|Court||Supreme Court of India|
|Decided on||5th August 1985|
|Citations||1986 (52) FLR 147, (1986) 1 SCC 637|
|Case No.||Civil Writ Petitions Nos. 4821 and 4817 of 1983|
|Bench||P.N. Bhagwati, CJ & A.N. Sen, JJ|
|Appellant||Dhirendra Chamoli & Anr.|
|Respondents||State of U.P.|
|Reference||Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, 1949|
The Indian Constitution is the same for all citizens. There is neither discrimination in respect of laws and regulations nor there is any special treatment for anyone. This right of equality is considered as a fundamental right that is enshrined under Article 14. The said article expressly prohibits any discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, etc. Despite the existence of the right to equality, many people face discrimination with respect to their salaries in the workplace. Equal pay for equal work is a concept of paying equal remuneration to the different classes of employees who perform the same duties in the same organization. The said concept, although provided under DPSP, is not enforceable by law and can only be interpreted by the court of law through various laws. The present case of Dhirendra Chamoli & Anr. v. State of U.P. also attempts to interpret the concept of equal pay for equal work.
Constitutional law, Article 14, discrimination, equal pay, laws, workers, DPSP, labour laws
The concept of Equal Pay for Equal Workis not expressly defined in the Indian Constitution however, it arose from interpretations of various laws and judgments made in the court of law. Equal pay for equal work signifies paying equal remuneration to people having the same job in the same organization. There should be no discrimination in this regard but in an anti-discrimination country like India, this problem of unequal pay for equal work persists.
The concept of equal pay for equal work has taken the shape of a fundamental right from the interpretation of various laws provided under the Constitution of India. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution provides for “equality before the law”,Article 15 provides for “protection against discrimination” on the grounds of race, religion, gender, etc. and Article 16 provides for “equal opportunity in public employment.”Also, Article 39 of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) provides that the State should ensure equal pay for equal work for men and women, and also ensure that both get an adequate means of livelihood. However, the rights under DPSP are not enforceable by law.
In the case of Dhirendra Chamoli and Anr. v. State of U.P., the appellants who are casual daily wage workers in Nehru Yuvak Kendra, Dehradun, moved to the Supreme Court (SC) as they were not getting paid the same remuneration as the Class IV employees although the work is equal.
In the present case, the appellants issued a notice to the Central Government (Govt.) asking them to show cause as to why the casual workers should not get the same salary as that of Class IV employees for the same work done. The under Secretary, in a counter-affidavit, allegedly said that The Ministry of Education, Govt. of India, started the Nehru Yuvak Kendras in different locations temporarily and because of that there are no sanctioned posts. It was also argued that since there are no regular posts, the casual workers cannot claim the same salary as that of the Class IV employees.
The appellants then wrote letters to the govt. which initiated writ petitions before the SC. The complaint in the writ petitions was that many people are engaged as casual workers on a daily wage in Nehru Yuvak Kendra and they do not get paid the same salary and allowances as that of the Class IV employees though the work is same. Hence, the inception of the present case before the Apex Court.
The appellants, Dhirendra Chamoli and Mohan Singh are casual workers on daily wages in Nehru Yuvak Kendra, Dehradun. They are paid daily wages for the work they have done. They do not have sanctioned posts in the said organization as it is of temporary nature itself. Although the organization is temporarily set-up by the Ministry of Education, Govt. of India, there are appointments of people as Class IV employees who work on a regular basis. The casual workers engaged with Nehru Yuvak Kendra do not get the same salary as that of these Class IV employees though they perform the same work as them.
Due to this problem faced by the casual workers, the appellants issued a notice to the Central Govt. to show cause why the Class IV employees are paid differently for the same work done by them as that of the casual works. The Under Secretary, Ministry of Sports filed a counter-affidavit, in response to the said notice allegedly saying that Nehru Yuvak Kendras were started temporarily in different locations so there are no sanctioned posts in the said organization. All people engaged with Nehru Yuvak Kendras are working as casual workers on daily wages.
The anticipated argument in the counter-affidavit was that the casual workers cannot claim the same salaries as that of the Class IV employees as there are no sanctioned posts. On the other hand, the said affidavit also acknowledged that the casual workers perform the same duties as that of the Class IV employees. Thus, it is difficult to understand as to how the Central Govt. can deny equal pay to casual workers.
The bench was of the view that the Central Govt. is “exploiting the Welfare State committed to a socialist pattern of the society” by not allowing the same salary and allowances to these daily wage workers as provided to the Class IV employees. It was also stated that the Central Govt. cannot avoid the provision of ‘equality’ mentioned under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution merely on the ground that these casual workers accepted the employment knowing that they would get daily wages.
The issue raised in the present case, through the writ petitions, was that the casual workers of Nehru Yuvak Kendra, Dehradun were not getting paid the same remuneration as that of the Class IV employees though they were doing the same work as was assigned to the Class IV employees. These casual workers were engaged with the said organization on a daily wage basis and Class IV employees were engaged on a regular basis but both classes of employees performed the same duties. The salary and allowances of the casual workers were although different from the Class IV employees.
Article 14, the Indian Constitution
The Indian Constitution provides for ‘equality before the law’ or ‘equal protection of laws’ within the territory of India under Article 14.
- Equality before the Law as enshrined under this article means that the State will not deny any citizen equality before the law and every citizen will be treated equally in the eyes of law. This article imposes a responsibility on the State to prohibit discrimination based on religion, race, caste, etc.
- Similarly, the State should provide everyone in similar situations with the Equal Protection of Laws. No citizen should be excluded from the protection of laws due to his/her religion, caste, race, etc.
Article 16, the Indian Constitution
Under Article 16 of the Indian Constitution, it is provided that everyone should get equal opportunities in public employment. No citizen should be discriminated based on his religion, caste, race, etc. in the matter of any public employment. There must be equal opportunities for all citizens in the matter of public employment.
Article 39, the Indian Constitution (DPSP)
Article 39 is the part of DPSP and is provided under the Indian Constitution. Article 32(d) specifically states that there should be “equal pay for equal work” for all the citizens and clause (a) of the same Articles states that all citizens must be treated equally and also should have a right to adequate means of livelihood.
Randhir Singh v. Union of India
In this case, the doctrine of equal pay equal work was elevated to the position of fundamental rights for the first time by the three-Judge SC bench. It was held that the right of equal pay for equal work can be enforced by law although it is not expressly mentioned in the Indian Constitution as a fundamental right and given under the DPSP. Under Articles 14 and 16, this right is a constitutional goal.
State of Punjab & Ors v. Jagjit Singh & Ors.
In this case, it was held by the Apex Court that the temporary employees would get the same remuneration as that of the permanent employees in case of similar duties and functions performed. This principle would be applicable in situations where the same or similar work is performed by the employees irrespective of their classes.
Daily Rated Casual Labour v. Union Of India & Ors.
In this case, the SC held that the Govt. will be violating the principle enshrined in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution by not paying equal salaries to the daily rated casual labourers doing the same work as that of the regular labourers. It was also held that the govt. cannot compel the workers to work as a casual labourer on daily wages. It is irrelevant that the worker has agreed to work on low wages as it was the poverty that compelled him.
The complaints made in the present writ petitions were allowed and the rule was made absolute by the Apex Court in the present case. The SC directed Central Govt. to pay equal pay to the casual workers of Nehru Yuvak Kendra for the same duties performed by them as that of Class IV employees irrespective of the fact that Class IV employees are appointed on regular basis and are assigned sanctioned posts.
It was also held by the SC that by not paying equal pay to the casual employees even though they are performing the same duties as that of Class IV employees, Central Govt. is violating the principle enshrined in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution. The said Article provides for equality before the law and equal protection of the law for all. The fact that these casual workers agreed to work on a daily wage doesn’t mean that the Central Govt. can avoid the principle laid down in the said Article.
However, the court in addition to the above statements also held that equal pay would not amount to regularization fo these casual workers as there are no sanctioned posts in Nehru Yuvak Kendra. The court also said that the Central Govt. should not appoint people as casual workers in organizations that are in continuance for more than12 years. The Central Govt. was also directed to pay the costs of writ petitions filed for the lump-sum amount of Rs. 1,000 to the petitioners.
The principle enshrined in Article 14 of the Indian Constitution holds a very important place in our country. Article 14 is a fundamental right provided to every citizen and is also enforceable by law in case of its violation. It provides for equality before the law and equal protection of the law to every citizen and prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religion, race, caste, etc. The rule of equal pay for equal work as discussed in the present case is not expressed in our Constitution but can be interpreted through Article 14, and various judgments regarding the same. The Indian Constitution provides for the principle of “equal pay equal work” under DPSP though it is not enforceable by law. Thus, the principle of equal pay equal work is interpreted by various laws.