Justice Sharad A. Bobde and Justice L. Nageswara Rao, at the Supreme Court, have reiterated in the judgment of the case – Sabha Shanker Dube v.Divisional Forest Officer & Others, delivered on November 14, 2018, that the daily wagers are entitled to be paid the minimum of the pay scales applicable to regular employees working on the same posts.
The appeals in this case were filed against the judgment of the Allahabad High Court of September 24, 2015 in Special Appeal 1198/2006 and others by which the judgment of the Single Judge denying relief to the appellants was affirmed.
The appellants are daily rated workers employed in Group “D” posts in Uttar Pradesh Forest Department. They filed writ petitions in the High Court seeking regularization of their services, the minimum of the pay scales available to their counterparts working on regular posts and treatment to them as being in continued service while condoning the breaks in their service.
The writ petitions were dismissed by a Single Judge on April 28, 2004. Regularization of the daily wagers was directed to be considered in accordance with the relevant rules by condoning the breaks in service if it is less than 3 months. It was held that a direction for regularization cannot be issued. The Single Judge rejected the claim of the appellants regarding the minimum of the pay scales by holding that such a direction cannot be granted under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
The special appeals filed by the appellants were dismissed by a division bench of the HC on December 24, 2015 by relying upon its earlier judgment in Special Appeal 1530/2007.This Special Appeal was filed by the U.P. Govt. against the Judgment of the Single Judge of October 17, 2005 in Civil Misc. WP 48322/2000 and other petitions.
These writ petitions were filed by daily wagers working in Group ‘c’ and Group ‘D’ posts of the State Forest Department. The reliefs sought by them were regularization of services and equal pay for equal work. The Single Judge allowed the writ petitions by directing the State Govt. to re-consider the petitioners therein for regularization of their services, ignoring artificial breaks and by relaxing the minimum educational qualifications and the physical endurance requirements prescribed by the service rules.
The Selection Committee was directed to re-consider candidature of all the petitioners therein for regularization. Such of those persons who were found eligible for regularization were directed to be regularized in the vacancies that may arise in the future in their divisions. There was a further direction that the petitioners therein shall be continued on daily wages till their regularization and be paid a minimum of the pay scales.
In the appeal filed by the U.P. Govt., a HC division bench set aside the directions issued in the writ petitions relating to the relaxation of minimum educational qualifications and physical endurance requirements as also the directions pertaining to the minimum of the pay scales to be paid to the daily wagers. The division bench found the directions issued by the Single Judge to relax the conditions of the requisite minimum qualifications and physical endurance requirements unjustified. Placing reliance on a Supreme Court decisions in the cases – State of Haryana v. Tilak Raj-(2003) 6 SCC 23 and State of Punjab v. Surjit Singh –(2009) 9 SCC 514, the HC division bench held that the daily wagers were not entitled to the minimum of pay scales.
The Supreme Court has reminded that after comprehensive consideration of the entire law on the subject of parity of pay scales on the principle of equal pay for equal work, it considered in the case – State of Punjab and Others v. Jagjit Singh and Others –(2017) 1 SCC 148, as to whether daily wage employees, ad hoc appointees, employees appointed on casual basis ,contractual employees and similar others were entitled to minimum of the regular pay scales on account of they performing the same duties, which are discharged by those engaged on regular basis against the sanctioned posts.
The Court quoted from its decision in the Jagjit Singh’s case as under : “ 58. In our considered view, it is fallacious to determine artificial parameters to deny fruits of labour. An employee engaged for the same work cannot be paid less than another who performs the same duties and responsibilities. Certainly not, in a welfare State. Such an action besides being demeaning, strikes at the very foundation of human dignity. Anyone, who is compelled to work at a lesser wage does not do so voluntarily.”
After considering several judgments, the Supreme Court held that temporary employees are entitled to draw wages at the minimum of pay scales which are applicable to the regular employees holding the same post.
The Supreme Court has stated that in view of its judgment in the Jagjit Singh’s case, it is unable to unable to uphold the view of the HC that the appellants were not entitled to draw wages at the minimum of the pay scales which are applicable to the regular employees holding the same post.
The Court has clarified that it was not called upon to adjudicate on the rights of the appellants relating to the regularization of their services. The Court was concerned only with the principle laid down by it in the case – State of U.P. & Others v. Putti Lal –(2006) 9 SCC 337 , relating to persons who are similarly situated as the appellants herein are and later affirmed in Jagjit Singh’s case, that temporary employees are entitled to minimum of the pay scales as long as they continue in service.
The Supreme Court chose not to express opinion on the contention of the State Govt. that the appellants were not entitled to the reliefs as they are not working on Group ‘D’ posts and that some of them worked for short periods in projects.
The Supreme Court allowed the appeals and set aside the judgments of the HC holding that the appellants are entitled to be paid the minimum of the pay scales applicable to regular employees working on the same posts.
The Court has directed the U.P. Govt. to make payment as per minimum of the pay scales to the appellants with effect from December 1, 2018.