‘Equal pay for equal work’ holds the status of fundamental right in service jurisprudence: Ranchi High Court

In the case of Employer in relation to Management of Food Corporation of India vs. Employer in relation to Management of Food Corporation of India [W.P. (L) No. 3745 of 2009], the Ranchi high court observed ‘equal pay for equal work’ is the basic right of every individual and should be one of the fundamental right in service jurisprudence.

The aggrieved was working as a typist in the corporation and completed 240 days of his service without retrenchment being paid of any kind. Since no retrenchment was paid to him, he being terminated of service was invalid. later when the circular was issued inviting applications for filling the job, he did not apply for it and chose to raise industrial dispute claiming regularization of service and got a reference made under Section 10 of the Industrial Dispute Act.

The court relied on the remarks made by the counsel that there is no difference between the work of a casual Hindi Typist or the permanent Hindi Typist and the workman is performing the same, similar and identical duties to that of a regular Hindi Typist. Also that long service on the post in question is enough to prove eligibility/ qualification and as such, workman is qualified and eligible for the post of Hindi Typist as he is holding the post for more than 25 years without any complaint from any corner.

The court believed the judgement passed in the case of Bharat Bank Ltd. V. Employees reported in AIR 1950 SC 188, it has been held in para 61 as under; “61. … … In settling the disputes between the employers and the workmen, the function of the tribunal is not confined to administration of justice in accordance with law. it can confer rights and privileges on either party which it considers reasonable and proper, though they may not be within the terms of any existing agreement. It has not merely to interpret or give effect to the contractual rights and obligations of the parties. It can create new rights and obligations between them which it considers essential for keeping industrial peace.”

“Law is well settled that there has to be equality in law and nobody can be discriminated if the nature of job is same and performance are same or similar, they are entitled for pay protection and salary on the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ In the case of “Mewa Ram Kanojia v. All India Institute of Medical Sciences [(SCC pp. 239 & 241, paras 5 & 7], while considering the question of application of ‘Equal pay for equal work’ it has to be borne in mind that it is open to the State to classify employees on the basis of qualifications, duties and responsibilities of the posts concerned.”

As the workman already superannuated from his service on attaining his age of 60 years during the pendency of the writ petition, the bench said that he is entitled to all the benefits. “This Court is in full agreement with the Award passed by the learned Tribunal. I do not find any infirmity or any illegality in the impugned Award.” 

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