Benefit Was Also Granted To Similarly Placed Employees: SC Directs For Extension Of Revised Pay Scale Benefits To Retd. Physical Instructors Of Govt College
While observing that earlier the similarly placed employees were granted the benefit of revised pay scales, the Supreme Court directed the Karnataka Government to extend the benefits of the University Grants Commission (UGC) pay scales under the Government Order of November 15 1999, to the Appellants within three months. The Appellants were retired physical instructors who were employed in a Government College.
The Court set aside the judgment of the High Court whereby a writ petition challenging the order of the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) was filed. KAT had rejected the Appellants' application seeking a grant of benefits under the Government Order of November 15 1999. The Court further emphasized that such a decision will apply to all pending cases in the Administrative Tribunals or High Court where similar relief is being sought by employees in comparable situations.
The Bench headed by Justice Abhay S. Oka and comprising Justice Pankaj Mithal noted, “The State Government ought to have applied for review of the order of this Court in the case of Shri N. Ramesh. However, the Government had allowed the said order to become final. Notwithstanding the Government Order of 4th July 2008, as can be seen from the additional documents, the benefit was granted to the employees who were similarly placed with the appellants even on 7th January 2014. It was a conscious decision of the State Government to accept the decision of the High Court in the case of Shri N. Ramesh. Now, the State Government cannot rely upon the Government Order dated 4th July 2008, which was not pointed out to the Courts which dealt with the case of Shri N. Ramesh as the State Government accepted the judgment in the case of Shri N. Ramesh and granted benefits to him of the Government Order dated 15th November 1999. There is no reason why the appellants should be denied the same relief, especially when even as of 7th January 2014, the same benefit was granted to the similarly placed employees”.
Advocate Charudatta Vijayrao Mahindrakar appeared for the Appellants, and Additional Advocate General Prateek K Chadha appeared for the Respondents.
The Appellants were Physical Instructors who worked at Government Grade Colleges in Karnataka. The First Appellant was promoted to the University Grants Commission (UGC) selection grade pay scale on January 1, 1986. Meanwhile, the Second Appellant was granted the senior pay scale on January 1, 1986, and the selection grade of pay on July 13, 1990. Both Appellants were selection grade Physical Education Directors when they retired - the first retired on January 31, 1998, and the second on May 31, 2004. On November 15 1999, the State Government issued an order to revise the pay scale of Teachers, Librarians, and Physical Education Directors in Government colleges. This order granted the benefit of the University Grants Commission (UGC) pay scales, revised from January 1, 1996, to these three categories of employees, with retrospective effect from January 1, 1996. However, on July 29, 2000, the order was partially modified. A circular was issued by the Government of Karnataka on October 23, 2001, stating that physical education and library personnel drawing UGC pay scales of 1996 shall not be granted other government benefits under the Government Order dated November 15, 1999. However, the Appellants were denied the benefit of the Government Order dated November 15, 1999, and filed an application before the Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT), which was rejected.
The Appellants filed a Writ Petition before the High Court challenging the order of the KAT, but their appeal was dismissed. They approached the Supreme Court by way of Civil Appeals, challenging the order of the High Court.
The Court placed reliance on the Decision of the Karnataka High Court in the case of Shri N. Ramesh v The Secretary To Government [WP No. 5855 of 2008] and noted that the State Government was supposed to apply for a review of the order. However, the Court observed that the Government allowed the order to become final. Despite the Government Order of 4 July 2008, the benefit was granted to employees in comparable situations to the Appellants even as of January 7, 2014, as evidenced by the additional documents. The Court emphasized that the State Government had consciously accepted the High Court's decision. The Court held that there is no reason why the Appellants should be denied the same relief, particularly when similar benefits were granted to employees in comparable situations as of January 7, 2014.
Furthermore, the Court asserted that such decision will be applicable to all pending cases in the Administrative Tribunal or High Court where similar relief is being sought by employees in comparable situations. However, the Court noted that retired employees who have not previously challenged the denial of benefits cannot use the judgment to initiate new cases.
Accordingly, the Court set aside the impugned judgment and directed the State Government to extend the benefits under the Government Order of November 15 1999, to the Appellants within a period of three months.
Cause Title: B.C. Nagaraj & Anr. v The State of Karnataka & Ors. (2023 INSC 828)