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Chandigarh Administration & Ors Vs. Naurang Singh & Ors [1997] INSC 282 (11 March 1997)

B.P. JEEVAN REDDY, K.S. PARIPOORNAN

ACT:

HEADNOTE:

B.P. JEEVAN REDDY, J.

This appeal is preferred against the judgement of the Central administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh allowing the Original application filed by respondents 1 to 5 herein.

The respondents are storekeepers in the Punjab Engineering College. Their claim before the tribunal was that they are entitled to the pay scale of Rs. 570- 1080 as has been given to five other storekeepers in the same college. The respondents invoked the principle " equal pay for equal work". The Tribunal has upheld their claim.

By Notification dated November 1, 1966 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, the Administration of the Union Territory of Chandigarh was required to follow the pattern of Punjab Government with respect to the nature of the post, pay scale and the revision of pa scales. According to the Punjab pattern, the scale of pay of storekeeper was the same as that of the clerks namely Rs 60-175, which was later revised to Rs. 110 - 50. However, on the basis of a letter written by the Principal of the Punjab Engineering College , Chandigarh, the Chandigarh Administration revised the pay scales of three categories including that of storekeeper. As against the pay scale of Rs 110-250, the pay scale of Rs. 160-400 was extended to the storekeepers. Because of this proceeding, the five storekeepers working in the college at that time got the benefit of the said higher pay scale.

In 1978-79 the Chandigarh Administration accepted and brought into force the recommendations of the Second Pay Revision committee. According to this recommendation, the pay scale of the storekeeper was kept at the same level as that of clerk . (By that date the pay scale of Rs. 160-400 was revised to Rs. 570- 1080 to them also this was rejected where upon they approached the Tribunal.

The case of the Administration before the Tribunal was that the decision of the chandigarh Administration contained in its letter dated 19.9.75 extending the higher pay scale to storekeeper was mistake. it was an unscheduled and unwarranted revision. The Higher pay scale then given to storekeeper was the pay scale actually given to Assistants, which is a promotion post for storekeepers. This mistake was corrected by the pay Revision Committee whose recommendations were accepted at the same time it was thought that taking away the said higher pay scale form the five persons (to whom it was already given) would not be proper and advisable and, therefore, the said higher pay was treated as personal pay to the said five storekeepers.

Inasmuch as respondents 1 to 5 were appointed after the acceptance of recommendations of Second Pay Revision committee, the Administration said, the respondents cannot treat the said mistake as a precedent nor can they make it a basis for claiming equal pay. The Tribunal refused to accept this case.

We are, however, of the opinion that a mistake committed by the Administration cannot furnish a valid or legitimate ground for the Court or the Tribunal to the direct the Administration to go on repeating that mistake.

The proceedings placed before us clearly show that the pay revision of September 19,1975 was an unscheduled one, effected merely on the basis of a letter written by the Principal of the College The Administration no doubt could have rectified that mistake. That would have been the most appropriate course but their failure to do so cannot entitle the respondents to say that mistake should form a basis for giving the higher pay scale to them also. The proceedings of the Administration dated 19.8.1982 clearly shows that the said higher pay scale was treated as personal to the then existing incumbents. As stated above that was really t he pay scale admissible to the post of Assistants which was a promotion post to storekeepers. Both these posts cannot be given the same pay scale.

We are, therefore, of the opinion that the claim of the respondents could not have been allowed by the Tribunal.

The doctrine of "Equal pay for equal work" Has no application in such a situation. An evident mistake cannot constitute a valid basis for compelling the administration to keep on repeating that mistake. Personal pay is granted to employees on various grounds. In certain services where the matriculation is the minimum educational qualification for a particular post, and a graduate joins that post, additional increments are given to him to start with.

Increments are also given to male employees for undergoing family planning operation. Such personal pays cannot furnish a ground for invoking the doctrine of "equal pay for equal work". Because it was a mistake it was treated as personal pay for existing incumbents. And for future incumbents, the appropriate pay scale was given.

For the above reasons the appeals is allowed and the order of the Tribunal is set aside. No order as to costs.

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