Can't Claim Parity Of Pay Scale Unless There Is Complete Identity Between Two Posts: SC [Read Judgment]
"The Court has to keep in mind that a mere difference in service conditions, does not amount to discrimination. Unless there is complete identity between the two posts, they should not be treated as equivalent to claim parity of pay scale."
The Supreme Court has observed that unless there is complete identity between two posts, the posts should not be treated as equivalent to claim parity of pay scale.
The court was considering the appeal filed by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) wherein the issue was about parity in the pay scales of two posts Head Clerks and the Internal Auditors in Group XII of the board. The high court had ruled that there ought to be parity.
One of the main contentions raised in Punjab State Power Corporation vs. Rajesh Kumar Jindal was that the pay scale between the Head Clerks and the Internal Auditors was maintained by the board for more than two decades and while so, disturbing the parity is arbitrary and illegal.
Rejecting this argument, the bench comprising Justice R Banumathi and Justice Indira Banerjee observed that if such a contention is to be accepted, then such parity of pay scale may have to be extended to all other posts, which would have huge financial implication on the finance of the board which is a service-oriented institution owing to the consumers.
The bench said: The Court has to keep in mind that a mere difference in service conditions, does not amount to discrimination. Unless there is complete identity between the two posts, they should not be treated as equivalent to claim parity of pay scale. No doubt, Internal Auditors were earlier placed in the same group namely Group XII; but educational qualifications for the post of Head Clerk and mode of recruitment are different.?
The court added that the burden of proof in establishing parity in pay scales and the nature of duties and responsibilities is on the person claiming such right and that the person claiming parity must produce material before the court to prove that the nature of duties and functions are similar and that they are entitled to parity of pay scales.
Merely because various different posts have been categorized under Group XII, they cannot claim parity of pay scale as that of the Head Clerk. All the more so, when the Internal Auditors are appointed 55% by direct recruitment and 45% by promotion from Circle Assistant/Assistant Revenue Accountant. The High Court did not keep in view that the duties, nature of work and promotion channel of Head Clerks and Internal Auditors are entirely different and that option to seek promotion apparently as Internal Auditors was the ?~@~-conscious exercise of option,?~@~] the court added, while allowing the appeal.