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Denial Of Equal Pay For Equal Work Offends Articles 14 & 21 Of Constitution: Andhra Pradesh High Court

EKTA RATHORE
11 Aug 2022 9:30 AM GMT
Denial Of Equal Pay For Equal Work Offends Articles 14 & 21 Of Constitution: Andhra Pradesh High Court
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The Andhra Pradesh High Court has overturned the State's decision to not increase the remuneration granted to Computer Assistants engaged on contractual basis in various district courts of the state, attached to the post of data processing officer, with effect from 01.04.2019.A division bench of Justice A.V. Sesha and Justice G. Ramakrishna Prasad held that having extended the benefit of...

The Andhra Pradesh High Court has overturned the State's decision to not increase the remuneration granted to Computer Assistants engaged on contractual basis in various district courts of the state, attached to the post of data processing officer, with effect from 01.04.2019.

A division bench of Justice A.V. Sesha and Justice G. Ramakrishna Prasad held that having extended the benefit of revised remuneration earlier, on par with the data processing officers, there was absolutely no justification in denying the benefits now.

It observed that the impugned action of denial of benefit to the petitioners is violative Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India and the equal pay principles laid down by the Supreme Court.

The counsel for the petitioner contended that the same benefits were extended to the petitioners earlier, and there was no reason offered for not extending it again. He further argued that the reasons the respondent-authorities had cited for not extending the benefit to petitioner – that there is no scale of pay to the post of computer assistant in the Revised Pay Scales, 2015, and, that the posts are sanctioned on a contractual basis – are highly irrational and unreasonable.

Per contra, strenuously opposing the writ petition, the Government Pleader argued that there was no illegality or infirmity in the impugned action, and, in the absence of the same, the questioned orders are not amenable for any judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution. He contended that the impugned orders, by any stretch of imagination, cannot be faulted.

The Court held that the reason assigned by the respondent-authorities cannot stand the twin tests of reasonableness and rationality. It agreed that having extended the benefit of revised remuneration earlier, on par with the data processing officers, there was absolutely no justification in denying the benefits now.

The Court referred to the Supreme Court ruling in Jagjit's case, in which it was held that in determining equality of functions and responsibilities, under the principle of 'equal pay for equal work', it is necessary to keep in mind that the duties of the two posts are of equal sensitivity, and also, qualitatively similar. Differentiation is legitimate and permissible with differentiation of pay-scales for posts with different degree of responsibility, reliability and confidentiality, the Supreme Court had stated. The Court had reiterated that the principle of 'equal pay for equal work' also extended to temporary employees. The Supreme Court reminded that this had been laid down in multiple judgments before.

Based on the above, allowing the writ petition, the Court set aside the impugned decision and directed the respondent-authorities the benefit of enhancement of remuneration to the petitioners at Rs. 31,469/-, at par with the minimum time scale attached to the post of data processing officer with effect from 01.04.2019.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AP) 110

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