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As Per Statutory Provisions, Higher Pay Scale Cannot Be Claimed When Duties Are Performed Without Obtaining ‘Prior Permission’: In Calcutta High Court

In a writ petition challenging a decision to deny the petitioner a higher pay scale, the Calcutta High Court ruled that a wage increase cannot be requested when duties are carried out improperly in violation of the pertinent obligatory statutory requirements.

The seal and signature of the District Inspector of Schools are not admissible as “previous consent,” according to a single judge bench led by Honorable Justice Anirudh Roy in the case of Dilip Kuamr Ghosh vs. State of West Bengal and others (WPO 998 OF 2016). The phrase “prior approval,” as used in the aforementioned 1995 Circular, must be understood in the context of the full circular, as well as the pertinent ROPA rules. The District Inspector of Schools must grant authorization in advance while keeping an application in mind.

Facts of the case:

The petitioner passed the Masters of Commerce (M.Com) and Semister Examination in 1990 and was hired as an assistant teacher. For courses V through X, the petitioner was hired as a work education instructor. The petitioner used to enrol in commerce lessons for classes XI and XII at the request of the relevant school authorities due to a lack of teachers. The third respondent denied the petitioner’s request for a higher pay scale in a decision dated July 8, 2016, which is being contested in this action.

According to the petitioner’s attorney, the West Bengal Services (Revision of Pay and Allowance) Rules, 1990 govern the petitioner’s employment status (ROPA). He claimed that the petitioner was entitled to a higher salary scale under Rule 16 of the ROPA’s Career Advancement Scheme because he had earned a higher degree, even if it wasn’t in the topic for which he had been hired as an assistant teacher.

He argued that a 1995 Department of School Education circular with administrative instructions was correct. According to the circular, an assistant teacher who was hired to teach a specific subject may teach in the higher section of that subject if he or she has a higher qualification in that subject than the subject for which he or she was hired, provided that the teacher complies with the formalities outlined in the 1995 circular, The instructor would be permitted and qualified to teach in the higher section on any subject other than the one for which he was appointed and in which he had attained the higher qualification.

In his view, the Constitution of India’s Article 14 and the idea of equal pay for equal labour had been broken by failing to offer the petitioner the higher pay scale that similarly situated candidates had got.

The petitioner claimed that his teaching strategy had been approved by the district inspector of schools and was known to him.

The respondent’s attorney claimed that the petitioner was not qualified to receive such a higher pay scale because he was hired as an assistant teacher for a topic unrelated to his higher education.

According to his argument, the 1995 Circular clearly called for a prior authorization to be sought from the relevant District Inspector of Schools. Since the school did not get this prior approval for the petitioner, the 1995 Circular did not apply to them.

Court’s Findings:

The Court stated that all secondary school instructors who had upgraded or planned to upgrade their credentials or who were hired with better qualifications in the topic or group relevant to their teaching or appointment should receive a higher pay scale consistent with their qualifications. The petitioner, who had the degree B.P.Ed. in physical education, was hired as an assistant teacher in that subject. He earned a Masters of Commerce (M.Com), a more advanced degree in a different field. The Court determined that he was not eligible for a higher pay scale because his initial appointment was for the topic of physical education.

The Court also noted that, in accordance with the 1995 Circular, the prior consent of the relevant District Inspector was a mandatory pre-requisite for the assignment of classes of a higher section to an Assistant Teacher for a subject in which he has a higher qualification than the subject for which his appointment as an Assistant Teacher was made. According to the records, it did not appear to the Court that the pertinent school had requested any kind of advance permission for assigning the petitioner to classes in the higher section of the commerce subject.

According to the petitioner, the concerned District Inspector of Schools knew about the class routine allowing him to enrol in Commerce classes in the higher section because it bore his seal.

The Court ruled that this was not an Article 14 case because the petitioner’s case depended on the relevant mandatory statutory provisions not being followed.

The Court dismissed the petition after concluding that there was no procedural or legal error with the contested order.

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Judgement Reviewed By Manju Molakalapalli.

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