Chandigarh, February 22
More than seven years after the Punjab government came out with a notification providing fixed monthly emoluments to its employees during the probation period without grade pay, annual increment or other allowance, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed the same.
The Bench of Justice MS Ramachandra Rao and Justice Sukhvinder Kaur also directed the state and other respondents to grant regular pay scale to the petitioners, along with all other emoluments, allowances, etc., from the date of their initial appointment. A three-month deadline was set for paying the arrears.
In its 36-page order, the Bench directed the state and other respondents to count the period spent on probation as regular services for determining the total length of service under the service rules. The Bench also quashed conditions included in the appointment letters issued to petitioners on the basis of the notifications.
The impugned notification dated December 25, 2015, was applicable to all employees – expect members of the Punjab Civil Service (Judicial Branch), specialist doctors and “permanent employees having lien in permanent post and appointed substantively to another post on a time scale of pay”. It had also made it clear that period spent on probation was not to be treated as time spent on the post.
The notification was challenged in 102 petitions filed by Ajay Kumar Singla and other petitioners. Among others, they were represented by Vikas Chatrath, HC Arora, Sunny Singla, Gagneshwar Walia and Kapil Kakkar.
The Bench also made it clear that a previous notification dated January 15, 2015, had already been quashed in the cases of Gurwinder Singh and others and Dr Vishavdeep Singh and others. The ratio or the reason behind the two decisions, in its opinion, equally applied to the matter “since what was contained in the notification January 15, 2015, was introduced in a different form in the notification dated December 22, 2015”. The Bench added there was no material change, except that specialist doctors were added to those granted exemption.
“All the writ petitions are allowed and the notification dated December 22, 2015, is also quashed and the benefit thereof shall accrue to the petitioners, who have challenged it from their date of initial appointment as was done in the case of Gurwinder Singh and others,” the Bench added.
Before parting with the judgment, the Bench left another notification dated September 5, 2016, open for consideration in an appropriate case. The State had, vide the notification, increased the probation period from two to three years. “Though the notification was challenged in some of the cases, there was no pleading as to why it should be quashed,” the Bench observed.
What it means
*Petitioner-employees to get regular pay scale, along with all other emoluments, allowances etc. from the initial appointment date. The arrears would be paid within three months
*Probation period would be counted as regular service for determining the total length under the service rules
HC ruling on previous notification
Coming down heavily on the state, the High Court had asserted these were unconscionable terms and conditions. It was nothing, but exploitation by the state government of its subjects, who were hapless and desperately seeking government jobs. They were, however, given the 'Hobson's choice'.
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