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Denial of Equal Pay for Equal Work Offends Article 14 and 21 of Constitution: Andhra Pradesh HC

The Andhra Pradesh HC passed an Order on 4th of August, 2022 ruled that denial of equal pay for equal work offends Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. This was seen in the case of Vallepu Naga Raju vs The State Of Andhra Pradesh (Writ Petition No. 3129 OF 2021) and the case was presided over by The Honourable Justices A.V. Sesha Sai and G. Ramakrishna Prasad

FACTS OF THE CASE

The bench of was dealing with the, which calls in question the proceedings of State Government(SG) issued vide Letter No.838/Courts, & the consequential proceedings of Registrar (Administration), HC of Andhra Pradesh.

In this case, Petitioners were working as Computer Assistants in various District Courts in the Andhra Pradesh on a contract basis. By way of a letter the Registrar General, Andhra Pradesh HC sought permission from the SG to appoint 29 Computer Assistants on a contract basis by adopting the procedure as which was done in the case of the Computer Personnel.

The SG, vide Letter No.838/Courts, turned down the request for enhancement to Rs.31,460/- on par with the min time scale fixed for Data Processing Officers (DPOs) on the ground that there is no scale of pay to the post of Computer Assistant in the Revised Pay Scales, 2015, & the posts are sanctioned on a contract basis with consolidated remuneration only.

Sri M. Vijay Kumar, Counsel for the petitioners presented that the action challenged in the present Writ Petition is highly illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable & violative of Articles 14 & 21 of the Constitution & opposed to the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.

Sri N.V. Sumant, Counsel for the respondent presented that there is absolutely no illegality nor there exists any infirmity in the challenged action & in the absence of the same, the interogated orders are not amenable for any judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution.

JUDGEMENT

The issue for deliberation before the bench was:

“In case the respondent authorities are justify in denying the min time scale to the petitioners & in case the petitioners are entitled to a min in the time scale of pay Rs.31,460/- attached to the post of DPOs with effect from 1st April 2019?”

The HC relied upon the case of State of Punjab & others v. Jagjit Singh & others where it was stated that:

“An employee engaged for the same work, can’t be paid less than another, who discharges the same duties & responsibilities. Assuredly not, in a welfare state. Such an action other than being humiliating strikes at the very foundation of human dignity. Anyone, who is impel to work at a lesser wage, does not do so themselves. Any act, of payment of low wages, as compared to others similarly situate, forms an act of exploitative, harassing, enslavement, emerging out of a domineering position. With no doubt, the action is very oppressive, suppressive & coercive, as it compels involuntary subjugation.”

The bench stated that the challenged action of denial of benefit to the petitioners offends Articles 14 & 21 of the constitution & the principle of equal pay for equal work.

In view of the above, The HC allowed the petition & directed the respondents to extend the benefit of enhancement of remuneration to the petitioners @ Rs.31,460/- with effect from 01.04.2019, i.e., min time scale attached to the post of DPO. 

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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY YAKSHU JINDAL.

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