No promotion for two decades, denied higher pay scales of the Fifth Pay Commission, an uncertain wait for justice even after getting a favourable ruling from the Madras High Court and then, in the middle of it all, an untimely transfer to Raipur.
Anyone else in his place would have given up by now. But, RTI activist TVLN Mallikarjuna Rao, a Data Entry Operator with the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), is determined to fight it out on the highest corridors of justice.
The activist, who last year used the RTI mechanism to nail the Centre for not adhering to rotational transfer policy norms, now finds his own cause for extending Pay Commission scales to the data entry operator cadre entwined in Special Leave Petitions (SLP) filed by the Union government in the Supreme Court.
With information sourced through the RTI and the courts, the activist has marshalled an array of evidence to support his charge about the inappropriateness of an SLP filed in August 2011 in the Supreme Court challenging a ruling of the Karnataka High Court Division Bench (on writ petition No. 22507 of 2010 between Union of India and Sanjan Guruvekar).
The Karnataka High Court had dismissed an appeal by the Staff Selection Commission and Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) against an order of the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Bangalore Bench granting extension of enhanced pay scales of the Fifth Pay Commission to the category of data entry operators.
While the SLP had claimed that “the certified copy thereof was applied…. and that the same was not yet received,” while praying for exemption from filing certified copies of the impugned order, he has court documents to show that at least four certified copies of the Karnataka High Court order were obtained by a government counsel.
Further, RTI evidence indicates that legal opinion was not in favour of an SLP in a similar case on which the Bombay High Court gave a ruling in 2008. “The Bombay High Court ruling is the settled position of law and precludes an SLP. So why file an SLP in this case if not to indeterminately keep the issue in the sphere of litigation,” wonders Mr. Rao.
He also points out that while declining the SLP option on May 18, 2009, the then Additional Solicitor-General, A. Sharan, noted: “Since the order of the Tribunal has been implemented with respect to identically situated persons without there being any challenge to the said order…it would be in the fitness of things to implement the order in the instant case and in all other cases where persons are similarly situated rather than to approach the Supreme Court in this matter.”
Again, on March 28, 2012, when a similar case came up Additional Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran noted: “In my view there is an inordinate delay which will not be condoned by the Supreme Court in the present case… The department will be well advised to implement the judgment of the High Court and no useful purpose will be served in filing an SLP in the present case.”
However, contradictory to this, Additional Solicitors-General Indira Jaisingh (in the case involving Mr. Rao) and P.P. Malhotra (in the case involving Mr. Gurvekar) have tendered opinion favouring the filing of an SLP in the apex court against the rulings of the High Courts of Madras and Karnataka.
“These developments are contrary to a few core aspects of the National Litigation Policy - that the government is not an ordinary litigant and that a litigation does not have to be won at any cost, that false pleas and technical points will not be taken and shall be discouraged and that only correct facts and relevant documents should be placed before court,” Mr. Rao said.