Tamil Nadu

HC bats for higher salary for court employees

The Madras High Court on Thursday set aside a decision taken by the State government on January 29, 2019 to reject former Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul’s 2017 recommendation to increase the salaries of over 3,800 High Court staff on a par with that of the Delhi HC and Supreme Court staff.

Justices R. Subbiah and C. Saravanan rejected the government’s contention that the HC staff salaries could not be raised because it would have a cascading effect and that the Secretariat staff and other government employees might demand a similar increase. It was not an acceptable reason to deny fair wages, they said.

Not comparable

“First of all, a comparison between the scale of pay between the staff of the High Court and the State Secretariat cannot be made at all. The nature of work discharged by the staff of the High Court is not akin to or comparable with the nature of work discharged by the members of the State Secretariat,” the Division Bench observed. Stating out that the HC Chief Justice was the best person to assess the wages that HC employees would be entitled to, the Bench pointed out that Article 229 of the Constitution empowers only the Chief Justice to frame rules governing the salaries, allowances, leave or pension due to the HC staff.Division Bench’s order

Such rules would have to be approved by the Governor. Though the Madras HC was yet to frame such rules, the recommendation made by Justice Kaul on February 10, 2017, after obtaining a report from a committee of judges constituted for the purpose, must be considered as exercise of the Constitutional power under Article 229, the Bench said.

Unilateral rejection

Justice Kaul’s Such a recommendation ought to have been considered by the Council of Ministers and placed before the Governor for approval on the principle of comity unless there were strong and cogent reasons for its rejection. In the present case, an Additional Chief Secretary to Government had unilaterally rejected the Chief Justice’s recommendation, the judges added.

Authoring the verdict, Justice Subbiah also pointed out that the rejection order had been passed when a petition filed by three HC employees for implementation of the recommendation was pending in the court. Such rejection had forced the Madras HC and Madurai Bench Officers and Staff Association to challenge the rejection order.

After setting aside the government’s decision, the Division Bench ordered for constitution of a committee comprising HC judges and government officials to analyse the nature of duties performed by the Madras and Delhi HC staff before implementing the new pay scale as recommended by the former Chief Justice.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 7:39:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-bats-for-higher-salary-to-court-employees/article32054299.ece

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