Grewal & ANR. Vs. Punjab State Electricity Board & Ors.  INSC 29
(9 January 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 65-67_____ OF 2009 @
S.L.P. (C) NOS.12512-12514 of 2007 Er. Gurcharan Singh Grewal & Anr.
...Appellants Punjab State Electricity Board & Ors. ...Respondents
ALTAMAS KABIR, J.
three appeals arise out of orders dated 23rd September, 2005, 21st April, 2006
and 23rd February, 2007, relating to Civil Writ Petition No.16811 of 2003 and
Review Petitions filed therein before the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at
appellants herein filed the aforesaid writ petition, inter alia, for the
following relief:- "(iv) Quashing the order no. 202 dated 9.7.2002
(Annexure Indian Penal Code-3) passed by the respondent No.3 withdrawing the
benefits of pay fixation already granted to petitioners Satinder Singh and
directing the respondent to step-up the pay of the petitioners to that of their
junior Sh. Ram Prakash Shori and the petitioners may be granted all arrears of
Pay, retiral benefits and other consequential benefits with interest @ 18% per
the written statement/counter affidavit filed on behalf of the respondent,
Punjab State Electricity Board, and its officers, it was stated in Paragraph 7
that the relief claimed by the petitioner had already been granted. When the
writ petition came up for final hearing the High Court on 23rd September, 2005,
disposed of the same by passing the following order :- 3 "In view of the
averments made in paragraph 7 of the written statement, the writ petition has
been rendered infructuous. Disposed of as such."
a review petition came to be filed by the writ petitioners before the High
Court claiming that the statement made in paragraph 7 of the written statement,
concerned only the writ petitioner No.2, and without considering the case of
the respondent No.1 on a separate footing he too was denied relief, although he
was not covered by such statement. When the Review Petition came up for hearing
on 21st April, 2006, learned counsel for the petitioners was not present and on
the submissions made on behalf of the respondents that no relief had been
claimed in the writ petition on behalf of the petitioner No.1, the High Court
dismissed the review petition by passing the following order:- 4 "Learned
counsel for the respondent submits that the relief claimed in the review
petition is not claimed in the main petition for petitioner No.1.
Therefore, the review
petition is not maintainable.
dismissal of the review petition in the absence of the counsel for the
petitioners, a miscellaneous application was filed for modification of the
order passed in the review petition, which was also dismissed by the High Court
on 23rd February, 2007.
is against the said three orders of the High Court that these appeals have been
for the appellants, Mr. Nidesh Gupta, learned senior advocate, submitted that
when the writ petition was filed on behalf of both the appellants, it was only
natural that the reliefs therein had been claimed in respect of both and it 5
could not be confined to the appellant No.2 alone, as was done in the instant
case, merely on account of the statement made in the written statement of the
respondents that the grievance of the appellant No.2 had already been
addressed. Mr. Gupta submitted that the appellants were similarly situated and
it was their common ground that they were receiving lesser salary than their
Mr. Gupta submitted
that Paragraph 7 of the writ petition was absolutely clear that it was the
common case of the appellants that since they were receiving lesser pay than
their junior, Shri Ram Prakash Shori, who was receiving a higher salary, their
salaries were also required to be stepped up to that of Shri Shori. Mr. Gupta
also urged that the position would be further clarified from the question of
law formulated in Paragraph 9 of the writ petition. It was urged that it was,
therefore, wrong to say that no case had been made out on behalf of the
appellant No.1 and hence no relief could be granted in his favour.
to prayer (iv) in the writ petition, Mr. Gupta urged that specific reference
had been made to the appellant No.2, Satinder Singh, since his pay had been
stepped up but was, thereafter, reduced by an order dated 9th July, 2002,
passed by the respondent No.3 withdrawing the benefit of pay fixation which had
already been given to him. Mr. Gupta urged that the prayer, however, was not
confined to the appellant No.2 alone, but to the appellant No.1 also, as
otherwise the very purpose of him being made petitioner No.1 in the writ
petition would be meaningless. Mr. Gupta submitted that the High Court was
misled into relying on the statement made in paragraph 7 of the written
statement filed by the respondent in dismissing the writ petition as far as the
appellant No.1 was concerned. Even while considering the review petition, in
the absence of learned counsel for the appellants, the Court was persuaded to
accept the statement made on behalf of the respondent that relief claimed in 7
the review petition had not been claimed in the writ petition itself as far as
the appellant No.1 is concerned and the review petition was not, therefore,
maintainable. Mr. Gupta submitted that the orders passed on the writ petition
and review petitions were passed on an erroneous understanding that the
appellant No.1 had not prayed for any relief in the writ petition and he was
not therefore entitled to the reliefs prayed for by the appellants.
Jagdish Singh Chhabra, who appeared for the Punjab State Electricity Board and
its authorities, reiterated the submissions made before the High Court that in
the absence of any case being made out or any relief being claimed on behalf of
the appellant No.1 in the writ petition the High Court had quite correctly
dismissed the writ petition on the ground that no relief could be given to the
appellant No.1 and the relief prayed for by the appellant No.2 had already been
given to him.
Chhabra also attempted to justify the disparity in the pay of Shri Shori and
the appellant No.1 by urging that the appellant No. 1 had been granted the
promotional scale with effect from 1st January, 1996, where the benefits of
increment in the scale were lower.
On the other hand,
Shri Shori who joined the services of the Board in 1974, was granted the
promotional scale on 17th May, 2006, with effect from 1st September, 2001, when
the increments and the pay-scales were higher. Mr. Chhabra submitted that it is
the disparity in the incremental benefits that led to the anomaly of the
appellant No.1 getting a lower salary in the promotional scale.
regard to the submissions made on behalf of the respective parties, we have
little hesitation in accepting Mr. Gupta's submissions that since the writ
petition had been jointly filed 9 on behalf of the appellants, whose interest
was common, the prayer therein should not have been confined to the appellant
No.2 alone and that the High Court should have granted relief to the appellant
No.1 also by directing that his pay also be stepped up to that of his junior,
Shri R.P. Shori. Although, this question does not appear to have been gone into
by the High Court for the simple reason that the writ petition was disposed of
only on the averments contained in paragraph 7 of the written statement filed
on behalf of respondents that the grievance of the appellant No.2 duly
addressed, there ought to have been at least some discussion in the judgment of
the High Court regarding the claim of the appellant No.1.
case of the appellant No.1 was not considered at all by the High Court.
may be said with regard to Mr. Chhabra's submissions about the difference in
increment in the scales which the appellant No.1 and Shri Shori are placed, but
the same is still 10 contrary to the settled principle of law that a senior
cannot be paid lesser salary than his junior. In such circumstances, even if,
there was a difference in the incremental benefits in the scale given to the
appellant No.1 and the scale given to Shri Shori, such anomaly should not have
been allowed to continue and ought to have been rectified so that the pay of
the appellant No.1 was also stepped up to that of Shri Shori, as appears to
have been done in the case of the appellant No.2.
are unable to accept the reasoning of the High Court in this regard or the
submissions made in support thereof by Mr. Chhabra, since the very object to be
achieved is to bring the pay scale of the appellant No.1 at par with that of
his junior. We are clearly of the opinion that the reasoning of the High Court
was erroneous and the appellant No.1 was also entitled to the same benefits of
pay parity with 11 Shri Shori as has been granted to the appellant No.2.
accordingly, allow the appeals and set aside the judgment of the High Court.
Consequently, the writ petition is also allowed and the respondents are
directed to extend the benefits of pay parity with Shri Shori to the appellant
No.1, as was done in the case of the appellant No.2.
writ petition is allowed to the aforesaid extent.
will, however, be no order as to costs.