GIRISH CH. MISRA AND OTHERS Vs. STATE OF ASSAM AND OTHERS
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
GIRISH CH MISRA
STATE OF ASSAM
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(1.) This order will govern all the above Civil Rules. It is sufficient to state the facts in Civil Rule No. 409 of 1970. The petitioner is a citizen of India and permanent resident of Kanpur in the State of Uttar Pradesh. He joined as Lecturer in the department of Chemistry in H. R. H. The Prince of Wales Institute of Engineering and Technology at Jorhat, which is an educational institution of the Government of Assam. On 28th September, 1966. the Secretary to the Government of Assam-Finance Department, issued a circular announcing travel concessions to the Government servants travelling during regular leave As per clause 1 of the said memorandum, the travel concession is to be accorded to the Government servants for journeys for visiting their respective homes. Under clauses 1 and 2 of the said memorandum, the benefit of such concession was restricted to those whose homes are beyond a radius of two hundred kilometres from their headquarters but within the State of Assam. In 1967, when the petitioner was on regular leave, he made a journey to Kanpur and submitted to the authorities a bill for Rs. 435.37, believing that he was entitled to the travel concession as per memorandum, duly supported by vouchers and the same was paid. Later on, however, the Petitioner was communicated the Government's decision that Government servants. whose home towns are within the State of Assam, are only entitled to the aforesaic travel concession. The Principal of the Institute, thereupon, instructed the petitioner to refund the amount of Rs. 435.37, which he had earlier received in reimbursement of his travel expenses. The petitioner's representation to the Government and the Finance Minister did not meet with success. The petitioner, therefore, submits that denial to the petitioner of the benefit of travel concession amounted to discrimination by the State between different sets of employees under the Same Government and under similar working conditions and the circular is therefore liable to be quashed as being violative Art. 14 and Article 16 of the Constitution of India. The petitioner therefore prays for quashing the aforesaid memorandum and also for a direction to the respondents not to realise the amount of Rs. 435.37 already paid to him as travel concession.
(2.) The impugned office memorandum on the subject of travel concession to Government servants during regular leave was issued by the Governor of Assam in pursuance of the recommendations of the Pay Committee. We may notice some of the material clauses in the memorandum: Clause (1) of the memorandum recites that
"the concession will be admissible to Government servants whose homes are within the State of Assam once in a period of two calendar years for visiting their homes Further Government servants whose 'homes' are within a distance of 200 kms. from their headquarters will not be allowed the concession. (Clause (2)) Again, "Those whose 'homes' are beyond 200 kms. from their headquarters shall themselves meet the entire cost of fares or mileage allowance for the initial 200 kms. on each of the outward and return journeys. For the remaining distance (over the initial 200 kms.) the Government will meet 75 per cent, of the actual fares or mileage allowance, the balance of 25 per cent being borne by the Government servants........."
"The term 'home' referred to in this office memorandum shall be the permanent home town or village as entered in service book or other appropriate official record of the officer concerned, or such other place as declared by him, duly supported by reasons (such as ownership of immovable property) permanent residence of near relatives for example, parents, brothers etc. as the place, where he would normally reside but for his absence from such a station for service in Government........." (Clause (4)).
"The declaration will be subject in each case to the acceptance of the controlling officer, who shall satisfy himself about the correctness thereof after calling for such evidence as he may consider necessary........."
"A declaration of 'Home' once made shall ordinarily be treated as final but in exceptional circumstances, Government may make a change in such declaration which shall, however, not be made more than once during the service of a Government servant."
"Government servant will be reimbursed 75 per cent of the rail/State transport fares or the road mileage mentioned in the preceding para to the journeys beyond the first 200 kms. on presentation of claim in T. A. bill form on the usual certificate that they actually performed such journeys."
(Clause (13)). There are certain other matters of procedure which are also mentioned in the memorandum, which need not detain us.
(3.) All the petitioners who are Government servants in the service of the State of Assam are from outside the State of Assam, and are claiming the concession for journeys performed for going to their homes outside the State. The word 'home' being defined and the concession being admissible only to Government servants whose homes are within the State of Assam, the petitioners naturally cannot claim the travelling concession under the memorandum. It is, however, submitted on behalf of the petitioners that the memorandum is discriminatory and therefore invalid under Article 14 of the Constitution. Article 14 provides that "the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India." The petitioners submit that there is no equality under the memorandum.;
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