Case Summary: State Of Bihar & Ors. V. Bihar State ‘Plus2’ Lecturers Associations & Ors. [(2007) 7 Scc 231]

Case Summary: State Of Bihar & Ors. V. Bihar State ‘Plus2’ Lecturers

Case Summary


State Of Bihar & Ors. V. Bihar State: The appellants issued invitations for vacancies in the educational institutions, both government and nationalised. The generic pay scale decided was Rs.940-1660 regardless of any other considerations. Later the Vth Pay Commission pay scales were revised to Rs.1640-2900.  The minimum qualification required was said to be a II class Postgraduate degree, which did not mention any other specifications with regards to training.

herefore, lecturers both trained and untrained were selected and appointed. After appointment, a Fitment Committee was set up to decide the pay scales of the trained lecturers and untrained lecturers. The Fitment Committee recommended different pay-scales for the trained and untrained lecturers. The pay-scales were fixed as Rs.5000-8000 for untrained lecturers and Rs. 6500-10500 for trained lecturers. A writ petition was filed against this recommendation by the defendants contending that it violates their right to Equality as it promotes discrimination.

The case then was went through the Single Judge bench who upheld in favour of the State and then through a Division bench who upheld in favour of the Association. The order passed by the Division Bench is challenged by the State authorities in the present appeal by special leave.

Rule of Law

  • Article 14– Right to Equality
  • Article- 16– Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment
  • Article 39(d)– Equal pay for equal work

Judgment & Analysis:

Applicability of Article 14: Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the citizens equality before law, “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.”

It was also opined by the judge that, although Article 14 guarantees equality before law and confers equal protection of laws. It prohibits State from denying persons or class of persons equal treatment; provided they are equals and are similarly situated.

 It was held that Article 14 prohibits discrimination but allows classification as long as it is legal, valid and reasonable. Therefore, neither different pay scales was violative of Article 14 nor was uniform pay-scale for both trained and untrained lecturers an application of equality.

  • Test of Reasonable Classification:
    • The classification must be founded on an intelligible differentia which distinguishes those persons or things grouped together from others leaving out or left out. The untrained teachers can never be proper substitute to trained teachers. The classification is reasonable and s based on intelligible differentia which distinguishes one class of trained teachers from the other class of untrained teachers, where the second class is left out.
    • Such classification or differentia must have a rational nexus or reasonable relation to the object intended to be achieved by the statute or legislation in question. In the instant case, imparting education to the students is the main objective. In order to impart quality education to the students, it is an essential that the teachers appointed are competent, and the competence comes from rigorous training and they should be subject to rigid scrutiny of efficiency.

Therefore, it was said that it cannot be successfully contended that different pay scales cannot be fixed for trained lecturers on one hand and untrained lecturers on the other hand. Prescribing different pay scales, under the circumstances, cannot be held illegal, improper or unreasonable infringing Article 14 of the Constitution.

It was held in this case that Article 14 as a protecting clause has been construed as a guarantee against discrimination amongst equals only and not as a taking away from the State the power to classify persons for the purpose of legislation. The classification made can be on various basis as long as it is rational, not arbitrary and satisfies the test of reasonable classification.

  • Application of Article 39(d)

It was held that “equal pay for equal work” is not applicable to the facts and circumstances in hand. Reliance was placed on the case of Shyam Babu Verma v. Union of India[2] where different pay scales were fixed for Pharmacists on the consideration of qualifications and experience. The circumstances were similar where unqualified Pharmacists were paid lesser than qualified Pharmacists. It was held that the Doctrine of Equal Pay for Equal should not and cannot be applied in a mechanical or casual manner.

  • Held:
    • The order passed by Division Bench of High Court of Judicature at Patna was overruled and said to be not right as there is distinction between trained lecturers and untrained lecturers.
    • Fixing different pay-scales was not violative of Article 14 and the Single Judge was right in upholding the difference between trained and untrained lecturers as rational, reasonable and intelligible.
    • Such classification satisfies the twin test of reasonable classification and therefore cannot be considered to be illegal or unreasonable.

[1] Anwar Ali Sarkar v. State of West Bengal, AIR 1952 SC 75.

[2] Shyam Babu Verma v. Union of India, (1994) 2 SCC 521.

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