Supreme Court of India
Union Of India vs Manoj Kumar on 31 August, 2021Author: Sanjay Kishan Kaul

Bench: Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Hrishikesh Roy, C.T. Ravikumar



CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 913-914 OF 2021






1. Indian Railways is the largest civilian employer in the country

comprising of six production units and eighteen zones, with each zone

having three to six divisions.1 The total number of employees as on

31.03.2005 was stated to be about 14 lakh with the following distribution

of staff strength:Signature Not Verified

Digitally signed by
Charanjeet kaur
Group In position
Date: 2021.08.31
17:09:09 IST
A 8285
B 7247
1Indian Railways Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20 pg. 6. [1]
C 873536
D 521578
Total 1410646*
* As per the Indian Railways Annual Report and Accounts 2019-20, the

current strength is about 12,53,592 as on 31.03.2020.

2. The Sixth Central Pay Commission (“6th CPC”) report in chapter

7.36 deals with the Ministry of Railways and shows that it has fourteen

departments, including the Railway Board. The report examined the

demands of these different departments seeking higher pay-scales and

allowances for various categories in different departments. We are

concerned in the present matter with claims made by Private Secretaries

(Grade-II) (“PS-II”) employed in the Eastern Central Railways (Field

Office/Zonal Railways),for parity in pay with their counterparts working

in the Central Secretariat Stenographers Service (“CSSS”)/Railway

Board Secretariat Stenographers Service (“RBSSS”)/Central

Administrative Tribunal (“CAT”). We may note at this stage itself that

there have been conflicting judicial views on the claim for such parity

which we will come to later.

3. We may notice that the 6th CPC referred to the demands made by

common category posts relating to certain cadres in the Ministry of

Railways in para 7.36.95.One of the common category posts is that of

“Typists and Stenographers”. Thereafter, in para 7.36.96, it was observed

that these common categories have been covered by the Commission

elsewhere in the report. It was stated that the recommendations made

therein shall apply in respect of the common category posts in the

Ministry of Railways as well, there being no separate recommendations

made for this category. In the aforesaid conspectus we have to turn to

Chapter 3.1 of the report of the 6th CPC, which deals with “Headquarters

Organisations in Government of India & Office Staff in field offices”.

The disparity between Secretariat and Field offices is set out in clauses

3.1.2 and 3.1.3, which read as under:
“Disparity between Secretariat and field offices

3.1.2 The senior administrative posts in the Secretariat are mainly
filled by officers of All India Services and Central Group A
services on deputation under the Central Staffing Scheme. Some of
the posts in the middle level are also held by officers of the Central
Secretariat Services, Railway Board Secretariat Service in Ministry
of Railways, Defence Forces Headquarters Services in Ministry of
Defence and by Indian Foreign services (B) in Ministry of External
Affairs. Historically, various services in the Secretariat have been
given an edge over analogous posts in the field offices. This was

done on the ground that office staff in the Secretariat performs
complex duties and are involved in analyzing issues with policy
implications whereas their counter parts in field offices perform
routine work relating to routine matters concerning personnel and
general administration, etc. Another argument that is used to justify
the edge for various posts in Secretariat is that in Secretariat, level
jumping occurs and personnel in the grade of Assistant etc. submit
files directly to decision making levels of Under Secretary, Deputy
Secretary, etc.”

3.1.3Higher pay scales in the Secretariat offices may have been
justified in the past when formulation of proper policies was of
paramount importance. The present position is different. Today, the
weakest link in respect of any Government policy is at the delivery
stage. This phenomenon is not endemic to India. Internationally
also, there is an increasing emphasis on strengthening the delivery
lines and decentralization with greater role being assigned at
delivery points which actually determines the benefit that the
common citizen is going to derive out of any policy initiative of
the Government. The field offices are at the cutting edge of
administration and may, in most cases, determine whether a
particular policy turns out to be a success or a failure in terms of
actual benefit to the consumer. Accordingly, the time has come to
grant parity between similarly placed personnel employed in field
offices and in the Secretariat. This parity will need to be absolute
till the grade of Assistant. Beyond this, it may not be possible
or even justified to grant complete parity because the
hierarchy and career progression will need to be different
taking in view the functional considerations and relativities
across the board.”
(emphasis supplied)

4. The recommendations in para 3.1.9 have been made for various

posts from the LDC to the Director including Section Officer, with a

caveat that in the case of Sections Officers having pay scale of Rs. 8000-

13500, the scale would only be available to such of these

organizations/services which have had a historical parity with CSS/CSSS.

We, however, note that before setting forth in a tabular form the revised

pay-scales of the different posts, it has been observed in para 3.1.9 that:

“these recommendations shall apply mutatis-mutandis to post of Private

Secretary/equivalent in these services as well.”

5. We may note that the submission of the respondents is that it is this

clause which ought to govern; and that it recommends parity between the

post of Private Secretaries/equivalent and the post of a Section Officer.

We now turn to clause 3.1.14 which deals with recommendations for non-

Secretariat Organizations. According to the appellants, the aspects sought

to be raised before us are specifically dealt with under this paragraph; and

thus, the respondent’s claim that their pay-scale ought to be governed by

para 3.1.9 is misplaced. These paragraphs read as under:


3.1.9 Accordingly, the Commission recommends upgradation of
the entry scale of Section Officers in all Secretariat Services
(including CSS as well as nonparticipating
ministries/departments/organizations) to Rs.7500-12000
corresponding to the revised pay band PB 2 of Rs.8700-34800
along with grade pay of Rs.4800. Further, on par with the
dispensation already available in CSS, the Section Officers in other
Secretariat Offices, which have always had an established parity
with CSS/CSSS, shall be extended the scale of Rs.8000-13500 in
Group B corresponding to the revised pay band PB 2 of Rs.8700-
34800 along with grade pay of Rs.4800 on completion of four
years service in the lower grade. This will ensure full parity
between all Secretariat Offices. It is clarified that the pay band PB
2 of Rs.8700-34800 along with grade pay of Rs.4800 is being
recommended for the post of Section Officer in these services
solely to maintain the existing relativities which were disturbed
when the scale was extended only to the Section Officers in CSS.
The grade carrying grade pay of Rs.4800 in pay band PB-2 is,
otherwise, not to be treated as a regular grade and should not be
extended to any other category of employees. These
recommendations shall apply mutatis-mutandis to post of Private
Secretary/equivalent in these services as well. The structure of
posts in Secretariat Offices would now be as under:-

Post Pre revised pay scale Corresponding
revised pay band and
grade pay
LDC Rs.3050-4590 PB-1 of Rs.4860-
20200 along with
grade pay of Rs.1900
UDC Rs.4000-6000 PB-1 of Rs.4860-
20200 along with
grade pay of Rs.2400
Assistant Rs.6500-10500 PB-2 of Rs.8700-

34800 along with
grade pay of Rs.4200
Section Officer Rs.7500-12000 PB-2 of Rs.8700-
Rs.8000-13500* 34800 along with
(on completion of grade pay of Rs.4800.
four years) PB-2 of Rs.8700-
34800 along with
grade pay of Rs.5400*
(on completion of four
Under Secretary Rs.10000-15200 PB-3 of Rs.15600-
39100 along with
grade pay of Rs.6100
Deputy Secretary Rs.12000-16500 PB-3 of Rs.15600-
39100 along with
grade pay of Rs.6600
Director Rs.14300-18300 PB-3 of Rs.15600-
39100 along with
grade pay of Rs.7600

* This scale shall be available only in such of those
organizations/services which have had a historical parity with
Ministerial/Secretarial posts in Ministries/Departments
organizations like MEA, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, CVC,
UPSC, etc. would therefore be covered.”

“Recommendations for non – Secretariat Organizations

3.1.14 In accordance with the principle established in the earlier
paragraphs, parity between Field and Secretariat Offices is
recommended. This will involve merger of few grades. In the
Stenographers cadre, the posts of Stenographers Grade II and
Grade I in the existing scales of Rs.4500-7000/Rs, 5000-8000 and
Rs.5500-9000 will, therefore, stand merged and be placed in the
higher pay scale of Rs.6500-10500. In the case of ministerial post
in non- Secretariat Offices, the posts of Head Clerks, Assistants,

Office Superintendent and Administrative Officers Grade III in the
respective pay scales of Rs.5000-8000, Rs.5500-9000 and
Rs.6500-10500 will stand merged. The existing and revised
structure in Field Organization will, therefore, be as follows:-
Designation Present Recommended Corresponding Pay
Pay Scale Pay Scale Band and Grade Pay
Pay Grade Pay
LDC 3050-4590 3050-4590 PB-1 1900
UDC 4000-6000 4000-6000 PB-1 2400
Head Clerk/ 4500-
Assistants/ Steno 7000/
GradeII/equivalent 5000-8000
Office 5500-9000
Steno Grade
I/equivalent 6500-10500 PB-2 4200
Superintendent/ 6500-
Asst. Admn. 10500
Officer/ Private
Administrative 7500- 7500-12000 PB-2 4800
Officer Grade 12000 entry grade for (5400 after
II /Sr. Private fresh recruits) 4 years)
Secretary/equ. 8000-13500
(on completion
of four years)
Administrative 10000- 10000-15200 PB-2 6100
Officer Grade I 15200

A perusal of paragraph 3.1.14 would show that Steno (Grade-II) has

specifically been mentioned under this paragraph and it deals with the

aspect of parity between field and Secretariat offices.

6. We consider it appropriate to settle the aforesaid issue which is on

a plain reading of the recommendations of the 6th CPC as a lot of other

arguments and claims of parity will flow from which clause would

7. There is no doubt, in our considered view, that though there is an

observation that the recommendations shall apply mutatis mutandis to

Private Secretaries and posts equivalent thereto in the service under para

3.1.9; the subsequent paragraph 3.1.14 has specifically dealt with the

aspect of parity between the field and Secretariat offices, which is really

the subject matter of the claim before us.
8. The plea of the respondents is that para 3.1.9 of the

recommendations of the 6th CPC has been issued pursuant to paras

7.36.95 and 7.36.96. No separate recommendations for Stenographers in

zonal offices of Railways have been made. Para 3.1.9, which relates

specifically to Section Officers also provides that it applies mutatis

mutandis to private secretaries in these services. The premise of this plea

is therefore that para 3.1.14 deals with the recommendations for non-

Secretariat Organizations other than the Railways, and that they should

be treated as Secretariat organizations. In our view this becomes a

crucial issue. In the spectrum of conflicting views of different Central

Administrative Tribunals, the view of the CAT, Bangalore in Original

Application Nos. 640-649 and 1001-1030 of 2014 seek to favour the case

of the appellants.
9. If we turn to that judgment (V.N. Narayanappa & Ors. v. The

Secretary, Railway Board Etc.) decided on 13.04.2016, the factual

matrix deals with a case of similarly situated Private Secretaries (Grade

II) in the Southern Railways. In considering this plea, the Tribunal took

note of a different view in O.A. No.658/2010 decided on 05.06.2012 by

the Madras Bench of the Tribunal, which the applicants therein sought to

rely upon. That judgment in turn was based on an earlier view of the

Principal Bench of the CAT at Delhi in the case of OA No.164/2009

decided on 19.02.2009 (S.R. Dheer & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.), in

respect of Private Secretaries (Grade-II) of the CAT. At this juncture, it

may be important to note that the respondents herein in their OA before

the CAT Patna, also claimed parity with the aforementioned decision of

the CAT Madras. The Madras Bench of the CAT had noticed that no

recruitment rules had been placed on record by the Government while
stating that different standards of academic and professional

qualifications, etc. exist. Thus, the view of the Madras Bench of the

Tribunal was based on absence of material and on a reason of parity with

the Principal Bench at Delhi, even though the Principal Bench at Delhi

dealt with the case of CAT Stenographers (Grade II) officers and had

allowed the OA on the basis of historical parity.
10. We may add here that the views of the Madras CAT have not been

interfered with by this Court. Both an SLP challenging the decision and a

subsequent Review Petition met with a summary dismissal and

resultantly, the question to be decided in this case has not been

specifically dealt with by this Court. This has resulted in the

implementation of different orders in different matters, which are really

contradictory in nature.
11. The Bangalore Bench of the CAT in seeking to determine the issue

on merits sought strength from an earlier decision of the Principal Bench

(Delhi) in OA No.2102/2010 in Rabindra Nath Basu & Ors. v. Union of

India & Ors. and other connected matters decided on 16.05.2011 dealing

with the case of the Assistant Staff Officers of the Ordnance Factory

Board. The CAT therein opined that the applicants belonged to a non-

Secretariat organization and would therefore be covered by the pay-scale

prescribed in para 3.1.14 of the 6th CPC.
12. If we notice the discussion in V.N. Narayanappa & Ors.2,

historical parity is one of the aspects which has been examined. The

factual matrix in the present case is that there was such historical parity

under the first and second Pay Commissions’ recommendations.

However, the third and fourth Pay Commissions did not give parity and

the fifth Pay Commission gave parity to a limited extent. Thus, there is

no continued history of parity insofar the present case is concerned, i.e.,

sometimes parity was given and sometimes not. The history as available

from the brief note submitted by the respondents and is as under:

Central Pay RBSS Zonal Railways/Field
Commission Officers
1 Pay Commission Rs.160-450/- Rs.160-450/-
2nd Pay Commission Rs.210-530/- Rs.210-530/-
3rd Pay Commission Rs.650-1200/- Rs.650-960/-
4th Pay Commission Rs.2000-3500/- Rs.2000-3200/-
5th Pay Commission Rs.6500-10500/- Rs.6500-10500/-
6th Pay Commission Rs.4800 Rs.4200 (Later
(Grade Pay) Rs.4600/-)

13. We now turn to the aspect of whether the post in the case in hand

can be said to be that of a Secretariat or non-Secretariat organization.


This aspect, once again, has been dealt with in the judgment in V.N.

Narayanappa & Ors.3, taking note of Swamy’s Compilation of 6th CPC

Report Part I (pages 141 to 147) and Swamy’s Manual on Office

Procedure 2006 and 2009. In the definition Chapter at entry 53,

Secretariat Offices are said to have been defined as those which are

responsible for formulation of the policies of the Government and also

for the execution and review of those policies. Relying on this definition,

it was opined that the organizations where the applicants in V.N.

Narayanappa & Ors.4 were working, were not Secretariat Organizations,

but were non-Secretariat Organizations or attached offices or subordinate

offices thereto. The meaning of subordinate offices is stated to signify

their function as field establishments or as agencies responsible for the

detailed execution of the policies of Government. They function under

the direction of an attached office or directly under a department. In that

context, it was opined that there exists a distinction in the works,

functions and responsibilities between Secretariat and non-Secretariat

organizations. As such, it was noted that if there are functional

dissimilarities between the cadres, there are bound to be financial


disparities in pay and allowances. It would be useful to reproduce paras

38 and 39 of the judgment in V.N. Narayanappa & Ors.5, which read as


“38. As it would be evident from the discussions in the preceding
paras, there is a significant difference in the recruitment rules,
promotional hierarchy etc. between the applicants who are Private
Secretaries Grade-II in the Zonal Railways with that of Private
Secretaries in the Railway Board/Central Secretariat
Services/CSSS or CAT. There also no case of any historical parity
between the applicants and their counterparts in CSSS or CAT or
RBSS. Therefore the applicants cannot claim the benefits of pay
scales allowed to CSSS in the ratio of judgments in OA
No.164/2009 in S.R. Dheer & Ors. v. Union of India wherein the
Private Secretaries in the CAT were granted the benefit on the
basis of establishment of a historical parity with CSS.

39. In this context, we also note the submission made by the
respondents about the consequential implications on various other
categories/groups under the respondents if such benefit is granted
to the applicants even though they do not have any parity with
RBSS and CSSS and are not entitled to the same. The Railways is
a vast organization where there are many cadres/category of
employees having identical pay scales and equal parity with that of
Private Secretaries Grade-II in the Zonal Railways. A list of such
groups has been highlighted in the reply statement. Therefore,
grant of benefit which the applicants are otherwise not entitled to
will also have an effect on the other cadres of Railways as


14. We do believe in the conspectus of the aforesaid discussion that the

correct perspective has been taken in V.N. Narayanappa & Ors.6 insofar

as which clause of the 6th CPC recommendations would be applicable.

We find that once we come to the conclusion that the regional offices of

the Railways are to be treated as non-Secretariat Organizations, then the

specific recommendations in para 3.1.14 relating to such non-Secretariat

Organizations will apply. The observations made in para 3.1.9 which are

qua Secretariat offices giving parity between the Private

Secretary/equivalent to a Section Officer cannot be said to be mutatis

mutandis applicable even to non-Secretariat Organizations. If we were to

opine otherwise and equate everybody there would have been no purpose

in the 6th CPC making separate recommendations for non-Secretariat

Organizations in their wisdom. It is not as if the Commission was

unaware of the plea of disparity between the Secretariat and field offices

as that was dealt with in paras 3.1.2 and 3.1.3 but despite having taken

note of the same some difference was sought to be made between

Secretariat and non-Secretariat offices.
15. The Pay Commission is a specialized body set up with the

objective of resolving anomalies. It is relevant to note that the anomaly in


question was referred to the Pay Commission at the request of candidates

similarly situated to the respondents and thus, the 6 th CPC was aware of

the claim for parity and the requirement of making a recommendation in

that regard. In its wisdom while giving better scales it has still sought to

maintain a separate recommendation for non-Secretariat Organizations.
16. We may also notice another aspect. There is a plea by the

respondents that the recruitment process for the two cadres was common

and persons used to be transferred from one to the other. Some

illustrations have been given of this. In fact, the plea of the respondents

is that there have been times when a common competitive exam was

conducted and sometimes the exams were conducted separately. In this

regard, it has been explained by the learned Additional Solicitor General

on behalf of the appellants that the cadres are separate and the rules

governing them are also separate. The Stenographers under the Railway

Board are governed by the RBSS Rules, 1971, the Central Secretariat

Stenographers are governed by the CSS Rules, 1969 and the CSSS Rules,

2010 and the Stenographers in the Central Administrative Tribunal are

governed by the CATSS Rules, 2013. These are the posts with which the

respondents sought parity. On the other hand, the respondents working in

the Zonal Railways were governed by Rule 107 of the Indian Railway
Establishment Code. The avenue and channel of promotion of

stenographers in the Railway Board and the Zonal Railways, it has been

stated, are entirely different.
17. Learned counsel for the appellants did accept that there were some

cases of transfer, but those were persons who were brought to the

Railway Board for exigency of work – it was not as if they were absorbed

in the Railway Board. There were also cases where transfers took place

from the Railway Board to the Zonal Railway offices, but that was on the

specific request of such officers and considered on a case-to-case basis

and they had to take then seniority at the bottom of the list.
18. Para 3.1.3 which dealt with the disparity between the Secretariat

and field offices has canvassed a case for parity between similarly placed

persons employed in field offices and the Secretariat; in view of the field

offices being at the cutting edge of administration. However, it came to

the conclusion that parity would need to be absolute till the grade of

Assistant. It was clearly stipulated that beyond that “it may not be

possible or even justified to grant complete parity because the hierarchy

and career progression will need to be different taking in view the

functional considerations and relativities across the board.” If this

principle is observed, the benefit cannot accrue to the respondents and we

cannot accept the plea that as a result of parity being given up to the level

of Assistant (which would put them in the grade of Rs.4200 (later

Rs.4600)), the respondents, being one post higher, would automatically

have to get one higher grade.
19. We are fortified in the view we are seeking to adopt in interpreting

the aforesaid paragraphs of the Pay Commission by the observations in

Union of India v. Tarit Ranjan Das,7 where it was opined that the

principle of equal pay for equal work cannot be applied merely on basis

of designation. While dealing with the 5th Pay Commission

recommendations with respect to functional requirements, it was held

that there was no question of any equivalence on that basis. The said

case dealt with Stenographers of the Geological Survey of India. While

observing that as a general statement it was correct to state that the basic

nature of work of a Stenographer remained by and large the same

whether they were working for an officer in the Secretariat or for an

officer in a subordinate office; it was held that Courts ought not to

interfere if the Commission itself had considered all aspects and after due

consideration opined that absolute equality ought not to be given.

7(2003) 11 SCC 658.

20. In the end we would like to reiterate that the aspect of disparity

between the Secretariat and the field offices was a matter taken note of by

the Commission itself while making the recommendations. Yet to some

extent, a separate recommendation was made qua Secretariat

Organizations and non-Secretariat Organizations. Once these

recommendations are separately made, to direct absolute parity would be

to make the separate recommendations qua non-Secretariat Organizations

otiose. If one may say, there would have been no requirement to make

these separate recommendations if everyone was to be treated on parity

on every aspect.
21. In view of the aforesaid reasons, we find the impugned judgment,

which in turn relies upon other orders passed by different Tribunals and

Courts unsustainable, and is accordingly set aside.
22. The appeals are accordingly allowed.
23. We hope this puts to rest this controversy which has been agitated

before different forums without receiving a final reasoned view of this


[Sanjay Kishan Kaul]

[Hrishikesh Roy]
New Delhi.
August 31, 2021.



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