A Division Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy, has held that the principle of equal pay for equal work cannot be applied on the basis of designation. The Court was adjudicating appeals filed by the Railways, where the Respondent employees were seeking parity of pay.
The Court referred to the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) report, which has a chapter that deals with the Ministry of Railways, and shows that it has fourteen different departments. The report examined the demands of these different departments seeking higher pay-scales and allowances for various categories in different departments.
The Court while referring to the judgment given in Union of India v. Tarit Ranjan Das held, "the principle of equal pay for equal work cannot be applied merely on basis of designation and that Courts ought not to interfere if the Commission itself had considered all aspects and after due consideration opined that absolute equality ought not to be given."
The Apex Court noted that the aspect of disparity between the Secretariat and the field offices had been taken into consideration by the Committee while preparing the report. "Yet to some extent, a separate recommendation was made qua Secretariat Organizations and non-Secretariat Organizations. Once these recommendations are separately made, to direct absolute parity would be to make the separate recommendations qua non-Secretariat Organizations otiose. If one may say, there would have been no requirement to make these separate recommendations if everyone was to be treated on parity on every aspect.", stated the Division Bench.
The Court allowed the appeal, setting aside the impugned Judgment of the High Court, while observing, "We hope this puts to rest this controversy which has been agitated before different forums without receiving a final reasoned view of this Court."