P. Singaravelan And Ors.Etc. Etc. vs District Collector, Tiruppur And … on 18 December, 2019


Supreme Court of India

P. Singaravelan And Ors.Etc. Etc. vs District Collector, Tiruppur And … on 18 December, 2019

Author: Mohan M. Shantanagoudar

Bench: Mohan M. Shantanagoudar, R. Subhash Reddy

                                                                            REPORTABLE

                                     IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                       CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                              CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 9533-9537 OF 2019
                               (arising out of S.L.P. (CIVIL) NOS.5395-5399 of 2016)

           P. Singaravelan & Ors. Etc. Etc.                                  ..Appellants

                                                     Versus

           The District Collector, Tiruppur and
           DT & Ors. Etc. Etc.                                               ..Respondents
                                           WITH

                               CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 9538-9546 OF 2019
                               (arising out of SLP(C) Nos. 5605-5613 of 2016)

                              CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 9547-9549 OF 2019
                               (arising out of SLP(C) Nos. 5391-5393 of 2016)

                              CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 9551-9559 OF 2019
                               (arising out of SLP(C) Nos. 5367-5375 of 2016)

                               CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 9560-9561 OF 2019
                               (arising out of SLP(C) Nos.              of 2019)
                                               [Diary No. 42301/2017]


                                               JUDGMENT

MOHAN M. SHANTANAGOUDAR, J.

CIVIL APPEALS @ SLP (CIVIL) NOS. 5395-5399 OF 2016;
CIVIL APPEALS @ SLP (CIVIL) NOS. 5605-5613 OF 2016;
CIVIL APPEALS @ SLP (CIVIL) NOS. 5391-5393 OF 2016, AND
CIVIL APPEALS @ SLP (CIVIL) NOS. 5367-5375 OF 2016

Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
GULSHAN KUMAR
ARORA
Date: 2019.12.18
Leave granted.

16:26:48 IST
Reason:

1

2. These appeals have been filed against the common final

judgment and order dated 08.07.2015 passed by the High

Court of Judicature at Madras allowing writ appeals filed by the

Respondents herein, being state authorities, and dismissing

writ petitions filed by the Appellants herein, being drivers in

various departments of the Government of Tamil Nadu, with

respect to the Selection Grade and Special Grade scales of pay

applicable to them.

3. The Appellants, in a nutshell, are claiming the grant of

Selection Grade and Special Grade scales of pay in the bracket

of Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs. 5500-9000 respectively in terms of

G.O. Ms. No. 162, Finance (Pay Cell) Department dated

13.04.1998 (for short “G.O. Ms. No. 162”), which has been

granted to around 3000 similarly placed employees. The

Appellants place reliance on various decisions rendered by this

Court and the High Court of Madras in several writ petitions and

appeals granting similar pay scales to the petitioners therein.

Thus, it is argued that the impugned judgment of the High

Court has erroneously differed from the consistent view taken

in these decisions.

4. On the other hand, the Respondents argue in favour of the

impugned judgment, claiming that the initial grant of the

2
claimed pay scale to some drivers (out of which the entire

cluster of litigations arose) was merely on account of an error

on the part of officials in some government departments. Thus,

it is submitted that the applicable scales of pay are Rs. 4000-

6000 and Rs. 4300-6000 respectively for the Selection Grade

and Special Grade.

5. It has come to our attention that several Benches of this

Court have dismissed SLPs against decisions of the High Court

fixing pay scales of the concerned drivers therein at Rs. 5000-

8000 for the Selection Grade and Rs. 5500-9000 for the Special

Grade in terms of G. O. Ms. No. 162. We deem it fit to refer to

the orders passed by this Court in this respect:


WA No. 67 of 2012      SLP (Civil) CC No.     Dismissed on
                       14715 of 2012          10.09.2012

WA No. 383 of 2009     SLP (Civil) No.        Dismissed on
                       35969 of 2009          25.02.2015

WA No. 391 of 2009     SLP (Civil) No. 6522   Dismissed on
                       of 2010                25.02.2015

WA No. 382 to 388 of SLP (Civil) No. 6523- Dismissed on
2009 6530 of 2010 25.02.2015

WP No. 462 of 2012 SLP (Civil) No. Dismissed on
WP No. 24912 of 22491 of 2012 25.02.2015
2010
WA No. 383-391 of
2009
WP -29119- 2012 SLP (Civil) No. Dismissed on
33037of 2013 25.02.2015

3
WA No. 791 and 792 SLP (Civil) No. Dismissed on
of 2013 33588 of 2013 25.02.2015
WP No. 2929 and
2930 of 2012
WA No. 130, 131, 132 SLP (Civil) CC No. Dismissed on
of 2011 12886-12888 of 19.07.2013
2013
WA No. 2243 of 2012 SLP (Civil) CC No. Dismissed on
6602 of 2013 27.09.2013

WA No. 526 of 2013 SLP (Civil) CC No. Dismissed on
14007 of 2013 21.08.2013

WA No. 24899 of SLP (Civil) No. Dismissed on
2014 34265 of 2014 06.02.2017

6. Be that as it may, it must be noted that all the above

orders of this Court were passed at the stage of admission

itself. Even the order dated 25.02.2015, passed by a 3-Judge

Bench of this Court while dealing with a batch of appeals

having SLP (C) No. 35969/2009 as the lead matter, stated as

follows:

“UPON hearing the counsel the Court made the
following
ORDER
Dismissed.”

7. It is evident that all the above orders were non-speaking

orders, inasmuch as they were confined to a mere refusal to

grant special leave to appeal to the petitioners therein. At this

juncture, it is useful to recall that it is well-settled that the

dismissal of an SLP against an order or judgment of a lower

4
forum is not an affirmation of the same. If such an order of this

Court is non-speaking, it does not constitute a declaration of

law under Article 141 of the Constitution, or attract the doctrine

of merger. The following discussion on this proposition in

Kunhayammed v. State of Kerala, (2000) 6 SCC 359, is

relevant in this regard:

“(i) Where an appeal or revision is provided against
an order passed by a court, tribunal or any other
authority before superior forum and such superior
forum modifies, reverses or affirms the decision put
in issue before it, the decision by the subordinate
forum merges in the decision by the superior forum
and it is the latter which subsists, remains operative
and is capable of enforcement in the eye of law.

(ii) The jurisdiction conferred by Article 136 of the
Constitution is divisible into two stages. The first
stage is upto the disposal of prayer for special leave
to file an appeal. The second stage commences if
and when the leave to appeal is granted and the
special leave petition is converted into an appeal.

(iii) The doctrine of merger is not a doctrine of
universal or unlimited application. It will depend on
the nature of jurisdiction exercised by the superior
forum and the content or subject-matter of challenge
laid or capable of being laid shall be determinative of
the applicability of merger. The superior jurisdiction
should be capable of reversing, modifying or
affirming the order put in issue before it. Under
Article 136 of the Constitution the Supreme Court
may reverse, modify or affirm the judgment-decree
or order appealed against while exercising its
appellate jurisdiction and not while exercising the
discretionary jurisdiction disposing of petition for

5
special leave to appeal. The doctrine of merger can
therefore be applied to the former and not to the
latter.

(iv) An order refusing special leave to appeal may be
a non-speaking order or a speaking one. In either
case it does not attract the doctrine of merger. An
order refusing special leave to appeal does not stand
substituted in place of the order under challenge. All
that it means is that the Court was not inclined to
exercise its discretion so as to allow the appeal being
filed.

(v) If the order refusing leave to appeal is a speaking
order i.e. gives reasons for refusing the grant of
leave, then the order has two implications. Firstly,
the statement of law contained in the order is a
declaration of law by the Supreme Court within the
meaning of Article 141 of the Constitution. Secondly,
other than the declaration of law, whatever is stated
in the order are the findings recorded by the
Supreme Court which would bind the parties thereto
and also the court, tribunal or authority in any
proceedings subsequent thereto by way of judicial
discipline, the Supreme Court being the Apex Court
of the country. But, this does not amount to saying
that the order of the court, tribunal or authority
below has stood merged in the order of the Supreme
Court rejecting the special leave petition or that the
order of the Supreme Court is the only order binding
as res judicata in subsequent proceedings between
the parties.

(vi) Once leave to appeal has been granted and
appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court has been
invoked the order passed in appeal would attract the
doctrine of merger; the order may be of reversal,
modification or merely affirmation.

(vii) On an appeal having been preferred or a petition
seeking leave to appeal having been converted into

6
an appeal before the Supreme Court the jurisdiction
of the High Court to entertain a review petition is lost
thereafter as provided by sub-rule (1) of Order 47
Rule 1 CPC.”
(emphasis added)

This view has also been adopted in a plethora of decisions

of this Court, including the recent decision in Khoday

Distilleries v. Sri Mahadeshwara Sahakara Sakkare

Karkhane Ltd., (2019) 4 SCC 376.

8. Applying these observations to the present case, it is clear

that there has been no pronouncement by this Court

constituting the law of the land as to the interpretation of G.O.

Ms. No. 162. In such a situation, it is open for us to proceed to

decide the instant appeals uninfluenced by the prior orders of

this Court dismissing SLPs against the grant of relief to drivers

placed similarly as the Appellants herein.

9. It is evident that the entire controversy in this case hinges

on the interpretation of G.O. Ms. No. 162. Vide this order, the

Tamil Nadu Revised Scales of Pay Rules, 1998 (for short “the

1998 Rules”) were notified, revising 25 standard pay scales on

a pay scale-to-pay scale basis for State Government employees

and teachers. While Schedule I to the 1998 Rules indicated the

revised pay scales, Schedule II specified the Selection Grade

7
and Special Grade pay scales applicable for each revised

Ordinary Grade. Further, it was stated in paragraph 4 of the

G.O. that for posts with no promotional avenues, the Selection

Grade and Special Grade scales as indicated in Schedule II

would be applicable.

10. It is not in dispute that drivers in various departments of

the Government of Tamil Nadu were entitled to revised

Ordinary Grade pay scales as per Schedule I. Further, since

they did not have any promotional avenues, Selection Grade

and Special Grade pay scales under Schedule II would become

applicable as and when they completed 10 and 20 years of

service respectively. The dispute here lies with respect to the

entries under Schedules I and II applicable to the post of

drivers. It is the submission of the Respondents that prior to the

revision of pay scales under the 1998 Rules, drivers were

entitled to the pay scale of Rs. 975-1660 as determined by G.O.

No. 818, Finance, dated 09.09.1989. Accordingly, the

corresponding revised Ordinary Grade pay scale under

Schedule I of the 1998 Rules would be as per Entry No. XX

below:

SCHEDULE -I
LIST OF PAY SCALES
Grou Existing Scale Revised Scale

8
p (2) (3)
(1)
Rs. Rs.

I         5500-200-6500                     17400-500-21900
II        5100-150-5700                     16400-450-20000
III       4500-150-5700                     15000-400-18600
IV        4100-125-4850-150-5300            14300-400-18300
V         3950-125-4700-150-5000            12750-375-16500
VI        3700-125-4700-150-5000            12000-375-16500
VII       3000-100-3500-125-4500            10000-325-15200
VIII      2500-75-2800-100-4200             9100-275-14050
IX        2200-75-2800-100-4000             8000-275-13500
X         2000-60-2300-75-3200-100-3500     6500-200-11100
XI        2000-60-2300-75-3200              6500-200-10500
XII       1820-60-2300-75-3200              5900-200-9900
XIII      1640-60-2600-75-2900              5500-175-9000
XIV       1600-50-2300-60-2660              5300-150-8300
XV        1400-40-1600-50-2300-60-2600      5000-150-8000
XVI       1350-30-1440-40-1800-50-2200      4500-125-7000
XVII      1320-30-1560-40-2040              4300-100-6000
XVIII     1200-30-1560-40-2040              4000-100-6000
XIX       1100-25-1150-30-1660              3625-85-4900
XX        975-25-1150-30-1660               3200-85-4900
XXI       950-20-1150-25-1500               3050-75-3950-80-4590
XXII      825-15-900-20-1200                2750-70-3800-75-4400
XXIII     800-15-1010-20-1150               2650-65-3300-70-4000
XXIV      775-12-835-15-1030                2610-60-3150-65-3540
XXV       750-12-870-15-945                 2550-55-2660-60-3200

                                                   (emphasis added)

11. Relying on this, the Respondents submit that the drivers

are entitled to a revised Ordinary Grade pay scale of Rs. 3200-

4900 only. As regards the Selection Grade and Special Grade

pay scales applicable, the Respondents claim that the

Appellants are entitled to pay scales of Rs. 4000-6000 and Rs.

4300-6000 respectively as per Serial No. 6 of Schedule II, which

is corresponding to Entry No. XX of Schedule I. On the other

hand, the Appellants claim that they are entitled to the revised

Selection Grade and Special Grade pay scales of Rs. 5000-8000

9
and Rs. 5500-9000 respectively as per Serial No. 8 of Schedule

II. It would be useful to refer to Schedule II in this regard:

SCHEDULE – II
REVISED SELECTION GRADE AND SPECIAL GRADE
SCALE OF PAY
Sl. Ordinary Grade (2) Selection Grade Special Grade
Nos (3) (4)
.

(1)

               Rs.                   Rs.                  Rs.
  1   2550-55-2660-60-3200   2650-65-3300-70-     2750-70-3800-75-
                             4000                 4400
  2   2610-60-3150-65-3540   2750-70-3800-75-     3050-75-3950-80-
                             4400                 4590
  3   2650-65-3300-70-4000   3050-75-3950-80-     3200-85-4900
                             4590
  4   2750-70-3800-75-4400   3050-75-3950-80-     3200-85-4900
                             4590
  5   3050-75-3950-80-4590   4000-100-6000        4300-100-6000
  6   3200-85-4900           4000-100-6000        4300-100-6000
  7   3625-85-4900           4300-100-6000        4500-125-7000
  8   4000-100-6000          5000-150-8000        5500-175-9000
  9   4300-100-6000          5000-150-8000        5500-175-9000
 10   4500-125-7000          5300-150-8300        5900-200-9900
 11   5000-150-8000          5500-175-9000        6500-200-10500
 12   5300-150-8300          6500-200-10500       8000-275-13500
 13   5500-175-9000          6500-200-10500       8000-275-13500
 14   5900-200-9900          8000-275-13500       9100-275-14050
 15   6500-200-10500         8000-275-13500       9100-275-14050
 16   6500-200-11100         9100-275-14050       10000-325-15200
 17   8000-275-13500         9100-275-14050       10000-325-15200
 18   9100-275-14050         10000-325-15200      12000-375-16500

                                                  (emphasis added)

12. Indeed, the genesis of the entire dispute lies in the fixation

of Selection and Special Grade pay scales of certain drivers by

certain local departments as per Serial No. 8 of Schedule II.

Pursuant to this, the Joint Secretary to the Government,

Finance Department, issued Letter No. 96900/PC/98-2 dated

10
31.12.1998 to all Secretaries to the Government and Heads of

Department, on the basis that such fixations were erroneous

and needed to be reviewed, with a direction to effect recoveries

wherever excess payments had been made.

13. In 2006, the Secretary, Personnel and Administrative

Reforms (E) Department rejected the representation of the

Tamil Nadu Government Department Drivers’ Central

Association seeking fixation of Selection Grade and Special

Grade pay scales at Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs. 5500-9000

respectively, vide the proceedings in Lr. No. 13921/K/2005-1

dated 25.04.2006. This was challenged by the drivers’

association before the High Court in W.P. No. 34800 of 2006,

which was allowed on the ground that the said proceedings did

not refer to G.O. Ms. No. 162. The association was directed to

make a fresh representation before the Finance Department, to

be decided in accordance with G.O. Ms. No. 162.

14. Such representation, however, was also rejected by the

Finance Department vide letter No. 63685/CMPC/2006-1, dated

01.10.2007, which states as follows:

“3. Therefore, the Drivers are entitled for the
Selection Grade / Special Grade scales of pay as
ordered in Schedule-II of G.O. Ms. No. 162, Finance
(PC) Department, dated 13-4-98, based on the

11
ordinary grade scale of pay granted to the posts of
Drivers. As such all categories on par with Drivers in
the Ordinary Grade of Rs.3200-4900 are entitled for
the Selection Grade of Rs.4000-6000 and Special
Grade of Rs.4300-6000 respectively. The above
Government Order has been issued based on the
recommendations of the Official Committee, 1998
and the Drivers are not denied the benefits ordered
in the Government Order cited. Hence, your request
has no merit to consider as requested.”

15. A batch of writ petitions challenging the above order was

subsequently filed before the High Court. These writ petitions

were allowed by the High Court vide judgment dated

30.09.2008 in W.P. No. 4288/2008 and connected matters

thereto, with a direction for the fixation of pay scales in

accordance with G.O. Ms. No. 162. This was affirmed by the

Division Bench of the High Court vide judgment dated

01.09.2009 in W.A. Nos. 383-391/2009.

16. Subsequently, several other writ petitions were filed by

other similarly situated drivers seeking the benefit of the same

higher pay scale. These petitions were also allowed on the

basis of the previous decisions discussed above, with the

notable exceptions of the judgment dated 18.11.2013 passed

by the Single Judge of the High Court in W.P. No. 1418/2001

12
and matters connected thereto, and the impugned judgment

herein.

17. Concluding that the drivers were not entitled to the higher

claimed pay scales, these two judgments differed from the

consistent view taken in the preceding judgments and orders

based on a scrutiny of G.O. Ms. No. 162 and the prior history of

pay scales payable to the drivers. They justified differing from

the decisions of the Division Benches of the High Court on the

premise that there was no specific direction by the learned

Single Judge in W.P. No. 4288/2008 (supra), or the Division

Bench in W.A. Nos. 383-391/2009, granting the Selection Grade

and Special Grade pay scales of Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs. 5500-

9000 respectively. With respect to subsequent writ petitions

granting these higher pay scales, it was noted that they had

been disposed of at the admission stage itself (in some cases

even without notice to the government) and could thus be

disregarded.

18. Given this departure in the impugned judgment from the

consistent view taken by prior coordinate Benches of the High

Court, it is necessary to ascertain whether the High Court

should have instead referred the matter to a larger Bench for

consideration. This merits a closer reading of the decisions of

13
the Single Judge in W.P. No. 4288/2008 (supra) and of the

Division Bench in W.A. Nos. 383-391/2009. As discussed above,

the principal issue before the Courts in these decisions was the

validity of the order dated 01.10.2007 passed by the Finance

Department rejecting the claim of the drivers’ association for

Selection Grade and Special Grade pay scales of Rs. 5000-8000

and Rs. 5500-9000 respectively.

18.1 The Single Judge in W.P. No. 4288/2008 (supra) and the

Division Bench in W.A. Nos. 383-391/2009 both set aside the

order dated 01.10.2007 based on the fact that the claimed

higher pay scales had already been granted and were still

being received by certain other drivers in several government

departments, as per G.O. Ms. No. 162. Further, and more

importantly, it was held that the letter dated 31.12.1998

wherein such higher pay scale fixations were deemed to be

erroneous, would not have the effect of reducing the

entitlement of drivers, as such a letter could not act as a

substitute for modification of the G.O. itself. Thus, even though

the Court did not give any express direction to grant the higher

pay scales as per Serial No. 8 of Schedule II of the 1998 Rules,

we find that the same was implicit in the Court’s directions for

fixing the pay scales in terms of G.O. Ms. No. 162. In other

14
words, it cannot be said that the High Court in W.A. Nos. 383-

391/2009 did not affirm the drivers’ claim that they were

entitled to the higher Selection and Special Grade pay scales of

Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs. 5500-9000 respectively.

18.2 However, in the impugned judgment, the High Court

only focused on the fact that the conclusion reached by the

coordinate Bench in W.A. Nos. 383-391/2009 was for

appropriate fixation of pay scales under G.O. Ms. No. 162 only,

and there was no specific direction for grant of the Selection

Grade and Special Grade pay scales of Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs.

5500-9000 respectively. On this basis, the High Court

proceeded to determine the question of pay scale entitlement

and took a view diametrically opposite to that of the coordinate

Bench in W.A. Nos. 383-391/2009, finding that the Appellant-

drivers were only entitled to the Selection Grade and Special

Grade pay scales of Rs. 4000-6000 and Rs. 4300-6000

respectively. In our considered opinion, such an approach is

based on a narrow reading of the decision of the coordinate

Bench in W.A. Nos. 383-391/2009, as it fails to appreciate the

implicit direction in this order to grant the higher pay scales to

the drivers, as mentioned supra. Thus, it appears that the High

Court differed from the view taken previously by a coordinate

15
Bench based on a misreading of the same. In such a situation,

once it was found by the High Court that it was in disagreement

with the holding of its coordinate Bench in W.A. Nos. 383-

391/2009, it should not have proceeded to decide the matter

by itself, and in the interest of judicial discipline, should instead

have referred the matter to a larger Bench for its consideration.

19. Be that as it may, in the interest of expeditious disposal of

the matter, we do not deem it fit to remand the matter to the

High Court for fresh consideration at this stage. Thus, we shall

proceed to decide it on merits accordingly.

20. In our considered opinion, apart from claiming parity with

similarly placed individuals, the Appellants have been unable to

justify how and why they are entitled to the Selection Grade

and Special Grade pay scales of Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs. 5500-

9000 as specified in Serial No. 8 of Schedule II to the 1998

Rules, in terms of G.O. Ms. No. 162. On the other hand, on

perusing the series of revisions made to the pay scales

applicable to drivers employed with the State Government, we

find that the applicable pay scales for the Selection Grade and

Special Grade would be as per Serial No. 6 of Schedule II to the

1998 Rules, i.e. Rs. 4000-6000 and Rs. 4300-6000 respectively.

16
20.1 As the High Court has also noted in the impugned

judgment, the pay scales of the Appellants can be traced back

to G.O. Ms. No. 666, Finance dated 27.06.1989, by which the

State Government issued the Tamil Nadu Revised Scales of Pay

Rules, 1989, implementing the recommendations of the V th

Tamil Nadu Pay Commission. Under these rules, the original

and revised pay scales of 30 common categories of posts were

specified. The scale of pay for drivers was mentioned at Serial

No. 11 in the first part of the Schedule to these rules, having

been revised from Rs. 610-1075 to Rs. 950-1500.

20.2 The next revision came through G.O. Ms. No. 818,

Finance, dated 09.09.1989, whereby drivers’ pay scale was

increased to Rs. 975-1660. Later, under G.O. Ms. No. 304,

Finance dated 28.03.1990, Special Grade and Selection Grade

scales of pay were introduced for persons who had completed

10 years and 20 years of service respectively. For the post of

drivers carrying the Ordinary Grade pay scale of Rs. 975-1660,

the Selection and Special Grade brackets were set as Rs. 1200-

2040 and Rs. 1320-2040 respectively.

20.3 Finally, when the 1998 Rules were introduced through

G.O. Ms. No. 162, the post-wise determination of pay scales

was replaced by a pay scale-to-pay scale basis determination.

17
As already seen in Schedule I of the said rules, the pay scale of

Rs. 975-1660 applicable to drivers was revised to Rs. 3200-

4900. For this, the corresponding Selection and Special Grades

specified in Schedule II were Rs. 4000-6000 and Rs. 4300-6000

respectively.

21. Against this backdrop, we find substance in the

submission of the Respondents that the Appellants are not

lawfully entitled to the claimed Selection Grade and Special

Grade pay scales of Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs. 5500-9000

respectively in terms of G.O. Ms. No. 162.

22. The only question to be settled, therefore, is whether the

Appellants are entitled to claim parity with the drivers who

have so far been granted benefits vide the orders of the High

Court and this Court, as mentioned supra in paragraph 5.

23. In this respect, we find that the High Court in the

impugned judgment was correct in concluding that the

Appellants cannot claim such relief on the strength of Article 14

of the Constitution of India, when once it has been found that

they are not lawfully entitled to the same. It is well-settled by

now that a person cannot invoke Article 14 to claim a benefit

extended to someone similarly placed if he is not lawfully

entitled to such benefit in the first place. Article 14 embodies

18
the concept of positive equality alone, and not negative

equality, that is to say, it cannot be relied upon to perpetuate

an illegality or irregularity. In fact, this Court has opined that

this principle extends to orders passed by judicial fora as well.

Thus, the jurisdiction of a higher court cannot be invoked on

the basis of a wrong order passed by a lower forum. In this

respect, it would be fruitful to refer to the following passage

from the decision of this Court in Basawaraj v. Land

Acquisition Officer, (2013) 14 SCC 81:

“8. It is a settled legal proposition that Article 14 of
the Constitution is not meant to perpetuate illegality
or fraud, even by extending the wrong decisions
made in other cases. The said provision does not
envisage negative equality but has only a positive
aspect. Thus, if some other similarly situated persons
have been granted some relief/benefit inadvertently
or by mistake, such an order does not confer any
legal right on others to get the same relief as well. If
a wrong is committed in an earlier case, it cannot be
perpetuated. Equality is a trite, which cannot be
claimed in illegality and therefore, cannot be
enforced by a citizen or court in a negative manner. If
an illegality and irregularity has been committed in
favour of an individual or a group of individuals or a
wrong order has been passed by a judicial forum,
others cannot invoke the jurisdiction of the higher or
superior court for repeating or multiplying the same
irregularity or illegality or for passing a similarly
wrong order. A wrong order/decision in favour of any
particular party does not entitle any other party to
claim benefits on the basis of the wrong decision.

19

Even otherwise, Article 14 cannot be stretched too
far for otherwise it would make functioning of
administration impossible. (Vide Chandigarh
Admn. v. Jagjit Singh [(1995) 1 SCC 745 : AIR 1995
SC 705] , Anand Buttons Ltd. v. State of
Haryana
[(2005) 9 SCC 164 : AIR 2005 SC 565] , K.K.
Bhalla v. State of M.P
. [(2006) 3 SCC 581 : AIR 2006
SC 898] and Fuljit Kaur v. State of Punjab [(2010) 11
SCC 455 : AIR 2010 SC 1937].)”

This proposition was also recently affirmed by a 3-Judge

Bench of this Court in State of Odisha v. Anup Kumar

Senapati (Civil Appeal No. 7295/2019, judgment dated

16.09.2019).

24. Thus, it is evident that the Appellants cannot claim the

Selection Grade and Special Grade scales of pay of Rs. 5000-

8000 and Rs. 5500-9000 respectively, solely on the strength of

earlier decisions of the High Court, without showing how they,

themselves, are entitled to such benefit in the first place. In

such a situation, we are of the considered view that the

Appellants can only be granted the benefit of the Selection

Grade and Special Grade scales of pay to which they are

lawfully entitled in terms of G.O. Ms. No. 162, i.e. Rs. 4000-

6000 and Rs. 4300-6000 respectively.

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25. Therefore, in view of the foregoing discussion, we find no

reason to interfere with the impugned judgment. The instant

appeals are hereby dismissed, and the impugned judgment is

confirmed.

CIVIL APPEALS @ SLPs [Diary No. 42301/2017]

Delay condoned. Leave granted.

2. These appeals have been filed by the State of Tamil Nadu,

represented by its Principal Secretary, Finance (Pay Cell)

Department against the judgment and order dated 05.01.2015

of the High Court of Madras in W.P. No. 2363 of 2013, and the

final judgment and order dated 11.09.2017 dismissing Review

Application No. 153 of 2016 against the same, with respect to

the pay scale entitlements of certain drivers employed by the

High Court of Madras in terms of G.O. Ms. No. 162.

3. These appeals arise out of virtually the same factual

background as those disposed of above. W.P. No. 2363 of 2013

was filed by the concerned drivers employed with the High

Court of Madras, seeking quashing of paragraph 5 of Letter No.

63305/Pay Cell/2010-1 dated 08.11.2010 issued by the State

Government, on which basis the Government had denied them

the benefit of Selection and Special Grade pay scales as per

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Serial No. 8 of Schedule II of the 1998 Rules under G.O. Ms. No.

162. The petitioners therein also sought a direction to the State

Government for appropriate fixation of pay scales in the above

terms.

4. The Division Bench allowed the writ petition on the ground

that the drivers were not entitled to any promotional avenues,

and hence were entitled to the full benefits of the appropriate

pay scale under Schedule II of the 1998 Rules. It was further

found that the drivers were entitled to benefits under Serial No.

8 of the said schedule, looking to the disposal of similar matters

by the High Court and this Court. The review application filed

against the same also came to be dismissed by the High Court.

5. As discussed supra, it has not been disputed before us

that the drivers concerned were not entitled to any promotional

avenues. Thus, it is evident that the High Court rightly

concluded that the drivers were entitled to the full benefits of

the appropriate pay scale under Schedule II of the 1998 Rules.

However, in light of our foregoing finding that persons

employed in the post of drivers in various departments in the

Government of Tamil Nadu are only entitled to Ordinary,

Selection and Special Grade pay scales in terms of Serial No. 6

of Schedule II of the 1998 Rules, i.e. at Rs. 3200-4900, Rs.

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4000-6000 and Rs. 4300-6000 respectively, we have no

hesitation to hold that the High Court erred in directing fixation

of such pay scales to drivers employed at the High Court in

terms of Serial No. 8 of the Schedule II, fixing Selection Grade

and Special Grade scales of pay of Rs. 5000-8000 and Rs. 5500-

9000 respectively.

6. The appeals are therefore allowed partly, to the extent

that the State Government is directed to fix the pay scale

benefits available to the Respondents in the instant appeals in

terms of Serial No. 6 of Schedule II of the 1998 Rules under

G.O. Ms. No. 162.

…..……………………………………..J.

(MOHAN M.

SHANTANAGOUDAR)

….………………………………………J.

(KRISHNA MURARI)

New Delhi;

December 18, 2019

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