The Karnataka High Court recently dismissed a petition filed by its former Judge Justice K Bhakthavatsala, who is presently, Chairman of Karnataka State Administrative Tribunal (KSAT), claiming that he is entitled to a salary equivalent to that of Chief Justice of High Court.
KSAT Chairman had approached the High Court contending that he is not only discharging judicial duties but also carries on administrative duties relating to the entire administration of KSAT and financial powers thereof, identical to the powers of Chief Justice of High Court. Even though there is more work in the KSAT than CAT, since number of cases filed, are far higher than that filed in CAT, the CAT Chairman is getting salary equivalent to that of Chief Justice of High Court, he submitted in his petition.
However, the Acting Chief Justice L. Narayana Swamy observed that the KSAT Chairman is not entitled to any higher salary than what is provided in the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985. The court said.
"Establishment of Administrative Tribunal is under a specific statute which governs the service conditions of the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Members therein. The administrative work to be discharged by the Chairman is the work attached to the post of Chairman and that itself does not lead to a conclusion that Chairman is entitled to a higher salary, in the absence of such prescription in the Act. The work of Chairman of KSAT cannot be compared with that of Chairman of CAT because, they are two different forums having different jurisdiction and are governed by provisions of the Act."
The retired judge had also placed reliance on Supreme Court judgment in S P Sampath Kumar v. Union of India, in support of his plea. But the High court observed:
"It is clarified in the above decision by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the further paragraphs that the provisions of the Act indicate that there is no intention of equating the Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Members of the Tribunal with the Chief Justice and Judges of the High Courts for purposes other than those expressly provided in respect of jurisdiction, power etc., Equation of the Tribunal with the High Court therein in Sampath Kumar case was only as the forum for adjudication of disputes relating to service matters and not for all purposes such as the one arising for decision in that case. It is also stated that the equality claimed by the Members of the Administrative Tribunal with the Judges of the High Courts or even the Vice-Chairman of the Tribunal in the matter of pay and age of superannuation does not exist being contrary to the pattern and scheme of the parent statute establishing the Tribunal."