Employees who voluntarily retire from services before the retirement date cannot claim parity with those who retired upon achieving the age of superannuation, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.
The top court’s observation came while hearing an appeal filed by employees who had voluntarily retired from services, challenging a Bombay High Court judgment that denied them the benefit of a revision of pay scales.
A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and S Ravindra Bhat said employees who secured VRS benefits and left the service of Maharashtra State Financial Corporation (MSFC) voluntarily during this period stand on a different footing.
“It is held that VRS employees cannot claim parity with others who retired upon achieving the age of superannuation. They cannot claim parity with those who worked continuously, discharged their functions and thereafter, superannuated,” the bench said.
The top court said what should be the extent of a pay revision is undoubtedly a matter falling within the domain of executive policy-making.
“At the same time, a larger public interest is involved, impelling a revision of pay of public officials and employees. Sound public policy considerations appear to have weighed with the Union and state governments, and other public employers, which have carried out pay revision exercises periodically (usually once a decade, for the last 50 years or so).
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“The rationale for such periodic pay revisions is to ensure that the salaries and emoluments that public employees enjoy should keep the pace with the increased cost of living and the general inflationary trends, and ensure it does not adversely impact employees,” the bench said.
The apex court said pay revisions also subserve other objectives, such as enthusing a renewed sense of commitment and loyalty towards public employment.
“Another important public interest consideration is that such revisions are meant to deter public servants from the lure of gratification, of supplementing their income by accepting money or other inducements for discharging their functions.
“Therefore, the state and public employers have an obligation to address — as a measure of public interest, the ill-effects of a rise in the cost of living, on account of price rise, which result in a fall in real wages. This obligation should be discharged on a periodic basis,” it said.
The top curt said there cannot be any straitjacket formula as to when such pay revisions are to be effected and to what extent.
As a general practice, the Centre and the states have been undertaking such exercises each decade, it pointed out.