Benefit Of SIA Scheme Cannot Be Granted Retrospectively To Employee For Period When Scheme Was Not In Existence: Delhi HC
Finding that the Respondents had not completed six years of regular service as AG – II (Accounts) and were promoted to the next post as AG – I (Accounts) before completion of 6 years regular service as AG – II (Accounts), the Delhi High Court held that they were not eligible for benefit of additional increment for the period they spent in service as AG – II (Accounts).
Emphasizing that the Stagnation Impact Amelioration Scheme, 2014 (SIA Scheme) makes provision for providing additional increments to the eligible employees after each stage of completion of 6, 12, and 20 years of regular service in the same pay scale, the High Court stated that since the Respondents did not fulfil the eligibility criteria as prescribed under SIA Scheme, the benefit of additional increment cannot be granted to them contrary to the said Scheme.
The Division Bench of Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna observed that “when respondents joined the post of AG-II (Accounts) upon promotion, at that point of time, in the year 2003 when there was delay in vigilance clearance of respondents, the SIA Scheme was not even operational. Therefore, no benefit could have been granted to respondents for a period prior to 01st September, 2008, when the said SIA Scheme was not even in existence. The benefit of Clause 22 of the SIA Scheme could not have been granted to respondents by applying the same in a retrospective manner for a period even before the Scheme in question came into existence”.
Advocate Om Prakash appeared for the Petitioner, whereas Advocate Sanjay Sharawat appeared for the Respondent.
The brief facts of the case were that the respondents were appointed in appellant corporation to the post of Assistant Grade – III (Accounts) in 1996 & 1997 respectively. Subsequently, they were granted promotion to the post of AG – II (Accounts) in 2003. Later, Respondents were promoted to the post of AG – I (Accounts) and joined unconditionally in 2009. Thereafter, they were promoted to the post of Manager (Accounts) and they joined the said post without any reservation in 2013. In the meanwhile, the Appellant vide Circular No. EP-09-2014-19, introduced the Stagnation Impact Amelioration Scheme, 2014 (SIA Scheme) for the category III & IV employees to provide additional increment and/or selection grade to the eligible employees on stagnation after completion of a specified number of years of regular service in the same post/pay scale.
As per the said Scheme, an additional increment was to be given in the next higher pay scale to those employees who had reached the maximum of the scale in which they were stagnating. Accordingly, Respondents requested for grant of increment in terms of the SIA Scheme alleging that the delay in issuing the promotion orders was not attributable to them. Due to the delay in issuance of their promotion orders to the post of AG-II (Accounts) in the year 2003 on account of delay in vigilance clearance, respondents were short of only seven days from completing their six years in the post of AG-II (Accounts). The said request for benefit under the SIA Scheme was declined by the Appellant. Subsequently, Respondents sought information under Right to Information Act, 2005, which was supplied. Since the petition filed by the Respondent before the Single Judge was allowed by holding the Respondents entitled to the financial benefits under the SIA Scheme, the Appellant had approached the High Court.
After considering the submission and perusing the SIA Scheme, the Bench noted that additional increment is granted to such employees who remained stagnated in the same post and had completed 6, 12 and 20 years of regular service in the same post/pay scale.
The Bench also noted that the said Scheme provides that the additional increment will be allowed with effect from the day next to actual date of completion of 6, 12 and 20 years of regular service in the same scale.
“Further, Clause 22 of the said Scheme provides that the benefit of additional increment will be available only to those who could not be promoted due to non-availability of vacancy in the next administrative post or due to any administrative reasons on the part of the appellant corporation”, added the Bench.
Finding that the Respondents had not completed six years of regular service as AG-II (Accounts) and were promoted to the post of AG-I (Accounts) before completion of six years regular service as AG-II (Accounts), the Bench observed that the Respondents were rightly not held eligible for the additional increment under the said Scheme by appellant corporation.
“Firstly, there was no administrative default/delay in vigilance clearance on the part of appellant at the time of granting promotion to respondents to the post of AG-I (Accounts) on 24th December, 2009 from the post of AG-II (Accounts). Secondly, the SIA Scheme was not in existence prior to 1st September, 2008”, added the Bench.
Therefore, the Bench clarified that Clause 22 or any provision of the Scheme cannot be stretched to grant benefit to the respondents for the period when the Scheme was not even in existence.
Cause Title: Food Corporation of India v. Sunita Kumari and Anr. [Neutral Citation: 2023: DHC: 5828-DB]Click here to read/download the Judgment