scale was irrational, or based on no basis, or arrived at mala fide, either in law or on fact. In the light of the stance adopted by the respondents, it was held that it was not possible to say, that the differentiation of pay in the present controversy, was not based on a rational nexus. In the above view of the matter, the prayer made by the petitioners was declined.

10. State of U.P. v. J.P. Chaurasia4 , decided by a two-Judge bench:

(ii) This Court while adjudicating upon the controversy, examined the matter from two different angles. Firstly, whether Bench Secretaries in the High Court of Allahabad, were entitled to the pay-scale admissible to Section Officers? Secondly, whether the creation of two grades with different pay-scales in the cadre of Bench Secretaries despite the fact that they were discharging the same duties and responsibilities, was violative of the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’?

(iii) While answering the first question this Court felt, that the issue required evaluation of duties and responsibilities of the respective posts, with which equation was sought. And it was concluded, that on the subject of equation of posts, the matter ought to be left for determination to the executive, as the same would have to be examined by expert bodies.

(v) In the above view of the matter, the claim raised by the Bench Secretaries for equal pay, as was extended to Section Officers, was declined by this Court.

11. Mewa Ram Kanojia v. All India Institute of Medical Sciences5 , decided by a two-Judge bench:

The petitioner asserted, that the post of Hearing Therapist was required to discharge duties and responsibilities which were similar to those of the posts of Speech Pathologist and Audiologist.

(iv) This Court held, that there was a qualitative difference between the two posts, on the basis of educational qualifications, and therefore, the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, could not be invoked or applied. It was further held, that the Third Pay Commission had considered the claim of Hearing Therapists, but did not accede to the grievances made by them. Since the Pay Commission was in better position to judge the volume of work, qualitative difference and the reliability and responsibility required of the two posts, this Court declined to accept the prayer made by the petitioner, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.

12. Grih Kalyan Kendra Workers’ Union v. Union of India6 , decided by a twoJudge bench:

The petitioners sought parity with employees of the New Delhi Municipal Committee, and employees of other departments of the Delhi Administration, and the Union of India.

(ii)……………….. Some of them were being paid a fixed salary, described as a honorarium, while others were working on piece-rate wages at the production centres, without there being any provision for any scale of pay or other benefits like gratuity, pension, provident fund etc.

(iv) Based on the aforesaid factual conclusion, this Court held that the concept of ‘equal pay for equal work’ implies and requires, equal treatment for those who are similarly situated. It was held, that a comparison could not be drawn between unequals. Since the workers who had approached the Court in the present case, had failed to establish that they were situated similarly as others, it was held, that they could not be extended benefits which were being given to those, with whom they claimed parity.

13. Union of India v. Pradip Kumar Dey7 , decided by a two-Judge bench:

It was the case of the respondent, that he was holding the post of Naik (Radio Operator), in which capacity he was discharging similar duties as those performed in the Directorate of Coordination Police Wireless, and other central government agencies. It was also the claim of the respondent, that the duties performed by him as Naik (Radio Operator) were more hazardous than those performed by personnel with similar qualifications and experience in State services, and other organizations.

(iii) This Court while accepting the contentions advanced at the hands of the Union of India held, that the pay-scale claimed by the respondent was that for the post of Assistant Sub-Inspector, which admittedly was a promotional post for Naik (Radio Operator), i.e., the post held by the respondent. And as such, the claim made by the respondent, of parity with a post superior in hierarchy (to the post held by him), was not sustainable. Furthermore, this Court arrived at the conclusion, that there was no material on the record of the case to demonstrate, that the essential qualifications and the method of recruitment for, as also, the duties and responsibilities of the post held by him, were similar to those of the post, against which the respondent was claiming parity.

14. State Bank of India v. M.R. Ganesh Babu8 , decided by a three-Judge bench:

Entry into the management cadre in banking establishments, is Junior Management Grade Scale-1. The said cadre comprises of Probationary Officers, Trainee Officers and other officers who possess technical skills (specialized officers)………….

The Bhatnagar Committee made its recommendation, in favour of Rural Development Officers, finding that they were required to shoulder, by and large, the same duties and responsibilities, as Probationary Officers and Trainee Officers, so far as agricultural advances were concerned.

(ii) Since the benefit of additional increment was denied to other specialist officers, they also made a grievance and claimed the benefit of additional increments, as had been extended to Rural Development Officers.

On account of the reasons recorded above, specialist officers could not substantiate their claim of parity. They were held not entitled to benefit of the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’

15. State of Haryana v. Haryana Civil Secretariat Personal Staff Association9 , decided by a two-Judge bench:

The respondent Association in the above case, filed a writ petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, seeking a direction to the appellant herein, to grant Personal Assistants in the Civil Secretariat, Haryana, the pay-scale of Rs.2000-3500 + Rs.150 as special pay, which had been given to Personal Assistants working in the Central Secretariat. The aforesaid prayer was made in the background of the fact, that the State of Haryana had accepted the recommendations of the Fourth Central Pay Commission, with regard to revision of pay-scales, with effect from 1.1.1986.

(iii) The High Court allowed the claim of the Association.

(iii) …………..In its analysis, it was recorded, that the High Court had assumed, that the assertions made at the behest of the Personal Assistants, that they were discharging similar duties and responsibilities as Personal Assistants in the Central Secretariat, had remained unrebutted. That, this Court found, was factually incorrect. …………………..This Court accordingly set aside the order passed by the High Court, allowing parity.

16. Orissa University of Agriculture & Technology v. Manoj K. Mohanty10 , decided by a two-Judge bench:

The respondent in the above case, was appointed as a Typist in 1990, on a consolidated salary of Rs.530/- per month, against a vacancy of the post of Junior Assistant. It was his averment, that even though in the appointment order, he was shown to have been appointed against the post of Typist, he had actually been working as a Junior Assistant, in the Examination Section of the institute. In order to demonstrate the aforesaid factual position, the respondent placed reliance on two certificates dated 4.12.1993 and 25.3.1996, issued to him by the Dean of the institute, affirming his stance. Despite the passage of five years since his induction into service, he was paid the same consolidated salary (referred to above), and was also not being regularized. It was also pointed out, that another individual junior to him was regularized against the post of Junior Assistant. The respondent then approached the Orissa High Court by way of a writ petition, seeking appointment on regular basis. The High Court disposed of the said writ petition, by directing, that the respondent be not disengaged from service. The High Court further directed, that the respondent be paid salary in the regular scale of pay admissible to Junior Assistants, with effect from September, 1997

Based on the fact, that the respondent had not placed sufficient material on the record of the case, to demonstrate the applicability of the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, this Court set aside the order passed by the High Court, directing that the respondent be paid wages in the regular scale of pay, with effect from September, 1997.

17. Government of W.B. v. Tarun K. Roy11, decided by a three-Judge bench:

There were two technical posts, namely, Operator-cum-Mechanic and SubAssistant Engineer, in the Irrigation Department, of the Government of West Bengal………………..During the aforesaid revision, the pay-scale of the post of Operator-cum-Mechanic, which was initially Rs.180-350, was revised to Rs.230-425, with effect from 1.4.1970. The pay-scale of the post of Sub-Assistant Engineer was simultaneously revised to Rs.350-600, with a higher initial start of Rs.330, with effect from the same date.

……………………..“30. The respondents are merely graduates in Science. They do not have the requisite technical qualification. Only because they are graduates, they cannot, in our opinion, claim equality with the holders of diploma in Engineering. If any relief is granted by this Court to the respondents on the aforementioned ground, the same will be in contravention of the statutory rules. It is trite that this Court even in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution of India would not ordinarily grant such a relief which would be in violation of a statutory provision.”

18. S.C. Chandra v. State of Jharkhand12, decided by a two-Judge bench:

The appellants had approached the High Court with the prayer, that directions be issued to the respondents, to fix their pay-scale at par with the payscale of government secondary school teachers, or at par with Grade I and II Clerks of the respondent company (Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. – BCCL).

The appellants also prayed, that facilities such as provident fund, gratuity, pension and other retiral benefits, should also be made available to them. In addition to the above prayers, the appellants also sought a direction, that the management of the school, be taken over by the State Government.

A perusal of the determination rendered by this Court reveals, that for claiming parity under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, there should be total identity between the post held by the claimants, and the reference post, with whom parity is claimed.

19. Official Liquidator v. Dayanand13, decided by a three-Judge bench:

Directions were issued by the Calcutta and Delhi High Courts to the appellant, in the above matter, to absorb persons employed by the Official Liquidators (attached to those High Courts) under Rule 308 of the Companies (Court) Rules, 1959, against sanctioned posts, in the Department of Company Affairs. By virtue of the above directions, the respondents who were employed/engaged by Official Liquidators, were paid salaries and allowances from the Company’s funds. The question that arose for consideration before this Court was, whether the respondents were entitled to sanctioned Government posts, in the office of the Official Liquidator(s). While disposing of the above issue, this Court held as under:-

They were neither appointed against sanctioned posts nor were they paid out from the Consolidated Fund of India…………………………………. it is not possible to entertain the plea of the respondents for payment of salaries and allowances in the regular pay scales and other monetary benefits on a par with regular employees by applying the principle of equal pay for equal work.”

20. State of West Bengal v. West Bengal Minimum Wages Inspectors Association14, decided by a two-Judge bench:

The respondent Association represented the cadre of Inspector (Agricultural Minimum Wages), before the High Court of Calcutta. The claim made before the High Court was, that the said cadre was entitled to parity in pay-scales, with the posts of Inspector (Cooperative Societies), Extension Officer (Panchayats) and Revenue Officer. The aforesaid claim of parity was based on the sole consideration, that the posts of Inspector (Agricultural Minimum Wages) on the one hand, and the posts of Inspector (Cooperative Societies), Extension Officer (Panchayats) and Revenue Officer on the other, were in the same pay-scale, prior to the revision of payscales, i.e., Pay-Scale 9 (– Rs.300-600).

The claim of the respondents, was not based on the assertion, that Inspectors (Agricultural Minimum Wages) were discharging duties and responsibilities, which were similar/identical to those of Inspectors (Cooperative Societies), Extension Officers (Panchayats) and Revenue Officers. It is this aspect, which weighed with this Court while determining the claim of the respondents for parity. In the above adjudication, this Court recorded the following observations:-

…………………….. “20. The burden to prove disparity is on the employees claiming parity..

…………………….. 21. What is significant in this case is that parity is claimed by Inspectors, AMW, by seeking extension of the pay scale applicable to Inspector (Cooperative Societies), Extension Officers (Panchayat) and KGO-JLRO (Revenue Officers) not on the basis that the holders of those posts were performing similar duties or functions as Inspectors, AMW…

………………………… 22. The claim in the writ petition was not based on the ground that subject post and reference category posts carried similar or identical duties and responsibilities..

……………………….. 23. It is now well-settled that parity cannot be claimed merely on the basis that earlier the subject post and the reference category posts were carrying the same scale of pay.

……………………… 24. The Pay Commission has two functions; to revise the existing pay scale, by recommending revised pay scales corresponding to the prerevised pay scales and, secondly, make recommendations for upgrading or downgrading posts resulting in higher pay scales or lower pay scales….

Based on the above consideration, this Court observed, that Inspectors (Agricultural Minimum Wages), had neither pleaded nor proved, that they were discharging duties and functions similar to the duties and functions of the Inspectors (Cooperative Societies), Extension Officers (Panchayats) and Revenue Officers, and therefore held, that their claim for pay parity, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, could not be accepted.

21. Union Territory Administration, Chandigarh v. Manju Mathur15, decided by a two-Judge bench:

In the above matter, the respondents were working as Senior Dieticians and Dieticians in the Directorate of Health Services of the Chandigarh Administration. They were posted in the General Hospital, Chandigarh, under the Union Territory Administration of Chandigarh. They were placed in the pay-scale of Rs.1500-2540 and Rs.1350-2400, respectively. They moved the Chandigarh Administration, seeking the pay-scale extended to their counterparts, employed in the State of Punjab.

Based on the above determination, the prayer for parity under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ was declined to the respondents, and accordingly the judgment of the High Court, was set aside.

22. Steel Authority of India Limited v. Dibyendu Bhattacharya16, decided by a three-Judge bench:

The respondent in the above case, was appointed against the post of Speech Therapist/Audiologist, in the Durgapur Steel Plant, in S-6 grade in Medical and Health Services. After serving for a few years, he addressed a representation to the appellant, claiming parity with one B.V. Prabhakar, employed at the Rourkela Steel Plant (a different unit of the same company). The said B.V. Prabhakar was holding the post of E-1 grade in the executive cadre, though designated as Speech Therapist/Audiologist. In his representation, the respondent did not claim parity in pay, but only claimed change of the cadre and upgradation of his post, and accordingly relaxation in eligibility, so as to be entitled to be placed in the pay-scale of posts in E-1 grade.

It is, therefore apparent, that this Court did not accept the prayer of pay parity, in the above cited case, based on the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.

23. Hukum Chand Gupta v. Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research17, decided by a two-Judge bench:

In the above matter, the appellant was originally appointed as a Laboratory Assistant in Group D, in the National Dairy Research Institute. He was promoted as a Lower Division Clerk, after he qualified a limited departmental competitive examination. He was further promoted as a Senior Clerk, again after qualifying a limited departmental competitive examination. At this stage, he was placed in the pay-scale of Rs.1200-2040. He was further promoted to the post of Superintendent in the pay-scale of Rs.1640-2900, yet again, after passing a departmental examination. 17 (2012) 12 SCC 666 41 Eventually, he was promoted as an Assistant Administrative Officer, on the basis of seniority-cum-fitness. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research revised the pay-scales of Assistants, from Rs.1400-2600 to Rs.1640-2900, with effect from 1.1.1986. However, the pay-scale of the post of Superintendent was not revised.

This Court, recorded the following additional reasons, for not accepting the claim of the appellant,………………………………. this Court rejected the claim of the appellant, based on the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.

24. National Aluminum Company Limited v. Ananta Kishore Rout18, decided by a two-Judge bench: The appellant in the above matter, i.e., National Aluminum Company Limited (hereinafter referred to as, NALCO) had established two schools. In the first instance, NALCO itself looked after the management of the said schools. In 1985, it entered into two separate but identical agreements with the Central Chinmoy Mission Trust, Bombay, whereby the management of the schools was entrusted to the above trust. In 1990, a similar agreement was entered into for the management of the above two schools, with the Saraswati Vidya Mandir Society (affiliated to Vidya Bharati Akhila Bharatiya Shiksha Sansthan). Accordingly, with effect from 1990, the said Society commenced to manage the affairs of the employees, of the above two schools. Two writ petitions were filed by the employees of the two schools before the High Court of Orissa at Cuttack, seeking a mandamus, that they be declared as employees of NALCO, and be treated as such, with the consequential prayer, that the employees of the two schools be accorded suitable pay-scales, as were admissible to the employees of NALCO. The High Court accepted the above prayers. It is, therefore, that NALCO approached this Court.

Based on the above consideration, this Court recorded its conclusion as follows:-

……………..“35. We say at the cost of repetition that there is no parity in the nature of work, mode of appointment, experience, educational qualifications between the NALCO employees and the employees of the two schools. In fact, such a comparison can be made with their counter parts in the Government schools and/or aided or unaided schools. On that parameter, there cannot be any grievance of the staff which is getting better emoluments and enjoying far superior service conditions.” It is, therefore apparent, that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ was held to be not applicable to the employees of the two schools, so as to enable them to claim parity, with the employees of NALCO.

25. We shall now attempt an analysis of the decisions rendered by this Court, wherein temporary employees (differently designated as work-charge, dailywage, casual, ad-hoc, contractual, and the like) raised a claim for being extended wages, equal to those being drawn by regular employees, and the parameters determined by this Court, in furtherance of such a claim. Insofar as the present controversy is concerned, the same falls under the present category.

26. Dhirendra Chamoli v. State of U.P.19 , decided by a two-Judge bench:

Two Class-IV employees of the Nehru Yuvak Kendra, Dehradun, engaged as casual workers on daily-wage basis, claimed that they were doing the same work as Class-IV employees appointed on regular basis. The reason for denying them the pay-scale extended to regular employees was, that there was no sanctioned post to accommodate the petitioners, and as such, the assertion on behalf of the respondent-employer was, that they could not be extended the benefits permissible to regular employees. Furthermore, their claim was sought to be repudiated on the ground, that the petitioners had taken up their employment with the Nehru Yuvak Kendra knowing fully well, that they would be paid emoluments of casual workers engaged on daily-wage basis, and therefore, they could not claim beyond what they had voluntarily accepted.

(ii) This Court held, that it was not open to the Government to exploit citizens, specially when India was a welfare state, committed to a socialist pattern of society. The argument raised by the Government was found to be violative of the mandate of equality, enshrined in Article 14 of the Constitution. This Court held that the mandate of Article 14 ensured, that there would be equality before law and equal protection of the law. It was inferred therefrom, that there must be ‘equal pay for equal work’. Having found, that employees engaged by different Nehru Yuvak Kendras in the country were performing similar duties as regular Class-IV employees in its employment, it was held, that they must get the same salary and conditions of service as regular Class-IV employees, and that, it made no difference whether they were appointed on sanctioned posts or not. So long as they were performing the same duties, they must receive the same salary.

27. Surinder Singh v. Engineer-in-Chief, CPWD20, decided by a two-Judge bench:

The petitioners in the instant case were employed by the Central Public Works Department on daily-wage basis. They demanded the same wage as was being paid to permanent employees, doing identical work. Herein, the respondent-employer again contested the claim, by raising the plea that petitioners could not be employed on regular and permanent basis for want of permanent posts.

(ii) The objection raised by the Government was rejected. It was held, that all organs of the State were committed to the directive principles of the State policy. It was pointed out, that Article 39 enshrined the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, and accordingly this Court concluded, that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ was not an abstract doctrine.

…………………………….. It was held, that the Central Government, the State Governments and likewise, all public sector undertakings, were expected to function like model and enlightened employers and further, the argument that the above principle was merely an abstract doctrine, which could not be enforced through a Court of law, could not be raised either by the State or by State undertakings…………..

28. Bhagwan Dass v. State of Haryana21, decided by a two-Judge bench:

Education Department of the State of Haryana, was pursuing an adult education scheme, sponsored by the Government of India, under the National Adult Education Scheme. The object of the scheme was to provide functional literacy to illiterates, ………………… The petitioners were appointed as Supervisors. They were paid remuneration at the rate of Rs.5,000/- per month, as fixed salary.

The reason for allowing them fixed salary was, that they were required to work, only on part-time basis. The case set up by the State Government was, that the petitioners were not full-time employees; their mode of recruitment was different from Supervisors engaged on regular basis; the nature of functions discharged by them, was not similar to those discharged by Supervisors engaged in the regular cadre; and their appointments were made for a period of six monthsbecause the posts against which they were appointed, were sanctioned for one year at a time.

(ii) Having examined the controversy, this Court rejected all the above submissions advanced on behalf of the State Government. It was held, that the duties discharged by the petitioners even though for a shorter duration, were not any different from Supervisors, engaged in the regular cadre. …………………

It was held, that the petitioners, who were engaged on temporary basis as Supervisors, were entitled to be paid on the same basis, and in the same pay-scale, at which those employed in the regular cadre discharging similar duties as Supervisors, were being paid.

29. Daily Rated Casual Labour Employed under P&T Department through Bhartiya Dak Tar Mazdoor Manch v. Union of India22, decided by a two-Judge bench:

The persons on whose behalf the Mazdoor Manch had approached this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, were working as daily-rated casual labourers, in the Posts and Telegraphs Department. They included three broad categories of workers, namely, unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled. The unskilled labour consisted of Safai Workers, Helpers, Peons, and the like. The unskilled labour was engaged in digging, carrying loads and other similar types of work. The semi-skilled labour consisted of Carpenters, Wiremen, Draftsmen, A.C. Mechanics etc. They needed to have technical experience, but were not required to possess any degree or diploma qualification. The skilled labour consisted of labourers doing technical work. The skilled labourers were required to possess technical degree/diploma qualification.

(ii) All the three categories of employees, referred to above, were engaged as casual labourers. They were being paid very low wages. Their wages were far less than the salary and allowances paid to regular employees, of the Posts and Telegraphs Department, engaged for the same nature of work.

Four years later, by an order dated 26.7.1984, the rate of wages payable to casual labourers in Posts and Telegraphs Department, was revised…………

(iii) Aggrieved by the discrimination made against them, through the aforementioned orders dated 15.5.1980 and 26.7.1984, the Mazdoor Manch submitted a statement of demands, inter alia, claiming the same salary and allowances and other benefits, as were being paid to regular and permanent employees of the Union of India, in the corresponding cadres. The aforesaid demands were departmentally rejected……………..

The workers were also held to be entitled to corresponding dearness allowance and additional dearness allowance, if any, payable thereon. It was also directed, that whatever other benefits were being extended to casual labourers hitherto before, would be continued.

30. Harbans Lal v. State of Himachal Pradesh23, decided by a two-Judge bench:

The petitioners in this case were Carpenters (1st and 2nd grade), employed at the Wood Working Centre of the Himachal Pradesh State Handicraft Corporation. They were termed as daily-rated employees. Their claim in their petition was for emoluments in terms of wages paid to their counterparts in regular Government service, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.

It was held, that unless it was shown, that there was discrimination amongst the same set of employees under the same master, in the same establishment, the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ would not be applicable. It is, therefore, that the claim of the petitioners was rejected.

31. Grih Kalyan Kendra Workers’ Union v. Union of India6 , decided by a twoJudge bench:

The petitioners sought parity with employees of the New Delhi Municipal Committee, and also, with employees of other departments of the Delhi Administration, and the Union of India.

(iv) Based on the aforesaid factual conclusion, this Court held, that the concept of equality implies and requires equal treatment, for those who are situated equally. Comparison between unequals is not possible. Since the workers who had approached this Court had failed to establish, that they were situated similarly as others, they could not be extended benefits which were being given to those, with whom they claimed parity. And therefore, since there were no other employees comparable to the employees working in the Grih Kalyan Kendras, this Court declined to entertain the prayer made by the petitioners.

32. Ghaziabad Development Authority v. Vikram Chaudhary24, decided by a two-Judge bench:

The respondents in this case were engaged by the Ghaziabad Development Authority, on daily-wage basis. The instant judgment has been referred to only because it was cited by the learned counsel for the appellants. In the cited case, the claim raised by the respondents was not based on the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, yet it would be relevant to mention, that while disposing of the appeal preferred by the Ghaziabad Development Authority, this Court held that the respondents, who were engaged as temporary dailywage employees, would not be entitled to pay at par with regular employees, but would be entitled to pay in the minimum wages prescribed under the statute, if any, or the prevailing wages as available in the locality. It would, therefore, be improper for us to treat this judgment as laying down any principle emerging from the concept of ‘equal pay for equal work’.

33. State of Haryana v. Jasmer Singh25, decided by a two-Judge bench:

The respondents were employed as Mali-cum-Chowkidars/Pump Operators on dailywage basis, under the employment of the Government of Haryana. They had approached the High Court claiming the same salary as was being paid to the regularly employed persons, holding similar posts in the State of Haryana. The instant prayer was made by the respondents, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.

(ii) This Court held, that the respondents who were employed on daily-wage basis, could not be treated at par with persons employed on regular basis, against similar posts. It was concluded, that daily-rated workers were not required to possess the qualifications required for regular workers, nor did they have to fulfill the postulated requirement of age, at the time of recruitment. Dailyrated workers, it was felt, were not selected in the same manner as regular employees, inasmuch as, their selection was not as rigorous as that of employees selected on regular basis. This Court expressed the view, that there were also other provisions relating to regular service, such as the liability of a member of the service to be transferred, and his being subjected to disciplinary jurisdiction. It was pointed out, that daily-rated employees were not subjected to either of the aforesaid contingencies/consequences…………

(iii) It would be relevant to mention that in the above decision this Court took notice of the fact, that the State of Haryana had taken policy decisions from time to time to regularize the services of the employees, similarly placed as the respondents, wherein daily-wage employees on completion of 3/5 years’ service, were entitled to regularization. On their being regularized, they were entitled to wages payable to regular employees.

34. State of Punjab v. Devinder Singh26, decided by a two-Judge bench:

The respondents were daily-wage Ledger-Keepers/Ledger Clerks engaged by the State of Punjab. They approached the Punjab & Haryana High Court, claiming salary and allowances, as were being paid to regular employees holding similar posts. The High Court held in their favour………….

(ii) This Court was of the view that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ could enure to the benefit of the respondents to the limited extent, that they could have been paid the minimum of the pay-scale of Ledger-Keepers/Ledger Clerks, appointed on regular basis……………..

35. State of Haryana v. Tilak Raj27, decided by a two-Judge bench:

Thirty five respondents were appointed at different points of time, as Helpers on dailywages by the Haryana Roadways. They filed a writ petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, claiming regularization because they had rendered long years of service. They also claimed salary, as was payable to regular employees, engaged for the same nature of work, as was being performed by them. Even though, the High Court did not accept the prayer made by the respondents, either for regularization or for payment of wages at par with regular employees, it directed the State of Haryana to pay to the respondents, the minimum pay in the scale of pay applicable to regular employees.

(iii) Despite having found that the respondents were not eligible to claim wages in the regular scale of pay, on account of the fact that they were engaged on daily-wage basis, this Court directed the State of Haryana to pay to the respondents, the minimum wages as prescribed for such workers.

36. Secretary, State of Karnataka v. Umadevi, decided by a five-Judge Constitution Bench:

Needless to mention, that the main proposition canvassed in the instant judgment, pertained to regularization of government servants, based on the employees having rendered long years of service, as temporary, contractual, casual, daily-wage or on ad-hoc basis. It is, however relevant to mention, that the Constitution Bench did examine the question of wages, which such employees were entitled to draw……………………

Even though the administrative tribunal had rejected their claim, by returning a finding, that they had not made out a case for payment of wages, equal to those engaged on regular basis, the High Court held that they were entitled to wages, equal to the salary of regular employees of their cadre, with effect from the date from which they were appointed.

We have extracted the aforesaid paragraph, so as not to make any inference on our own, but to project the determination rendered by the Constitution Bench, as was expressed by the Bench. We have no hesitation in concluding, that the Constitution Bench consciously distinguished the issue of pay parity, from the issue of absorption/regularization in service. It was held, that on the issue of pay parity, the High Court ought to have directed, that the daily-wage workers be paid wages equal to the salary at the lowest grade of their cadre. The Constitution Bench expressed the view, that the concept of equality would not be applicable to the issue of absorption/regularization in service. And conversely, on the subject of pay parity, it was unambiguously held, that daily-wage earners should be paid wages equal to the salary at the lowest grade (without any allowances).

37. State of Haryana v. Charanjit Singh30, decided by a three-Judge bench:

A large number of civil appeals were collectively disposed of by a common order. In all these appeals, the respondents were daily-wagers, who were appointed as Ledger Clerks, Ledger Keepers, Pump Operators, Mali-cum-Chowkidar, Fitters, Petrol Men, Surveyors, etc. All of them claimed the minimum wages payable under the pay-scale extended to regular Class-IV employees. The above relief was claimed with effect from the date of their initial appointment. It would be relevant to mention, that while the appeals disposed of by the common order were pending before this Court, all the respondents were regularized. From the date of their regularization, they were in any case, being paid salary in the scales applicable to regular Class-IV employees. The limited question which came up for adjudication before this Court in the matters was, whether the directions issued by the High Court to pay the minimum wage in the scale payable to ClassIV employees to the respondents, from the date of their filing the respective petition before the High Court, was required to be interfered with.

Having made the above observations, the judgments rendered by the High Court were set aside, and the matters were remanded back to the High Court, to  examine each case in order to determine whether the respondents were discharging the same duties and responsibilities, as the employees with whom they claimed parity. In sum and substance therefore, this Court acceded to the proposition that daily-wagers who were rendering the same duties and responsibilities as regular employees, would be entitled to the minimum wage in the pay-scale payable to regular employees. It is only because the said factual determination had not been rendered by the High Court, the matter was remanded back, for a fresh adjudication on the above limited issue.

38. State of U.P. v. Putti Lal31, decided by a three-Judge bench:

The question which arose for adjudication was, whether the respondents who were daily-rated wage earners in the Forest Department, were entitled to regularization, and should be paid the minimum of the pay-scale as was payable to a regular worker, holding a corresponding post in the Government.

It is therefore apparent, that in the instant judgment, the three-Judge bench extended the benefit of the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ to persons engaged on daily-wage basis.

39. State of Punjab v. Surjit Singh32, decided by a two-Judge bench:

The respondents in the above mentioned matter, were appointed in different posts in the Public Health Department of the State of Punjab. All of them were admittedly appointed on daily-wage basis. Inter alia, because the respondent-employees had put in a number of years of service, they were held by the High Court to be entitled to the benefit of the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.

Rather than determining whether or not the respondents were entitled to any benefit under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, on account of their satisfying the conditions stipulated by this Court in different judgments including the one in State of Haryana v. Charanjit Singh, this Court while disposing of the above matter, required the State to examine the cases of the respondents by appointing an expert committee, which would determine whether or not the parameters laid down in the judgments rendered by this Court, would entitle the respondent-employees to any benefit under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’. Herein again, the principle in question, was considered as applicable to temporary employees.

40. Uttar Pradesh Land Development Corporation v. Mohd. Khursheed Anwar33, decided by a two-Judge bench:

In the instant case, the respondents were employed on contract basis … on a consolidated monthly salary of Rs.2000/-. Prior to their appointment, they were interviewed by a selection committee alongwith other eligible candidates, and were found to be suitable for the job. Their contractual appointment was continued from time to time. Though they were employed on contract basis, the fact that two posts of Assistant Engineer and one post of Junior Engineer were vacant at the time of their engagement, was not disputed. The respondents were not given any specific designation. The Allahabad High Court, while accepting the claim filed by the respondents, held that they were entitled to wages in the regular pay-scale…………..

(ii) This Court, while adjudicating upon the controversy arrived at the conclusion, that the High Court had granted relief to the respondents on the assumption that two vacant posts of Assistant Engineer were utilized for appointing the respondents. The above impression was found to be ex-facie fallacious, by this Court……………

The appellants were directed to pay emoluments to the respondents, at the minimum of the pay-scale, prescribed for the post of Assistant Engineer (as revised from time to time), from the date of their appointment, till they continued in the employment of the Corporation.

41. Surendra Nath Pandey v. Uttar Pradesh Cooperative Bank Ltd. decided by a two-Judge bench:

 The appellants in the above mentioned case, were appointed during 1978 to 1981 on daily-wage basis, by the U.P. Cooperative Bank Ltd. Upto 30.6.1981, they were paid daily-wages. From 1.7.1981, they were paid consolidated salary of Rs.368 per month, which was increased to Rs.575 per month with effect from 1.4.1982. From 1.7.1983, they were extended the benefit of minimum in the pay-scale applicable to regular employees, with allowances, but without yearly increments. Based on regulations framed for  regularization of ad-hoc appointees in 1985, the appellants were regularized from different dates in 1985-86, whereafter, they were paid wages in the regular payscale, with all allowances. In 1990, they approached the Allahabad High Court, seeking benefit of regular pay-scale, allowances and other benefits, which were extended to regular employees, with effect from the date of their original appointment. Their claim was rejected by the High Court. While adjudicating upon the appeal preferred by the appellants, this Court held as under:-

…………………………… “9. We are of the view that the real issue is whether persons employed on stopgap or ad hoc basis were entitled to the benefit of pay scales with increments during the period of service on daily or stopgap or ad hoc basis. Unless the appellants are able to establish that either under the contract, or applicable rules, or settled principles of service jurisprudence, they are entitled to the benefit of pay scale with increments during the period of their stopgap/ad hoc service, it cannot be said that the appellants have the right to claim the benefit of pay scales with increments.”

The Consideration:

42. All the judgments noticed in paragraphs 7 to 24 hereinabove, pertain to employees engaged on regular basis, who were claiming higher wages, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’. The claim raised by such employees was premised on the ground, that the duties and responsibilities rendered by them, were against the same post for which a higher pay-scale was being allowed, in other Government departments. Or alternatively, their duties and responsibilities were the same, as of other posts with different designations, but they were placed in a lower scale. Having been painstakingly taken through the parameters laid down by this Court, wherein the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ was invoked and considered, it would be just and appropriate, to delineate  the parameters laid down by this Court. In recording the said parameters, we have also adverted to some other judgments pertaining to temporary employees (also dealt with, in the instant judgment), wherein also, this Court had the occasion to express the legal position with reference to the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.

47. We shall now endeavour to examine the impugned judgments.

52. In view of all our above conclusions, the decision rendered by the full bench of the High Court in Avtar Singh v. State of Punjab & Ors. (CWP no. 14796 of 2003), dated 11.11.2011, is liable to be set aside, and the same is hereby set aside. The decision rendered by the division bench of the High Court in State of Punjab & Ors. v. Rajinder Singh & Ors. (LPA no. 337 of 2003, decided on 7.1.2009) is also liable to be set aside, and the same is also hereby set aside. We affirm the decision rendered in State of Punjab & Ors. v. Rajinder Kumar (LPA no. 1024 of 2009, decided on 30.8.2010), with the modification, that the concerned employees would be entitled to the minimum of the pay-scale, of the category to which they belong, but would not be entitled to allowances attached to the posts held by them.

53. We shall now deal with the claim of temporary employees before this Court.

54. There is no room for any doubt, that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has emerged from an interpretation of different provisions of the Constitution. The principle has been expounded through a large number of judgments rendered by this Court, and constitutes law declared by this Court. 99 The same is binding on all the courts in India, under Article 141 of the Constitution of India. The parameters of the principle, have been summarized by us in paragraph 42 hereinabove. The principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ has also been extended to temporary employees (differently described as workcharge, daily-wage, casual, ad-hoc, contractual, and the like). The legal position, relating to temporary employees, has been summarized by us, in paragraph 44 hereinabove. The above legal position which has been repeatedly declared, is being reiterated by us, yet again.

55. In our considered view, it is fallacious to determine artificial parameters to deny fruits of labour. An employee engaged for the same work, cannot be paid less than another, who performs the same duties and responsibilities. Certainly not, in a welfare state. Such an action besides being demeaning, strikes at the very foundation of human dignity. Any one, who is compelled to work at a lesser wage, does not do so voluntarily. He does so, to provide food and shelter to his family, at the cost of his self respect and dignity, at the cost of his self worth, and at the cost of his integrity. For he knows, that his dependents would suffer immensely, if he does not accept the lesser wage. Any act, of paying less wages, as compared to others similarly situate, constitutes an act of exploitative enslavement, emerging out of a domineering position. Undoubtedly, the action is oppressive, suppressive and coercive, as it compels involuntary subjugation. 56. We would also like to extract herein Article 7, of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966.

57. Having traversed the legal parameters with reference to the application of the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, in relation to temporary employees (daily-wage employees, ad-hoc appointees, employees appointed on casual basis, contractual employees and the like), the sole factor that requires our determination is, whether the concerned employees (before this Court), were rendering similar duties and responsibilities, as were being discharged by regular employees, holding the same/corresponding posts………………..

58. In view of the position expressed by us in the foregoing paragraph, we have no hesitation in holding, that all the concerned temporary employees, in the present bunch of cases, would be entitled to draw wages at the minimum of the pay-scale (- at the lowest grade, in the regular pay-scale), extended to regular employees, holding the same post.

59. Disposed of in the above terms.

…..…………………………….J. (Jagdish Singh Khehar)
…..…………………………….J. (S.A. Bobde)

New Delhi; October 26, 2016.

Note: The emphases supplied in all the quotations in the instant judgment, are ours.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 213 OF 2013
State of Punjab & Ors. … Appellants
Versus
Jagjit Singh & Ors. … Respondents…

 

Kumar Doab 
on 10 November 2016
Published in Labour & Service Law
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