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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

In Federation of Railway Officers Association vs. Union of India (2003) 4 SCC 289, this Court has already considered the scope of judicial review and has enumerated that where a policy is contrary to law or is in violation of the provisions of the Constitution or is arbitrary or irrational, Courts must perform their constitutional duties by striking it down. The Appellants have not been able to explain why it chose to deny teachers the benefit of the second Kramonnati while granting this benefit to all other employees, thus discriminating against them and violating their fundamental rights enshrined in Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. It is indeed paradoxical that teachers who prepare persons for employment and leadership are dealt with in a parodical attitude by the State. Further, we reiterate that no explanation is forthcoming for granting the second Kramonnati with effect from 1.8.2003. This is neither the date in the original scheme nor justifiable on the basis of any other material available on the record. Many employees had completed twenty four years of service by 1999; therefore, in postponing their second Kramonnati by four years, the Appellants have departed from the basic object of the Scheme. The 3.9.2005 Order failed to explain the basis of this decision, and is thus arbitrary in nature and discriminatory towards the Respondents and others in their position.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                    CIVIL APPEAL NO.  2944        OF 2015
                   Arising out of SLP(C)No. 35931 OF 2009


STATE OF M.P. & ORS.                                .. APPELLANT(s)

                                     Vs.

MALA BANERJEE                                .. RESPONDENT(s)

                                    WITH

C.A. No.  2945  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No. 35932 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2946 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.35933 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2947  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.35935 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2948 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.35937 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2949 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.35938 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2950  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.35939 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2951 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No. 35940 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2952  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.35941 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2953  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.35942 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2954  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.35943 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2955  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.35945 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2956 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.35946 of 2009],

C.A. No. 2957 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.3082 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2958  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.3325 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2959  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.10321 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2960 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.11912 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2961 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.11949 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2962  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.12890 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2963  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.13764 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2964 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18394 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2965 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18457 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2966 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18460 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2967  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18964 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2968  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18965 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2969 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18966 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2970  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18967  of 2010],

C.A. No. 2971  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18968 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2972  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18970 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2973  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18971 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2974 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18972 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2975  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.18973 of 2010],

C.A. Nos. 2976-2977 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)Nos.18974-18975 of  2010],


C.A. No. . 2978  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.21631 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2979  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.22309 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2980 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.23986 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2981 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.25706 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2982  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.35890 of 2010],

C.A. No. 2983  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C) No.7310 of 2011],

C.A. No. 2984  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C) No.17537 of 2011],

C.A. No. 2985  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C) No.20128 of 2011]

C.A. No. 2987  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP  8401/2015  @  CC  No.  5205  of
2012],

C.A. No. 2988  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP (C) No. 11841 of 2012],

C.A. No. 2989  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C) No.24864 of 2012],

C.A. Nos. 2990- 2991 of 2015  [Arising  out  of  SLP(C)  Nos.26756-26757  of
2012],

C.A. No. 2992  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)  8403/2015  @  CC  No.7597  of
2013],

C.A. No. 2993  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C) No.8407/2015 CC  No.  7611  of
2013],

C.A. No. 2994  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.33945 of 2013],

C.A. No. 2995  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.2581 of 2014]

C.A. No. 2996  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.8516 of 2014],

C.A. No. 2997  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.14208 of 2014],

C.A. No. 2998  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.17279 of 2014],

C.A. No. 2999 of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)No.25975 of 2014],

C.A. Nos. 3000-3003  of 2015 [Arising out of SLP(C)Nos.29520-29523 of 2014]



                           J  U  D  G  M  E  N  T



VIKRAMAJIT SEN, J.




1     Delay condoned.   Leave granted.

2     These Appeals assail the Judgment of the  learned  Division  Bench  of
the High Court of Judicature of Madhya Pradesh, Bench at Gwalior,  delivered
on 22.10.2008, which upheld the Judgment dated  16.10.2007  of  the  learned
Single Judge.

3     Very briefly stated, the dispute pertains to the  eligibility  of  the
Respondents, all of whom are Lecturers/Teachers in  the  employment  of  the
Education and Tribal Welfare Department, Government of Madhya  Pradesh,  for
increased pay scales.  The Respondents claim the benefits of the  Kramonnati
Scheme with effect from 19.4.1999, whereas the Appellants assert  that  they
are willing to grant the benefit of  the  Kramonnati  Scheme  to  them,  and
obviously others  similarly  placed  as  they  are,  but  with  effect  from
1.8.2003.

4      Under  the  Madhya  Pradesh  Revision  of  Pay   Rules,   1990,   the
Respondents, were eligible for a higher pay scale on completion of 12  years
of service.  Subsequently, a  policy  dated  19.4.1999  known  as  the  said
Kramonnati Scheme came to be introduced entitling  all  Government  servants
to the benefit of two higher pay scales,  the  first  on  completion  of  12
years of service, and the second on the further  completion  of  another  12
years (24 years in all).  The Appellants contend that this Circular  applied
to all their employees except  the  Teacher  cadre,  since  the  latter  had
already enjoyed the benefit of the Madhya Pradesh  Revision  of  Pay  Rules.
On 2.11.2001, the Commissioner Public  Instructions  sanctioned  the  second
Kramonnati for teachers with  effect  from  19.4.1999.   The  stand  of  the
Appellants is that this  was  erroneously  extended  without  obtaining  the
consent of the Finance Department, and was accordingly  corrected  by  order
dated 11.10.2006.  However, despite this stance, the State  Government  took
a policy decision on 3.9.2005 granting the benefit of  a  second  Kramonnati
to Teachers, but with effect  from  1.8.2003.    Recovery  proceedings  were
initiated against  teachers  who  had  been  bestowed  Kramonnati  from  the
earlier date.

5     The object of the Kramonnati Scheme  must  be  noted,  as  this  sheds
light on its application. The Scheme was introduced  to  remove  frustration
among employees who had stagnated at  a  particular  scale  for  many  years
without promotional avenues, with the endeavour of  removing  any  adversity
in their performance. Keeping this  purpose  in  perspective,  there  is  no
basis or justification for discriminating between  teachers  and  all  other
employees.  The fact that the Madhya Pradesh  Revision  of  Pay  Rules  were
already in place at the time the Kramonnati Scheme was introduced  indicates
that the Appellants accepted that increase in pay  scale  are  salutary  and
indeed important for  educators  on  whose  motivation  and  dedication  the
future of the country and of society is almost entirely  dependent.   We  do
not agree with the Appellants'  submission  that  the  Respondents  are  not
entitled to claim the benefit of the Kramonnati  Scheme  because  they  were
already covered under the Madhya Pradesh Revision of Pay Rules, as there  is
no basis for the two being mutually exclusive.  Indeed, we find  it  logical
that the application of the Madhya Pradesh Revision of Pay  Rules  regarding
the  eligibility  of  increased  pay  scales  should  be  replaced  by   the
Kramonnati Scheme, which is more  generous  in  the  benefits  it  provides.
This is all the more so since the Appellants have themselves  ordained  that
the said Scheme can be availed by the Respondents but from  1.8.2003,  which
we find  to be arbitrary and devoid of any logical foundation.

6     The Appellants have claimed  that  its  Notifications  indicated  with
clarity that the Scheme  would  not  apply  to  those  Departments  where  a
provision of Kramonnati was already available in  their  Recruitment  Rules.
However, a perusal  of  the  relevant  Clarification  issued  by  the  State
Government dated 3.5.2000/17.5.2000 makes it clear that its purpose  was  to
protect employees who were working in Departments that had  a  provision  of
Kramonnati in their  Recruitment  Rules,  by  preventing  any  reduction  in
Kramonnati pay scale as a consequence of the new 19.4.1999  policy.   It  is
our understanding that the Clarification intended to prevent  the  class  of
employees envisaged therein  from  facing  any  monetary  loss  and  not  to
disadvantage any class of employee.

7     We also find ourselves unable to agree with the Appellants  submission
that this is a policy matter and, therefore, should not be  interfered  with
by the Courts.  In Federation of Railway Officers Association vs.  Union  of
India (2003) 4 SCC 289, this Court  has  already  considered  the  scope  of
judicial review and has enumerated that where a policy is  contrary  to  law
or is in violation of the provisions of the Constitution or is arbitrary  or
irrational, Courts must perform their constitutional duties by  striking  it
down.   The Appellants have not been able to explain why it  chose  to  deny
teachers the benefit of the second Kramonnati while  granting  this  benefit
to all other employees,  thus  discriminating  against  them  and  violating
their  fundamental  rights  enshrined  in  Articles  14  and   16   of   the
Constitution.  It is indeed paradoxical that teachers  who  prepare  persons
for employment and leadership are dealt with in a parodical attitude by  the
State.  Further,  we  reiterate  that  no  explanation  is  forthcoming  for
granting the second Kramonnati with effect from 1.8.2003.  This  is  neither
the date in the original scheme nor justifiable on the basis  of  any  other
material available on the record. Many employees had completed  twenty  four
years of service by 1999; therefore, in postponing their  second  Kramonnati
by four years, the Appellants have departed from the  basic  object  of  the
Scheme. The 3.9.2005 Order failed to explain the  basis  of  this  decision,
and is thus arbitrary in nature and discriminatory towards  the  Respondents
and others in their position.

8     The annals of this litigation also  need  to  be  considered  in  some
detail.   The arguments ventilated before us were considered  in  detail  by
the Writ Court in Smt. Prerna v. State of Madhya Pradesh, which was  decided
on 26.4.2007 by a learned Single Judge of that  High  Court  at  its  Indore
Bench.     Thereafter, another learned Single Judge of that  High  Court  at
its Gwalior Bench decided  the  present  Writ  Petitions  from  which  these
Appeals/Petitions arise in favour  of  the  Respondents  vide  its  Judgment
dated 16.10.2007. Although the  reasoning  that  has  persuaded  the  second
learned Single Judge to decide in favour of the Respondents is evident  from
the perusal of that Judgment,  reliance  on  the  Judgment  dated  26.4.2007
passed in Smt.  Prerna  had  been  duly  considered.   We  must  immediately
emphasise  that  a  Bench  should  ordinarily  follow  the  decision  of   a
Coordinate Bench or else should forward the  matter  to  the  learned  Chief
Justice  for  constituting  a  Larger  Bench  in  case  the  reasoning   and
conclusion of the Coordinate Bench is not acceptable.   The Appeal from  the
Judgment dated 16.10.2007, has been  dismissed  by  the  Division  Bench  in
terms of the Judgment impugned before us, and that is how the Special  Leave
Petitions (now Appeals) came to be filed.   In this interregnum,  an  appeal
that had been preferred from the Order of the learned Single  Judge,  Indore
Bench has also been decided on 18.12.2008  in  favour  of  the  Respondents,
taking note of the Judgment by a Coordinate Bench presently impugned  before
us.   We had made this clarification because one of the arguments  that  has
been ventilated before us is that the two sets of  petitions  had  not  been
considered threadbare by the two Benches  located  at  Indore  and  Gwalior.
This has not lead to any legal irregularity,  in  that  the  learned  Single
Judge, as well as the learned Division Bench  have  sequentially  considered
the matter in detail.

9     We do not find  any  illegality  in  the  Impugned  Judgment  and  the
Appeals are dismissed, but we desist from imposing costs.

10    Since these Appeals are being dismissed, it  would  be  a  futile  and
wasteful exercise to take up all pending Applications.   To remove  possible
doubts, all the Applications are dismissed.



............................................J.
             [VIKRAMAJIT SEN]






............................................J.
           [PRAFULLA C.  PANT]


New Delhi;
March 17, 2015.
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