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INDER SINGH VASIR versus PUNJAB STATE ELECTRICITY BOARD THROUGH I

High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh

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Inder Singh Vasir v. Punjab State Electricity Board through i - CWP-11339-2004 [2006] RD-P&H 2998 (8 May 2006)

In the High Court of Punjab and Haryana at Chandigarh

......

C.W.P. No.11339 of 2004

....

Date of decision:15.2.2006

Inder Singh Vasir

.....Petitioner

v.

Punjab State Electricity Board through its Secretary, Patiala .....Respondent

....

Coram: Hon'ble Mr. Justice S.S. Nijjar

Hon'ble Mr. Justice S.S. Saron

Present: Mr. Gopal Mahajan, Advocate for the petitioner.

Mr. Parminder Singh, Advocate for the respondent.

.....

S.S. Saron, J.

The grievance of the petitioner in this petition under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of India is that the respondent-Punjab State Electricity Board (`Board' for short) has denied the benefit of re-fixation of pay in the higher pay scale as per the recommendations of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission. The recommendations of the Fourth Pay Commission regarding implementation for Assured Career Progression (`ACP' for short) Scheme were notified and circulated by the Punjab Government vide notification dated 17.4.2000 (Annexure-P.3) and adopted by the Board vide office order dated 20.2.2003 (Annexure-P.4). The reason for not extending the benefit of the higher pay scale to the petitioner is that he is not a direct recruit but a promotee officer.

CWP No.11339/2004

[2]

The petitioner was appointed as Architectural Assistant in the service of the Board on 10.12.1976. He was promoted as Assistant Architect on 14.11.1983. He was further promoted to the higher post of Architect on 26.4.2000 (Annexure-P.1). The scale of the post of Architect has been Rs.12,100-15,800 but while on the promoted post the petitioner was allowed the scale of Rs.10,350-14,900 i.e. of the Assistant Architect in terms of order dated 26.6.2000 (Annexure-P.2). Therefore, the petitioner assails the action of the Board in not fixing his pay as Architect and also in the time bound promotional higher pay scale on completion of 4, 9 and 14 years regular service as per aforesaid Punjab Government notification dated 17.4.2000 (Annexure-P.3) and adopted by the Board vide letter dated 20.2.2003 (Annexure-P.4).

Reply has been filed by the respondent in which material facts as regards the service particulars are admitted. It is stated that the petitioner was inducted in the service of the Board on 10.12.1976 and was promoted as Assistant Architect on 14.11.1983. Subsequently, he was promoted to the post of Architect on 26.4.2000. It is, therefore, submitted that the induction post of the petitioner is Architectural Assistant for the purpose of the ACP Scheme of time bound promotional scale after completion of 9 and 16 years of service. The petitioner, it is stated, has been informed vide order dated 2.12.2003 (Annexure-R.1) that in terms of the circular No.2 dated 20.2.2003 of the Finance Section, four tier scale is admissible to those Assistant Architects, who have been recruited directly on the said post. As the petitioner joined the said post i.e. Assistant Architect after promotion, therefore, under the said instructions dated 20.2.2003 the scale of Rs.14,500- 18,100 is not admissible to him after 14 years service. It is also submitted that the notification dated 17.4.2000 (Annexure-P.3) issued by the Punjab Government has not been adopted by the Board in toto. Out of 9 categories mentioned in Annexure-A of the notification dated 17.4.2000 (Annexure- P.3), the Board has framed scales on the pattern of Punjab Government only for two categories. The purpose of adoption of the said notification was to regulate the grant of scales to these categories. The benefit was made available by the respondent-Board on the basis of the above mentioned notification to those who belong to the direct recruitment category. This fact CWP No.11339/2004

[3]

had been mentioned in the said notification i.e. the scheme promulgated was meant for direct recruitment category. Besides, as per memo dated 2.3.2004 (Annexure-P.11) of the Punjab Government Electricity Department (Power Branch) it has been intimated that the Board being a separate organization and not being a Punjab Government office could take its decision in the matter.

We have heard learned counsel for the parties. The short point that requires consideration in this petition is whether the petitioner is entitled to the benefit of re-fixation of his pay in terms of the Punjab Government notification dated 17.4.2000 and adopted by the Board vide letter dated 20.10.2003 and/or whether the said benefit is available only to a direct recruit officer and liable to be denied on account of the fact that the benefit of time bound promotional scale is not available to a promotee officer. The further question that requires to be considered is whether the induction post of the petitioner is Architectural Assistant for the purpose of time bound promotional scale after completion of 9 and 16 years of service and as he was promoted to the post of Assistant Architect on 14.11.1983 he is not entitled to the time bound promotional scale.

In order to appreciate the matter in issue between the parties, the relevant features of the Punjab Government notification dated 17.4.2000 (Annexure-P.3) relating to recommendations of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission regarding implementation of ACP Scheme for categories where there is a direct recruitment in the existing pay scale of Rs.2200-4000 as on 31.12.1995 may be noticed. The said notification has admittedly been adopted by the Board vide office order dated 20.2.2003 (Annexure-P.4). The stand of the respondent-Board that the notification dated 17.4.2000 (Annexure-P.3) has not been adopted in toto does not appear to be correct.

The petitioner has placed on record a copy of memo dated 5.4.2004 (Annexure-P.12) which is addressed by the respondent-Board to the Secretary (Power) on the subject of grant of higher pay scale on completion of 4, 9 and 14 years of service as per recommendations of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission. In reference to a memo dated 2.3.2004 of the Secretary (Power), it has been mentioned that the Board has adopted the notification dated 17.4.2000 (Annexure-P.3) for the category mentioned in the CWP No.11339/2004

[4]

notification in toto. In any case, the notification dated 17.4.2000, has been addressed on the subject of the recommendations of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission regarding implementation of the ACP scheme for categories where there is a direct recruitment in the existing pay scale of Rs.2200-4000 as on 31.12.1995. It has been addressed to say that on acceptance of the recommendations of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission, Punjab Government notified the pay scales of different categories of its employees vide notification dated 19.5.1998 whereby those categories of direct recruit employees who were in receipt of three grade pay structure in the unrevised pay scale of Rs.2200-4000 were allowed four tier pay scale on completion of 4, 9 and 14 years of regular service. The relevant part of the instructions is as under:-

"2. This decision shall be effective with effect from Ist January, 1996. In the case an employe, who has opted to get his pay fixed in the Revised Pay Scales from a date after Ist January, 1996, under Rule 6 of Punjab Civil Services (Revised Pay) Rules, 1998, notified on 16th

of January, 1998 this decision will

be applicable from the date opted for by him. Such employees may give a fresh option for revision of pay scales within two months from the date of issue of this letter to get his pay fixed from a date earlier than the one already opted, if that is to his advantage.

3. Service rendered in the same post before Ist January, 1996, or the date opted for by an officer, shall count for the purposes of these decisions. Same post shall mean a post which is in the same cadre with same designation and same pay scale. Where the post is one for which different pay scales, without involving promotion to a higher cadre was prescribed under the Rules applicable immediately before Ist January, 1996, the entire service of officers adjudged as satisfactory from entry scale onwards shall be taken into consideration. For reckoning the period of service, only the service rendered from the date of assignment of seniority in the Cadre and which counts for increment shall only be taken into consideration.

CWP No.11339/2004

[5]

4. (i) The pay of employee shall first be fixed in the revised scale in Column 3 of the `first schedule' against the pre-revised scale in Column 2 thereof which he was drawing immediately before Ist January, 1996 or the date opted for by him in terms of the provisions contained in the Punjab Civil Services (Revised Pay) Rules, 1998;

(ii) The employee shall then be placed in the higher admissible scale on completion of `satisfactory' service. If in any case the benefit is less than one annual increment, the pay shall be stepped up so as to ensure benefit of at least one increment at the time of such placement. If the minimum of the higher scale allowed under this scheme, is higher than the stage arrived at in view of above, the pay of such employee shall be fixed at the minimum;

iii) The next increment in the higher scale shall be allowed after qualifying service of 12 months."

Annexure-A to the said notification dated 17.4.2000 provides the categories to whom revised pay scale in the ACP scheme were allowed by the Punjab Government under the Punjab Civil Services Pre-revised Pay Rules, 1998. Item 2 of the said Annexure-A relates to Assistant Architect in the Architectural Department. The Board vide office order dated 20.2.2003 (Annexure-P.4) accepting the recommendations of the Pay Anomaly Committee was pleased to further revise (improve) the pay scale/grant placement time bound promotional scale to the various categories of employees of gazetted establishment w.e.f. 1.1.1986 which includes the post of Assistant Architect as under:-

"PUNJAB STATE ELECTRICITY BOARD

(OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY)

(FINANCE SECTION)

CWP No.11339/2004

[6]

Office Order No.420/Fin./FRC-127 Dated:20.02.2003 The Punjab State Electricity Board, accepting the recommendations of pay anomaly committee, is pleased to further revise (improve) the pay scale/grant placement/time bound promotional scales of / to the following categories of employees of gazetted establishment w.e.f. 01.01.1996, as under:-

Sr.

No.

Name of

category/

post

Pre-revised pay scales

effective from

01.01.1986

Revised Pay

scales w.e.f.

01.01.1996

(in Rs.)

Further revised

(improved) pay

scale/

placement/

TBPS w.e.f.

01.01.1996

1 xx xxx xx xxx

Assistant

Architect

2200-4000

3000-4500 (Sr. Scale

after 8 years of service

as Assistant Architect)

3700-5300 (Selection

Scale after 18 years of

regular service as

Assistant Architect and

Architect)

7750-18300 7750-13300

(Intl. 8000)

10000-15350

(after 4 years

service in the

entry scale)

12100-15800

(after 9 years

regular service

in the entry

scale.

14500-18100

(after 14 years

of regular

service in the

entry scales)

3 XX XXX XX XXX

4 XX XXX XX XXX

II. The Board is further pleased to order that the arrears of pay fixation upto 31.12.2002 shall be credited to G.P. Fund Accounts of the CWP No.11339/2004

[7]

concerned employees and it shall be paid in cash w.e.f. 01.01.2003.

Sd/-

Secretary

Punjab State Electricity Board,

Patiala"

In terms of the above adoption of the recommendations of the Pay Anomaly Committee it has been decided that further revised (improved) pay scale/placement in the time bound promotional scheme w.e.f. 1.1.1996 is that after grant of scale of Rs.7750-13,300, the revised pay after four years service in the entry scale is Rs.10,000-15,350. After 9 years regular service in the entry scale is Rs.12,100-15,800 and after 14 years of regular service in the entry scale is Rs.14,500-18,100. It is no where mentioned in the said office order dated 20.2.2003 that the benefit of time bound promotion scale after four years of service is confined only to the direct recruits and not to the promotee officers. In fact, as per para 3 of the Punjab Government notification dated 17.4.2000, service rendered in the same post before 1.1.1996 or the date opted for by an officer is to count for the purpose of the decisions mentioned therein. It is further provided that the same post shall mean a post which is in the same cadre with same designation and same pay scale. Besides, where the post is one for which there are different pay scales, without involving promotion to a higher cadre was prescribed under the rules applicable immediately before 1.1.1996, the entire service of the officers adjudged as satisfactory from entry scale onwards shall be taken into consideration. For reckoning the period of service, only the service rendered from the date of assignment of seniority in the cadre and which counts for increment shall only be taken into consideration. A reading of the said paras of the notification dated 17.4.2000 shows that it no where provides that the benefit of the notification is applicable only to those who belong to direct recruitment category. In fact it is only against `subject' that it has been mentioned; "Recommendations of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission implementation of Assured Career Progression where there is a Direct Recruitment in the existing pay scale of Rs.2200-4000 on 3.12.1995." The office order of the Board dated 20.2.2003 in any case does not confine the grant of benefit to those who are directly recruited. The benefit is meant for CWP No.11339/2004

[8]

all the Assistant Architects of the Board whether they have come to the service by way of direct recruitment or otherwise. Besides, these provisions are beneficial provisions so as to avoid stagnation and provide assured career in the department. Even otherwise we are of the view that there cannot be any classification of the employees appointed to the post of Assistant Architect in the Board amongst those who have been appointed by way of direct recruitment or were appointed by promotion and any such classification has no nexus with the object of granting time bound promotion scheme benefits. Such a classification, in fact, would be violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. In the case of Kamlakar v. Union of India, (1999) 4 SCC 756 it was held by the Supreme court that once direct recruits and promotees are in one cadre, the distinction between them disappears, at any rate so far as equal treatment in the same cadre for payment of pay scale given is concerned. The birthmarks have no relevance in this connection.

Moreover, the petitioner has placed material on record to show that other departments are not confining the grant of time bound promotional scheme benefits only to the direct recruit employees. The Punjab Government in the Housing and Urban Development have issued memo dated 21.1.2003 (Annexure-P.7) on the subject of grant of higher pay scale to Engineers on completion of 4, 9 and 14 years of regular service in view of the Fourth Punjab Pay Commission recommendations. Para 2(ii) of the said memo reads as under:-

"(i) As per para 3 of the instructions dated 17.04.2000, the benefit of higher pay scale on completion of 4, 9 and 14 years of service is to be given to those who are working in the same cadre on the same post and in the same pay scale, may be their recruitment is by way of direct appointment or through departmental promotion."

Besides, in terms of orders dated 21.9.2001 (Annexure-P.8), 4.12.2001 (Annexure-P.8/1) and 12.5.2003 (Annexure-P.8/2), three promotees of the Irrigation Department were granted the benefit of higher pay scale on completion of 9 and 14 years of regular service. Similar benefit has been granted to other employees also in the Government departments. Though, the Board is an independent entity and can follow its own policies but where CWP No.11339/2004

[9]

the Board has adopted the notification dated 17.4.2000 (Annexure-P.3) regarding implementation of ACP Scheme, then the Scheme as it is to be followed. Para 3 of the notification dated 17.4.2000 (Annexure-P.3), as has already been noticed, does not confine the grant of higher pay scale on completion of 4, 9 and 14 years of regular service to the category of direct recruitment employees only. The adoption of the notification by the Board vide office order dated 20.2.2003 (Annexure-P.4) also does not confine it in respect of the post of Assistant Architect to the category of directly recruited Assistant Architect. Therefore, merely because in the subject heading of the notification dated 17.4.2000 (Annexure-P.3) it is recorded regarding implementation of ACP Scheme for categories where there is a direct recruitment in the existing pay scale of Rs.2200-4000 as on 31.12.1995, the petitioner is not liable to be discriminated with in the matter of grant of benefit of higher pay scale after completion of 9 and 14 years of service. The impugned action of the respondents in not granting the higher pay scale in accordance with the instructions issued by the Board is clearly arbitrary.

Accordingly, the writ petition is allowed and the respondent- Board shall fix the pay of the petitioner in the higher pay scale on completion of 4, 9 and 14 years of regular service in terms of the Punjab Government notification dated 17.4.2000 (Annexure-P.3) as adopted by the Board vide office memo dated 20.2.2003 (Annexure-P.4) and the arrears and other benefits to which the petitioner may be found entitled to shall be released preferably within three months of the receipt of the copy of the order.

(S.S. Saron)

Judge

February 15, 2006. (S.S. Nijjar)

Judge

hsp


Copyright

Reproduced in accordance with s52(q) of the Copyright Act 1957 (India) from judis.nic.in, indiacode.nic.in and other Indian High Court Websites

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