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T.K. REVEENDRAN PILLAI v. KERALA BOOKS AND PUBLICATIONS SOCIETY - OP No. 30704 of 2002  RD-KL 64 (17 June 2005)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF KERALA AT ERNAKULAMOP No. 30704 of 2002
1. T.K. REVEENDRAN PILLAI, ASSISTANT
1. KERALA BOOKS AND PUBLICATIONS SOCIETY
2. STATE OF KERALA, REPRESENTED BY
For Petitioner :SRI.KALEESWARAM RAJ
For Respondent :SRI.B.S.KRISHNAN (SR.)
The Hon'ble MR. Justice S.SIRI JAGAN
Dated : 17/06/2005
O R D E R.PL 60 .TM 3 .BM 3 .SP 2
S. Siri Jagan, J.
j O.P.No. 30704 of 2002 j
j Dated this, the 17th day of June, 2005. j ((HDR 0 [O.P.No.30704 of 2002] -: # :- )) .HE 1
J U D G M E N T
j The petitioner is working as an Assistant Manager (Typesetting) in the services of the 1st respondent, which is an autonomous Society registered under the Travancore-Cochin Literary, Scientific and Charitable Societies Registration Act. He was promoted as such with effect from 1-3-1986. He availed of leave without allowances for the period from 14-11-1992 to 12-11-1997 and rejoined duty on 13-11-1997. Thereafter, he completed 10 years of actual service on 1-3-2001. Since all Assistant Managers in the Society were being given higher grade in the scale of pay of Rs.8250-13650 and redesignation of the post as Deputy Manager on completion of 10 years of service, the petitioner put in Ext.P4 representation dated 26-2-2001 before the 1st respondent claiming the said benefits. The governing body of the Society which met on 10-7-2001 approved the proposal of giving time bound higher grade and redesignation as Deputy Manager to the petitioner as was done in the case of other Deputy Managers. However, unlike in earlier cases, the governing body decided to seek approval of the Government for the decision. Accordingly, by Ext.P8 communication, the Managing Director sought the approval of the Government for granting higher grade of Rs.8250-13650 and redesignation as Deputy Manager to the petitioner. This was followed up with Ext.P9 letter and Ext.P10 clarification. However, by Ext.P11 order, the Government accorded sanction for giving higher grade of only Rs.7200-11400 and redesignation of Assistant Manager (Higher Grade) to the petitioner. The petitioner is challenging Ext. P11 as also Ext.P15 order of the Government to the extent it limits the eligibility of the petitioner for higher grade unlike in the case of other Assistant Managers.
2. Both the 1st respondent-Society and the 2nd respondent-Government have filed counter affidavits. Although, the 1st respondent admits that Assistant Managers similarly placed like the petitioner were earlier given 10 year Higher Grade of Rs.8250-13650, since they are bound by the orders of the Government approval of the Government was sought especially in view of Ext.P15 Government Order by which only the time bound grade promotion granted and regulated as specified in clause 5(B) of G.O(P)No.3000/98/Fin dated 25-11-1998 and subsequent orders with effect from 1-11-1998 were made applicable to employees of the Society. The 2nd respondent in their counter affidavit stated that in view of Ext.P15 Government Order, the time bound higher grade granted as per the G.O. mentioned therein only is applicable to employees of the 1st respondent Society which was granted by Ext.P11.
3. I have heard counsel for the petitioner, counsel for the 1st respondent-Society as well as the Government Pleader appearing for the 2nd respondent.
4. The first question that arises for
consideration is as to whether Government approval
necessary for implementing Ext.P5 decision of the
governing body of the 1st respondent. The
seeks to justify their decision to seek approval of
the Government on the basis of
Association and Rules and Regulations of the Society.
The petitioner has extracted Article
20 of the same
as Ext.P6 which the 1st respondent admits is the only
provision on the subject.
The same provides as
"Article 20: The following matters shall require i the prior approval of the Government.
(i) Appointment to the post of Managing Director i and to all post carrying a minimum basic salary of Rs.1200 or more. (ii) Any programme of capital expenditure which i exceeds Rs.10 lakhs. (iii) Agreement involving foreign collaboration i proposed to be entered into by the Society. (iv) Sale, lease, mortgage or disposal otherwise i of the whole or substantially the whole of the undertaking of the society.
(v) Winding up of the Society. i (vi) Foreign tours of officials or the Chairman, i Vice Chairman, Managing Director or any other member of the Governing Body. (vii) Rules regarding the conditions of service of i the employees of the society." .SP 2 According to the 1st respondent, by virtue of clause (vii) of Article 20, prior approval is necessary for implementation of Ext.P5. This can be countenanced only if Ext.P5 can be regarded as a Rule regarding conditions of service of the employees of the Society. It is not in the case of the petitioner alone that 10 year higher grade was given to Assistant Managers. Earlier, one Sri.P.M.Ibrahim, who entered service along with the petitioner was granted higher grade of Rs.8250-13650 at which time, the 1st respondent did not seek approval of the Government. While granting similar higher grade to two Assistant Engineers mentioned in Ext.P5 also no approval of the Government was sought for. By Ext.P6, the 1st respondent created 4 new posts of Assistant Managers/Engineers Gr.I, for which also no approval of the Government was sought. By the same, the post of Manager (P & A) was upgraded for which also no approval was sought. That would show that 1st respondent itself did not consider granting of higher grade as coming within the ambit of clause (vii) of Article 20. In any event, granting of higher grade to Assistant Managers on completion of 10 years' service was an already existing service condition of Assistant Managers as is evidenced by the fact that similar benefits were given to three others as admitted in Ext.P5. For granting the same to the petitioner alone, no prior approval of the 2nd respondent is necessary. All it requires is a decision of the governing body which has been taken as per Ext.P5. Simply because the Memorandum of Association contains provisions making prior approval of the Government mandatory in respect of certain matters, it is not necessary for an autonomous body to seek such approval in respect of every matter especially relating to granting of service benefits, in accordance with prior practice in the establishment. Such approval can be insisted upon only in respect of matters involving policy decisions. Autonomous bodies should have the freedom to act in accordance with the rules and regulations adopted by it. Therefore, I declare that no approval of the Government is necessary for implementation of Ext.P5 decision of the governing body of the 1st respondent.
5. The 2nd respondent contends that in view of
Ext.P15, the employees of 1st respondent-Society
cannot be given higher grade except in accordance
with Annexure II of Ext.P15. Earlier, by Ext.P12,
the 2nd respondent took the stand that time bound
higher grade was not provided for, in respect
employees of the 1st respondent-Society. That was on
21-8-1987. Probably that is why the 1st respondent
took the decision to grant higher grade to Assistant
Managers earlier. 2nd respondent would contend
Ext.P15 overrides those decisions. I am not able to
agree .Once a benefit has been conferred
employees as a class, the same cannot be taken away
to the detriment of individual members
of the same
class. If that is permitted, there will be two
different grades for similarly
placed employees in
the same post, who were appointed to the post
together, which would be
discriminatory. In this
connection, it would be advantageous to see the
reasons which prompted
the governing body to come to
its decision as per Ext.P5. The relevant portion of
Ext.P5 reads as
"Shri Raveendran Pillai was on leave for 5
i years from 12-11-1992 to 12-11-1997 under employment abroad. He completed 10 years of service in the grade of Assistant Manager on 1-3-2001 (excluding his service of 5 years on employment abroad). Thus he is eligible to get the higher grade of Rs.7200-11400 vide G.O(P) 3000/98/Fin dated 25-11-1998. His request is to grant the higher grade of Rs.8250-13650 viz. the scale of Deputy Manager. Earlier, two engineers grade I and Two Assistant Managers and the Stores Officer were given the grade of Deputy Manager on completion of 10 years service as Engineer Grade I/Assistant Managers vide the decisions of the Governing Body held on 29-3-1994, 25-3-1996 and 18-12-1996. This was done considering their bleak promotion prospects. In the circumstances, the Governing body may i consider the request of Shri.T.K.Raveendran Pillai. DECISION OF THE GOVERNING BODY j The governing Body approved the proposal for i giving time bound grade promotion to the scale of pay of Deputy Manager to Sri. T.K.Raveendran Pillai and for re-designating him as Deputy Manager as was done in the case of other Deputy Managers and decided to forward the proposal to Government for approval." .SP 2 Mr. P.M.Ibrahim, the Stores Officer mentioned in Ext.P5 who entered service along with the petitioner in the same grade enjoys higher grade on completion of 10 years. If the same benefit is denied to the petitioner, that would offend the equality clause under Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, the petitioner is entitled to get higher grade and re-designation in accordance with Ext.P5.
6. While at it, I may also deal with a distressing fact brought to my notice by the petitioner by filing I.A.No.8410/2005.Along with I.A.No.8410/2005, the petitioner has produced Ext.P17 resolution of the governing body by which the governing body has authorised the Managing Director to consider granting of regular promotion to the petitioner in a vacant post of Assistant Manager (Binding) Grade I in the scale of Rs.8250-13650 on condition that the petitioner withdraws the present original petition. Such an attitude is quite unbecoming of an institution owned by the Government like the 1st respondent. Employees may approach Courts for redressal of their grievances, which may be justified or unjustified. Insistence that normal promotion which has become due to them will be given only if they withdraw the case filed claiming another relief, to say the least, is arbitrary. Whether the petitioner wins or loses in this original petition, normal promotion which has become due to him cannot be withheld on that ground. Therefore, I make it clear that the promotion which has become due to the petitioner as evidenced by Ext.P17 should not be denied to the petitioner because of this original petition.
7. With the above observation, I quash Ext.P11 order of the 2nd respondent and hold that the petitioner's right to get higher grade of Rs.8250-13650 and re-designation as Deputy Manager cannot be curtailed by Ext.P15. There will be a direction to the 1st respondent to implement Ext.P5 decision forthwith and pay consequent arrears due to the petitioner within one month. The original petition is allowed as above, without any order as to costs. Tds/ Sd/- .JN .SP 1
S. Siri Jagan, Judge..PA ((HDR 0 )) .HE 2 .SP 2 .JN
S.Siri Jagan, J.
O.P.No.30704 of 2002
J U D G M E N T
17th June, 2005.
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