Babus doing extra work can’t get paid more: SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has provided relief to the Centre, which got a headache from concurrent rulings of a Central Administrative Tribunal and the Gujarat HC directing it to pay allowances, over and above salaries, to officers entrusted with additional responsibilities. A bench comprising Justices H K Sema and Markandey Katju set aside the CAT and HC orders and said that no additional allowances were due to the officers if the additional responsibilities assigned to them needed no extra working hours and which could be performed during scheduled office hours. The interesting case involved C N Vasudevan, a Regional Passport Officer (RPO) posted at Ahmedabad. He was also assigned the duties and responsibilities of Protector of Emigrants (PoE). He moved the CAT seeking payment of an honourarium for the additional charge of PoE on the ground that the responsibilities of an RPO and PoE were quite different. The CAT agreed with his reasoning and directed the Centre to pay him adequate honourarium for additional charge of PoE. The Centre’s appeal against the CAT order was dismissed by the Gujarat HC. The Centre, then, challenged the HC order before SC. The government pointed out that in all 14 passport officers were authorized to perform the functions of PoE, which involved deciding whether a person intending to depart from India was an emigrant or not under the Emigration Act, 1983. Pointing out that the additional responsibilities did not involve any out-of-ordinary effort, the Centre said no extra allowances could be paid as the duties of PoE were part of the normal duty of the RPO which could be performed by the RPO during the normal working hours on working days. The bench said: “We agree with the Centre’s contention. Both the HC and the CAT erred in law as well as in facts granting honourarium to the respondent. The duties of PoE under the Emigration Act are part of the normal duties of the RPO. Hence, no extra remuneration has to be paid for the work over and above the salary as RPO.” It juxtaposed this with the prevalent practice of the government to saddle judicial officers with additional responsibilities but with no extra honourarium. “To give an analogous example, the district magistrate/collector of a district is often also the prescribed authority under various State and Central Acts for discharging functions under the said Acts. This does not entitle the district magistrate to any extra remuneration over and above his salary,” the bench said.
3 Jun 2008, 0000 hrs IST, Dhananjay Mahapatra,TNN


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