Dilution of parity among Assistants of field Offices and Secretariat

This article is written by Shri.Ranjit.R who works for Debts Recovery Tribunal as Recovery Inspector at Ernakulam

It seems there had been a lot of hues and cries when parity among field Offices and the Secretariat was finally accomplished on submission of the Sixth Central Pay Commission Report to the Government of India.  This was evident from a speedy, rather hasty, decision by the Government, subsequent to implementation of the Sixth CPC Report, to enhance the Grade Pay of Rs.4,200/- to Rs.4,600/- to the Assistants/ Personal Assistants of the Secretariat, though parity was initially approved by the Government.  The consequent and immediate representations of the similarly placed in the field offices for parity based on the Sixth CPC recommendations are, presumably, ‘pending consideration’! (?).  This can be prolonged till it is submitted before the next Pay Commission for a decision, as practiced.

I feel it apposite to reproduce relevant excerpts from the Sixth Central Pay Commission Report in respect of parity before discussing the issue:

Excerpts from Sixth Central Pay Commission Report

1.2.18  Parity between field offices and secretariat has been proposed as, in Commission’s view, equal emphasis has to be given to the field offices in order to ensure better delivery.

2.2.19  Scales of Rs.5000-8000, Rs.5500-9000 and Rs.6500-10500 have been merged to bring parity between field offices; the secretariat; the technical posts; and the work shop staff. This was necessary to ensure that due importance is given to the levels concerned with actual delivery. It is also noted that a large number of anomalies were created due to the placement of Inspectors/equivalent posts in CBDT/CBEC and Assistants/ Personal Assistants of CSS/CSSS in the scale of Rs.6500-200-10500. The scales of Rs.5500-175-9000 and Rs.6500-200-10500, in any case, had to be merged to resolve these anomalies.

3.1.1    The various Secretariats of the Ministries and Departments of Government of India together constitute the headquarters organisation.  The Secretariats are chiefly involved in matters relating to formulation of policy and ensuring that these policies are executed in a coordinated and effective manner.  Actual execution of these policies, however, is left to field agencies outside the Secretariat, which may be either attached or subordinate offices or quasi‑Government/ autonomous/ public sector undertakings.

Disparity between Secretariat and field offices

3.1.2    Historically, various services in the Secretariat have been given an edge over analogous posts in the field offices.  This was done on the ground that office staff in their counter parts in field offices perform routine work relating to routine matters concerning personnel and general administration, etc.  Another argument that is used to justify the edge for various posts in Secretariat is that in Secretariat, level jumping occurs and personnel in the grade of Assistant etc. submit files directly to decision making levels of Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, etc.

3.1.3    Higher pay scales in the Secretariat offices may have been justified in the past when formulation of proper policies was of paramount importance.  The present position is different.  Today, the weakest link in respect of any Government policy is at the delivery stage.  The field offices are at the cutting edge of administration and may, in most cases, determine whether a particular policy turns out to be a success or a failure in terms of actual benefit to the consumer.  Accordingly, the time has come to grant parity between similarly placed personnel employed in field offices and in the Secretariat.  This parity will need to be absolute till the grade of Assistant.  Beyond this, it may not be possible or even justified to grant complete parity because the hierarchy and career progression will need to be different taking in view the functional considerations and relativities across the board.

3.1.4    A parity has long been established between the posts of Lower Division Clerk (LDC) and Upper Division Clerk (UDC) in Secretariat and field offices.  The position becomes different for posts above UDC level; with the Assistant in Secretariat offices being placed in higher pay scale vis-à-vis those working in field offices.  Earlier, the respective pay scales of Rs.5500-9000 and 5000-8000 existed for Assistants in Secretariat and in Field offices.  This disparity was aggravated in 2006 when the Government further upgraded the pay scales of Assistants belonging to Central Secretariat Service to Rs.6500-10500.

3.1.6    Assistants working in other Secretariat organisations like AFHQ, MEA and various other non-participating Ministries/ Organisations etc. have been denied this and are stridently demanding similar higher pay scales from the Government.

3.1.7    The Government, however, did not concede this parity and have referred the issue to this Commission for taking a final view thereon.

Recommendations

Designation

Pre-revised Scale

New Pay Scale

Assistant

Rs.6500-10500

PB-2 of Rs.8700-34800 along with grade pay of Rs.4200
[which has been improved and modified to Rs.9300-34800]

Section Officer

Rs.7500-12000

 

Rs.8000-13500 *

PB-2 of Rs.8700-34800 along with grade pay of Rs.4800
[which has been improved and modified to Rs.9300-34800]
PB-2 of Rs.8700-34800 along with grade pay of Rs.5400 *
[which has been improved and modified to Rs.9300-34800]

* (on completion of four years)

The Sixth Pay Commission had recommended parity in terms of hierarchical structure of Office Staff in field offices and Secretariat up to the level of Assistants/Personal Assistants and the Government had accepted this recommendation.  But, contrary to this, the Government of India, Ministry of Finance, Department of Expenditure vide O.M No.1/1/2008-IC dated 16.11.2009 has extended the pay structure of Grade Pay of Rs.4,600/- in the Pay Band PB2 to Assistants and Personal Assistants belonging to Central Secretariat Service, Armed Forces Head Quarter Service, Indian Foreign Service B and Railway Board Secretariat Service and their counterpart Stenographer Services with effect from 01.01.2006, which will cover, SSC, CVC, UPSC etc, and like-wise extended the pay structure of Grade Pay of Rs.4,800/- to the Section Officers.  

One of the tricky reasons they attribute to this is that there is an element of direct recruitment to the posts of Assistants/Personal Assistants of the Central Secretariat, and that too through an All India Competitive Examination.  It is pertinent to mention here that the Staff Selection Commission, through an All India Competitive Examination, selected all staff including those who are on the Pay Band PB2 in the so called field offices all over India to the service on direct recruitment.

Therefore, there cannot be any differentiation between the Section Officers/ Assistants/ Personal Assistants in the Central Secretariat Service and their counter parts in the field offices, which are constituted by the Central Government itself.  Besides, the aforesaid O.M says that with the issue of their own O.M of even number dated 13.11.2009 the grade pay of Rs.4,600/- has already been introduced in the case of office staff in field offices also.  The office staff in field offices mentioned therein refers to the Inspectors of the Customs & Central Excise and the Income Tax, whereas, the Section Officers and Assistants/ Personal Assistants working in the field offices who are in the Pay Band PB2 continue to receive grade pay of Rs.4,600/- and Rs.4,200/- respectively.

It is very important to mention here that the Sixth Central Pay Commission, headed by Hon’ble Mr. Justice B.N. Srikrishna, was highly just by recommending merger of the three different pay scales of Rs.5000‑8000, Rs.5500‑9000 and Rs.6500‑10500 to bring parity between field offices, the secretariat, the technical posts and the work shop staff, and fixing it at the Pay Band Rs.9300-34800 along with grade pay of Rs.4200/-.  The fact that the Officers and Staff in Field offices often have more work load due to limited manpower in their respective organisations also need to be considered.  Hence it is only just and proper to bring parity with the Secretariat and Field Offices, as justified and recommended by the Commission and as accepted and approved by the Government.

In judicial side, I would like to point out following decisions which are in line with my observations above.

 

  • The Hon’ble Central Administrative Tribunal, Chennai in its decision dated 18.12.2007 in Winston Samuel v. Union of India, Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and others [OA No.711/2006] had held that jobs with identical functions should have identical pay scales.  The Central Administrative Tribunal, vide its order, has extended the grade of Rs.4,600/- to its employees in Pay Band PB2 corresponding to pre-revised scale of Rs.5,500-175-9,000. 
  • It is held by the Hon’ble Central Administrative Tribunal, Guwahati in its decision dated 05.12.2007 in the matter of Alok Acharjee and others v. Union of India, Secretary, Home Affairs and others [OA No.323/2006] that an order of court in a case of pay fixation will equally apply to all those similarly placed even if they are not party to the case.
  • The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Union of India and others v. Hiranmoy Sen and others [reported in SCC (L&S) 271] has held that equal pay for equal posts can be applied if there is complete and wholesale identity between two groups (posts). 
  • It was also held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan v. Rajesh Mohan Sukhla and others [reported in SCC (L&S) 286] that equal pay for equal work will be applicable irrespective of the sources of recruitment.
  • It is now well settled that a decision given by a Court or Tribunal should be applicable to all persons similarly situated as held by the Hon’ble Central Administrative Tribunal, Calcutta in its decision dated 27.06.2003 in A. Gowri Sankara Rao v. Union of India and others [OA No.328/2001].
  • The Hon’ble Central Administrative Tribunal, Jodhpur in its decision in January 2004 in Nem Singh v. Union of India and Others has held that Government should give the benefit of a final decision to all similarly placed persons and should not unnecessarily send people to Court [OA No.273/2002 and M.A No.127/2002]. 
  • The law has already been laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Indra Pal Yadav and Anr. V. Union of India and Ors [reported in 1985 (2) SCC 648] that those who could not come to the Court need not be at a comparative disadvantage to those who rushed in the Court.  If they are otherwise similarly situated, they are entitled to similar treatment, if not by anyone else at the hands of the Court. 
  • Similar view was taken by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Gopal Krishna Sharma and Ors. V. State of Rajasthan and Anr [reported in 1999 (3) SCC (L&S) 544] wherein also it was held that the benefit of the Hon’ble Supreme Court judgment is to be extended to all even those who did not join as a party before the Court. 
  • The Full Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal in Abraham Titus and Ors. V. Union of India and Ors etc [reported in 1992(19) ATC 722] has also held that when a court after analysis of rival pleas enunciated a proposition of law and based on those propositions, allows certain relief to some civil servants who are applicants before it, normally, it behoves the Administration to extend the benefit without any discrimination.

Several guidelines/ strictures/ directions derived from the judgments, including the few cited above, could have been considered by the various Administrative Authorities in the respective Departments/ Ministries.  The Government cannot merely deviate from the findings of Hon’ble Mr. Justice B.N. Srikrishna by bringing feeble justification such as the posts in the Secretariat are filled through All India Competitive Examinations and more merit is involved there. 

Instead the Government may consider bringing the so called similarly placed, or those drawing similar pay scales, by classifying the posts into three, like Ministerial (posts of Assistant, Steno Gr. ‘C’), Technical (professional posts in the fields of Engineering, Accounts and Medical) and Executive (like various posts of Inspectors/ Intelligence Officers in the executing departments/ enforcement agencies of Income-Tax, Central Excise, etc.).  This may reduce the dispute of parity at least in the future. 

Concluding, it is my request, as well as of many others’ in the field offices throughout India who are deprived of the Grade Pay of Rs.4,600/- on the parity aspect of Sixth CPC recommendation, to bring the Grade Pay of Section Officers and Assistants/ Personal Assistants in the field offices at par with that of the Secretariat.  Justice may neither be delayed nor denied.

[with inputs on various citations from my colleague Mr. Regi K. George, Personal Assistant]

The views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and are not intended to represent the views of GConnect.

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