The Bombay High Court has ruled that employees of all family courts in Maharashtra are entitled to benefits of the recommendations made by Justice Shetty Commission in terms of those applicable to the employees of the District Courts.
A bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka on August 14 directed the State Government to take necessary steps in this regard and make available benefits of the recommendations of Justice Shetty Commission to the employees of Family Courts from August 13, 2013 when they filed the petition.
The bench further ruled that the effect of aforesaid recommendations be made available to the petitioners and other employees of the family courts within six months.
"On the principle of 'equal pay for equal work', the petitioners would be entitled to the relief sought. It is well settled law that if there is a complete identity between a group of employees claiming identical benefits with regard to a group getting such benefits, then there is no reason to deny the former group of such benefits," said the judges.
"It is therefore clear that the petitioners have been discriminated against without there being any intelligible criterion. The family court is not subordinate to the District Court and hence it cannot be a reasonable and valid ground to deny similar benefits to the employees of the family courts," the bench observed.
The Government Resolution (G.R) dated October 20, 2011 is discriminatory to the extent it excludes employees of Family Courts from the benefits of the recommendations of Justice Shetty Commission. Hence, the petitioners being similarly situated are entitled to benefits of recommendations of Justice Shetty Commission, the bench remarked.
As per the G R, such benefits were made admissible to the categories of employees mentioned therein with effect from April 1, 2003. The petitioners have been agitating against their wrongful exclusion immediately after issuance of this G R, the bench said.
However, it is to be noted that in view of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the case of State of Haryana and others v/s Charanjit Singh and others, the petitioners would be entitled to the benefit of aforesaid recommendations from the date they have filed the present Writ Petition, which is August 13, 2013, the judges said.
The Government submitted that the recommendations by Justice Shetty Commission were made available for subordinate staff of the District Court Judiciary after examining structure of the Court administration, classification, work load etc. Therefore, such recommendations cannot be made applicable to the staff of the Family Courts.
The State further argued that the petitioners, though were working in the District Courts, were deputed with their consent to work in Family Courts and were absorbed as regular employees of said establishment. Hence, they being on the establishment of Family Courts, were not entitled to claim benefits of the recommendations.
Rejecting the Government argument, the bench observed "considering the nature of duties being done by petitioners which were identical to such duties being done by similarly situated employees, there was no justifiable basis for excluding grant of benefits of Justice Shetty Commission to the petitioners."