State more callous than pvt employer: High Court - ECAS Punjab

State more callous than pvt employer: High Court

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Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has rapped the State of Punjab for being "more callous than a private employer". The Bench made it clear that the state was required to adopt a humane approach "so that the employees remain motivated and serve to the best of their abilities".

Justice Sudhir Mittal said the state was supposed to be a model employer. A private employer may justify his actions citing profit. But the state did not have this excuse. "It may try to impute callousness to the impersonal nature of the state machinery, but such justification can never be acceptable. While considering issues concerning its employees, the state cannot remain impersonal".

The admonition came in a case where deputy project officers with Punjab State Forest Development Corporation were denied revision of pay scales in accordance with the 5th Pay Commission recommendations. The petitioners were also seeking additional increments in accordance with the Assured Career Progression Scheme applicable vide instructions dated November 31, 2006.

The Corporation's stand was that the posts of deputy project officer were created but not included in the by-laws. Unless and until the state government approved the amended by-laws, revised pay scales could not be granted. The state's submission was that deputy project officer was not a separate cadre post, but merely a designation accorded to field supervisors with five years of experience.

Justice Mittal asserted that all employees of the Corporation were granted revised pay scales. Its denial to the petitioners was arbitrary and discriminatory. For the same reason, they were entitled to assured career progression scheme applicable to all employees. Justice Mittal said the state's objection on not granting revised pay scales to the petitioners unless the Finance Department granted approval was noticed to be rejected. A committee for revision of pay scales of corporations' employees was constituted only after the state Finance Department accepted the Pay Commission recommendations. As such, there was no logic behind the objection being raised now.

"Only a bureaucratic hurdle is being created, even though the same is not supported either by rule or logic," he asserted, while allowing the petition and directing the grant of revised pay scales from the date the benefit was granted to the Corporation's other employees. Justice Mittal also directed the grant of the scheme's other benefit. Since the delay occurred on account of the state machinery, the petitioners were also held entitled to 10 per cent per annum interest on the arrears of pay, he added.

from The Tribune

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