A two-judge bench of Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice M.M. Sundresh has held that a Registrar of a State University cannot claim higher pay based on a circular issued by the Central Government.

The Court also held that directions of the Central Government are not binding upon the State and they are mere recommendations.

In this context, the Bench observed -

"Law has become quite settled that the Appellant is not bound by any direction issued by the Central Government which would at worst be mandatory to the Central Universities and the Central Government Colleges receiving funds. Thus, any such decision would obviously be directory to State Government Colleges and Universities, being in the nature of a mere recommendation."

In this case, the State Universities Act, 1973 was enacted by the State of UP that was adopted by the State of Uttarakhand.

Section 16 of the Act dealt with the post of a Registrar who would be a full-time officer of the University. Under the Act, The Uttarakhand State (Centralized Services) Rules, 2006 came to be enacted that prescribed essential qualifications, procedures for recruitment and pay scale etc. for the post of Registrars in the State Universities. The 2006 Rules also provide the qualification for a Lecturer, which is different from that of a Registrar.

The State of Uttarakhand sent a requisition to the State Public Service Commission for the appointment of Registrars in the State Universities. Thereafter, the Government of India, Ministry of HRD, Deptt. of Higher Education, New Delhi published 2 separate communication orders addressed to the UGC on the revision pay scale of Lecturers on one side and the Administrative Staff starting with Registrars on the other.

Respondent No. 1 was appointed as an Assistant Registrar at Kumaon University with an appropriate pay scale under the 2006 Rules.

Subsequently, Respondent No. 1 filed a Writ Petition before the Uttarakhand High Court and sought the pay scale meant to be applied to his counterparts in Central Universities.

The pay scale of the Respondent thereafter was revised as per the Sixth Pay Commission.

The High Court then issued a direction to the Pay Anamoly Committee to look into the matter afresh which was accordingly complied with, by not accepting the case of Respondent No. 1, finding no justification particularly when there is a distinct difference in the qualification as prescribed by the UGC and the State Government for the post.

The Writ Petition was allowed by the High Court on a factual error by misconstruing the decision made in favor of the teaching faculty to that of the Registrar and other administrative staff.

Aggrieved, the Appellant approached the Supreme Court.

The Apex Court noted, "A reasonable classification thus certainly would not injure the equality enshrined under Article 14 when there exists an intelligible differentia between two groups having a rational relation to the object. Therefore, an interference would only be called for on the court being convinced that the classification causes inequality among similarly placed persons. The role of the court being restrictive, generally, the task is best left to the concerned authorities. When a classification is made on the recommendation made by a body of experts constituted for the purpose, courts will have to be more wary of entering into the said arena as its interference would amount to substituting its views, a process which is best avoided."

The Bench after referring to a catena of judgments noted that the High Court had completely misconstrued the facts.

The Court held that the Appellant nowhere made a decision to accept and adopt the circular of the Central Government pertaining to the Registrars working in the Universities coming under its purview. In this context, the Court opined -

"In the absence of any legal right with the corresponding duty, such a relief can never be asked for, particularly when there are clear and specific rules provided for the pay scale of Registrars by the Appellant itself."

Further, the Bench opined, "When the classification is distinct and clear having adequate rationale with due relation to the objective, there is no reason to hold otherwise by treating a Registrar at par with the Lecturers. One is meant for administration and the other teaching. The High Court has also not considered the financial implications as any decision would not rest with Respondent No. 1 alone, but the entirety of the administrative staff."

Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court.

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