By Akanksha Singh[1]

In the Supreme Court of India

CITATION1982 AIR 879, 1982 SCR (3) 298
DATE OF JUDGMENT22 February, 1982
APPELANTRandhir Singh
RESPONDENTUnion Of India & Ors
BENCH/JUDGEReddy, O. Chinnappa (J) Reddy, O. Chinnappa (J) Sen, A.P. (J) Islam, Baharul (J)
IMPORTANT SECTIONS/ARTICLESConstitution of India – Article 14, 16, 39(d), 32


The petitioner filed the petition in the public interest under Article-32 of the Constitution, claiming for a better and equal pay scale for all government drivers, just as other government drivers of heavy vehicles were, and seeks the proper implementation of the principle equal pay for equal work under Article-14, Article-16, which talks about giving an equal opportunity to all citizens in the matter of employment or appointment under any authority. It was said that equal pay for equal work is an abstract doctrine and it does not attract Article- 14.


This case relates to the theory of “equal pay for equal labour,” which states that everyone should be entitled to equal salary if the job is the same regardless of gender, caste, or religion. This is done to guarantee that no one is discriminated against. This legal theory is widely accepted in India. There are laws in place that address the issue. Article 39 of the Indian Constitution relates to this notion (to be read with Article 14). Furthermore, it is a matter of worker rights. The Equal Remuneration Act of 1976 is a law that requires equal compensation for men and women workers and prohibits sex discrimination. This idea has also been discovered on an international level. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the European Social Charter, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the International Labour Organization’s Constitution all emphasise the same policy.


The Preamble to the Indian Constitution seeks to secure justice for all its citizens in social and economic fields, as well as equal pay for equal work for both men and women under Article-39(d), which is very important even though it is not a Fundamental Right but a Directive Principle of State Policy and will serve as guidelines for the Centre and the State Government. This principle for the first time was considered in the case of Kishori Mohan Lal Bakshi v Union of India & Ors[2]the Supreme Court ruled that the concept of equal pay for equal labour cannot be applied in a court of law.

However, the same principle get recognition in the case of Mackinnon Mackenzie’s case[3].In the case of State of Punjab & Ors v Jagjit Singh & Ors[4] it was held that an employee engaged or employed in the same work, even if the employee is appointed on a temporary basis (which includes daily wage employees, employees appointed on a casual basis, etc.), employees cannot be paid less than the other person (permanent staff) performing the same duties and responsibilities, especially in a welfare state, as they are the same as being discharged by regular employees holding the same posts, then the principle of “Equal pay for equal work” was violated. Such an act represents exploitative enslavement, and it is undeniably repressive, suppressive, and coercive in character.

Supreme Court in the case of Dharwad District PWD Literate Daily Wages Employees Association v. State of Karnataka[5] said that the equality clause of the Constitution under Article-16 and 14 should be interpreted with the Preamble and Article-39(d) in mind, and the principle of equal pay for equal work is derived from these articles and is applicable in cases of unequal pay based on classification or irrational classification.

In the case of State of Haryana v Rajpal Sharma[6]The Supreme Court ruled that instructors employed in private aided schools in the state of Haryana are entitled to the same pay and dearness allowances as teachers employed in government schools.

The Supreme Court in the case of Daily Rated Casual Labour v Union of India[7] held that the theory of equal pay for equal work will be applied to temporary or casual employees or workers who perform the same activities and functions as permanent employees.

In Mewa Ram v. A.I.I Medical Science[8], the Supreme Court ruled that the idea of “Equal Pay for Equal Work” is not an abstract theory and that a state can set various pay scales for different employment postings based on educational qualifications and job tasks and responsibilities. All India Institute of Medical Sciences provides professional services that are determined by one’s educational credentials, thus the doctrine will not be used and cannot be claimed in all types of services supplied, particularly professional services.


Petitioner is a driver constable for the Delhi Police Force, which is a division of the Delhi Administration. He was hired as a driver in the Delhi Police Force after being released from the army, and after being chosen for the “Employment of Ex-Serviceman in Delhi Police as Driver” category, he was asked to take a driving test. He was also instructed to bring a Civil Heavy Transport Driving License. Driver (Constable)was given the title of Constable, and for the purpose of force discipline and appointment as a driver in the Delhi Police Force, he became a member of the force and received a rank. The petitioner and other drivers employed by the Delhi Administration have comparable responsibilities. The wage scale in the Delhi Police Force is 210–270 rupees for non-matriculated drivers and 225–308 rupees for matriculated drivers.

The wage range for the Railway Protection Force is 260 to 400. The pay scale in Delhi for non-secretariat offices is 260-6-326-EB-8-350 rupees (Efficiency Bar), but it is 60-6-290-EB-6-326-8-366-EB-8-8-8-390-10 400 rupees for secretariat offices. The pay range for drivers at the Language Commission’s office is 260–300 rupees, but it is 330–480 rupees for heavy truck drivers at the Fire Brigade and Light House Department. They claimed that even though they held different departmental positions, they were still able to get equal compensation since they were executing the same or almost identical tasks. The petitioner and the other drivers told the authorities that the Third Pay Commission did not take their situation into consideration individually and that their pay scale should be the same as that of the heavy truck drivers in the other departments. They decided to bring the petitioner’s motion for issuing a writ under Article-32 of the Constitution after the authorities failed to comply with their demand.


The petitioner’s complaint is that, when considering the pay scales for police officers, the Pay Commission failed to consider drivers as a separate category and ignored the special considerations that prevailed in the case of drivers in other departments and should have therefore prevailed in the case of driver-constables as well.


  • Learned counsel for the appellant contends that since it was claimed that Article 14 is only an abstract idea and has nothing to do with the equal pay for equal work principle, it has been violated.
  • In the instant matter, it is an admitted position that Articles 14 and 16 ensure fundamental rights to equality before the law and equal opportunity in employment with the government, and Article 32 calls on the response to honour these obligations.
  • Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that Equal pay for equal work is proclaimed a Directive Policy under Article-39(d) of the Indian Constitution.


  • Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that if the petitioner is only a constable, there is no such position in the Delhi Police Force, and there is no such class of drivers.
  •  Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that For the purpose of setting the pay scale, no such comparison can be made between the various departments of the Delhi Police Force; instead, the pay scale is set after carefully considering all relevant factors.
  • Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that as an abstract notion that has nothing to do with the aforementioned article, Article-14 has nothing to do with the idea of equal pay for equal work..
  • Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that there is no question of any hostile discrimination.


Constitution of India

  • Article 14[9]: Equality before law The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth
  • Article 16[10]: Equality of opportunity in matters of public employment

(1) There shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State

(2) No citizen shall, on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them, be ineligible for, or discriminated against in respect or, any employment or office under the State

(3) Nothing in this article shall prevent Parliament from making any law prescribing, in regard to a class or classes of employment or appointment to an office under the Government of, or any local or other authority within, a State or Union territory, any requirement as to residence within that State or Union territory prior to such employment or appointment

(4) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State

(5) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any law which provides that the incumbent of an office in connection with the affairs of any religious or denominational institution or any member of the governing body thereof shall be a person professing a particular religion or belonging to a particular denomination

  • Article 39(d)[11]: that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women;
  • Article 32[12]: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part

(1) The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed

(2) The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part

(3) Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clause (1) and (2), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause ( 2 )

(4) The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution.


The Supreme Court ruled that although the Constitution of India does not expressly declare the principle of “Equal Pay for Equal Work” to be a fundamental right, it is mentioned as a constitutional goal under Articles 14 and 16 as well as 39(d) and is enforceable in court if there is inequity in the payment scale based on irrational classification, even if the pay scale is different for performing similar tasks for the same organisation or the employer.

The Supreme Court ruled that individuals holding similar jobs may not be treated differently in the subject of their salary just because they belong to separate departments if all things are equivalent, or where all pertinent considerations are the same.

According to the court, the idea of “equal pay for equal work” is a substantive concept rather than an abstract one. Various grades can exist and do exist within a service, each requiring different qualifications to join and frequently serving as a promotion path for officers of lesser grades. The categorization of the officers into two categories with distinct pay schedules is rationally supported by the higher credentials or experience based on length of service. If applied to individuals, the idea of equal pay for equal work would be an impersonal notion that would not be covered by Article 14.

The court also declared that many socialist regimes across the world uphold the idea of “Equal Pay for Equal Work.” Changing the conditions that involve “injustice, difficulty, suffering, and privation to a vast number of people as to cause dissatisfaction so big that the peace and harmony of the world are jeopardised,” for instance, is one of the accomplishments recognised by the International Labour Organization.

According to the ruling, Articles 14, 16, and 39(d) must be interpreted while keeping in mind the Preamble of our Constitution. As a result, the principle “Equal Pay for Equal Work” should be applied, particularly in cases where unequal pay scales have been made for duties and responsibilities that are similar, rather than based on irrational classificational grounds.


An abstract principle known as Article 14 has been used here as a constitutional objective. Since equal effort actually does result in equal compensation, Article-16’s equality language should have some significance. Article-39(d) can be linked to the section defining the “Equal Pay for Equal Work” principle. In circumstances of uneven pay scales or unreasonable categorisation, any of the aforementioned provisions may be enforced by a court of law. According to the Supreme Court, the idea of “Equal Pay for Equal Work” was not enshrined in the Indian Constitution as a basic right but rather as a constitutional goal. Article-39(d), a Directive Principle of the State Policy, guarantees “Equal Pay for Equal Labor for both Men and Women,” i.e., equal pay for the same amount of work performed by both sexes. It went on to say that, just as it sometimes has to read and interpret fundamental rights, so too must it read and interpret Article 16 to mean that the state must guarantee equality in hiring practises for all positions that fall within its purview. Contrarily, Article 14 of the Constitution provides that no state shall deny to any of its citizens the equality before the law and the equal protection of the law.

[1] Author is 4th  semester student of  ICFAI University, Dehradun.

[2] Kishori Mohan Lal Bakshi v Union of India &Ors (1959)

[3] Mackinnon Mackenzie & Co. Pvt. Ltd vs Ibrahim Mahommed Issak 1970 AIR 1906, 1970 SCR (1) 869

[4] State of Punjab & Ors v Jagjit Singh & Ors (2017) 1 SCC 148

[5] Dharwad District PWD Literate Daily Wages Employees Association v. State of Karnataka 1990 AIR 883, 1990 SCR (1) 544

[6] State of Haryana v Rajpal Sharma AIR 1997 SC 449

[7] Daily Rated Casual Labour v Union of India (1988) 1 SCC 122

[8] Mewa Ram v A.I.I Medical Science AIR 1989 SC 1256

[9] Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/367586/

[10] Article 16 of the Indian Constitution, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/211089/

[11] Article 39(d) of the Indian Constitution, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/608806/

[12] Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, https://indiankanoon.org/doc/981147/

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