The Punjab and Haryana high court has rapped the Punjab government for the indecision on pay parity being sought by junior engineers (JEs) working with the state government.
In a recent order, the high court observed that the competent authority was expected to look into such grievance, and if the matter was covered by an earlier precedent which would cover all such persons placed similarly, then the competent authority was obliged to take a decision in light of the earlier decision.
The court said the government should not leave the process to indecisiveness, which forced the affected employees to approach courts resulting in wastage of time. “The competent authority would be well within its right to distinguish the applicability of the precedents to the cause of the claimant, but under no circumstances such matters can be permitted to be left to the process of indecision,” the high court said, while giving the government four weeks to take a decision.
The high court bench of justice Mahesh Grover was hearing a bunch petition filed by JEs from various departments. They had contended that the qualification, nature of duties of JEs in all departments of Punjab, including the corporations, was identical. However, the government had created an anomaly and JEs working in the soil conservation department had been granted higher payscale than the JEs working elsewhere. They had submitted that right from the inception of the cadres, the payscale of JEs in various departments had remained identical. However, in 1997, a disparity was created by the government and JEs of the soil conservation department with effect from 1991 were granted payscales higher than their counterparts in other departments.
They had submitted that despite various representations to the state government seeking pay parity on par with JEs of the soil conservation department, the government had failed to look into their grievance.
Terming it as discrimination, they said the state be directed to pay consequential benefits like re-fixation of pay, its arrears along with interest at the rate of 18% per annum from the date of its accrual till realisation.
In 1993, the government revised payscale of soil conservators and agriculture inspectors and following the litigation from JEs of the soil conservation department, they were granted the higher payscale following an order of the Supreme Court, wherein it was conceded that JEs in the soil conservation department were identically situated to the JEs in the public works department.
However, the payscale given to JEs of soil conservation department was not extended to other JEs in the state. firstname.lastname@example.org