State Sugar Corporation Ltd. & Anr Vs. Sant Raj Singh & Ors  Insc
321 (12 May 2006)
& P.P. Naolekar WITH
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8237-8238 of 2003 &
CIVIL APPEAL NO2656 .OF 2006 [@ S.L.P. (C) No. 18327 of 2004] S.B. Sinha, J :
granted in S.L.P.
educational qualification can be considered to be a relevant criteria for the
purpose of payment of wages is the question involved in these appeals which
arise out of a judgment and order dated 11.12.2002 passed by a Division Bench
of the High Court of Uttaranchal at Nainital in C.M.W.P.
235(M/S) of 2001allowing the writ petition filed by the Respondent herein and
an order dated 13.5.2003 refusing to review the said order.
Sugar Company Limited (Company) was having a sugar mill at Maholi. There exists
a post of Assistant Laboratory Incharge in all the sugar mills. The post
carried certain grades. The wages of the employees in the sugar factory in the
State of Uttar Pradesh used to be governed by the terms of
awards of the Wage Board appointed by the Government of India from time to
time. An award was made by U.P. Sugar Wage Board in the year 1970 prescribing
different scales of pay for different categories of employees working in all
the Vaccum Pan Sugar Factories in the State of Uttar Pradesh. Educational qualifications were laid down as criteria for
classifying the employees in different grades, which are as under:
for the post of
Laboratory Incharge Supervisory A1, - Degree in Science with Physics and
Chemistry and Mathematics as subjects and Associate Membership of National
Sugar Institute, Kanpur or any other equivalent qualification.
for the post of
Laboratory Incharge, Supervisory A-II, Degree in Science with Physics and
Chemistry as subjects and at least two years practical experience in the sugar
it was prescribed that in the event the laboratory Incharge, i.e., Supervisory
Grade A-II were having the educational qualification of less than a Degree, he
would be placed in Supervisory B Grade.
Legislature of the State of U.P. enacted
the Uttar Pradesh Sugar Undertakings (Acquisition) Act, 1971 to provide, in the
interest of the general public, for the acquisition and transfer of certain
sugar undertakings and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.
Day" in the said Act was defined to be 3rd July, 1971. In terms of Section 3 of the said
Act, on the appointed day, every scheduled undertaking shall, by reason
thereof, stand and be deemed to have stood transferred to and vest and be
deemed to have vested absolutely in the U.P.
Sugar Corporation Limited (for short "the Corporation"). Section 16
of the said Act provided that every person working in any of such sugar mills
which stood vested under the said Act shall on and from the date of such
acquisition become an employee of the Corporation and shall hold his office or
service therein by the same tenure, at the same remuneration and upon the same
terms and conditions and with same rights and privileges as to pension,
gratuity and other matters as he would have held the same on the appointed day
if the undertaking had not been transferred to and vested in the Corporation
and shall continue to do so until his employment in the Corporation is
terminated or until his remuneration or other terms and conditions of services
or revised or altered by the Corporation under or in pursuance of any law or in
accordance with any provision which for the time being governs his service.
provisions of the said Act, however, were implemented in phases On or about
3.2.1984, an order was issued by the Corporation in terms whereof certain
categories of employees like Assistant Engineers, Manufacturing Chemists and
Laboratory Incharges posted in various units of the Corporation who had been
drawing salary in Supervisory Grade A-I and A-II Grade of the Wage Board of the
Sugar Industry were placed in the Corporation scale of pay with effect from
1.2.1984. The scale of pay for such Laboratory Incharge was fixed at Rs.
550-1200 for those who had earlier been working on the initial pay scale of Rs.
375-1000 in terms of the recommendations of the Wage Board. However, those who
have been working in the pay scale of Rs. 355-755 were put in the scale of Rs.
500- 1000. A revision of pay was effected by the Corporation by a notification
dated 23.10.1984 in terms whereof those laboratory incharges who had earlier
been put in the pay scale of Rs. 550-1200 were put in the pay scale of Rs.
900-1770 and those who had been placed in the pay scale of Rs. 500- 1000 were
placed in the pay scale of Rs. 770-1600. It had, however, been clarified that
pay scale of Rs. 900-1770 would be admissible only to those laboratory incharges
who possessed B.Sc. Degree with Post Graduate Diploma of Sugar Technology from
National Sugar Institute and all other laboratory incharges under Supervisory
A-I or A-II would be entitled for the Corporation revised pay scale of Rs.
Sugar Mill belonging to the Company vested in the Corporation with effect from
28.10.1984. The First Respondent herein was appointed in the Sugar Mill on
1.3.1981. He was not possessed of the qualification of Degree in Science. His
services were taken over in terms of the provisions of the Act with effect from
the date of nationalisation of the sugar mill. It is not in dispute that his
scale of pay stood protected in terms of Section 16 of the Act.
First Respondent being in Supervisory Grade-B at the time of acquisition of the
factory was, thus, not entitled to be placed in the Corporation pay scale. He
was, therefore, continued to be paid in the pay scale prescribed by the Sugar
Wage Board even after 28.10.1984.
B.P. Srivastava, working in another mill which also vested in the Corporation,
had been getting A-II Grade before nationalisation thereof. His pay was
view to remove certain anomalies allegedly a Selection Committee was
constituted by the Corporation on or about 28.3.1985. The Committee for the
said purpose called seven candidates for interview. It is stated that the basis
for calling the said candidates for interview is not known. Shri Shyam Sunder Shukla
was also one of the candidates called for interview. By reason of
recommendations made by the said Committee, four employees out of the seven
called for interview including Shri Shukla were placed in the revised pay scale
of Rs. 770-1600 meant for laboratory incharge in the Corporation. Shri Shukla
was placed in the Corporation scale in Bijnore unit of the Corporation. The
First Respondent herein thereafter was transferred to a unit of the Corporation
at Rohana Kalan. He continued to be placed in the Supervisory B-Grade and had
been drawing salary in the prescribed scale of pay therefor. The Third Sugar
Wage Board was constituted. It made its recommendations on 31.1.1991. The said
recommendations were given retrospective effect and retroactive operation from
29.12.1989. In terms of the said recommendations, category B-Grade was not
prescribed. The First Respondent was also placed in Supervisory A- Grade. He
was, however, not placed in the Corporation Scale of Pay. He was transferred
from the said Rohana Kalan Unit to Maholi Unit again.
year 1996, he filed a writ petition before the High Court of Allahabad inter alia
praying therein for grant of scale of pay which was being paid to Shri B.P. Srivastava
and Shri Shukla. The State of Uttaranchal
having been created, the said writ petition was transferred to the High Court
of Uttaranchal. By reason of the impugned order, the High Court directed the Appellants
to pay similar pay scale of Rs. 2000-3500 from the date from which Shri B.P. Srivastava
and Shri Shyam Sunder Shukla were being paid. Civil Appeal Nos. 6588 and 8237
of 2003 have been filed against the said order. An application for review was
filed which was rejected by an order dated 13.5.2003. Civil Appeal No. 8238 and
Civil Appeal arising out of SLP (C) No. 18327 of 2004 have been filed against
the said order.
learned counsel appearing on behalf of the Appellant submitted that the High Court
committed a manifest error insofar as it failed to take into consideration that
the cases of both Shri B.P. Srivastava and Shri Shyam Sunder Shukla stood
absolutely on different footings. It was contended so far as the case of Shri
B.P. Srivastava is concerned, he having already been drawing a higher scale of
pay, the same was required to be protected in terms of Section 16 of the Act
and insofar as the case of the said Shri Shyam Sunder Shukla is concerned, he
was placed on a higher scale of pay by a Committee. It was submitted that as
the First Respondent was not possessing the requisite qualification, he could
not have been placed on a higher scale of pay.
Dwivedi, learned senior counsel appearing on behalf of the First Respondent,
urged that when the First Respondent entered into service, no such
qualification was prescribed. The laboratory incharges performed the same
nature of duty and in that view of the matter the educational qualification
prescribed for the said post was wholly immaterial.
learned counsel urged that the Wage Board having made a distinction in the
scales of pay based on educational qualification and the same having been
withdrawn by the same authority which came into force with effect from
29.12.1989, at least from the said date the First Respondent should have been
placed in the Corporation Scale of Pay.
attention was also drawn to the fact that the Committee purported to have been
appointed by the Corporation for reasons best known to it called only seven candidates
for interview. The Corporation has not disclosed as to why the case of the
First Respondent had not been considered by the said Committee. The case of Shri
Shyam Sunder Shukla, thus, could not have been considered by the said Committee
and in that view of the matter as he although is not possessed of a Degree, he
having been placed in the Corporation Scale of Pay, there was absolutely no
reason as to why he should be discriminated.
doctrine of equal pay for equal work, as adumbrated under Article 39(d) of the
Constitution of India read with Article 14 thereof, cannot be applied in a
vacuum. The constitutional scheme postulates equal pay for equal work for those
who are equally placed in all respects. Possession of a higher qualification
has all along been treated by this Court to be a valid basis for classification
of two categories of employees.
State of Jammu and Kashmir v. Shri Triloki Nath Khosa and Others [(1974) 1 SCC
19], the validity of such a classification came to be considered before this
Court. Chandrachud, J., (as the learned Chief Justice then was), opined:
education may not always produce excellence but a classification founded on
variant educational qualifications is, for purposes of promotion to the post of
an Executive Engineer, to say the least, not unjust on the face of it and the
onus therefore cannot shift from where it originally lay." Krishna Iyer,
J. supplemented stating:
social meaning of Articles 14 to 16 is neither dull uniformity nor specious
"talentism". It is a process of producing quality out of larger areas
of equality extending better facilities to the latent capabilities of the
lowly. It is not a methodology of substitution of pervasive and slovenly medicority
for activist and intelligent but not snobbish and uncommitted cadres.
However, if the State uses classification casuistically for salvaging status
and elitism, the point of no return is reached for Articles 14 to 16 and the
Court's jurisdiction awakens to deaden such manoeuvres. The soul of Article 16
is the promotion of the common man's capabilities, over-powering environmental
adversities and opening up full opportunities to develop in official life
without succumbing to the sophistic argument of the elite that talent is the
privilege of the few and they must rule, wriggling out of the democratic
imperative of Articles 14 and 16 by the theory of classified equality which at
its worst degenerates into class domination." In State of Madhya Pradesh and Another v. Pramod Bhartiya and
Others [(1993) 1 SCC 539] referring to the provisions of Section 2(h) of the Equal Remuneration
Act, 1976, this Court stated:
"It would be evident from this definition that the stress is upon the similarity
of skill, effort and responsibility when performed under similar conditions.
as pointed out by Mukharji, J. (as he then was) in Federation of All India
Customs and Excise Stenographers the quality of work may vary from post to
post. It may vary from institution to institution. We cannot ignore or overlook
this reality. It is not a matter of assumption but one of proof. The
respondents (original petitioners) have failed to establish that their duties,
responsibilities and functions are similar to those of the non-technical
lecturers in Technical Colleges.
have also failed to establish that the distinction between their scale of pay
and that of non-technical lecturers working in Technical Schools is either
irrational and that it has no basis, or that it is vitiated by mala fides,
either in law or in fact (see the approach adopted in Federation case)"
Yet again in Shyam Babu Verma and Others v. Union of India and Others [(1994) 2
SCC 521] a 3-Judge Bench of this Court opined:
nature of work may be more or less the same but scale of pay may vary based on
academic qualification or experience which justifies classification.
principle of 'equal pay for equal work' should not be applied in a mechanical
or casual manner.
made by a body of experts after full study and analysis of the work should not
be disturbed except for strong reasons which indicate the classification made
to be unreasonable. Inequality of the men in different groups excludes applicability
of the principle of 'equal pay for equal work' to them." In Government of
W.B. v. Tarun K. Roy [(2004) 1 SCC 347], it was clearly laid down that the
holders of a higher qualification can be treated to be a separate class, holding
"Question of violation of
Article 14 of the Constitution of India on the part of the State would arise
only if the persons are similarly placed. Equality clause contained in Article
14, in other words, will have no application where the persons are not
similarly situated or when there is a valid classification based on a
reasonable differentia." The said decision has been noticed by another
Bench of this Court in M.P. Rural Agriculture Extension Officers Association v.
State of M.P. and Another [(2004) 4 SCC 646] stating:
"Furthermore, as noticed
hereinbefore, a valid classification based on educational qualification for the
purpose of grant of pay has been upheld by the Constitution Bench of this Court
in P. Narasinga Rao.
First Respondent admittedly did not possess the requisite qualification. He
merely claimed a higher scale of pay only because Shri B.P. Srivastava and Shri
Shyam Sunder Shukla had been paid. It has not been disputed before us that the
case of Shri Srivastava stood on different footing and his scale of pay had to
be protected in terms of Section 16 of the Act. So far as Shri Shyam Sunder Shukla
is concerned, we may proceed on the basis that the Corporation took a wrong
decision. The said decision, however, was not questioned by the First Respondent
before the High Court.
foundational facts had been placed before the High Court in relation thereto.
We would not like to enter into the controversy as to whether his case could
have been considered by the Committee or on what basis the Committee considered
the cases of seven candidates and granted higher scales of pay to four
candidates as the validity thereof is not in question.
that the Corporation was wrong, the same by itself would not clothe the First
Respondent even legal right to claim a higher scale of pay.
what basis the Selection Committee selected four employees out of the seven is
not known. Three persons admittedly were not selected. If the plea put forward
by the Respondent is accepted, these employees also would be entitled to the
same scale of pay as given to the said Shri Shukla, although they have been
found to be not fit therefor. Educational qualification was made the basis for
a valid classification in the matter of payment of salary in a particular scale
of pay by the Wage Board itself. Only in the year 1989, such a classification
was obliterated. The First Respondent had been granted the benefit of the
recommendations of the Third Wage Board also. It was a matter of policy
decision for the Corporation to consider as to whether a particular category of
employees should be taken outside the purview of the pay scales recommended by
the Wage Board and place them in a higher scale of pay. We, therefore, cannot
accept the contention of Shri Dwivedi that only because no such qualification
was prescribed at the time of recruitment, the classification made on that
basis would be bad in law. Even otherwise the said contention is not correct as
scale of pay was determined by the award of the Wage Board.
again the validity or otherwise of the said policy decision is not in question.
The said policy decision has been taken as far back in 1984. It cannot be
assumed that the First Respondent was not aware of the same.
knowledge, he did not question the validity of such a policy decision. The
matter relating to grant of scale of pay may be based upon a policy decision of
State of Orissa and Others v. Balaram Sahu and
Others [(2003) 1 SCC 250], this Court opined:
"equal pay for equal work" is considered to be a concomitant of
Article 14 as much as "equal pay for unequal work" will also be a
negation of that right, equal pay would depend upon not only the nature or the
volume of work, but also on the qualitative difference as regards reliability
and responsibility as well and though the functions may be the same, but the
responsibilities do make a real and substantial difference." Yet again in
Union of India and Another v. International Trading Co.
Another[(2003) 5 SCC 437], this Court opined:
party cannot claim that since something wrong has been done in another case
direction should be given for doing another wrong. It would not be setting a
wrong right, but would be perpetuating another wrong.
such matters there is no discrimination involved. The concept of equal
treatment on the logic of Article 14 of the Constitution of India (in short
"the Constitution") cannot be pressed into service in such cases.
What the concept of equal treatment presupposes is existence of similar legal foothold.
It does not countenance repetition of a wrong action to bring both wrongs on a
par. Even if hypothetically it is accepted that a wrong has been committed in
some other cases by introducing a concept of negative equality the respondents
cannot strengthen their case" Moreover, Article 14 has a positive concept.
Nobody can claim equality in illegality.
the foregoing reasons, we are of the opinion that the impugned judgment cannot
be sustained which is set aside accordingly. If any amount has been paid to the
First Respondent, pursuant to or in furtherance of the judgment of the High
Court, the same may be recovered from his salary in twelve equal monthly instalments.
appeals are allowed accordingly. The parties shall pay and bear their own costs
of the appeals.