Srinagar: While making it clear that “court[s] do not enter in the arena of fixation of pay scales for the various posts in government or semi-government organizations ” the High Court of J&K and Ladakh said:” The state cannot indulge in hostile discrimination towards an individual or class of persons.”
The remarks came from Justice Sanjeev Kumar in the case, of Fayaz Ahmad Bhat, Xerox operator, Kashmir University versus the University of Kashmir.
Bhat, represented by Advocate Shakir Haqani, landed in High Court after the respondent University, failed to clear the pay anomaly between Xerox operators of Kashmir University and their counterparts posted in GMC Srinagar/Jammu and Skims Srinagar.
Before landing in court, Bhat and his juniors (Assistant Xerox Operators) had multiple times represented before the University seeking to bring their pay scale at parity with their counterparts working in other institutions.
The representations were followed by orders of up-gradation of pay scales. The University purportedly passed orders to clear pay anomalies but practically the pay scale of Xerox operator Fayaz Ahmad and Assistant Xerox Operator his ( juniors ) was made the same.
Agitated by the equalization of the pay grade for posts of Xerox Operator and Assistant Xerox operator, the petitioner again represented before the university but to no avail.
Unable to get the issue redressed at the university level petitioner approached High Court in 2019.
Justice Sanjeev Kumar heard both the counsels on 18th May and delivered the verdict on 21st May.
Referring to the reply filed by the University, Sanjeev Kumar said: “… [R]espondent university has not been able to justify the equalization of the post of the Xerox Operator and the Assistant Xerox Operator for the purpose of providing the pay scale.”
Justice Sanjeev held the decision of equalization of pay grade of Xerox operator and Assistant Xerox operator “arbitrary, discriminatory and violative of article 14 and 16 of the constitution of India.”
Before the decision of equating posts was taken, the University was all along treating two categories differently and maintaining the superiority of the post of Xerox operator over the post of Assistant Xerox Operator in terms of the pay and grade.
“ordinarily, and in the fitness of things it was desirable to grant next higher pay grade to the Xerox operator,” Justice Sanjeev observed.
Allowing the petition the court directed University to place the petitioner Fayaz Ahmad on the pay scale next higher to the pay scale held by him and granted to the Assistant Xerox Operators.
“This higher pay scale shall be available to the petitioner right from the day he was initially appointed as Xerox Operator. He shall be entitled to the arrears of the salary on account of such placement in the higher pay scale from the date the Assistant Xerox Operators were given the higher pay scale equivalent to the post of Xerox Operator,” the High court directed.