The Allahabad High Court has held that the government cannot accommodate an employee in a post with a lower pay scale just because he or she acquired some disability during service and became unfit for the current post.
A bench comprising justices Bharati Sapru and Siddharth passed the order while dismissing a petition filed by the Ministry of Railways. The court directed the ministry to pay S Q Ahmed (accommodated on a post with lower pay scale because he acquired some disability) his dues according to higher pay grade with 7 per cent interest from the due date.
It also imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on railways for not giving its employee his legitimate dues and for dragging him into litigation for no fault on his part. In its petition, the Centre challenged an order passed by the Central Administrative Tribunal directing the Ministry of Railways to pay Ahmad his salary and other dues according to his original pay scale.
The tribunal had held that Ahmad was discriminated by the ministry and was wrongly accommodated in the post of lower pay scale on the ground that he became medically unfit for the job he was doing then. The Railway’s contention was that if an employee becomes medically unfit he is only entitled for alternative employment in such category under which he is found fit, on the basis of available vacancies. Therefore, Ahmad was appointed on a post according to his fitness and vacancy and there was nothing wrong in his appointment at a lower pay scale.
However, Ahmad’s counsel relied on the master circular of the railways ministry which says that during absorption of medically unfit employees, in alternative employment, railways should ensure that the interest of the staff should not be adversely affected as far as possible.
The bench was of the view that such a reduction in pay scale of an employee is discriminatory and in violation of section 47 of ‘The Persons With Disabilities (Equal Opportunity, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995’.
The section provides that no establishment shall dispense with, or reduce in rank, an employee who acquires a disability during his service and in case, an employee, after acquiring disability is not suitable for the post he was holding, he could be shifted to some other post with the same pay scale and service benefits.
The bench while dismissing the petition observed, “It must be remembered that a person does not acquire or suffer disability by choice. An employee, who acquires disability during his service, is sought to be protected. Such employee, acquiring disability, if not protected, would not only suffer himself, but possibly all those who depend on him would also suffer.”