Minimum Pay Scales for Temporary Employees

“The Appellants are daily rated workers employed in Group ‘D’ posts in the Forest Department in the State of Uttar Pradesh. They filed Writ Petitions before the High Court of Allahabad seeking regularization of their services, the minimum of the pay scales available to their counterparts working on regular posts and treating them as being in continued service while condoning the breaks in their service. The Writ Petitions were dismissed by a Learned Single Judge. The Learned Single Judge rejected the claim of the Appellants regarding the minimum of the pay scales by holding such a direction cannot be granted under Article 226. The Special Appeals filed by the Appellants were dismissed by a Division Bench.

This Court in Jagjit Singh, (2017) 1 SCC 148 held as follows: “An employee engaged for the same work cannot be paid less than another who performs the same duties and responsibilities. Certainly, not in a welfare State. Such an action besides being demeaning, strikes at the very foundation of human dignity. Anyone, who is compelled to work at a lesser wage does not do so voluntarily. He does so to provide food and shelter to his family, at the cost of his self-respect and dignity, at the cost of his self-worth, and at the cost of his integrity. For he knows that his dependants would suffer immensely, if he does not accept the lesser wage. Any act of paying less wages as compared to others similarly situate constitutes an act of exploitative enslavement, emerging out of a domineering position. Undoubtedly, the action is oppressive, suppressive and coercive, as it compels involuntary subjugation.”

The issue that was considered by this Court in Jagjit Singh is whether temporary employees (daily wage employees, ad hoc appointees, employees appointed on a casual basis, contractual employees and likewise) are entitled to the minimum of the regular pay scales on account of their performing the same duties which are discharged by those on regular basis against sanctioned posts. After considering several judgments of this Court in Tilak Raj, (2003) 6 SCC 23 and Surjit Singh, (2009) 9 SCC 514, this Court held that temporary employees are entitled to draw wages at the minimum of the pay scales which are applicable to the regular employees holding the same post.

In view of the judgment in Jagjit Singh, we are unable to hold the view of the High Court that the Appellants herein are not entitled to be paid the minimum of the pay scales. We are not called upon to adjudicate on the right of the Appellants relating to the regularization of their services. We are concerned only with the principle laid down by this Court initially in Putti Lal, (2006) 9 SCC 337 relating to persons who are similarly situated to the Appellants and later affirmed in Jagjit Singh that temporary employees are entitled to minimum of the pay scales as long as they continue in service. We set aside the judgments of the High Court holding that the Appellants are entitled to be paid the minimum of the pay scales applicable to the regular employees working on the same posts.”

 Hon’ble Justice L. Nageswara RaoSabha Shanker Dube v. Divisional Forest Officer, [Civil Appeal No. 10956 of 2018].