Excess payment made to Group-C staff cannot be recovered by the state: High Court of Orissa

Group-C staff refers to government employees who usually undertake supportive and non-supervisory tasks and have salaries between Rs.18,000 and Rs.29,200. If any excess payment is made to staff belonging to this category, the state does not have to right to recover it. This was held by a bench of the High Court of Orissa consisting of Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice S.K. Panigrahi in the case of State of Odisha v Ashokarani Mishra [W.P.(C) No. 21772 of 2019] on 24th June 2021.

The immediate writ petition was filed by the state of Odisha challenging the order passed by the Odisha Administrative Tribunal, Bhubaneswar  on 7th February 2019. The opposite party, Ashokarani Mishra is a staff nurse who was working for a state hospital. The main issue of the petition is whether the opposite party along with other nurses should get their revised pay scale in terms of the government resolution retrospectively or prospectively. Since the nurses were not getting salaries on par with other nurses working for the government of India, the anomaly committee recommended upward revision of the pay scale and sent the proposal to the petitioner.  The state government’s Health and Family Welfare Department issues a clarification stating that the revised pay scale would not have retrospective effect and that the resolution should be implemented only from the date of its publication. Acting on this the CDMOs issued a direction to recover any excess dues already paid to the opposite part.

The Odisha Administrative Tribunal ruled in favour of the opposite party, declaring that she would be entitled to the revised pay scale from the respective dates of their regularisation. It was noted that the opposite party as a staff nurse, belonged to the Group-C staff category. In the case of State of Punjab v Rafiq Masih (White Washer) [2015 (4) SCC 334], the Supreme Court of India held that any excess payment, if all at all could not be recovered from Group-C staff.

Justice Dr S, Muralidhar stated that “In the present case there was no occasion to postpone the applicability of the revised pay scales to a later date. The original Government Resolution issued on 26th June, 2013 was not intended to make the revised pay scales applicable only from the date of such resolution and since the Opposite Parties are in Group-C posts, the decision in the case of Rafiq Masih (supra) would apply and no recovery of any alleged excess payment can be made”. Thus there was found to be no grounds for any interference with the order passed by the Odisha Administrative Tribunal and the writ petition was dismissed.

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