SC rules wage structure should encompass cost of living

Top court says pay structure should ensure sincere productivity of employee


Hasnaat Malik December 03, 2022
A general view of the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Islamabad, Pakistan April 4, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD:

The Supreme Court has held that the wage structure ought to be crafted in a way that must provide not merely for the bare subsistence of life but also to ensure sincere productivity and proficiency of the employee taking into account the variation in the cost of living.

The observation came as the top court upheld a Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Service Tribunal’s judgment that said the payment of conveyance allowance to the teachers could not be stopped during summer or winter vacations.

A three-judge bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial heard the matter.

Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, while authoring a 10-page judgment, said the salary structure was the fragmentation of the various components that put together the amount of recompense against the services rendered by an employee under the contract of employment which is very critical for any employee for understanding his pay package for his livelihood and means of support.

“Salary or pay is paid to the civil servants/employees in exchange for the services rendered by them and encompasses distinct components such as basic pay, allowances and other perquisites in a particular pay structure offered to an employee pursuant to the terms and conditions of service,” it said.

Besides basic pay, certain allowances are also merged in the consolidated remuneration or pay package highlighted under the different heads including conveyance allowance which may also be classified as one of the fringe benefits enjoyed by the employees as a result of their official position.

The judgment noted that the K-P advocate general failed to point out any document, or any terms and conditions of service of the respondents in which it was ever mentioned that the payment of conveyance allowance was conditional, or that the authority, in any case, reserved the right to discontinue or deduct this amount during summer or winter vacations, nor was it argued that during the vacations the respondents, being teachers, never attended their duties or during the entire vacations they were never called upon to attend the institution.

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The judgement pointed out that no other example has been placed on record to highlight that this unjust decision was taken across the board and included the civil servants of the province in their entirety, or that their top brass was also disentitled to conveyance allowance during vacations or public holidays.

Rather, the ruling noted, this discriminatory treatment was meted out only to a particular class of teachers, which cannot be construed as a reasonable classification. This type of adventurism is not permissible under the law, it added.

The court also noted that to enjoy the protection of the law and to be treated in accordance with the law is the inalienable right of every citizen. The purposefulness of Article 4 of the Constitution is to ascribe and integrate the doctrine of equality before the law or equal protection of the law, and no action detrimental to the life and liberty of any person can be taken without due process of law.

"Public functionaries are supposed to execute and perform their duty in good faith, honestly and within the precincts of their legally recognized powers so that the person concerned may be treated in accordance with the law.”

It further said that the objective of good governance cannot be achieved by exercising discretionary powers unreasonably or arbitrarily without rhyme or reason, and/or without compos mentis, but such objective can only be met by adhering to the rules of justness, fairness and openness as enshrined under Articles 4 and 25 of the Constitution.

"In the case in hand, the non-payment and/or deduction of conveyance allowance from monthly perks during summer and winter vacations would be tantamount to the violation of fundamental rights. Article 3 of the Constitution casts an unavoidable and inescapable obligation upon the state to ensure the elimination of all forms of exploitation, and the gradual fulfilment of fundamental principles from each according to their ability, to each according to their work,” the judgement stated.

Whereas under Article 38, the judgement observed, it was provided that the state shall secure the wellbeing of the people, irrespective of sex, caste, creed, or race by raising their standard of living, by preventing concentration of wealth and the means of production and distribution in the hands of a few to the detriment of general interest and by ensuring equitable adjustment of rights between employers and employees, and landlords and tenants.

It said that the discriminatory treatment with the teachers was totally ill-founded, prejudicial and inequitable. Instead of providing more congenial working conditions and environment to encourage the noble profession of teaching and to effectively implement and comply with the obligations enshrined under Article 25-A of the Constitution, the teachers’ conveyance allowance, being one of the components of the terms and conditions of their service, was discontinued without any rhyme or reason or any written orders/notification.

"Teachers play an important role in the students’ lives by making them successful in their careers; they are considered builders of a better and brighter tomorrow and form one of the main pillars of a civilized and cultured society.

"The future development and wellbeing of every country are highly dependent on good educationists being a vivid source of learning, achievements and enlightenment for the benefit of their students."

It said that the expression “alma mater” was a Latin phrase currently used to identify a school, college or university that one formerly attended or graduated from.

The philosophy and importance of “alma mater” cannot be achieved without good teachers working wholeheartedly and with honest devotion and commitment to the sacred duty of imparting education which they ought to have performed sincerely in the best interest of their students by all means to improve the rate of literacy in the country.

At the same time, a heavy responsibility lies on the shoulders of teachers to perform their duties honestly, sincerely and diligently for imparting education wholeheartedly for the better future of this country, it added.

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