Service Law- Parity in Pay Scale can’t be Claimed when Nature of Work is Different- Supreme Court

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January 19, 2019

In this recent case, the Supreme Court has held that parity in pay scale cannot be claimed merely on the ground that employees are in the same category when nature of work are entirely different.

Case name: Punjab State Electricity Board & anr. v. Thana Singh & ors.

The instant appeal challenges High Court of Punjab’s judgment, whereby the High Court dismissed the appellant’s plea on the ground that the respondents-Sub Fire Officers were entitled to parity of scales of pay as the pay scale granted/revised to other classes of posts within same group of the Punjab State Electricity Board.

Here it would be relevant to mention that the respondents in the case alleged that there is no difference in qualification for recruitment to the post of Sub Fire Officers between the Board and the State Government and therefore, there should not be any difference in the pay scale between them. On the other hand, the Appellants contended that the respondents cannot claim parity with other categories because as the nature of work, duties, responsibilities and initial qualifications for recruitment to the others posts are different.

Bench’s Verdict

The issue that fell for consideration before the Bench was whether respondents are right in contending that grant of different scale of pay to Sub Fire Officers is discrimination and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India?

The Supreme Court allowed the appeal and made the following observations in the case:

  • That it is fairly well settled that equation of pay scales must be left to the Government and on the decision of the experts and the Court should not interfere with it.
  • The Court was further of the view that the work performed by the Sub Fire Officer was entirely different from the nature of duties performed by the Head Clerks and the Internal Auditors.
  • That it is the duty of an employee seeking parity of pay to prove and establish that they have been discriminated.
  • Further the Apex Court also relied on it’s judgment in the case of State of Haryana and Another v. Tilak Raj and Others[1], whereby the Court held that “to claim a relief on the basis of equality, it is for the claimants to substantiate a clear-cut basis of equivalence and a resultant hostile discrimination before becoming eligible to claim rights on a par with the other group vis-à-vis an alleged discrimination.” Hence, the Court was of the view that person claiming parity must produce material before the court to prove that the nature of duties and functions are similar and that they are entitled to parity of pay scales.
  • Burden of Proof- That the burden of establishing parity in pay scale and employment is on the person claiming such right. With reference to the instant case, the Court was of the view that there were neither pleadings nor any material produced by the respondents to prove that the nature of work performed by the Sub Fire Officers is similar with that of the Head Clerks and the Internal Auditors to claim parity of pay scale.
  • In view of the aforesaid observations, the Apex Court set aside High Court’s order to hold that the nature of duties and responsibilities performed by the Sub Fire Officers are different and parity cannot be claimed merely on the ground that they are categorised in one group.

 

[1] (2003) 6 SCC 123