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the Wage Board Award recommending revised scales of pay was not clear if the advance increments were to continue and the Anomaly Committee after considering the matter had recommended that the benefit of advance increments should be given to employees who graduated or passed the Accounts Examinations on or before 30.06.1971 and that those who have passed the concerned examinations after this date shall not be eligible for this benefit. In the proceedings of the meeting of the OSEB held on 12.05.1973 it was also made clear that the OSEB accepted the recommendations of the Anomaly Committee not to allow advance increments in the case of employees who had obtained the degree or passed the Accounts Examinations subsequent to 30.06.1971. If respondent Nos. 1 to 5 desired to challenge this

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                                                               Reportable

              IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

               CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6904 OF 2011

          (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) NO.12901 OF 2008)

Orissa Power Transmission Corporation Ltd.       ... Appellant

                                 Versus

 Khageswar Sundaray & Ors.                                         ... Respondents

                                 O R D E R

A. K. PATNAIK, J.

      Leave granted.

2.    This   is   an   appeal   against   the   order   dated   18.12.2007 

      of the Division Bench of the Orissa High Court in OJC 

      No.5768 of 1994.

3.      The   facts   very   briefly   are   that   the   Orissa   State 

      Electricity   Board   (for   short   `the   OSEB')   decided   in   its 

      meeting held on 02.05.1970 that Lower Division Clerks 

      (for short `the LDCs') in the Circles, Divisions and Sub-

      Divisions   of   the   OSEB   shall   be   granted   two   advance 

      increments   in   the   time-scale   of   pay   attached   to   the 

                            2

post   on   their   becoming   graduates   while   in   service. 

Accordingly,   an   office   order   was   passed   by   the 

Secretary of the OSEB on 17.06.1970 and LDCs of the 

OSEB   would   be   granted   two   advance   increments   on 

their   becoming   graduates   while   in   service.     On 

03.10.1970,   a   Tripartite   Settlement   was   entered   into 

by   the   OSEB   with   the   Employees   Unions   regarding 

revision of wages of the employees of the OSEB and on 

30.06.1971 an office order was issued by the Secretary 

of the OSEB giving the details of the revised scales of 

pay,   dearness   allowance   and   house   rent   allowance 

admissible   to   the   employees   of   the   OSEB   as   on 

01.04.1969.   Thereafter   in   terms   of   settlement   dated 

03.10.1970,   the   OSEB   constituted   an   Anomaly 

Committee   which   was   to   examine  inter   alia  the   issue 

with   regard   to   advance   increments   in   the   revised 

scales   of   pay   for   employees   who   became   graduates 

while   in   service.         The   Anomaly   Committee 

recommended  inter   alia  that   two   advance   increments 

which   were   given   to   LDCs   working   in   the   different 

Circles,   Divisions   and   Sub-Divisions   of   the   OSEB   in 

                                 3

the  Pre-revised   scale   of  Rs.80-135   may   be   given   such 

advance   increments   in   the   revised   scale   of   pay   when 

the   employees   become   graduates   or   pass   Accounts 

Examinations   on   or   before   30.06.1971   and   such 

advance   increments   may   not   be   given   to   those 

employees   who   become   graduates   or   pass   Accounts 

Examinations   subsequent   to   30.06.1971.                           The 

recommendations   of   the   Anomaly   Committee   were 

considered   by   the   OSEB   in   its   meeting   held   on 

12.05.1973          and         the         OSEB         accepted         the 

recommendations   of   the   Anomaly   Committee   saying 

that the employees, who graduated or passed Accounts 

Examinations   on   or   before   30.06.1971,   would   be 

eligible for such two advance increments.  The decision 

of   the   OSEB   was   followed   by   a   Circular   dated 

16.07.1973   clearly   saying   that   the   benefit   of   advance 

increments shall be allowed in the revised pay-scale to 

the employees who have graduated or have passed the 

Accounts Examinations on or before 30.06.1971.   The 

respondent   Nos.1   to   5,   who   have   been   working   as 

LDCs   under   the   OSEB,   passed   the   graduate 

                                     4

      examinations   in   the   years   1974,   1975   and   1976   and 

      were   not   granted   two   advance   increments   by   the 

      OSEB.

4.    Aggrieved,   the   respondent   Nos.1   to   5   filed   a   writ 

      petition   before   the   Orissa   High   Court   being   OJC 

      No.1428 of 1979 and the writ petition was disposed of 

      by   the   High   Court   with   a   direction   to   the   OSEB   to 

      dispose of the representations of the respondent Nos. 1 

      to 5.   Pursuant to the direction of the High Court, the 

      OSEB   rejected   the   representations.                Thereafter, 

      respondent Nos.1 to 5 filed another writ petition being 

      OJC   No.2237   of   1981   claiming   two   advance 

      increments.     The   OSEB   in   its   counter-affidavit   filed 

      before   the   High   Court   stated   that   the   earlier 

      notification   of   1970   under   which   two   advance 

      increments were given to employees of the OSEB who 

      graduated   while   in   service   had   been   withdrawn.     The 

      High   Court   in   its   order   dated   12.04.1989   held   that 

      since the basis of the relief claimed by respondent Nos. 

      1   to   5   was   the   notification   of   1970   which   had   been 

      withdrawn,   the   High   Court   cannot   grant   any   relief   to 

                                    5

      the respondent Nos. 1 to 5 but reserved liberty to the 

      said   respondents   to   challenge   the   legality   of   the 

      decision   of   the   OSEB   taken   in   its   meeting   held   on 

      12.05.1973   confining   the   benefit   of   advance 

      increments   to   those   employees   who   had   become 

      graduates   or   passed   Accounts   Examinations   on   or 

      before 30.06.1971.   The respondent Nos. 1 to 5 filed a 

      fresh writ petition being OJC No.5768 of 1994 praying 

      for quashing the decision of the OSEB in 1973 and the 

      office   order   dated   16.07.1973   confining   the   benefit   of 

      advance increments in the revised scales of pay to the 

      employees who graduated or had passed the Accounts 

      Examinations on or before 30.06.1971.

5.    The   High   Court   allowed   the   writ   petition   being   OJC 

      No.5768   of   1994   by   the   impugned   order   dated 

      18.12.2007.     In   the   impugned   order,   the   High   Court 

      observed   that   respondent   Nos.   1   to   5   will   get   the 

      benefit of only Rs.6/- in their monthly pay.   The High 

      Court   held   that   other   employees   similarly   placed   like 

      the   respondent   Nos.1   to   5  had   been  given   the   benefit 

      and   there   should   not   have   been   any   discrimination 

                                6

and they should not have been denied the same benefit 

of two advance increments.   The High Court also held 

that  the proceedings of the  meeting of  the OSEB held 

on   12.05.1973   in   which   the   decision   to   grant   two 

advance   increments   to   the   employees   who   had 

graduated   or   had   passed   the   Accounts   Examinations 

on   or   before   30.06.1971   did   not   disclose   any   reason, 

far less any justifiable reason, to confine the benefit of 

the   two   advance   increments   only   to   the   employees 

fulfilling   the   criteria   by   a   cut-off   date   and   hence   the 

decision   of   the   OSEB   was   arbitrary.     The   High   Court 

accordingly   quashed   the   decision   of   the   OSEB   taken 

on   12.05.1973   so   far   as   respondent   Nos.   1   to   5  were 

concerned   and   directed   that   two   advance   increments 

be   notionally   given   to   respondent   Nos.   1  to   5  in   their 

Pre-revised scale of pay with effect from the respective 

dates   they   acquired   the   degree   qualifications   in   the 

year 1974-1976 and on that basis fix their current pay 

and   pay   their   current   salary   accordingly.     The   High 

Court, however, observed that the impugned order will 

                                      7

      be   confined   to   only   respondent   Nos.   1   to   5   and   shall 

      not be a precedent for others.

6.    We have heard learned counsel for the parties and we 

      find   that   in   the   proceedings   of   the   meeting   of   the 

      OSEB   held   on   12.05.1973,   it   is   stated   that   the   Wage 

      Board Award recommending revised scales of pay was 

      not   clear   if   the   advance   increments   were   to   continue 

      and   the   Anomaly   Committee   after   considering   the 

      matter   had   recommended   that   the   benefit   of   advance 

      increments   should   be   given   to   employees   who 

      graduated or passed the Accounts Examinations on or 

      before 30.06.1971 and that those who have passed the 

      concerned   examinations   after   this   date   shall   not   be 

      eligible   for   this   benefit.     In   the   proceedings   of   the 

      meeting   of   the   OSEB   held   on   12.05.1973   it   was   also 

      made   clear   that   the   OSEB   accepted   the 

      recommendations   of   the   Anomaly   Committee   not   to 

      allow   advance   increments   in   the   case   of   employees 

      who   had   obtained   the   degree   or   passed   the   Accounts 

      Examinations   subsequent   to   30.06.1971.                          If 

      respondent   Nos.   1   to   5   desired   to   challenge   this 

                                     8

      decision of the OSEB as arbitrary and discriminatory, 

      they should have placed sufficient materials before the 

      court   to   demonstrate   that   the   cut-off   date   of 

      30.06.1971   adopted   by   the   OSEB   was   arbitrary   and 

      discriminatory and that the decision of the OSEB was 

      violative   of   Article   14   of   the   Constitution.     In   the 

      impugned   order,   the   High   Court   has   not   referred   to 

      any   such   materials   and   has   instead   held   that   the 

      proceedings   of   the   meeting   of   the   OSEB   did   not 

      disclose any  reason, far less  any justifiable reason,  to 

      confine   the   benefit   of   two   advance   increments   to 

      employees   who   graduated   or   passed   the   Accounts 

      Examinations on or before 30.06.1971.

7.    We   are   of   the   considered   opinion   that   the   view   taken 

      by   the   High   Court   that   in   the   absence   of   any   reason 

      given by the decision of the OSEB in its meeting held 

      on 12.05.1973 to fix the cut-off date of 30.06.1971 for 

      becoming   a   graduate   or   passing   the   Accounts 

      Examinations for an employee to be entitled to the two 

      advance   increments,   its   decision   was   arbitrary   and 

      discriminatory is not sustainable in law.  The OSEB as 

                                     9

      the   employer   was   fully   with   its   powers   to   decide   the 

      cut-off date for the employee to become a graduate or 

      passing   the   Accounts   Examinations   to   be   eligible   to 

      the   two   advance   increments   in   the   revised   scales   of 

      pay and the decision of the OSEB could not be held to 

      be  arbitrary  only  because  the   reason  for  decision   was 

      not   stated   in   the   proceedings   of   the   meeting   of   the 

      OSEB in which the decision was taken.   This Court in 

      State   of   Bihar   and   Others  vs.  Ramjee   Prasad   and  

      Others [(1990) 3 SCC 368] held: 

      "the choice of date cannot be dubbed as arbitrary 

      even if no particular reason is forthcoming for the 

      same   unless   it   is   shown   to   be   capricious   or 

      whimsical or wide off the reasonable mark".  

8.    In   a   recent   case   in  National   Council   for   Teacher  

Education   and   Others  vs.  Shri  Shyam   Shiksha   Prashikshan  

Sansthan   and   Others  [(2011)   3   SCC   238]   this   Court   after 

referring   to   various   earlier   authorities   on   the   point   in 

Sushma   Sharma   (Dr.)  vs.  State   of   Rajasthan  [1985   supp. 

SCC 45], UGC vs. Sadhana Chaudhary [(1996) 10 SCC 536], 

Ramrao  vs.  All   India   Backward   Class   Bank   Employees  

Welfare   Association  [(2004)   2   SCC   76]   and  State   of   Punjab 

                                         1

vs.  Amar Nath  Goyal  [(2005) 6 SCC 754] has reiterated this 

position   of   law   and   has   held   the   cut-off   dates   specified   in 

clauses   (4)   and   (5)   of   Regulation   5   of   the   National   Council 

for   Teacher   Education   (Recognition   Norms   and   Procedure) 

Regulations, 2007 to be valid.

9. We,   therefore,   allow   this   appeal   and   set   aside   the 

   impugned order of the Division Bench of the High Court 

   and   dismiss   the   writ   petition   of   respondent   Nos.   1  to   5. 

   There shall be no order as to costs.

                                                      .............................J.

                                                            (R. V. Raveendran)

                                                      .............................J.

                                                            (A. K. Patnaik)

New Delhi,August 11, 2011.

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