SC: Seniors can’t be paid less than juniors
New Delhi, January 10
Senior employees can’t get lower salaries than their juniors, be it due to pay anomaly or any other reason, the Supreme Court has ruled while disposing of a petition against Punjab State Electricity Board and its authorities.
“We are unable to accept the reasoning of the (Punjab and Haryana) High Court or the submissions made in support thereof ” by the PSEB’s counsel, the apex court Bench, comprising Justices Altamas Kabir and Karkendey Katju, said in their verdict yesterday.
Two PSEB employees, Gurcharan Singh Grewal and Satinder Singh, had approached the HC, complaining that they were getting less pay than their junior Ram Prakash Shori. Upon getting the court’s notice, the PSEB hiked the pay of Satinder Singh and informed the HC accordingly in its response
When the case came up for hearing on September 23, 2005, the HC dismissed the complainants’ petition as it had become infructuous after Satinder was given the hike. The court accepted the PSEB’s plea that Grewal had not sought such a relief specifically.
The HC also dismissed two petitions filed subsequently, a review petition and a miscellaneous application, on the same ground.
The Supreme Court, however, said: “We are clearly of the opinion that the reasoning of the high court was erroneous and the appellant No. 1 was also entitled to the same benefits of pay parity with Shri Shori as has been granted to the appellant No. 2”.
The court rejected the PSEB counsel’s argument that Shori was getting more because he had got the promotional scale with effect from September 1, 2001 when the increments and the pay-scales were higher and when Grewal got the higher scale from January 1, 1996, such benefits were lower.
This contention “is still contrary to the settled principle of law that a senior cannot be paid lesser salary than his junior,” the Bench observed in their judgment, written by Justice Kabir.
The apex court accepted the argument of the petitioners’ counsel Nidesh Gupta that the prayer for higher pay was applicable to both petitioners and leaving out one of them for the benefit had defeated the very purpose of making Grewal petitioner No. 1.