Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 13
In a major relief to Punjab government employees, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today quashed conditions in their appointment letters that allowed only fixed pay to probationers, without counting the service rendered during the probation period.
The Bench of Justices AB Chaudhari and Kuldip Singh directed the government to pay all employees, appointed on a regular or ad hoc basis on substantive posts, regular pay in time scale, along with all allowances.
The Bench asserted that the government had given Hobson’s choice to petitioner-employees. “Due to economic compulsions, they did not have any alternative except to accept what the government put to them. But then the terms in the appointment order clearly amount to unconscionable terms of contract. The state government could not have provided for such terms.”
Senior advocate DS Patwalia, the counsel of petitioner Gurwinder Singh and others, submitted that the conditions in the appointment letters said an employee would be paid fixed emoluments after direct recruitment during the probation period, including period of extension in probation, if any. It would be equal to “minimum of the pay band of the said post”.
He would also not be paid grade pay, annual increment or any other allowance, except travelling allowance. He would be entitled to minimum pay and all other allowances on successful completion of probation. But the period of probation, including extension if any, would not be counted towards the work period in the pay-scale.
Patwalia submitted that the conditions in the appointment letters were not only onerous, but clearly violate the fundamental right of the petitioners under Article 14.
Relying upon on a Division Bench decision in the case of “Gopal Kumawat versus the State of Rajasthan and other respondents”, Patwalia submitted that the provisions quashed by the Rajasthan High Court and the ones in the present case were “pari material” or on the same subject or matter. The Bench agreed with the Rajasthan HC judgment.