10 Feb 2023 7:32 AM GMT
The Meghalaya High Court on Thursday declined the impassioned plea on behalf of the Union Of India to at least observe that the judgment or the decision of November 29, 2021 which was being impugned in a Review petition before it, may not operate as a precedent. A Division bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh observed, "Judicial discipline commands that...
The Meghalaya High Court on Thursday declined the impassioned plea on behalf of the Union Of India to at least observe that the judgment or the decision of November 29, 2021 which was being impugned in a Review petition before it, may not operate as a precedent.
A Division bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh observed,
"Judicial discipline commands that a level of consistency is maintained and the concept of finality that is of paramount importance has more to do with consistency rather than correctness. At any rate, at this level and in the absence of the special power under Article 142 of the Constitution, the High Court is bound by the doctrine of precedents".
The Union of India had preferred a review petition against a Judgment in terms of which it was held that in view of an office memorandum dated February 10, 2009 issued by the appropriate Union Ministry indicating the revision of pay scales of teaching nursing personnel in the Government of India institutions on the basis of the recommendation of the Sixth Pay Commission, lecturers at the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) College of Nursing were entitled to the same grade pay as vice-principals in other Schools of Nursing run by the Union Ministry.
The petitioner UOI had sought review on the ground that the essential qualifications for the post of vice-principal in the NEIGRIHMS College of Nursing and those for the post of lecturer in the same college.
Petitioners contended that there existed an obvious mistake in the office memorandum of February 10, 2009 that it referred to senior lecturers but did not refer to lecturers.
Petitioner further asserted that the post of lecturer in a College of Nursing was not at all covered by the office memorandum of February 10, 2009 though senior lecturers were indicated therein. The posts indicated in the office memorandum of February 10, 2009 conformed to those in other schools or colleges of nursing under the Union Health Ministry and the fact that a different cadre structure was prevalent at NEIGRIHMS or some of the other Colleges of Nursing had not been taken into account in issuing such memorandum.
After hearing the contention of the review petitioner the court said that the material on which the new ground is founded was available even before the CAT where the matter was first heard as the material to this effect was already available, but since the ground was not asserted, the petitioner is now estopped from urging the same in review.
The bench further observed that the argument of the office memorandum of February 10, 2009 being erroneously issued was acceptable only if it had been followed by a quick corrigendum thereto.
Elaborating on the Elementary role of the pay commission and the consequent effects of its recommendations, the court explained that despite the recommendations of a pay commission providing for a lower pay scale or grade pay, it is always open to the government or the relevant employer to indicate a higher pay scale or a higher grade pay. On the other hand, if, despite the recommendation of a pay commission being for a higher level, the government seeks to implement a lower level, unless there is good reason therefor, the same may be amenable to a challenge, the bench underscored.
"However, when the converse occurs and an employer or the government seeks to improve on the recommendations made by the pay commission, no question can be asked. It is entirely the prerogative of the employer to give a greater benefit to its employees than what may have been recommended by a pay commission", the court added.
Applying the said position of law to the matter the court said that it is true that the post of lecturer is not indicated in such office memorandum and the closest to such post is senior lecturer in a College of Nursing but since the memorandum was not sought to be rectified in any manner or form till the lecturers, who had been offered a lower grade pay than as indicated in the office memorandum, moved the CAT, a belated plea of mistake could no longer have been raised at such stage.
Accordingly the bench found the petition devoid of any merit and upheld the judgment that was being impugned.
Case Title: Union of India & anr Vs Bina Khongbuh & ors
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Meg) 9
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