New Delhi, July 9 (PTI) The Punjab State Co-operative Milk Producers Federation Ltd was established as a step towards white revolution and its objective was to increase milk production, not to give employment, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
A bench of Justices S K Kaul and Hemant Gupta made the observation while setting aside an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court holding that the federation is a State within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution and its employees are therefore entitled to pay scale equivalent to their counterparts.
“The Federation was established as a step towards white revolution. The objective of the Federation was not to give employment but to increase milk production in the State. The employees are facilitators of the employer to achieve such objective and thus demanding enhanced wages without considering the objective and financial condition of the employer would not be ideal.
“The employer and the employees have to work together to achieve the objective of the organisation i.e. white revolution rather frittering away the gains made by the joint efforts of the management and employees by giving increased wages to the employees irrespective of its capacity to bear such expenses,” the bench said.
The apex court noted that the Federation was in financial difficulties prior to year 1994 and said the information received under the Right to Information Act by the employees to show that the Federation was in profit in the year 1996-1997 is not relevant.
“We do not find that such information is relevant to determine the financial condition for the period from January 1, 1986 to January 1, 1994.
“The Federation has categorically stated that because of the remedial steps taken by the Federation, there was turn around only after 1994. Still further, we find that the profits in the balance sheet are not meant to be appropriated towards wages of the employees alone. Though the profits had to be shared by the members of the Co-operative Society, but the employees of the Federation are not its members,” the bench said.
The income generated by the Federation is not to be expanded only on payment of salary but is also required for upgradation of technology, renovation and expansion of plants etc, the apex court said adding that entire profit is not to be appropriated towards the wages of the employees alone.
The apex court said the submission that there will not be financial burden on the federation in view of the fact that the High Court has ordered payment of arrears for a period of 3 years and 2 months before the date of filing of writ petitions is not tenable.
The High Court has granted revised pay scales with effect from January 1, 1986 instead of revised pay scales granted to the employees of the federation with effect from January 1, 1994, the bench said.
Therefore, restricting it for a period of 3 years and 2 months will not be helpful in respect of the financial condition of the Federation as during the relevant time the federation was suffering from huge losses, it said.
“In view of the above, we find that the order of the High Court is unjustified and in excess of the power of judicial review conferred on the High Court. Consequently, the appeals are allowed. The orders passed by the High Court are hereby set aside and the writ petitions are dismissed,” the top court said. PTI PKS SA