Saturday, January 21, 2012

Give all fixed-wage employees pay panel wages: HC

Govt’s fixed-wage scheme a violation of fundamental rights, says Gujarat HC

Nikunj Soni l Ahmedabad

The year 2012 promises to be one of huge financial benefit to government employees who were appointed to different jobs on fixed monthly wages. In a landmark judgement on Friday, the Gujarat high court ruled that the scheme of fixed wages adopted by the state government for government jobs was a ‘violation of fundamental rights’ and a ‘violation of the principle of equal pay for equal work’.
The high court has directed the state government to modify the current scheme of fixed wages within one and grant the employees the lowest pay in the pay-scale recommended for their rank by the pay commission and approved by the state government.
The bench of acting chief justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and justice JB Pardiwala further said that the benefits to the employees shall be given to them from the date of their appointment.
The judgement has come as a great relief to fixed-wage government employees as they will now get the benefits of the sixth pay commission. The recommendations of the sixth pay commission were recently approved by the state government for various cadres. The court also directed that the period of government service of such employees will be taken into consideration in the future in deciding their retirement benefits and all other benefits if they are found suitable after probation. The high court rejected the state government’s contention that the case should not be considered a PIL as it concerned service matter as per the Supreme Court judgement in the case of Uttar Pradesh Land Corporation.
Rejecting the government's contention, the bench said that it was considering the petitions because they had not been filed by an employee and the issue is of public interest and importance. Earlier, a PIL was filed by an NGO, Shree Yogkshem Foundation of Human Dignity, through the advocate, DJ Bhatt, challenging the recruitment of government employees against fixed wages. Those recruited under this scheme included primary and higher secondary teachers, police constables, police sub-inspectors, and all class 3 and 4 employees of the government. The salaries paid under the fixed wages scheme ranges from Rs1500 to Rs6000 per month. There are more than 1 lakh teachers employed by the government as Vidya Sahayaks who are paid fixed wages of Rs2500 to Rs4500. Thousands of other jobs have also been filled by recruitments made under the fixed wages scheme. Senior counsel Yatin Oza, who was appointed amicus curie in the case, had submitted that the scheme of fixed wages violated the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution. It's also exploitation of the employees. Advocate DJ Bhatt had contended that the scheme of fixed wages amounts to exploitation of the employees as they were paid less than the minimum wages standards set by the government's labour department.


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