Pipal Vs. Union of India & Ors  INSC 215
(15 April 1998)
V. Manohar, D.P. Wadhwa Mrs. Sujata V. Manohar, J.
appeal arises from a judgment and order of the central Administrative Tribunal
at new Delhi dismissing the application filed by
the appellant who was at the material time, labour Commissioner working in the
Ministry of labour.
appellant has challenged the constitution of a Central Labour Service under the
Central Labour Service Rules, 1987, issued by the President in the exercise of
powers conferred on him under the proviso to Article 309 of the constitution.
Central Labour Service Rules, 1987 were brought into force by a notification
the notification of 3.2.1987 a Central Labour Service was created by merging
the following three cadres:-
Central Industrial Relations Machinery consisting of Assistant Labour
Commissioner (central), Regional Labour Commissioner (Central), Deputy Chief Labour
Commissioner (Central, Joint Chief Labour Commissioner (Central) and Chief Labour
officers (Central pool) consisting of Labour Officers and senior labour
Welfare Commissioners' cadre consisting of Assistant Welfare Commissioner and
to the appellant the three cadres which were so merged were having different
statutory functions, different qualifications and different duties and powers.
By merging the three cadres unequals have been treated as equals. The appellant
and similarly placed officers belonging to the Central Industrial Relations
machinery have thereby been placed in a position much worse than the positions
they occupied in their origin cadres. By reason of the merger, his chances of
promotion have been substantially diminished. He has, therefore, challenged the
exercise of power under Article 309 of the constitution to formulate Central labour
Service Rules, 1987. He has also challenged the merger of the three cadres on
the ground that this is done in violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the
Article 309 of the Constitution Legislature is empowered to regulate the
recruitment and conditions of service of persons appointed to public services
and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union or of any State.
proviso to Article 309, however, empowers the President, in the case of
services and posts in connection with the affairs of the Union, to make Rules regulating the recruitment and
conditions of service of persons appointed to such services and posts until
provision in that behalf is made by or under an Act of the appropriate
Legislature. The power to regulate recruitment and conditions of service is
wide and would include the power to constitute a new cadre by merging certain
when different cadres are merged certain principles have to be borne in mind.
These principles were enunciated in the case of State of Maharashtra and Anr. V. Chandrakant Anant Kulkarni
& Ors. (1982 1 SCR 665 at page 678) while considering the question of
integration of government servants allotted to the services of the new States
when the different States of India were reorganised.
Court cited with approval the principles which had been formulated for
effecting integration of services of different States. These principles are: In
the matter of equation of posts,
there were regularly constituted similar cadres in the different integrating
units the cadres will ordinarily be integrated on that basis but
there were no such similar cadres, the following factors will be taken into
consideration in determining the equation of posts:-
Nature and duties of a post;
Powers exercised by the officers holding a post the extent of territorial or
other charge held or responsibilities discharged;
The minimum qualifications, if any, prescribed for recruitment to the post and;
salary of the post.
court further observed that it is not open to the court to consider whether the
equation of posts made by the central Government is right or wrong. This was a
matter exclusively within the province of the Central Government.
the only question the Court can enquire into is whether the four principles
cited above had been properly taken into account. This is the narrow and
limited field within which the supervisory jurisdiction of the Court can
decision has been relied upon in a subsequent decision of this court in Union
of India and ors. V. S.L. Dutta and Anr. (1991  SCC 505).
light of the principles laid down in State of Maharashtra V. Chandrakant Anant Kulkarni (supra), we have to examine whether
the cadres which have been merged by the notification of 3.2.1987 were
comparable carrying similar qualifications and comparable duties and salary.
Respondent no.5 in his affidavit has stated that prior to the merger of the
three cadres the cadre Review Committee which had been appointed for cadre
review had recommended the merging of these three cadres/services operating
under the Ministry of labour. The Cadre Review Committee was headed by cabinet
Secretary and had members of various other ministries such as Secretary Labour,
Finance, Department of Personnel, Law and Defence. The recommendations of the
committee were approved by the cabinet. Thereafter Rules were framed and these
Rules were sent for approval first to the Department of Personnel and
thereafter to the Law Ministry and the Union Public Service Commission. After
considering the observations of all these department/agencies appropriate Rules
were framed and notified by the Government. The respondents have stated that a
detailed exercise in this connection was done to ensure that no injustice takes
place to any of the merging cadres. In the affidavit it is further stated that
the question of merging of different cadres under the Ministry of Labour had
been considered thrice in the past. Every time the desirability of merging the
cadres was invariably recommended. But the merger could not done due to
disparity in the pay structures of the three cadres then existing. This
disparity, however, was subsequently removed. By 1987 the salary structure was
similar in the three cadres. Qualification contents were also almost the same
in respect of all the three merging cadres. The three cadres though operating separately,
were operating in the field of Industrial Relations and Labour Welfare; and,
therefore, in 1987 it became possible to merge the three cadres as per the
recommendations of the cadre Review Committee and the discussions held thereon.
The respondents have also stated that in merging the three services the
Government's intention was to provide for avenues whereby the officers of the
three merging cadres could get enriched by the experience of different posts.
The interchangeability brought out by the creation of a new service enables,
for example, the Assistant labour Commissioners to get the experience of work
in an industry. Similarly, Labour officers and senior officers can get exposure
to some of the quasi-judicial functions connected with the posts of Assistant
and Regional Labour Commissioners. It was, therefore, felt that the
constitution of a unified cadre was in public interest. Hence the merger took
place. Since this is essentially a matter of policy, the scope of review by the
court is limited. We can, however, examine the grievance of the appellant
relating to unequals being treated as equals and the grievance relating to
losing promotional avenues.
Central Industrial Relations Machinery has been in existence since 1945. It was
entrusted with the task of prevention and settlement of industrial disputes,
enforcement of labour laws and promotion of welfare among industrial labour. In
1987, at the time of the merger, the cadre had five posts in Grade A starting
with Assistant Labour commissioner in the pay scale of Rs. 700-1300, the next
promotional post of Regional Labour Commissioner in the pay scale of Rs.
1100-1600, the next promotional post of Deputy Chief labour Commissioner, then
joint Chief labour Commissioner and finally at the top, the chief labour
commissioner. At the material time there also existed in the Labour Ministry
another set of officers known as Labour officers (Central pool) and senior labour
officers whose main duty was to maintain harmonious relations between
management of an undertaking and its workers to bring the grievances of the
workers to the notice of the management and to encourage provision of amenities
to workers by the management. There was also a third set of officers at the material
time under the welfare Wing of the Ministry of labour headed by the Director
General, labour Welfare who was ex-official Joint Secretary to the Government
assisted by a Welfare Commissioner with a supporting staff consisting of nine
Welfare commissioners and five Assistant Welfare Commissioners. The salary
scale of Assistant Welfare Commissioners as also of the Labour Officers in the
Central Pool was the same as the salary scale of Assistant Labour
commissioners, namely, Rs. 700- 1300. While the salary scale of senior labour
Officers (Central pool), Welfare commissioners and Regional Labour
Commissioners was in the same scale of Rs. 1100-1600. The cadres which have
been merged thus carried the same pay scales, though different duties in the
area of Industrial Relations and Labour Welfare.
qualifications in respect of Assistant labour Commissioners, Labour officers in
the Central Pool and Assistant Welfare commissioners were also comparable
though not identical. An Assistant labour commissioner was required to have a
Bachelor's degree with economics and social science, a degree in law or a
Master's degree in economics or any other social science, diploma in Labour
Welfare or Labour laws and five years' experience in dealing with labour
problems. The prescribed qualifications for a Labour Officer were a Bachelor's
degree in Arts with economics, commerce or sociology, a post-graduate degree or
diploma in social work, labour welfare or industrial relations or personnel
management or other qualification. Degree in law or training in social work or
other allied courses were desirable.
Assistant Welfare commissioners the qualifications prescribed was a degree of a
recognised university with economics, commerce, social work or sociology, a
post- graduate degree or diploma in social work, industrial relations,
personnel management or allied subject and five year's experience of labour
welfare, industrial relations or personnel management. A degree in law was a
desirable qualification. Thus the qualifications for the three posts are
to duties; the duties of an Assistant labour commissioner (central pool) have
been described as prevention and settlement of industrial disputes in the
central undertakings, holding conciliation meetings by calling the trade union
and the employer so as to avoid strikes, lock-out, unfair practices etc.,
verification of membership of central trade unions and so on. The Assistant labour
commissioner also performed other statutory duties under the Industrial
Disputes Act such as ascertaining membership of trade union, or granting
recognition of protected workmen. Other statutory duties included acting as a
controlling authority under the Payment of Gratuity Act, acting as a
registering officer under Contract labour Regulation and Abolition Act, duties
under the Payment of Bonus Act, Maternity Benefits Act and some other labour
officers were posted in different undertakings.
duty was to maintain harmonious relations between the management of the
undertaking and the workers. For this purpose they were required to advice the
management and the trade unions. It was also their duty to bring to the notice
of the management the grievances of the workers, to advice and concerned department
of the undertaking or the statutory obligations under the Factories Act, 1948
to encourage the provision of amenities such as Canteen, creches, providing
drinking water and so on. The main role was to advise the management in various
labour related issues. A Labour officer was prohibited from appearing in any
disciplinary proceedings against the worker or in conciliation proceeding.
Assistant Welfare commissioner was required to assist the employer in
formulating proposals for grant-in- aid under various welfare schemes such as
housing and water supply, health, education and recreation of workers. They
were required to supervise the utilisation of grants sanctioned by the Ministry
of Labour. They could also formulate proposals for opening dispensaries
hospitals, recreational activities in the mining areas for disbursement of
scholarships to the school-going children of workers in mines and so on.
cadre Review Committee after examining the kinds of duties discharged by these
officers decided that since they all worked in the area of labour welfare, it
would be desirable that they could widen their experience. This would be
possible if the cadres were integrated and the posts were made interchangeable
so that the members of the cadre could get a more varied experience in
different areas of labour welfare, thus making for a better equipped cadre.
Therefore, although the exact nature of work done by the three cadres was
different, it would be difficult to say that one cadre was superior or inferior
to the other cadre or service.
decision to merge such cadres is essentially a matter of policy. Since the
three cadres carried the same pay scale at the relevant time, merging of the
three cadres cannot be said to have caused any prejudice to the members of any
of the cadres. The total number of posts were also increased proportionately
when the merger took place so that the percentage of posts available on
promotion was not in any manner adversely affected by the merger of the cadres.
appellant, however, contends that as a result of the merger his promotional
chances have been very adversely affected because his position in the seniority
list has gone down. Rule 9 of the Central labour Service Rules, 1987 under
which the merger is effected, lays down the Rules of seniority. It provides
that the inter se seniority of the officers appointed to the various grades
mentioned in schedule I at the initial constitution stage of the service shall
be determined according to the length of regular continuous service in the
grade subject to maintenance in the respective grade of inter se seniority of
officers recruited in their respective original cadres. The proviso to this
Rule prescribes that although Assistant labour Commissioner (Central), Labour
officer an Assistant Welfare Commissioner shall be equated, all Assistant Labour
Commissioners (Central) holding such posts on or before 31st of December, 1972
shall be en block senior to labour Officers and (2) senior labour officers and
Regional Labour Commissioners shall be equated. But all Regional labour
Commissioners holding such posts on or before the 2nd of March 1980 shall be en block senior to the senior labour
the proviso the respondents have said that before 31st of December, 1972
Assistant labour commissioners were in a higher pay scale than labour officers.
The parity between their pay scales came about only from January 1973.
is why to preserve their inter se position, Assistant labour Commissioners
appointed prior to 31st of December, 1972 have been placed above Labour
officers. Similarly, Regional Labour commissioners drew a higher pay scales
than senior labour officers prior to 1980. The parity has come about in 1980
and hence Regional labour Commissioners holding such posts on or before 2nd of
March, 1980 have been placed above senior labour officers.
seniority Rules have thus been carefully framed taking all relevant factors
into consideration. The respondents have also pointed out that as a matter of
fact, by reason of the merger, the appellant has not, in fact, suffered any
prejudice and he has also received promotions.
it is possible that by reason of such a merger, the chance of promotion of some
of the employees may be adversely affected, or some others may benefit in
consequence. But this cannot be a ground for setting aside the merger which is
essentially a policy decision. This court in Union of India v. S.L. Dutta
(supra) examined this contention. In S.L. Dutta's case (supra) a change in the
promotional policy was challenged on the ground that as a result, service
conditions of the respondent were adversely affected since his chance of
promotion were reduced. Relying upon the decision in the State of Maharashtra
v. Chandrakant Anant Kulkarni (supra) this court held that a mere chance of
promotion was not a condition of service and the fact that there was a
reduction in the chance of promotion would not amount to a change in the
conditions of service.
premises, we do not find that there is any adequate ground for setting aside
the Central Labour Service Rules, 1987. The appeal is, therefore, dismissed.
Under the circumstance there will, however, be on order as to costs.