Chennai: Holding that the theory of ‘equal pay for equal work’ cannot be applied blindly in all the cases, the Madras High Court has set aside an order of a single judge directing the education department to pay the regular pay scale to scavengers appointed in 2012.
In the Education department, scavengers were appointed under a special time scale of Rs 1,300-3,000+Grade Pay of Rs 300 based on a GO issued in March 2012. They challenged the offending portion of the GO that fixed a special time scale of pay for them instead of the regular time scale of pay ie. Rs 4,800-Rs 10,000 + Grade Pay of Rs 1,300.
A single judge of the Madurai Bench of the High Court allowed the writ petition by striking down the offending clause in the said GO as unsustainable and directed to place the petitioner scavengers on par with other scavengers already working in the Education department by paying regular time scale of pay. This order was challenged in a writ appeal and the same is pending before the Madurai Bench.
While so, the government issued another GO in June 2012, sanctioning 558 additional posts of sweepers in the police department, on the same pay scale of Rs 1,300-3,000 + Grade Pay of Rs 300. Challenging this, they moved the High Court demanding the pay scale of Rs 4,800- Rs10,000 + Grade Pay of Rs 1,300, as held by the single judge.
The police department filed the present appeals challenging the orders of the single judge.
Allowing the same, the bench of Justices S Vaidyanathan and R Vijayakumar observed that the single judge had allowed the writ petition of the scavengers in the Education department and quashed the offending portion of the GO only based upon the orders of a division bench passed in January 2019.
The Supreme Court by a judgment delivered in May 2019, which was followed by a Full Bench of the High Court in March this year, had held that ‘equal pay for equal work’ cannot be followed in all cases. The Apex Court had held that the different modes of recruitment and selection process would limit the scope of invoking the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’.
The present bench noted that in the case on hand, the recruitment process between the subject post and reference post was completely different. ”In view of the later Supreme Court judgment and the Full Bench Judgment of this High Court, allowing the writ petition based upon the division bench order passed in January 2019 is not sustainable in the eye of law,” it said and set aside the orders of the single judge fixing higher pay scale equivalent to regular scavengers/sweepers.