Money lesson: Why all employees can’t claim equal salary for similar work?

Equal Pay for Equal Work in India Latest News: Employees often complain of being paid less than those doing similar work in their office, or workplace. Such complaints are heard both in private and government offices.

Equal Pay for Equal Work in India Latest News:
Equal Pay for Equal Work in India Latest News. Representational image/Pixabay

Equal Pay for Equal Work in India Latest News: Employees often complain of being paid less than those doing similar work in their office, or workplace. Such complaints are heard both in private and government offices. What such complainants, however, miss is that salaries, or pay scales, are based on several parameters including experience, professional training, educational qualifications etc. Similar nature of work cannot be made a reason for demanding equal pay. This is what a recent Supreme Court judgement conveys.

The case

The judgement pertains to an old case involving Directorate of Elementary Education, Odisha against one Pramod Kumar Sahoo.

Pramod was appointed as a primary school teacher under the Rehabilitation Assistance Scheme of Odisha, following the death of his father Basanta Kumar Sahoo in 1988. Pramod had joined service as a Primary School Teacher against the Matric Teachers Certificate Post. He was appointed on a pay scale of Rs 780-Rs 1140/- with DA as admissible. At the time of appointment, Pramod had intermediate qualification and appeared in BA examination.

At the time of his appointment, the pay scale of Rs 780-Rs 1140 was payable to Untrained Teachers having Matric Qualification. For Trained Matric Teachers, the pay scale payable was Rs 840-Rs 1240.

Salary Revision

Odisha revives pay scales in 1990. The Orissa Revised Scales of Pay (Amendment) Rules, 1990 provided for a separate scale of pay for all posts of Trained Matric Teachers and non-Trained Matric teachers. Through a corrigendum issued in 1992, the pay scale for Untrained Intermediate Teacher was announced to be revised from Rs 840-1240 to Rs 975-1660. The pay scale for Trained Matric Teacher was revised from Rs 840-Rs 1240 to Rs 1080-1800.

Higher pay claim

Pramod approached the Odisha Administrative Tribunal, claiming he was entitled to pay scale of Rs 840-1240 from the very first day of appointment and Rs 1080-Rs1800 after revision. The Tribunal decided in favour of Pramod on February 19, 2010 after the counsel of the appellant (Directorate of Elementary Education, Odisha) conceded that teachers with intermediate qualification were entitled to the pay scale available for Trained Matric Teachers.

Two years later, the department appealed against the Tribunal decision, claiming its Counsel had made wrong submission. But it was rejected. In later years, the department’s review petition in the Tribunal and Write petition in the High Court were also dismissed.

Justice in Supreme Court

The department finally approached the Supreme Court, which held that both the Tribunal and High Court had committed the “same error” of not appreciating the distinction between Trained Matric teacher and Untrained Matric Teacher.

What SC said

The apex court in its judgement dated September 26, 2019 said, “The Trained Matric Teacher is the one who has been trained for the purposes of teaching. In the absence of such training, the respondent cannot be said to be a Trained Matric Teacher entitled to the pay scale meant for such teachers. ”

“The classification based upon educational qualification for grant of higher pay scale to a trained person or a person possessing higher qualification is a valid classification,” it added.

The top court cited Shyam Babu Verma & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors wherein it had held that “…The nature of work may be more or less the same but scale of pay may vary based on academic qualification or experience which justifies classification. The principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ should not be applied in a mechanical or casual manner. Classification made by a body of experts after full study and analysis of the work should not be disturbed except for strong reasons which indicate the classification made to be unreasonable. Inequality of the men in different groups excludes applicability of the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ to them…”

The Supreme Court has held that decisions of the Tribunal and the High Court were not “sustainable in law”.

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First published on: 10-10-2019 at 14:45 IST