Union of India &
Ors. Vs. Satya Brata Chowdhury & Ors.  INSC 2208 (17 December 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 7353-7354 OF 2008
(Arising out of SLP (C) No.26873-26874 of 2005) Union of India & Ors. ...
Appellant Versus Satya Brata Chowdhury & Ors. ... Respondents
S.B. Sinha, J.
Railway Administration of Union of India is before us aggrieved by and
dissatisfied with a judgment and order dated 20.4.2005 passed by a Division
Bench of the Calcutta High Court in WPCT No.365 of 2004 and WPCT No.840 of 2004
dismissing the writ petitions filed by appellants from a judgment and order
dated 3.6.2004 passed by the Central 2 Administrative Tribunal in Original
Application No.1254 of 2000 and 10th February 2004 passed by the Tribunal in
Original Application No.1458 of 1997.
short question which arose for consideration before the Tribunal and
consequently before the High Court, was whether the recommendations of the
Fifth Central Pay Commission could have been extended in favour of respondents
herein with effect from 18.2.2000 in stead and in place of 1.10.1996; and
whether their claim for fixation of pay scale with effect from 1.1.1996 was
were appointed as Time Keepers in different workshops belonging to the Eastern
Railway Administration. Other Railway Administrations also have similar
workshops. Time Keepers, although are recruited in the clerical grade, in view
of this Court's decision in Works Manager, Central Railway Workshop v.
Vishwanath & Ors. [AIR 1970 SC 488] are to be treated as workers under the
Factories Act, 1948.
appointed as Time Keepers at Liluah and Kancharpara Workshops were, however,
being treated as Clerical Grade employees. Indisputably, the concerned workers
filed an Original Application before the Central Administrative Tribunal,
Calcutta Bench, which was marked as T.A. No.1585 of 1996, praying, inter alia,
for the following reliefs :
3 "i) That a
separate cadre and a separate seniority list for the Time Keepers of the Liluah
Workshop be maintained and the Time Keepers should not be transferred to the
post of Clerks.
(ii) For rescinding
and revoking the order dated 14.7.1985 (Annexure-B to the petition) for transferring
petitioner Nos.1, 2 and 11 from Time Officer to clerical side.
(iii) To pass an
order of injunction restraining the respondents from transferring petitioner
Nos.1, 2 and 11 from Time Office to the clerical side."
It was allowed,
"We find that no
records of Kharagpur Workshop, S.E. Railway, Diesel Locomotive Workshop,
Varanasi or C.L.W. as stated in the reply were produced during hearing to
demolish the case of the applicants that the Time Keeprs are treated as a
distinct cadre with separate seniority, promotion and transfer lists. In view
of the admission made by the official respondents in this respect in the
unreported judgment of this Tribunal, mentioned above, that except in Eastern
Railway, Time Keepers are treated as a separate cadre, there could be no doubt
about the authenticity of the statements made by the applicants in this
petition on this point. Annexure `B' to the reply whereby the respondents
wanted to establish that applicant Nos.1, 3, 4, 7, 8 and 11 refused to be Time Keepers
on 26.8.84 has no legal consequence in view of the decision of the Supreme
Court referred to above, holding that the nature of the duties discharged by
the Time Keepers bring them within the purview of `worker' under the Factories
Act, 4 1948. Under the circumstances, the alleged refusal cannot change the
We are bound by the
decision of the Supreme Court and the judgment of our Bench dated 11.5.90. In
view of the findings of the Supreme Court that Time Keepers are `workers'
within the meaning of Factories Act, 1948 for all practical purposes, the
authorities of Eastern Railway are not permitted to treat the Time Keepers in
the manner they have been treating them."
The Tribunal, on the
basis of the said findings, issued the following directions :
consideration of the facts and circumstances of this case and the submissions
of the counsel for the parties to the proceeding, we quash the order of
transfer dated 14.7.85 of the applicant Nos.1, 2 and 11. We also direct the
official respondents herein to treat the Time Keepers in the Eastern Railway,
Liluah Workshop or elsewhere in a similar manner as is being done by Kharagpur
Workshop, S.E. Railway, Diesel Locomotive Workshop, Varanasi and C.L.W. as a
separate cadre regarding seniority, confirmation, promotion and transfer etc.
and allow them all other benefits admissible to them under the Factories Act,
1948 and all these must be finalized and our direction be implemented within
six months from the date of communication of this order."
5 "The Eastern
Railway, being one of the biggest employers, we hope that this decision will be
treated as passed on a representative suit and the directions given in this
application be made available to the Time Keepers who are similarly
circumstanced but are not parties to this proceeding. The Railway, as a model
employer, will try to prevent the Time Keepers from coming to this Tribunal for
obtaining similar reliefs repeatedly and thereby prevent wasting public money
in fighting out futile litigations. The country is passing through serious
economic crisis and all unnecessary and useless expenses should be prevented by
taking reasonable steps whenever necessary."
pursuant to or in furtherance of the said observations, options were obtained
from them as to whether they would continue as clerical grade staff or workmen.
They were treated to be workers under the Factories Act. A separate seniority
list started to be maintained. A different cadre was created. By an order dated
28.10.1991, it was directed :
staff of Mech./Elect. Deptt.
Attached to Time
office should be treated as one Unit and in one seniority group. If anyone of
the time office staff except the petitioners desires to get merged with
clerical group of staff on their own volition in writing, there should be no
cause for rejection."
the Central Government constituted the Fifth Pay Revision Committee. It made
its recommendations. The said recommendations were enforced as regards clerical
staff with effect from 1.1.1996. By an office order dated 18.2.2000, the
Railway Board directed implementation of the said revised pay with effect from
18.2.2000, in the case of respondents, stating :
Ministry have noted that the pattern of recruitment of Time Keepers in Eastern
Railway differs from the pattern prevalent elsewhere. Time Keepers being a
common category existing in various Railways and Production Units, it has been
decided that the recruitment pattern, including recruitment qualifications etc.
for induction as Time Keepers at various levels in Eastern Railway should fall
in line with the practice prevailing in other Railways and Production Units.
2. The Ministry of
Railways, with the approval of the President, have accordingly decided as under
(i) Induction at the
level of Junior Time Keepers should continue in accordance with the existing
pattern, which includes direct recruitment through RRBs to the extent of 66
from amongst candidates possessing qualification of matriculation;
(ii) Induction at the
level of Senior Time Keepers should henceforth take place in accordance with
the existing pattern for Sr. Clerks, which would include direct recruitment
through RRBs, to the extent of 20% from amongst candidates possession 7
qualification of graduation and 13=% through Limited Departmental Competitive
examination held by RRB's from amongst serving staff in the grade Rs.3050-4590
and (iii) The following pay scales should be allotted to the Time Keeping Staff
of Eastern Railway :
Existing Pay Improved No. Scale (Rs) Pay Scale (Rs)
1. Jr. Time Keeper
3050-4580/- 3050- 4590/-
2. Sr. Time Keeper
4000-6000/- 4500- 7000/-"
another letter dated 28.7.2000, it was furthermore directed by the Railway
"However, with a
view to standardizing the cadre structure at least for the future, since the
change in recruitment pattern could take place only prospectively in Eastern
Railway, the benefit of the improved pay structure has been permitted with
prospective effect only."
may also, at this stage, place on record, a letter of the Chief Personnel
Officer of the Eastern Railway dated 13.7.2000 wherein it was stated that no
such recruitment rules were framed by the Eastern Railway Administration,
8 "Would you
please connect this Railway's letters of even number dated 28.4.2000 and
8.6.2000 wherein it was requested to examine the issue related to the date of
effect of the upgraded Pay Scale of Time Keeping staff of this Railway. After
collecting information from various Zonal Railways/Production Units it is
understood that the upgraded pay scale of Time-Keeping category (where exists)
were introduced w.e.f. 1.1.1996 in all Zonal Railways/Production Units except
Eastern Railway wherein instructions were issued by Railway Board that the same
order will be effective from the date of issue of modified Recruitment Rules in
line with Ministerial staff.
In Eastern Railway no
separate Recruitment Rule was framed after the order of the Hon'ble CAT/Cal on
May/90 for treating the Time-keepers a separate entity as workers within the
meaning of Factories Act, since there was no intake for filling up the vacancy
of Time-keepers after May/90, but before that the Time-keepers of this Railway
were Recruited from the same panel prepared for clerks i.e. their Recruitment
Rule was same as that of the clerks."
legality and/or validity of the decision of the Railway Board was the subject
matter of the Original Application filed by the respondents.
only contention raised in support of the said decisions by the appellant was
that the recruitment pattern for the post of Time-Keeper in Eastern Railway was
Kumar Chakraborty and others filed an Original Application before the Tribunal
which was marked as OA No.1458 of 1997. The said application was disposed of by
the Tribunal, holding :
"We have gone
through the said communication dated 28.7.2000, which has been received from
the Rly. Board. In this there is indication that the recruitment pattern was
changed, but it is not the case. In subsequent rule depriving or denying the
applicants from getting the pay scales with effect from 1.1.1996 was hampered
by this change. For the time being we are not inclined to do into the change in
the policy stand which may affect the equation of a particular group or grade
with the corresponding Ministerial Staff, which is an internal matter to be
sorted out. However, to the extent the benefits has been extended to the Time
Keeper grades the Eastern Rly, the same should be equitably applicable with
effect from 1.1.1996 as the case is in respect of the awarding the scales under
V CPC. We, therefore, partially allow this OA to the extent that the benefit
should be awarded with effect from 1.1.1996 to the present applicants only
within 3 months from the date of communication of the order with arrears."
Brata Chowdhary and 70 others thereafter filed another Original Application before
the Tribunal which was marked as OA No.1254 of 2000.
By a judgment and
order dated 3.6.2004, the question, as to whether the Eastern Railway
Administration was justified in its stand not to treat the 10 respondents
similarly in the matter of grant of benefit of revision in the pay scales was
answered, stating :
"We have gone
through the said communication dated 18.2.2000 (Annexure-A/11) as well as dated
28.7.2000 (Annexure A/18), which was received from the Railway Board. In the
above said letter of Railway Board dated 28.7.2000, it has been indicated that
pattern of recruitment of the Time Keepers in Eastern Railway differs from the
pattern prevalent in other Railways. Accordingly, treatment of this order in
Eastern Railway has to be essentially different from that of the other
Railways. But a bare perusal of the record clearly indicates that actually it
is not so." It was directed :
"In view of
above, the Railway Board's circular dated 18.2.2000 (Annexure-A/11) and order
dated 28.7.2000 (Annexure-A/10 quashed/set aside. The extent of the benefit
which has been extended to the and CLW, Chittaranjan (Annexure-A/14) w.e.f
1.1.1996 and also the letter of the Chief Personnel Officer (Admn) dated
13.7.2000 Grades of S.E. Railway/as well as DLW, Varanasi and CLW, Chittaranjan
should also be extended in favour of the applicants which are also similarly
situated persons and working as Time Keeper in the Liluah Workshop of Eastern
Railway. The respondent authorities, more particularly, the respondent Nos. 5 and
6 are directed to fix the pay scale of the applicants as per 5th Pay
Commission's recommendation for the post of Time Keeping Cadre w.e.f. 1.1.1996
instead of 18.2.2000 and extend all consequential financial and other benefits
in favour of the applicants within a period 11 of three months from the date
of communication of this order along with arrears. It is made clear that we are
not inclined to say anything as to the payment of interest."
hereinbefore, writ petitions preferred thereagainst by appellant were dismissed
by the High Court.
matter came up before this Court for hearing on 8.2.2008 when, inter alia, a
contention was raised on behalf of respondents that the revised pay scales of
Time-Keeper at the Jamalpur workshops had been implemented but the same was
denied to the staff at Liluah and Kancharpura workshops.
additional affidavit thereafter has been placed on record on behalf of
appellant to contend that the Time-Keepers of Jamalpur workshop had been
treated as clerical grade staff and, thus, they are not similarly situated as
learned Additional Solicitor General, Mr. Amarendra Sharan, appearing for the
appellant, would contend that as the respondents had been treated to be workers
under the Factories Act and obtained several benefits including overtime, the
appellants were entitled to implement the recommendations of the Fifth Pay
Revision Commission with effect from 12 18.2.2000 in stead and in place of
1.1.1996. Such a classification, according to the learned counsel, being valid
and reasonable, does not attract the wrath of Article 14 of the Constitution of
Gaurav Jain and Mr. Shekhar Kumar, learned counsel appearing on behalf of
respondents, on the other hand, would contend that the purported classification
of Time-Keepers in different workshops cannot be treated to be valid warranting
different treatments so far as regards implementation of the recommendations of
the Fifth Pay Commission is concerned.
may, at the outset, notice that the only contention raised by the appellant
before the Tribunal, as also before the High Court, was that the recruitment
Procedure in the Eastern Railway Administration was different for the
Time-keepers. It has been held not to be so. The judgment of the Central
Administrative Tribunal dated 5.7.1991 in TA No.1585 of 1986 has been noticed
by us. Therein, the Tribunal directed the workmen of the workshops at Liluah
and elsewhere to be treated at par with their counterparts of Kharagpur,
Banaras and Chittaranjan locomotive workshop.
It was, therefore,
impermissible for the appellant to treat the workers similarly situated,
differently. They were to be treated as workers under the Factories Act. Only
because some overtime allowance became payable to 13 them or a separate
seniority list was maintained or a cadre for the said workers on workshop basis
was constituted, the same by itself, in our opinion did not authorize the
Eastern Railway Administration to discriminate the workers working in one
workshop with the workers working in the other.
may also notice that letter dated 13.7.2000 issued by the Chief Personnel
Manager, Eastern Railways Administration; from a perusal whereof it appears
that the claim of appellants that a different recruitment rules existed for the
Time-Keepers of different workshops within the Eastern Railway Administration,
is not correct. It has also been so found by the Tribunal as also by the High
contention of the learned Additional Solicitor General that the Time-Keepers
recruited in the Liluah workshop could be treated differently from their
counterparts at Jamalpur as in the said letter they were not treated as
clerical grade staff, also does not appear to be wholly correct. Appellants
themselves have annexed with their affidavit a letter dated 16.6.2006 issued by
the Assistant Personnel Officer, Eastern Railway, Jamalpur to Chief Assistant
Officer, Eastern Railway, Kolkatta wherein it was stated :
cadre/seniority of Time keeping staff is being maintained with General Group
Clerks as such 14 benefit of restructuring has been given to the time keeping
The staff posted in
Time Office and working as Time keepers are governed under Factories Act."
Time keepers of Jamalpur Workshop, thus, have been treated as workers under the
Factories Act and if they had been given the benefit of recommendations of the
Fifth Pay Revision Commission, we fail to understand why the same benefit would
be denied to the respondents herein.
the reasons aforementioned, we do not find any ground to interfere with the
impugned judgment and orders. The appeals are dismissed with costs. Counsel's
fee assessed at Rs.25,000/-.