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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The Calcutta High Court: – Ruled that it is “sexist” to distinguish between a married and unmarried daughter in compassionate employment.

Title: – Dipali Mitra & Ors. V Coal India Limited & Ors.

Case No.: – WPA 14349/2018

Decided on: 17/10/2023.

Coram: The Hon’ble Justice Shekhar B. Saraf

Introduction: –

The Calcutta High Court has determined that the National Coal Wages Agreement-VI’s Clause 9.3.3, which distinguishes between “married” and “unmarried” daughters for the purposes of compassionate appointment, is extra vires and violates Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution. A single bench of Justice Shekhar B. Saraf held that the primary requirement for consideration of an application seeking compassionate appointment is to show dependency upon the deceased employee and financial exigency. The bench dismissed the petitioners’ plea for compassionate appointment, noting that the petitioners’ primary reasons for seeking the same was dependency on the deceased employee and financial exigency. It was assumed that a daughter’s marriage status made her less dependent on her mother or father and more on her husband, which is “misogynist”.

The Government was asked by the Court to investigate “archaic laws/policies” that uphold the sexist “natural” order of things and revise them in conformity with Article 14 of the Constitution’s equal gender principles.

Brief Facts: –

The current writ petition was filed by the petitioners, who were related to the late Shibdas Mitra, an employee of Eastern Coalfields Limited, Kolkate (ECL), requesting a compassionate appointment in favor of a son-in-law or married daughter under Clause 9.3.3 of the National Coul Wages Agreement-VI (NCWA-VI).

Petitioner no. 1’s wife had requested a compassionate appointment for her son-in-law, petitioner no. 2, a.k.a. a “indirect dependant,” on the grounds that the family’s only source of income was the dead employee and that their son, a direct dependant, was living in Sweden. ECL denied the son-in-law’s request for a compassionate appointment, citing the existence of the dead employee’s son as a direct descendant. However, the married daughter of the deceased employee was not taken into consideration.

Petitioner No. 1 then submitted her own application for compassionate appointment, but it was denied because the 45-year-old age requirement for hiring a female dependent had been exceeded. Petitioner no. 1 then requested a compassionate appointment on behalf of her daughter, who is married.

Outraged by this, the petitioners went to the High Court, which was resolved by ordering the respondents to issue a reasoned order supporting or opposing the petitioners. This was done by issuing an order that denied the married daughter of the deceased compassionate employment.

Petitioners filed an appeal against the contested order with the ECL; however, they received no answer. Consequently, they filed an application under Article 226 with the High Court.

Judgement: –

The Court addressed the Petitioner no. 2’s argument that the compassionate appointment was an exception “carved out against the general rule of merit-based recruitment,” not a vested or inherited entitlement. Regarding the question of whether the NCWA’s distinction between married and unmarried daughters is beyond the scope of Articles 14 and 15 of the Constitution, the Court determined that there was no applicable reasonable classification.

In the end, the Court decided that the petitioner’s writ petition should be denied because they had not come before the Court in a clean manner and because the married daughter was living with her husband and had never shown that she was dependent on the deceased employee, even though the son-in-law was earning a living and supporting himself. The petitioners’ submission of incorrect ages and fake affidavits, together with their request for a compassionate appointment for their married daughter just four years after the deceased’s death, were discovered by the court. The Bench also expressed its opinion and provided greater insight into the “arbitrary distinction” between married and single daughters in an afterword.

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Written By: Sushant Kumar Sharma.

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