Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday issues a notice to the Punjab government, the department of Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan and Union government on a petition filed by two retired elementary teacher training (ETT) teachers against the reduction in their salaries before retirement from Rs. 37,800 per month to Rs. 15000 per month. The bench headed by Justice Sehrawat issued the notice on the petition filed by Hoshiar Singh and Baljinder Singh, two recently retired ETT teachers
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Facts in Brief:
- In their writ petition, the teachers said they were getting salaries of Rs. 37,800 per month, when suddenly, vide notification dated January 23,2019, their salaries were reduced drastically to Rs. 15000 per month retrospectively from June 1, 2018. The petitioners subsequently retired from service.
- According to the petitioners, the reason, although not stated in the notification, was that they had not submitted an option seeking regularisation in the education department on the terms and conditions mentioned in the regularisation notification since it entailed three-year probation, during which they were to get a basic salary of Rs. 10,300 per month only.
- They said they were not informed that if they did not opt for regularisation under the government notification dated October 9, 2018, their salaries would be reduced. Otherwise also, according to the petitioners, their salaries could not have been reduced without complying with the principles of natural justice i.e., without giving them any notice and right reason.
- The petitioners stated the Sarv Sikhiya Abhiyan in which they were employed, was a partnership programmed of the Union of India and state government, which were to jointly bear the burden of payment of salaries to teachers employed under the Sarv Sikhiya Abhiyan (now called Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan).
- They pointed out that the Punjab government has paid salaries to petitioners from the share given by the Union government and had not contributed its share, which is arbitrary and unjustified. They also said such a drastic reduction in salary is harsh and unjustified.
Natural justice consists of 3 rules.
The first one is “Hearing rule,” which states that the person or party who is affected by the decision made by superior authority/adjudicating authority should be given a fair opportunity to express his point of view to defend himself.
Secondly, “Bias rule” generally expresses that the superior authority/adjudicating authority should be biased free while making the decision. The decision should be given in a free and fair manner, which can fulfill the rule of natural justice.
And thirdly, “Reasoned Decision,” which states that order, decision, or judgment of the court given by the Presiding authorities with a valid and reasonable ground.
In Board of High School v. Kumari Chitra, AIR 1970 SC 1039,it was held by the Supreme Court that the object of notice is to provide an opportunity to the person so that he can equip himself to defend his case. Any order passed without giving notice is against the principles of natural justice is void ab initio.
In Canara Bank v. Debasis Das, (2003) 4 SCC 557, it was held that “Notice is the first limb of this principle. It must be precise and unambiguous. It should apprise the party determinatively of the case he has to meet. The time given for the purpose should be adequate to enable him to make his representation. In the absence of a notice of the kind and such reasonable opportunity, the order passed becomes wholly vitiated. Thus, it is but essential that a party should be put on notice of the casebefore any adverse order is passed against him. It is, after all, an approved rule of fair play. The concept has gained significance and shades with time”.
In Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, (1978) 1 SCC 248, it was observed by the Supreme Court that principles of natural justice have an essential place in modern Administrative Law. They have been defined to mean “fair play in action.” “They constitute the essential elements of a fair hearing, having their roots in the innate sense of man for fair play and justice which is not the preserve of any particular race or country but is shared in common by all men. It was also reiterated that the principles of natural justice also apply to administrative actions.
The court will find out whether the notification intimated them regarding the reduction of salary, if not opted for regularisation.
Nonetheless, if the petitioner’s argument is valid that there was no notice that their salary would be reduced if they did not opt for regularisation, Punjab government and the Union of India cannot reduce their salary without giving them notice and right to defend themselves. Otherwise, that would be a violation of principles of natural justice.
Till now, honorable Punjab and Haryana High Court have admitted the petition and issued the notice to the Punjab government and Union of India. The case will now come up for hearing on August 25.
For case specific advice consults with service Law subject matter expert/Recovery of Salary and gets professional Legal advice from Top High Court Service lawyer in Chandigarh Panchkula Mohali. Kharar Derabassi Zirakpur
This post is written by Gourav Kathuria
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