23 April 2022 7:55 AM GMT
The Allahabad High Court recently asked the Uttar Pradesh Government to constitute a committee to look into the grievance of Junior Engineers or Technical Assistants and Computer operators [employed under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005] with regard to the increase of monthly emoluments.The bench of Justice Saurabh Shyam Shamshery ordered thus while hearing writ...
The Allahabad High Court recently asked the Uttar Pradesh Government to constitute a committee to look into the grievance of Junior Engineers or Technical Assistants and Computer operators [employed under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005] with regard to the increase of monthly emoluments.
The bench of Justice Saurabh Shyam Shamshery ordered thus while hearing writ pleas filed by 32 petitioners, recruited on a contractual basis as Junior Engineers or Technical Assistants under the MGNREGA.
The contentions of the petitioners
It was their specific contention that the State has failed to discharge its responsibility being a welfare State by paying them a low amount as remuneration.
At the outset, they prayed before the Court that they be provided regular salary in a prescribed pay Scale, Grade pay, and other allowances at par with the permanent Junior Engineers or Technical Assistants and Computer operators working in the establishment of the Public Works Department, Gram Vikas Vibhag, Panchayati Raj Works Department, etc. and in different corporations.
They argued before the Court that they are doing similar work which is undertaken by people working in the corresponding posts in the Public Works Department and Panchayati Raj Department of State of U.P.
It is also pointed out that even the daily wagers are paid more than petitioners (who are being paid 8,000 Rupees) as per the minimum wages fixed by the State of U.P.
It was their specific plea that higher monthly emoluments have been fixed by other States, such as the State of West Bengal, Uttarakhand, Mizoram, and Chhatisgarh whereby the monthly salary is increased to more than Rs. 18000/- and in some States, it is about Rs. 35,000/- per month, whereas in the State of U.P. it is about Rs. 8000/- per month only.
On the other hand, the State argued that the petitioners, with open eyes, applied for the concerned post with prior knowledge that they will be appointed on a contractual basis on a fixed amount of honorarium.
At the outset, the Court noted that the petitioners were appointed by a six Member Committee headed by District Magistrate by inviting applications from the candidates having requisite minimum qualifications, and thereafter, a panel was prepared whereof appointments were made.
On the other hand, the Court noted, the appointments of Junior Engineers in the Public Works Department and Panchayati Raj Department of State of U.P., with whom remuneration/benefits parity was being sought by the petitioners, is through an examination conducted by Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission.
In view of this, noting that Petitioners did not place any comparison of work and duties undertaken by them and by similarly situated persons working in other departments, the Court said that in absence of such comparative data, it can't enter into the arena of comparison of work.
Further, the Court referred to a recent ruling of the Apex Court in the case of State of Madhya Pradesh vs. RD Sharma 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 97 wherein it was held that "equal pay for equal work" is not a fundamental right vested in any employee, though it is a constitutional goal to be achieved by the Government.
Consequently, the Court refused to grant any relief to the petitioners as it concluded that in absence of any relevant factual and legal aspect and there being no circumstance, which warrants the Court to enter upon the arena of job evolution, the prayers of the writ petitions would have to be rejected.
However, the Court did note that the monthly emoluments of petitioners being received by them are on the lower side even in relation to the prevailing price index and quantum of money requires for maintaining a decent life.
In view of this, the Cout issued the following direction:
"The Computer is directed to constitute a new Committee to look into the grievance of petitioners with regard to increase of monthly emoluments considering the emoluments fixed to similarly situated persons under MNREGA, 2005 working in other States. The said Committee shall take a reasoned decision within a period of six weeks 11 from today and shall place the decision/ report before this Court within a period of eight weeks from today"
Accordingly, the prayers made in all these writ petitions are rejected and the writ petitions stand disposed of with the aforesaid direction.
However, all the writ petitions were directed to be listed as fresh on 27th May 2022 only for the purpose of considering the report submitted by the Committee and observed that it would appreciate if the Principal Secretary, Rural Development Department, State of U.P., remains present on the next date to assist the Court.
Case title - Bimal Tiwari And 14 Ors v. State Of U.P. And 2 Ors and connected matters
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