of West Bengal & Ors Vs. Monirujjaman Mullick
& Ors  INSC 831 (19 July 1996)
Singh (J) Kuldip Singh (J) Ahmad Saghir S. (J) Kuldip Sinqh, J.
JT 1996 (7) 49 1996 SCALE (5)431
Mullick and other private respondents, in the appeal herein, were working as
Instructors in various non-formal education centres in different districts in
the State of West
approached the High Court by way of a petition under Article 226 of the
Constitution of India seeking a direction - based on the principle of
"equal pay for equal work" - that they were entitled to the same
scales of pay and allowances as were admissible and being paid to the primary
school teachers. A learned single Judge of the High Court allowed the writ
petition. Appeal filed by the State of West Bengal was disposed of with the following directions:
writ petitioners who are not in regular employment elsewhere and who have the
minimum qualification prescribed for the primary school teachers are entitled
to the same scale of pay and allowances as admissible to the primary school
teachers from the date of their initial appointment and further that they are
also entitled to annual increments in the pay-scale in accordance with law; but
their claim for absorption in the department as regular primary school teachers
cannot be sustained and therefore stands rejected.
made clear that the services of such non-formal teachers will be liable to
stand automatically terminated as and when the non-formal education scheme is
discontinued in this State.
similarly placed should also be given the same benefit to avoid further
litigation in regard to the self-same issue." This appeal by the State of West Bengal is against the judgment of the learned
single Judge and of the Division Bench of the High Court dated June 28 of 1993.
briefly state the facts of the case. Government of India introduced a scheme in the year
1974-75 for imparting non-formal education to the children in the age group of
9/11 years who were either school drop-outs or did not go to school. The scheme
provided for the opening of non-formal education centres (part-time) by the
State Government with the help of Central Government grant. West Bengal
Government took a policy decision on December 8, 1978 to implement the scheme.
Subsequently the State Government formulated a new scheme regarding non-formal
educational, which became operative with effect from October 4, 1989. The non- formal centres were
part-time institutions. The instructors were given a fixed honorarium of
Rs.105/ per month at the primary level and Rs. 125/- per month at the upper
primary level. Persons with a motivation to serve the community particularly
the weaker sections were appointed instructors. They were required to teach the
children for two hours a day. The centres were run by the Panchayat Samities in
rural areas and by the Committees/Corporations in urban areas. There were no
specific buildings or sites for the centres. The instructor could use any site
or building belonging to a social organization or a local authority.
Division Bench of the High Court applied the doctrine of "equal pay for
equal work" on the following reasoning:
the booklet published and distributed by the Primary Education Directorate
regarding formal (Prathamic Siksha) and non- formal (Bidhikukta Siksha), it
appears that the purposes of both the streams being to help attain human values
through practical literacy in language, elementary arithmetic, awareness for
maintaining personal and public health and good environment, social awareness,
scientific outlook to get rid of prejudices etc., the syllabus and the books
prescribed for formal and non-formal education are almost same with the
ultimate goal of equipping the boys and girls for entry into class V in regular
High or Junior High School.
thus clear and we are also of considered opinion that neither stream in
inferior to the other and that the duties, functions and responsibilities of
the teachers of the formal and non-formal education are alike, if not heavier
on the side of the non-formal stream." Mr. Dipankar Gupta, learned
Solicitor General, appearing for the State of West Bengal has contended that the non-formal education centres were net
a part of the regular educational system of the State of West Bengal.
were started under a policy decision of the Central Government which was
implemented by the State of West Bengal to
help educate the children belonging to weaker sections of the society. These centres
were part-time by nature and the instructions were paid an honorarium. They
were not appointed to a regular pay scale and were not paid any salary. Even
the teaching in the centres was not for a full educational-day, it was only for
two hours. According to Mr. Gupta when the scheme provided for two hours of
non- formal teaching at the part-time centres by the part-time instructors, who
were paid a mere honourarium the High Court was not justified in enlarging the
scope of the scheme in the exercise of its power of judicial review under
Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Mr. Gupta relied upon the judgment of
this Court in Delhi Development Horticulture Employees Union vs. Delhi
Administration, Delhi and Ors. (1992) 4 SCC 99. P.B. Swant,
J. speaking for the Court observed as under:- "Those employed under the
scheme, therefore, could not ask for more than what the scheme intended to give
them. To get an employment under such scheme and to claim on the basis of the
said employment a right to regularisation, is to frustrate the scheme itself.
No court can be a party to such exercise. It is wrong to approach the problems
of those employed under such scheme with a view to providing them with full
employment and guaranteeing equal pay for equal work. These concepts in the
context of such schemes are both unwarranted and misplaced. They will do more
harm than good by depriving the many of the little income that they may get to
keep them from starvation. They would benefit a few at the cost of the many starving
poor for whom the schemes are meant. That would also force the State to wind up
the existing schemes and forbid them from introducing the new ones, for want of
resources." We are of the view that the non-formal educational centres
cannot be equated with the primary schools which are regularly run by the
Education Department of the State Government. Apart from the basic qualitative
differences between the two institutions even the nature of work of the
non-formal instructors and the primary school teachers is not identical. The
method of appointment, the source of recruitment, method of teaching, hours of
teaching and the mode of payment are entirely different. In the facts and
circumstances of this case the High Court fell into patent error in applying the
principle of "equal pay for equal work".
appeal is allowed and the judgment of the learned single Judge of the High
Court and the impugn judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court are set
aside. The writ petitions filed by the respondents before the High Court shall
stand dismissed. No costs.
I. As are disposed of.
of West Bengal & Anr. V. The West Bengal Non-formal Education Centres
Teachers' Association & Ors.
O R D
have, by a separate judgment pronounced today, allowed Civil Appeal 4195 of
1994 State of West Bengal & Ors. vs. Monirujjaman Mullick & Qrs. and
have set aside the Division Bench judgment of the Calcutta High Court (State of
West Bengal vs. Monirujjaman Mullick 97 CWN 1075) We therefore allow the appeal
and set aside the impugned judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court
which is based on Monirujjaman's case. No costs.
The West Bengal Non-formal Education Centres
Teachers Association V. The State of West Bengal & Ors.
O R D
have by a separate judgment pronounced today in C.A.4195 of 1994, set aside the
Division Bench judgment of the Calcutta High Court in State of West Bengal vs. Monirujjaman Mullick & Ors.
(reported in 97 CWN page 10755.
appeal has been filed by the non-formal education teachers association against
the Monirujjaman's case. This appeal has become infructuous and as such is