Equal pay for equal work” is not a fundamental right vested in any employee, though it is a constitutional goal to be achieved by the Government, the Supreme Court remarked in a judgment delivered on Thursday (27 January 2022). The bench comprising Justices DY Chandrachud and Bela M. Trivedi observed that the equation of post and determination of pay scales is the primary function of the executive and not the judiciary in the case of State of Madhya Pradesh (Appellants) versus R.D. Sharma and anr. (CIVIL APPEAL Nos. 474-475 OF 2022). Therefore, ordinarily courts will not enter upon the task of job evaluation which is generally left to the expert bodies like the Pay Commissions, the court added.
In this case, the writ petitioner before the High Court of Delhi had retired from the post of Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF). The Government of India had rejected his representation seeking revision of his pension from Rs.37,750/- (50% of HAG Scale 75000-80000) to Rs. 40,000/ (50% of apex scale 80000) as per the Indian Forests Service (Pay) Second Amendment Rules, 2008. Against this, he approached the Central Administrative Tribunal, which dismissed his Original Application. Later, the Delhi High Court, allowing his writ petition, held that he was eligible to get the benefit of Rs. 40,000/- as pension at par with the other officers, as per the Rules of 2008.
In appeal filed by the State, the Supreme Court bench noted that the High Court had thoroughly misdirected itself by applying the principle of “equal pay for equal work” placing reliance on the decision of this court in case of State of Punjab and Ors. Vs. Jagjit Singh and Ors. (2017 SCC 148) which had no application to the facts of the present case. Referring to relevant rules, the bench observed that the Tribunal had rightly rejected the claim made by the appellant. The Tribunal had not committed any jurisdictional error, nor any failure of justice had occasioned, and hence the interference of the High Court in order passed by the Tribunal was absolutely unwarranted, the court said while allowing the appeal.
Judgment Reviewed by Meenakshi Jena