the Allahabad High Court recently asked the Government of Uttar Pradesh to set up a committee responsible for examining the grievance of Junior Engineers or Technical Assistants and Computer Operators [employed under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005] with regard to the increase in monthly emoluments.
The bench of Judge Saurabh Shyam Shamshery thus ordered during the hearing of the petitions filed by 32 claimants, recruited on a contractual basis as Junior Engineers or Technical Assistants under the MGNREGA.
The claims of the petitioners
They specifically argued that the state had failed to fulfill its welfare state responsibility by paying them low wages.
At first, they prayed in court that they would receive a regular salary according to a prescribed pay scale, pay by rank and other allowances. au pair with permanent junior engineers or technical assistants and computer operators working in the establishment of Public Works Department, Gram Vikas Vibhag, Panchayati Raj Works Department, etc. and in different societies.
They argued in court that they were carrying out similar work which is undertaken by persons working in the corresponding posts of the Department of Public Works and State Department of Panchayati Raj of the UP.
It is also pointed out that even the daily wagers are paid more than petitioners (who are paid Rs 8,000) as per the minimum wage set by the state of UP
It was their specific plea that higher monthly emoluments have been set by other states such as West Bengal State, Uttarakhand, Mizoram and Chhatisgarh where the monthly salary is increased to more than Rs 18000/- and in some states it is Rs. 35,000/- per month while in UP state it is Rs. 8000/- per month only.
On the other hand, the State argued that the applicants, with their eyes open, applied for the relevant position knowing in advance that they would be appointed on a contractual basis with a fixed amount of fees.
At the outset, the Court noted that the petitioners were nominated by a six-member committee headed by the District Magistrate inviting nominations from candidates with the minimum qualifications required, and thereafter a panel was prepared from which nominations were made.
On the other hand, the Court noted that appointments of junior engineers to the Department of Public Works and State Department of Panchayati Raj of UP, with whom pay/benefit parity was sought by the claimants, are made through a review conducted by Uttar Pradesh Public Services Commission.
In view of this, noting that the applicants did not draw a comparison between the work and duties which they undertook and those of persons in a similar situation working in other departments, the Court stated that in the absence of such comparative data, it can not enter the work comparison arena.
Further, the Court referred to a recent Supreme Court decision in State of Madhya Pradesh v RD Sharma 2022 LiveLaw (SC) 97 in which it was held that “equal pay for equal work “is not a fundamental right acquired by any employee, although it is a constitutional objective to be achieved by the government.
Therefore, the Court refused to grant any relief to the applicants as it concluded that in the absence of any relevant factual and legal aspects and in the absence of circumstances justifying that the Court enters the arena of changing employment, the prayers of the motions in short should be dismissed.
However, the Court noted that the the monthly emoluments of petitioners they receive are down even compared to the prevailing price index and the amount of money needed to maintain a decent life.
In view of this, the Cout issued the following instruction:
“The computer is instructed to set up a new committee to consider the petitioners’ grievance regarding the increase in monthly stipends in view of the stipends set for like-minded persons under the MNREGA, 2005 working in other states. The said Committee takes a reasoned decision within six weeks 11 from today and forwards the decision/report to the Court within eight weeks from today.“
Accordingly, the prayers made in all such written petitions are rejected and the written petitions are processed with the aforementioned direction.
However, all brief queries were to be listed as fresh on May 27, 2022 solely for the purpose of reviewing the report submitted by the Committee and noted that he would appreciate if the Principal Secretary of the State Department of Rural Development of the UP remains present. at the next date to assist the Court.
Case Title – Bimal Tiwari And 14 Ors c. State Of UP And 2 Ors And Related Issues
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