10 June 2024


Supreme Court

The State of Punjab and Ors. Vs. Dharam Pal




If a person is put to officiate on a higher post with greater responsibilities, he is entitled to salary of that post

The present appeal, by special leave, calls in question the legal acceptability of the order passed by the High Court whereby the Division Bench placing reliance on the decision in Pritam Singh Dhaliwal v. State of Punjab and Anr. has acceded to the prayer made by the Respondent for getting the benefit of the pay scale for the post he was holding on officiating basis. Criticising the impugned order, it is submitted that, the High Court has committed gross illegality in granting the benefit to the Respondent totally ignoring the restrictions incorporated in the orders dated 9th December, 2004 and 26th May, 2007 which clearly stipulated that, the Respondent official will work in his own pay scale and his officiating promotion would be subject to the recommendations of the Departmental Promotion Committee and on the approval of the Committee, he shall be given the financial benefits.

Punjab Civil Services Rule postulates that, the government employee appointed to an officiating post shall not draw pay higher than his substantive pay in respect of a permanent post unless the post in which he is appointed to officiate is one enumerated in the Schedule to the Rules and further the officiating appointment involves assumption of duties and responsibilities of greater importance than those attached to the post. It is not in dispute that the posts of Superintendent Grade II and Grade I are covered under the Schedule. Be it mentioned, the extension of benefit is subject to the provisions of Rules 4.22 and 4.24.

Rule 4.22 and Rule 4.24 of Rules, categorically convey that, the employee who holds the higher post must fulfill the requisite qualifications and conditions for service for both the posts. It is not controverted at the Bar that the Respondent was eligible to hold the post of Superintendent Grade II and Grade I.

Respondent herein was holding higher posts and further he was performing the duties of higher responsibility attached to the posts. In Secretary-cum-Chief Engineer, Chandigarh v. Hari Om Sharma, Court held that, if a person is put to officiate on a higher post with greater responsibilities, he is normally entitled to salary of that post. An agreement that if a person is promoted to the higher post or put to officiate on that post or, as in the instant case, a stop-gap arrangement is made to place him on the higher post, he would not claim higher salary or other attendant benefits would be contrary to law and also against public policy. It would, therefore, be unenforceable in view of Section 23 of the Contract Act, 1872.

In the instant case, the Rules do not prohibit grant of pay scale. Supreme Court clearly stated that by an incorporation in the order or merely by giving an undertaking in all circumstances would not debar an employee to claim the benefits of the officiating position. The controversy is covered by the ratio laid down in Hari Om Sharma and resultantly, it is held that, view expressed by the High Court is absolute impeccable. There is no merit in this appeal and accordingly the same stands dismissed.


Pritam Singh Dhaliwal v. State of Punjab and Anr. 2004 (4) RSJ 599; Secretary-cum-Chief Engineer, Chandigarh v. Hari Om Sharma and Ors.MANU/SC/0337/1998
: (1998) 5 SCC 87

Tags : Officiating position Benefit Legality

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