High court judges are constitutional functionaries in a different way and neither need to be equated nor be compared with ‘ministers’ or other “members of executive or legislative wing of Government of India”, the bench observed.
While dismissing a PIL filed by advocates, in which one prayer was to place a judge of high court at par with ministers, the Allahabad High Court has observed that status of high court judges being constitutional functionaries having different powers, privileges and functions cannot be placed at par with minister for the purpose of conditions of functioning.
Advocate Ashok Pande and others had filed a public interest litigation assailing vires of Section 2 of the Salaries and Allowances of Ministers Act 1952, and Section 2(e) of the Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981 (hereinafter referred to as UP Act 1981) being ultra vires of the Constitution, seeking a mandamus not to give effect to the definition of ‘ministers’ as defined in the aforesaid Acts. Incidentally, they had also sought a mandamus to treat all ministers equal and further mandamus to place judge of high court at par with ministers.
During the hearing, it was submitted by the Union Government counsel that the judges of Supreme Court, chief justice and judges of high court are treated at par with cabinet secretary and secretary of the Government of India for the purpose of salary/emoluments etc.
In this regard, the bench of Justice Sudhir Agarwal and Justice Virendra Kumar, quoting passages from the All-India Judges Association vs Union of India and other judgments of the apex court on the subject, observed that Secretariat staff, including secretaries, irrespective of their ranks, have no comparison with judges or constitutional functionaries, since the constitution bench has held that it is the political executive, i.e., ministers, legislatures and judges, who exercise functions of the three pillars of State. “Secretarial staff, including Secretaries, irrespective of their ranks, are comparable in their status with Officers of Registry of High Court and Supreme Court. Neither they can claim any parity with the Judges nor Government should treat them at par for any purpose,” the bench observed.
The court also observed that there cannot be equality among unequals since the status of high court judges, being constitutional functionaries having different powers, privileges and functions, cannot be placed at par with a minister for the purpose of conditions of functioning. “We have no reason to compare High Court Judges at par with Ministers. Both are class apart and mere fact that in some aspect similar provisions are made, it does not mean that there is any comparison so as to bring them at par for all purposes,” the bench said.
While rejecting the primary prayer in the PIL, the bench, referring to Rajendra Prataprao Mane and others vs Sadashivrao Mandalik KTSSK Ltd, observed that word 'ministers' can include ‘Ministers of State’ or ‘Deputy Minister’.
Read the Judgment Here