Judicial Dictionary

Different pay scales-same category of posts

A Constitution Bench of this Court in Kishori Mohanlal Bakshi v. Union of India, AIR 1962 SC 1139 while dealing with alleged violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India on account of the grant of two pay-scales to Income-tax Officers allegedly doing the same kind of work, held that that incremental scales of pay can be validly fixed dependent on the duration of an officer’s service, and in that event the abstract doctrine of equal pay for equal work’ cannot be invoked with the aid of argument of the claimants therein the Court held that :-

“It is fantastic to suppose that Article 16 of the Constitution forbids the creation of different grades in the Government service; that is what the petitioner’s argument amounts to. The contention that Article 16 has been violated because Class II Income-tax Officers are not eligible for promotion to higher posts, like the posts of Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners directly is, therefore, wholly unsound.”

While dealing with the Preamble of the Constitution and Articles 14, 16 and 39(d) of the Constitution, this Court again in Randhir Singh v. Union of India, (1982) 3 SCR 298 held that whereas it was true that equation of posts and equation of pay were the matters for the Executive Government and expert bodies like the Pay Commission and not for the Courts but where everything was found to be equal and relevant consideration being the same, persons holding identical posts should not normally be treated differently in the matter of their pay merely because they belong to different departments. If officers of the same rank perform dissimilar functions and the powers and duties and responsibilities of the posts held by them vary, such officers cannot be heard to complain of dissimilar pay merely because the posts were of the same rank and the nomenclature. While dealing with the gradation in the service the Court declared that “it is well known that there can be and there are different grades in a service, with varying qualifications for entry into a particular grade, the higher grade often being a promotional avenue for officers of the lower grade. The higher qualifications for the higher grade, which may be either academic qualification or experience based in length of service, reasonably sustain the classification of the officers into two grades with different scales of pay. The principle of equal pay for equal work would be an abstract doctrine not attracting Article 14 if sought to be applied to them.”

Again in Lalit Mohan Deb v. Union of India, (1973) 3 SCC 862 the Court considered the position of Assistants in Civil Secretariat, Tripura as against the position of Assistants (Selection Grade) and held that the Administration can provide two pay scales in the same category of posts. Making such a provision is normally done with the object of providing incentives to the employees who have no outlets or very limited outlets for promotion to higher posts. In this context it was observed:

“It is well recognised that a promotion post is a higher post with a higher pay. A selection grade has higher pay but in the same post. A selection grade is intended to ensure that capable employees who may not get a chance of promotion on account of limited outlets of promotion should at least be placed in the selection grade to prevent stagnation on the maximum of the scale. Selection grades are, therefore, created in the interest of greater efficiency.”

To the same effect is the judgment of this Court in Union of India v. S. S. Ranade, (1995) 4 SCC 462 wherein the Court held:-

“In the present case, an element of selection is involved in granting selection grade because there is no automatic promotion to the selection grade pay scale. But this factor is not decisive. In the present case also, as in the above cases, Selection Grade posts are created entirely for the purpose of granting some relief to those who have very limited avenues of getting promotion to a higher post. That is why a higher pay or pay scale is granted in the same post. Thus, by its very nature, a selection grade post cannot be considered as a higher post for the purposes of Rule 9.”

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