India & Ors Vs. R. Vasudeva Murthy & Ors  INSC 586 (6 August
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL Nos.9113-9126
of 2003 UNION OF INDIA & ORS. ....Appellants Versus R.VASUDEVA MURTHY &
ORS. ...Respondents W I T H Civil Appeal Nos. 9151-9153 of 2003;
Appeal No. 3031 of 2004;
Appeal No. 1590 of 2007;
Appeal No. 1778 of 2007.
In these and connected appeals, we are required to consider the
effect and implication of the Office Memorandum No.13(1)-IC/91 dated 19.10.1994
(hereinafter for the sake of brevity shall be referred to as 'O.M.') issued by
Government of India, Ministry of Finance, with regard to revision of pay scales
of Draughtsmen Grade I, Grade II and Grade III in all Government of India
offices. As it was felt that Draughtsmen of various Departments, even though
discharging same functions, were paid different pay scales, thus to bring
parity throughout the country with regard to their pay scales, the aforesaid
O.M. was issued. The said C.A.Nos.9113-9126/03 etc. .... (contd.) - 2 - O.M.
came to be considered by the various High Courts namely, High Court of
Karnataka, High Court of Andhra Pradesh, High Court of Madras and High Court of
Gujarat as many Draughtsmen had approached the different Benches of Central
Administrative Tribunals for extending them the benefits of the O.M. Since the
benefit was extended to them by the different Tribunals, Union of India and/or
Department of Telecommunications had approached the jurisdictional High Courts
challenging it. However, there have been divergent views with regard to
implementation thereof. Thus, in nut shell we are called upon to set at rest
the controversy by giving true, correct, proper, meaningful and purposeful
interpretation of the said O.M.
Various judgments of the High Courts would also be considered at a
later stage. Prior to issuance of the said O.M., a notification was issued on
23rd August 1993 by the Ministry of Communication, Department of
Telecommunications dealing with the same subject as mentioned hereinabove.
Notification was issued in the light of various orders passed by the Central
Administrative Tribunal and various High Courts from time to time. On account
of several representations received from Draughtsmen for introduction of Grades
and pay scales at par with those working in CPWD, by the said Notification
three grades in the pre-revised payscale of Rs.330-560, Rs.425-700 and
Rs.550-750 C.A.Nos.9113-9126/03 etc. .... (contd.) - 3 - designated as
Draughtsmen Grade III, Draughtsmen Grade II and Draughtsmen Grade I
respectively were fixed. The said notification further fixed ratio of 60:30:10
for Draughtsmen Gr.III, Gr.II and Gr.I respectively. The number of posts for Grade
II and Grade I were to be worked out on Circle basis as these are Circle
It further contemplated that the revised pay scales will be
admissible to these officials notionally from 22.8.1973 but actual financial
benefit would accrue to them from 16.11.1978 or from the date of appointment /
promotion in each grade, whichever is later.
Another Notification dated 6.7.1994 was issued by the same
Ministry in exercise of powers conferred by proviso to Article 309 of the
Constitution of India and in supersession of the Telecommunications Department
Draughtsmen (Recruitment) Rules 1986. By this Notification, the Rules with
regard to regulating method of recruitment to the post of Draughtsmen Grade
III, Grade II and Grade I in the Department of Telecommunication were notified,
known as the Telecommunications Department (Draughtsman Grade III, Grade II and
Grade I) Recruitment Rules, 1994. They were to come into force from the date of
its publication in the official gazette. Schedule appended thereto mentions
that total number of 900 posts would be available with regard to Draughtsmen
Grade III in the pay C.A.Nos.9113-9126/03 etc. .... (contd.) - 4 - scale of
Rs.1200-30-1560-EB-40-2040, 450 posts of Draughts men Grade II would be
available in the pay scale of Rs.1400-40-1800-EB-50-2300 and 150 posts would be
available for Draughts men Grade I in the pay scale of Rs.1600-50-
2300-EB-60-2660 as on 31.12.1992. However, it was subject to variation as per
the requirement and need of the Department.
All these posts were categorised as Group 'C' and DPC of the
officers was to be constituted as projected in the said schedule. As already
mentioned hereinabove, all the aforesaid cadre posts were in the ratio of
Impugned O.M. Dated 19.10.1994 clearly mentioned that minimum
period of service for Grade III, Grade II and Grade I would be 7 years, 5 years
and 4 years respectively, so as to make them entitled to earn upgradation or
revision of their salary.
For proper appreciation and examination of O.M., the same is
reproduced herein below:
No.13(1)-IC/91 Government of India Ministry of Finance Department of
Expenditure ___________ New Delhi, the 19th Oct., 1994 OFFICE MEMORANDUM
Subject:- Revision of pay scales of Draughtsmen Grade I, II and III in all
Government of India offices on the basis of Central Public Works Department.
etc. .... (contd.) - 5 - The undersigned is directed to refer to this
department's O.M.No.F.5(59)-E.III/82 dated 13.3.1984 on the subject mentioned
above and today that a Committee of the National Council (JCM) was set up to
consider the request of the Staff Side that the following scales of pay,
allowed to the Draughtsmen Grade I, II and III working in CPWD on the basis of
the Award of Board of arbitration may be extended to Draughtsmen Gradw I, II
and III, irrespective of their recruitment qualification, in all Government of
Revised Scales Scale on the basis of the Award (Rs.) (Rs.) Draughtsmen Grade I
Rs. 425-700 Rs. 550-750 Draughtsmen Grade II Rs. 330-560 Rs. 425-700
Draughtsmen Grade III Rs. 260-430 Rs. 330-560
President is now pleased to decide that the Draughtsmen Grade I, II and III in
offices/departments of the Goverment of India other than in CPWD may also be
placed in the scales of pay mentioned above subject to the following:
Minimum period of service for : 7 Years placement from the post carrying scale
of Rs.975-1540 to Rs.1200-2040 (pre-revised Rs.260-430 to 330-560) (b) Minimum
period of service for : 5 Years placement from the post carrying scale of
Rs.1200-2040 to Rs.1400-2300 (pre-revised Rs.330-560 to 425-700) (c) Minimum
period of service for : 4 Years placement from the post carrying scale of
Rs.1400-2300 to Rs.1600-2660 (pre-revised Rs.425-700 to 550-750)
C.A.Nos.9113-9126/03 etc. .... (contd.) - 6 - 3.Once the Draughtsmen are placed
in the regular scales, further promotions would be made against available
vacancies in higher grade and in accordance with the normal eligibility
criteria laid down in the recruitment rules.
benefit of this revision of scales of pay would be given with effect from
13.5.1982 notionally and actually from 1.11.1983.
Under Secretary to the Govt. Of India"
3 thereof clearly stipulates that once the Draughtsmen are placed in regular
scales, their further promotion would be made against available vacancies in
higher Grade and in accordance with criteria laid down in the Recruitment
Rules. Plain and simple reading of the aforesaid Clause 3 makes it clear that upgradation/
revision of pay scale is not as of right by putting in minimum period of
service of 4 years, 5 years and 7 years as the case may be but is attached with
riders. To get upgradation, it is necessary that the vacancies are available,
only then the said upgradation would be allowed and it is further subject to
the Recruitment Rules applicable to the case of each employee.
different High Courts have interpreted the O.M.
In fact, Karnataka High Court and High Court of Gujarat have held that once a
Draughtsman puts in requisite length of service, he would automatically become
entitled for upgradation of his salary as per the O.M. but C.A.Nos.9113-9126/03
etc. .... (contd.) - 7 - Madras High Court and full Bench of Andhra Pradesh
High Court have held that it would be applicable only if there exists a vacancy
in the respective cadres. Thus, we are required to consider the said matter in
the light of the judgments of various High Courts, which we shall do now.
Union of India, feeling aggrieved by the Order passed by Central Administrative
Tribunal, Bangalore had filed a Writ Petition before a Division Bench of the
High Court of Karnataka at Bangalore which came up for consideration on
29.6.2001. On the said date, while disposing of the said petition, Division
Bench passed the following order:
had completed four years of service for being put in the higher grade as per
the Notification dated 19.10.1994 much earlier to the withdrawal of the said
Notification on 19.2.1997. The Tribunal has rightly granted the benefit of the
G.O. Dated 19.10.1994 to the respondents.
the High Court of Karnataka held that the Tribunal was justified in granting
the benefit of G.O/O.M dated 19.10.1994, to the respondents working as
Union of India, feeling aggrieved by the order passed by the Central
Administrative Tribunal, Ahmedabad was pleased to file several Special Civil
Applications C.A.Nos.9113-9126/03 etc. .... (contd.) - 8 - before a Division
Bench of the High Court of Gujarat. The same came to be heard and disposed of
operative and relevant part of the said judgment is reproduced hereinbelow:
is, therefore, amply clear that after the implementation of the revised scales
at par with CPWD Draughtsmen and in light of the publication of statutory rules
for recruitment of Grade-III, II and I Draughtsmen, the proposition of ratio of
60:30:10 introduced by the O.M. Dated 23rd August, 1993 shall obviously stand
obliterated. Therefore, it cannot be contended at this stage that the ultimate
consequences recorded by the Tribunal in three impugned judgments based on
factual matrix and correct interpretation of the government's O.M are in any
way, unjust, unreasonable, illegal, perverse or in any way vulnerable. In our
opinion, this group of three petitions at the instance of the Union of India
against identical three judgements of the Tribunal on common issues in exercise
of extraordinary, prerogative and discretionary writ jurisdiction under
Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India are devoid of any merits and
deserve to be thrown overboard at the admission stage.
they are rejected at the threshold, Notice shall stand discharged without any
order as to costs.
result of the said judgment is that the order of the Tribunal was upheld and
the respondents were granted benefit of the O.M. However, it has not taken into
consideration the clause regarding availability of posts or eligibility
criteria laid down in the relevant Recruitment Rules.
etc. .... (contd.) - 9 - 7.The Union of India was also constrained to file W.P.
No.597 of 2000 before a Division Bench of High Court of Judicature at Madras
challenging the order passed by Central Administrative Tribunal, whereby the
application filed by respondent therein R. Jothimani was allowed. The Tribunal
had directed that salary of respondent Jothimani be fixed in the higher pay
scale on the basis of his having completed 4 years of service in the post of
Grade II Draughtsmen. The said Writ Petition also came to be allowed and the
order of the Tribunal was quashed. The operative and relevant para of the said
judgment of the Division Bench of High Court of Madras is reproduced
first respondent did not in any manner show that actually the posts were
available in Grade I and that in spite of such availability, his claim was not
accepted which was made by making a specific representation.
therefore, are unable to agree with the Tribunal and more particularly its reasoning
that since there is no ratio provided in the Office Memorandum dated 19.10.1994
therefore the first respondent automatically became entitled to be fixed in the
higher grade or to be taken to the Grade I Draughtsmen post on the completion
of his four years of service.
to us, even if the first respondent became entitled by reason of his continuous
service of four years in Grade II yet he could be entitled to the higher
emoluments or the higher pay scale only if the post was available in Grade I in
terms with the ratio provided for by the rules and more particularly by office
memorandum dated 23.8.1993. That being the case, we must hold that the Tribunal
was in error in taking the C.A.Nos.9113-9126/03 etc. .... (contd.) - 10 - view
that it held. We accordingly set aside the order of the Tribunal and order the
dismissal of the original application. The writ petition is allowed. However,
there shall be no orders as to the costs. W.M.P. No. 869 of 2000 is
against the order passed by the Madras High Court, in the aforesaid matter, the
respondent therein did not challenge the same before this Court by filing a
Special Leave Petition. Thus, the order of the Madras High Court had attained
9. In the
High Court of Andhra Pradesh at Hyderabad, on account of difference of opinion
between two Division Benches, matter was referred to a Full Bench of three
learned Judges. It pronounced its opinion on 24.9.2004.
also the Union of India had preferred the Writ Petitions against the order of
the Central Aministrative Tribunal Hyderabad, whereby benefit of the O.M. was
given to Draughtsmen. Relying on the relevant portion of the judgment of the
Division Bench of the High Court of Madras quoted hereinabove, the Full Bench answered
the reference in favour of the Union of India and against the Draughtsmen.
light of the opinion expressed by the Full Bench, matter was placed before the
Division Bench of the said High Court, which allowed the writ Petition filed by
the Union of India and dismissed the Original Application C.A.Nos.9113-9126/03
etc. .... (contd.) - 11 - filed by the respondents, Draughtsmen.
the light of the aforesaid judgments of the Division Benches and opinion
expressed by the full Bench of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh, we are now
required to consider what would be the true correct, proper, meaningful,
effective, operative and purposeful interpretation of O.M. dated 19.10.1994
counsel appearing for the Draughtsmen argued before us with vehemence that
necessary implication of the O.M. is, as soon as Draughtsman Grade II completes
4 years of service, automatically, he would be entitled, if not for promotion,
at least for upgradation in his pay scale equivalent to that of Draughtsman
Grade I. They further contended that there was no embargo created under the
O.M. or any of the service regulations applicable to these employees to deprive
them of the benefit of upgradation of pay as the same was necessary consequence
and implication of issuance of O.M. dated 19.10.1994.
the other hand, learned counsel appearing for the Union of India and Department
of Telecommuication forcefully opposed the said contention and submitted that
irrespective of whether an employee has fulfilled the eligibility criteria of
minimum years of service, upgradation of scale and/or promotion to the
respective C.A.Nos.9113-9126/03 etc. .... (contd.) - 12 - grade would be
available subject to availability of vacancies as per the O.M. For the said
purposes, they have placed great reliance on the Rules which have been
formulated in exercise of power conferred by proviso to Article 309 of the
Constitution of India. These Rules clearly stipulate that the total number of
posts of Draughtsmen Grade III would be 900, posts of Grade II would be 450 and
that of Grade I would be 150 only as on 31.12.1992 circlewise and this would be
of course, subject to variation depending on workload. No other Notification or
Rules were brought to our notice meaning thereby that ever since 23.08.1993,
when the aforesaid ratio of Draughtsmen was fixed at 60:30:10, there has not
been enhancement or modification in the same. Thus, we have to proceed on the
assumption that even on this date, the total circlewise cadre strength of the
Draughtsmen Grade III, Grade II and Grade I stands as mentioned hereinabove.
coming to the O.M., Clause 3 thereof is relevant which clearly stipulates that
only when the Draughtsmen are placed in the regular scales, they would be entitled
to further promotion against available vacancies in higher grade and that too
in conformity with the normal eligibility criteria laid down in the Recruitment
our repeated and persistent requests made to the learned counsel appearing for
the Union of India and C.A.Nos.9113-9126/03 etc. .... (contd.) - 13 - the
Department, they were not able to inform us if the aforesaid strength fixed on
31.12.1992 has been enhanced or not. We were of the opinion that more than 18
years have elapsed and workload having increased considerably, strength must
have been increased, but no positive answer was given to us. It appears little
surprising that the posts have not been enhanced for a period of last 18 years,
which is indeed not very appealing.
16. It is
well settled that the Courts must lean against a construction which reduces a
statute to a nullity. In our considered opinion, the O.M. must be so construed
to make it effective and operative, on the principle expressed in the maxim:
res magis valeat quam pereat" meaning thereby that the thing may rather
have effect than be destroyed.
words employed in the O.M are clear, plain and unambiguous, then they are
reasonably susceptible to only one meaning. Courts are bound to give effect to
the said meaning irrespective of consequences. Necessary consequence of the
reading of the O.M. leaves no amount of doubt that particular length of service
alone is not sufficient to entitle an employee to earn upgradation or revision
of pay, it would accrue only if the posts exist, not otherwise.
etc. .... (contd.) - 14 - 17.In our considered opinion, the said O.M. does not
give an absolute and blanket right to these Draughtsmen to claim
upgradation/revision in the salary as soon as they put in requisite years of
continuous service on the respective post to become eligible either for higher
pay scale or for promotion. Unless, there are requisite vacancies in the
respective cadres of Draughtsmen Grade III, Grade II and Grade I, the
Draughtsmen cannot be granted the said relief.
what we have been able to decipher from the O.M.
19.10.1994, after critical and thorough examination thereof.
in our opinion, the true, effective, operative and correct interpretation of
the said O.M is that, as and when vacancy arises in the cadre of Grade I
Draughtsmen, after putting in requisite minimum service as per said
Notification, then and only then the Draughtsmen Grade II would be entitled for
the higher pay scale not otherwise.
clarify it further, we hold that the entitlement for upgradation of salary is
dependent on the number of vacancies available and not otherwise. It is also to
be noted that eligibility to claim higher pay scale/upgradation is one thing but
availability of vacancy is another. One may be eligible to claim higher pay
scale or upgradation but it is of course subject to availability of posts. If
posts are not available then, no benefit could C.A.Nos.9113-9126/03 etc. ....
(contd.) - 15 - be accrued to the Draughtsmen.
make it clear that if any of the employees have been given the benefit of the
O.M. and payments have been made by the Union of India and/or Department of
Telecommunication, it would not be entitled to recovery thereof from the
Draughtsmen as it would be too harsh and unreasonable to ask for refund after
such a long lapse of time.
light of this, the appeals preferred by Union of India and Department of
Telecommuication are hereby allowed. The Orders passed by different Benches of
the Central Administrative Tribunal and of Gujarat High Court and Karnataka
High Court are set aside and quashed and the appeals preferred by Draughtsmen
to the facts and circumstances of the case, no order as to costs.
......................J. [DALVEER BHANDARI]
......................J. [DEEPAK VERMA]
August 06, 2010.