An employee engaged for the same work, cannot be paid less than another, who performs the same duties and responsibilities. This was the view laid down by the Supreme Court of India in the matter of State of Punjab and Ors. vs. Jagjit Singh and Ors. The Apex Court observed that India being a Welfare State, it would be nothing but demeaning to deprive any temporary worker here of his/her right to equal pay for equal work like any other permanent worker.
This principle recently came for consideration before the Supreme Court in the matter of Sabha Shanker Dube vs Divisional Forest Officer & Ors (Civil Appeal No. 10956 of 2018) wherein daily rated workers employed in the Forest Department of Uttar Pradesh challenged the U.P. High Court judgement which denied them wage-parity with permanent employees.
Supreme Court set aside the lower court’s judgement and observed that irrespective of the external parameters, temporary workers were entitled to payment equivalent to that of permanent workers for doing the same nature of work, laying specific emphasis on the matter of State of Punjab and Ors. vs. Jagjit Singh and Ors.
The concept of equal pay for equal work for temporary workers was previously dealt in Dhirendra Chamoli and Anr. vs. State of U.P., wherein Supreme Court observed that not paying same wage, despite the same work, was violative of Article 14. In Bhagwan Dass and Ors. vs. State of Haryana and Ors., Supreme Court held that aspects such as duration of service, manner of selection/appointment etc. would be inconsequential for applicability of the principle of ‘equal work for equal pay’.
When the Constitution itself seeks to instill the principle of equality, such judgements speaking about parity of payment are a welcome.