high court himachal

Excess of entitlement while making mistakes in the payments to the employees: High Court of Shimla

It is not possible to postulate all situations of hardship, which would govern employees on the issue of recovery, where payments have mistakenly been made by the employer, in excess of their entitlement. This honorable judgement was passed by High Court of Shimla in the case of Bahadur Singh Versus State of Himachal Pradesh and others [CWPOA No. 122 of 2020] by The Hon’ble Ms. Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua, Judge.

The petitioner had challenged the action of respondents in ordering recovery of alleged excess wages paid to him for the period 31.03.2012 till 23.11.2012. The petitioner was appointed as Part Time Water Carrier in respondent-Education Department, the Secretary to the Government of Himachal Pradesh issued a letter in respect to conversion of Part Time Water Carriers as daily wagers.

Petitioner had admittedly completed nine years of continuous service by. As per averments made in the reply, he was given daily wage status w.e.f 23.11.2012. Arrears were paid to him w.e.f. 31.3.2012. Four years later, respondent directed other respondent to scrutinize the matters in respect of any over payment in the form of arrears to those Part Time Water Carriers, whose services were converted into that of daily wagers. On the basis of this communication, respondent issued a recovery notice, directing Block Elementary Education Officer concerned to recover the excess amount in lum sump from all such part time water carriers converted into daily wagers. Subsequent to this, after verification, respondent vide letter directed Centre Head Teacher of the concerned schools to deposit the excess amount paid to the part time water carriers named therein, within a week. In this communication, name of the petitioner figured at Serial No.38. An amount of Rs.20,116/- is stated to be recoverable from him on account of excess payment of wages to him for the period in question.

In support of his contentions, learned counsel relied upon (2015) 4 SCC 334 titled State of Punjab and others Vs. Rafiq Masih and others, State of Punjab and others Vs. Rafiq Masih and other, High Court of Punjab and Haryana and Others Vs. Jagdev Singh and Syed Abdul Qadir & Ors Vs. State of Bihar & Ors.

The court opinioned that, “It is not the case of the respondents that the petitioner had misrepresented regarding any relevant factual position. Arrears on account of conversion of the petitioner’s part time services as daily wage, were paid by the respondents themselves to the petitioner. Even without going into the admissibility of the amount in question to the petitioner, it can be safely concluded that the case of the petitioner squarely falls within category of the Rafiq Masih’s case (supra).”

The petition was allowed stating that, “Also, during hearing of the case, it was not disputed by the respondents/State that similar recovery notices in similar fact situation with respect to various other Part Time Water Carriers have been quashed and set aside by the erstwhile H.P. Administrative Tribunal in different judgments and that the respondents have accepted these judgments and have not assailed them any further.”

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