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Supreme Court Criticizes Favoritism in Salary Allocation

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Published on: December 07, 2023 at 17:48 IST

A recent Supreme Court ruling criticized authorities responsible for assigning a higher pay scale to an employee (respondent No. 4) at the Commission for Scientific and Technical Terminology (CSTT).

The court raised concerns about potential collusion between the authorities and the favored employee, resulting in an unjustifiable salary increase.

Asserting that identical rules governed the cadre, the court decried the isolation of a specific post for preferential treatment as a clear violation of established norms.

The bench, comprising Justices Rajesh Bindal and Hima Kohli, heard an appeal against the Delhi High Court’s division bench judgment, which upheld the tribunal’s decision dismissing the appellant’s claim for an equal pay scale and benefits as granted to respondent No. 4.

The tribunal had based its decision on both being governed by the same set of rules and performing identical duties.

The case, dating back to 1990, involved appellant No. 1 joining CSTT as a Research Assistant, subsequently promoted to Scientific Officer in 1997.

Respondent No. 4, initially a Research Assistant, later left CSTT and pursued a career in Ayurvedic medicine, eventually receiving a higher pay scale in 2006, despite not practicing as a doctor within CSTT.

The court questioned the authorities’ lack of diligence, citing the improper grant of Non-Practising Allowance (NPA) and the subsequent declaration of the post as ex-cadre in 2007.

It noted the respondent’s strategic pursuit of deputations and highlighted the reliance on recommendations unrelated to his role.

The judgment exposed the ongoing favoritism and strategic maneuvers between respondent No. 4 and the authorities, stating, “the respondent No. 4 generated litigation and planned new devices to steal a march over others similarly situated as him.”

Scrutinizing subsequent changes and the framing of separate rules for the respondent in 2014, the court questioned the legality and intention behind these actions.

The court declared the order granting a higher pay scale with retrospective effect as illegal and unsustainable, setting aside the justifying order and quashing decisions by the Tribunal and the High Court.

The court also directed the recovery of the excess amount paid to respondent No. 4, emphasizing the deliberate nature of the infraction.

Case Title: Dr PN Shukla v. Union of India