Censured employee can be denied salary hike: SC
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Last Updated: Friday, October 07, 2011, 18:13
New Delhi: A censured employee can be denied benefits like increase in salary and it cannot be construed as discriminatory or violative of the equality clause provided in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has held.

A bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma said the state has the power to adopt "positive discrimination" between a censured employee and a colleague with a clean record.

The apex court passed the ruling while upholding an appeal filed by Rajasthan government challenging the state High Court's direction to grant "selection grade" (increase in salary) benefits to certain employees despite having been censured for misconduct.

"The person who has an untainted, unblemished, clean and unpolluted record in service would be treated on a higher pedestal than those who have either tainted, blemished, unclean or polluted record.

"This obviously appears to be a reasonable classification and is under the ambit and touchstone of Article 14 of the Constitution. There is neither any ambiguity nor any doubt in the same," Justice Verma, writing the judgment, said.

In this case, the state had issued an office memo on January 25, 1992, providing for selection grade to employees on completion of 9, 18 or 27 years of service. A subsequent clarification was issued through "Clause 7" on July 24, 1995, that the grant of selection grade would be deferred by a year to those had a "censure" in the Annual Confidential Records.

The High Court had, however, held that the selection grade cannot be deferred or withheld on account of "censure."

Aggrieved, the state had appealed in the apex court.

Upholding the Rajasthan government rules, the apex court said the classification was “absolutely reasonable and perfect" as otherwise every employee who has a clean image and another employee, who has earned censure, would be treated at par.

"This is not permissible in the service jurisprudence and is also violative of Article 14 (Equality before Law) of the Constitution.

"It is a settled principle of law that 'like should be treated alike.' This is the mandate and command of Article 14 of the Constitution which we are required to follow. In any case, those who have earned censure cannot be treated at par with those who have had a clean service record," the apex court said.

The apex court said the Constitution has incorporated the provision of "Equality before Law" to attain justice--social, economic and political--and "Equal protection of Law" was enshrined so that amongst equals, the law could be uniformly administered among similarly-placed persons.

"But this has a caveat. The state still has the power to differentiate amongst different classes of people. That is to say, it can positively discriminate on the basis of reasonable classification and distinction but this must be based upon on intelligible differentia, which inherently separates such persons from the others," the bench said.

The apex court, however, clarified that the state government would not be entitled to recover the enhanced salaries already paid to the employees who had been granted Selection Grade despite being censured.


First Published: Friday, October 07, 2011, 18:13

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