Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh High Court on Monday heard a petition challenging the issue of GO-1 to implement the revised scales of pay as per the 11th PRC to state government employees. The petitioners claimed that the GO was unacceptable.
The court directed the registry to post the matter for hearing at an appropriate bench, treating it as a public interest litigation (PIL) as the issue would affect a large number of employees.
A division bench comprising justices Ahsanuddin Amanullah and BS Bhanumathi said the prayer in the petition appeared to be pertaining to service-related issues of an employee on one end and at the same time is having public interest as government employees were involved in it.
“Hence, the petition should not have come up before us as per roster and instead it should be sent to an appropriate bench,” the bench said and directed the registry to place the file before Chief Justice Prashant Mishra to take a decision.
AP gazetted officers' joint action committee chairman Krishnaiah filed the petition
challenging the GO1 on Jan. 17. Petitioner’s counsel Ravi Teja argued that the
GO issued for implementation of revised scales of pay as per 11th PRC
recommendations would cut down, and not raise, the wages of the employees.
He said the state government did not release the report of the 11th PRC headed by Ashutosh Mishra set up in 2018 and said that they were not knowing the basis for issuing the GO on the revised scales of pay. As per section 78(1) of AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, employees from Hyderabad working in AP were having their interests protected while the service conditions, HRA benefits and others were being implemented from July 1, 2018.
The court asked whether the wages of employees were increased or decreased and noted that the Pay Revision Commission could only make a recommendation to the state government while it is the government that will take a decision.
The court said that if the wages were to be paid extra, they could be recovered and also if they were paid less, the government could pay the balance.
The court opined that the state government was having the authority to reduce wages if its financial condition was not good. In that case, an employee could raise the issue but it would be inappropriate to say that the state government was not having the authority to do so.
Advocate general S Sriram submitted that the interim relief was subject to the final PRC implementation as mentioned in the GO and opined that no vested right would arise for an employee for a particular fitment based on IR or based on an ad hoc fixation of HRA, pending the PRC finalisation.
He said that the state’s income was Rs 62,000 crore in 2018-19 and due to Covid19, the income had come down drastically in the last three years. Though the state was to earn Rs 75,000 crore in 2021, it got only Rs 60,000 crore. An amount of Rs 67,000 crore is to be spent for employees’ wages and, as a result, the state was borrowing money to implement welfare and developmental works.
He said that the implementation of PRC would cause an additional burden of Rs 10,685 crore during the Covid times.
The AG said that unless the employees got the wage bills, they would not know how much they could earn as per PRC. The policy decisions of the state government were not for adjudication at a time when there existed the brinkmanship of a strike as was threatened by the government employees, he said.