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Cannot claim relief on the strength of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, when it has been fou

Singaravelan & Ors. Etc. v. The District Collector, Tiruppur, and DT & Ors. Etc., on 18th December 2019 – CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 9533-9537 OF 2019, arising out of S.L.P. (CIVIL) NOS.5395-5399 of 2016.

The appeals in the Supreme Court have been filed by the appellant with opinion to the Selection Grade and Special Grade scales of pay applicable to them. The bench comprising of Justice MOHAN M. SHANTANAGOUDAR and Justice KRISHNA MURARI allowed the appeal partly.

G.O. Ms. No. 162, Finance (Pay Cell) Department has allowed Selection Grade and Special Grade scales of pay to the 3000 employees. But the dispute here is it was not allowed to the appellant though they were equally placed as the other 3000 employees who were granted by the pay.

The question of law or question of fact is how the interpretation of G.O. Ms. No. 162 had been made?  Dispute Applicability to the pay scale of the drivers with respect to the schedule 1 and schedule 2?

The respondent argued in favour of the impugned judgment passed by the High Court at Madras. Many SLP has been dismissed which has been filed against the order of the High Court. As there has been no pronouncement by this Court constituting the law of the land as to the interpretation of G.O. Ms. No. 162 so it is open for the court to proceed with the appeal. The appeal made in front of this court is not influenced by the prior decision of this court.

The answer to the interpretation of the G.O was done by referring to the Tamil Nadu Revised Scales of Pay Rules, 1998.

The Secretary, Personnel, and Administrative Reforms (E) Department has disallowed the representation in quest of fixation of Selection Grade and Special Grade pay scales at Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs. 5500-9000 respectively. This was made by the Tamil Nadu Government Department Drivers’ Central Association.  The writ petition was filed in front of the High Court under the Division Bench challenging the order passed by the Finance Department in W.A. Nos. 383-391/2009 and many other writ petitions were filed by other similarly situated drivers seeking the benefit of the same higher pay scale in W.P. No. 1418/2001 in the High Court under the Single Judge. The prime subject matter of these petitions is whether the order issued by the Finance Department are valid.

The Single Judge in W.P. No. 4288/2008 (supra) and the Division Bench in W.A. Nos. 383-391/2009 both set aside the order. The High Court felt that the pay scale fixations are high but it did not have the effect of reducing the entitlement of drivers. “it cannot be said that the High Court in W.A. Nos. 383-391/2009 did not affirm the drivers’ claim that they were entitled to the higher Selection and Special Grade pay scales of Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs. 5500-9000 respectively.”

The pay scales with respect to the applicability of the post are submitted by the respondent that the drivers were entitled revised Ordinary Grade pay scale of Rs. 3200- 4900 only and according to the Selection Grade and Special Grade pay scales applicable, the respondents claim that the appellants are entitled to pay scales of Rs. 4000-6000 and Rs. 4300-6000 respectively. But the claim made by the appellant is that they are entitled to the revised Selection Grade and Special Grade pay scales of Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs. 5500-9000 respectively.

In the measured view of the SC, the appellant claim for the pay of scale with comparing to the fellow workers but they can’t justify on what ground they are claiming such measure of pay. By going through the chains of reconsiderations made to the pay scales applicable to drivers employed with the State Government, for the Selection Grade and Special Grade would be as per Serial No. 6 of Schedule II to the 1998 Rules, i.e. Rs. 4000-6000 and Rs. 4300-6000 respectively. The appellants are not lawfully authorized to the pay scales of Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs. 5500-9000 respectively in terms of G.O. Ms. No. 162.

When a person is not entitled to something legally they cannot invoke Article 14 of the Constitution to gain equality and simply on the earlier decisions of the HC they can’t show that they are entitled to the claim made by the appellant, without hoeing how they are entitled to such pay scale.

The Appellants cannot claim such relief on the strength of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, when once it has been found that they are not lawfully entitled to the same. It is well-settled by now that a person cannot invoke Article 14 to claim a benefit extended to someone similarly placed if he is not lawfully entitled to such benefit in the first place. Article 14 embodies the concept of positive equality alone, and not negative equality, that is to say, it cannot be relied upon to perpetuate an illegality or irregularity.

The SC held that,

“The High Court in the impugned judgment was correct in concluding that the Appellants cannot claim such relief on the strength of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, when once it has been found that they are not lawfully entitled to the same. We find no reason to interfere with the impugned judgment. The instant appeals are hereby dismissed, and the impugned judgment is confirmed.” Further, the SC says it does not feel hesitated to held that High Court has made a mistake in dismissing the writ petition in which the drivers were entitled for the benefits under Section 8 of schedule 2. The division bench allowed the petition in directing fixation of such pay scales were dismissed by the HC and by this court.  The appeal was allowed partly to the extent up to which the respondents are benefited  in the appeal made

– Manusri Ramakrishna

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