Employees cannot be denied relief when their entitlements are refused due to unreasonable factors: Supreme Court

Case title: Union of India (UOI) and Ors. Vs. D.G.O.F. Employees Association and Ors.

Case no.: Civil Appeal No. 1663 of 2016

Decided on: 09.11.2023

Quorum: Hon’ble Justice A.S Bopanna, Hon’ble Justice Pamidighantam Sri Narasimha


An association of workers at the Ordnance Factory Board’s headquarters is the respondent. In order to align with similarly placed employees of the Central Secretariat Service (‘CSS’), equivalent posts in the Armed Force Headquarters Civil Service (‘AFHCS’), and comparable other cadres, they requested an increase in the pay scales of Assistant and Personal Assistants of the Ordnance Factory Board, Headquarters. It did not receive approval from the Ministry of Defence. The Respondents came before the CAT in response to their complaints. Additionally, the CAT rejected the prayer, which led to the High Court’s writ proceedings.

The High Court, after reviewing the case, concluded that the Respondent’s members had previously been treated as equals to CSS/CSSS employees, with equal pay and benefits. While setting aside the CAT’s order, the High Court determined that the Respondents were entitled to the benefit under paragraph 3.1.9 of the VI Central Pay Commission’s recommendations.


Whether the employees at the headquarters are in the same positions as the CSS/CSSS employees?


The appellant argued that unless there is obvious discrimination or arbitrariness can be proven, the judiciary’s authority to review pay scale decisions is restricted. Regarding the clause found in the VI CPC’s recommendations, the appellants attempt to invoke paragraph 3.1.14, which suggested a replacement pay scale. The respondents’ reliance on paragraph 3.1.9 is contested, with the argument that it does not apply to OFB employees and does not offer any additional benefits. In this context, it is evident that the High Court took into account both the pay scale specified in the VI CPC and the intention stated in paragraph 3.1.9 that called for parity, having noted that the successive CPC recommendations had led to parity in pay scales and that, in light of such equal treatment historically, the Court had also taken these factors into consideration.           


The court held that the court may step in when there is no disagreement about the qualifications, responsibilities, and duties of individuals holding equivalent posts or ranks but they are treated differently simply because they work for different departments or the criteria used to classify someone is clearly unfair, arbitrary, or irrational. Because they work in the Ordnance Factory headquarters and are thus in a similar position to the Assistants in CSS/CSSS Army Headquarters and other similarly placed organisations mentioned in the recommendations, the conclusion regarding pay parity in the case of the employees who are members of the first respondent is primarily in place.

Court on review of the High Court’s impugned judgement reveals that the High Court, having considered both the legal and factual aspects, did not proceed in such a way as to equate two sets of employees in different organisations. However, in light of the Pay Commission’s recommendation and the applicability of the pay scales suggested to similarly situated employees working at the headquarters, recognising discrimination despite historical similarity has only corrected the error and does not necessitate intervention. Therefore, Appeal denied.


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Written by – Surya Venkata Sujith



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