Sangha & Anr  Insc 113 (8 February 2007)
A.K.MATHUR & H.S.BEDI
CIVIL APPEAL NO.850 OF 2006.
A.K. MATHUR, J.
These appeals are directed against the orders passed by learned Division
Bench of the High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore dated 25.2.2002 and 18.7.2005
whereby the Division Bench of the High Court has affirmed the direction given
by the learned Single Judge which reads as follows:
Compassionate allowance made payable by Government Order No.RD
443 MVS 182 dated 20-9-1984 (Annexure-A) to the Ex- hereditary Patels is made
payable from August 1,1979 instead of from August 15,1984. Such of those
persons who received compassionate allowance at Rs.100/- a month pursuant to
the order at Annexure-A are therefore entitled to the arrears at that rate from
01-08-1979 to 15-08-1984.
Enhanced ad-hoc allowance at Rs.500/- a month made payable to such of
those Ex-hereditary Patels by order at Annexure-B dated May 30,1994 is made
payable from July 1, 1990 instead of from January 1, 1994. Accordingly, such of
those persons who are drawing the adhoc allowance of Rs.500/- would be entitled
to the arrears at that rate from 01- 07-1990 to 01-01-1994.
If the petitioner-Patel Srinivasa Reddy ( in W.P.No.33919 has made
application either for grant of compassionate allowance or for grant of adhoc
allowance pursuant to the orders at Annexures-'A' and 'B' before the
appropriate authority, that application or those applications shall be considered
on merits and if he is found eligible, he shall be paid compassionate allowance
at Rs.100/- a month from 01-08-1979 till 30-06-1990 and ad-hoc allowance at
Rs.500/- from 01-07-1990 till date.
Applications, if any, by persons claiming to be Gumasta Patel are
pending before the competent authorities, those applications shall be
considered on merits and if they are otherwise found eligible they shall be
paid compassionate allowance at Rs.100/- a month from 01-08-1979 to 30-06-1990
and ad-hoc allowance at Rs.500/- from 01-07-1990 till date."
Respondent No.1 is Karnataka State Patels Sangha and Respondent No. 2 is
Patel Srinivasa Reddy. The present writ petition was filed by the respondents
claiming similar treatment as was given to Shanbhogues category of Village
Officers. The contention in the writ petition was that both Patels as well as
Shanbhogues are holders of similar offices within the meaning of Section 2(n)
of the Karnataka Village Offices Abolition Act, 1961 ( hereinafter to be
referred to as "the Act"). After abolition of these village offices,
Shanbhogues were granted compassionate allowance or ad hoc pension at the rate
of Rs.100/- per month with effect from 30.7.1979 and the same was raised to
Rs.500/- per month with effect from 20.7.1991. So far as Patels are concerned,
their demand for grant of similar treatment i.e.
ad hoc pension or compassionate allowance at the rate of Rs.100/- per month
was also conceded by the State with effect from 1.8.1984 and similarly, the
enhancement of compassionate allowance was also made to Rs.500/- per month with
effect from 30.5.1994. Therefore, the grievance of the Association of Patels
i.e. the members of the Association was that when the Shanbhogues were given
the benefit w.e.f. 30.7.79 & 20.7.1991, then similar treatment should also
be given to the members of the Respondent No.1- Association with effect from
the same date as they were similarly situated. Since it was denied to them,
therefore, they filed writ petition in the High Court of Karnataka seeking a
direction against the State Government for extending the similar benefit as was
given to the Shanbhogues.
Learned Single Judge of the High Court allowed the writ petition and granted
similar benefit with retrospective effect as was given to the Shanbhogues i.e.
ad hoc pension of Rs.100/- with effect from the same date as was given to the
Shanbhogues Village Officers and likewise enhanced allowance at the rate of
Rs.500/- from the same date as was given to the Shanbhogues. Aggrieved against
the order of the learned Single Judge, the matter was taken up before the
Division Bench and the Division Bench affirmed the order of the learned Single
Judge. Aggrieved against the order of the Division Bench of the High Court the
appellants have filed the present appeals.
Mr. Hegde, learned counsel appearing for the State Government strenuously
urged before us that the position of the Shanbhogues and that of the Patels are
different and their duties are also different. Therefore, the respondents
cannot claim similar treatment. Mr.Hegde tried to take us to the history in
order to justify that these two offices are separate and they were not
discharging similar duties. Therefore, they cannot claim parity and the view
taken by the Karnataka High Court is not sustainable. We need not go to the
background because the two orders which have been produced under which the
allowance was given to the Patels on the understanding that both the offices
are similar and they used to discharge similar duties. Therefore, similar treatment
was conceded by the State. But only difficulty was that for Shanbhogues
employees compassionate allowance at the rate of Rs.100/- per month was given
with effect from 30.7.1979 and to the Patels it was given with effect from
1.8.1984 and the same was enhanced to Rs.500/- per month with effect from
30.5.1994 instead of from 1991. This grievance was redressed by learned Single
Judge and rightly so in our opinion because once both the offices i.e. village
Offices were held hereditarily by the two class of persons and they were
discharging same revenue functions, then there should not have been any
discrimination between the persons similarly situated. The High Court has
rightly granted the respondents the same treatment from the same date as was
given to the Shanbhogues. Once it is accepted by the State Government that they
were similarly placed and they were discharging similar duties, then there was
no justification on the part of the State Government not to give the same
treatment from the same date as was given to Shanbhogues.
Mr.Hegde, learned counsel for the appellants tried to take us through the
judgment of learned Single Judge which goes back into the history and tried to
justify the action of the State Government. But in view of the fact that when
the State Government themselves have conceded and granted similar treatment to
the Patels taking them to be similarly situated, then there was no
justification to deny them the similar treatment as was given to the
Mr.Hegde, learned counsel submitted that these are all concessions and no
mandamus can be issued and in support of his submission, he invited our
attention to a decision of this Court in The State of Madhya Pradesh v.
G.C.Mandawar ( 1 S.C.R. 599).
In this case, the question was with regard to grant of dearness allowance
under Rule 44 of the Fundamental Rules. Discretion vests with the local
Government whether it will grant dearness allowance to any Government servant
and if so how much. It imposes no duty on the State to grant it and therefore
no mandamus can be issued to compel the State to grant it nor can any other
writ or direction be issued in respect of it as there is no right in the
Government servant which is capable of being protected or enforced. This was in
the context of an individual seeking dearness allowance under Rule 44 of the
Fundamental Rules and in that context, the Court held that no mandamus can be
issued for grant of dearness allowance as it was the discretion of the local
Government and it cannot be regulated by issuing mandamus. Therefore, this case
stands on a different footing. The case before us is for invoking Article 14 of
the Constitution when two class of persons are similarly situated, then one
cannot be discriminated against.
As against this, learned counsel for the respondents invited our attention
to a decision of this Court in State of A.P. v.
G.Ramakishan & Ors. [ (2001) 1 SCC 323]. This was a case where stipend
was given to the postgraduate students of Agricultural University from a date
posterior to the date from which the same enhanced rate was given to the
postgraduate students of Medical Colleges. Then the question arose that when
the Postgraduate students of Agricultural University and the postgraduate
students of Medical Colleges are similarly placed, then what is the basis for
giving the stipend from different dates. This Court held that in absence of any
pleading stating any reasonable or rational basis for giving enhanced stipend
with effect from two different dates and any material in support of such action
was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution and this Court directed that
same benefit should be extended from date posterior as was given to the
Postgraduate students of Medical Colleges. Similar is the position here. When
the Patels and Shanbhogues both were holders of village Offices and discharging
identical duties, then there was no justification to deny the respondents the
same benefits as was given to the Shanbhogues.
As a result of our above discussion, we do not find any merit in these
appeals and the same are dismissed. No order as to costs.