(1.)These interlocutory applications and contempt petitions are all off shoots of the judgment of this Court dated 31-1-2001 in Civil Appeal No. 2218 of 1999, and the subsequent circular issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs (Banking Division) in implementation of the directions of this Court. According to the applicants, the circular issued by the Government of India in the Ministry of Finance (Banking Division), purported to be one in compliance with the directions of the Court in judgment dated 31-1-2001 in effect, is contrary to the judgment of the Court and is a wilful disrespect to and in deliberate violation of the judgment and directions of the Court and as such, must be held to be grossly contemptuous and the contemners should be duly punished for the same.
(2.)The main controversy in the civil appeal was, whether on acceptance of any bipartite settlement between the management and the employees of the sponsor bank, the employees and officers of the Regional Rural Banks ipso facto would be entitled to the revision of their wages While the management and the Union of India vehemently contended that there cannot be an ipso facto revision of wages of the employees of the Regional Rural Banks as and when a settlement is arrived at between the management and employees of the sponsor bank and the appropriate authority of the Central Government would be required to exercise power under S. 17 of the Regional Rural Banks Act, 1976, the employees on the other hand, strongly relied upon the report of Justice Obul Reddi Tribunal and submitted that in view of the conclusion of the Tribunal that parity should be maintained between the employees of the Regional Rural Banks as well as the employees of the sponsor nationalised commercial banks, the so-called decision making power under S. 17(1) of the Act, is in fact a formal and clerical one. Ultimately, this Court accepted the contention of the Union Government as well as the management of the Bank and came to hold that it would be the power of the Central Government to decide the pay structure of the employees of the Regional Rural Banks under S. 17(1) of the Act and in so doing, the Government would be duty bound to maintain parity between the pay structure of the employees of the nationalised commercial banks and the employees of the Regional Rural Banks in the same sense and spirit as Justice Obul Reddi had decided. This Court ultimately issued this further direction as under :
"In view of the aforesaid conclusions of ours on the different contentions raised and in view of the fact that the Union of India in its interlocutory application had already indicated that the employees of the RRBs will be granted the new scales w.e.f. 1-4-2000 in the line with scales granted to commercial bank employees of equivalent level, we direct that the said determination be a determination under the second proviso to sub-section (1) of S. 17 of the RRB Act and as such the salary of the employees of the Regional Rural Banks w.e.f. 1-4-2000 be determined accordingly.
We also further direct that for maintaining the parity between the employees of the commercial banks and the employees of the Regional Rural Banks, the said Union Government shall decide the question as to what would be the salary of the employees of the RRBs subsequent to the 6th Bipartite Settlement having been given effect to, in case of employees of the commercial banks and with effect from what date and the benefit flowing from such decision be given to the RRB employees. The decision in question shall be taken within a period of six months from today."
It may be stated that the Union of India had filed an interlocutory application, wherein in the larger interest of the employees and depositors of the Regional Rural Banks, it had proposed to give a package, but that package however had not been accepted by the employees of the Regional Rural Banks and, therefore, the Court ultimately heard the matter and delivered the judgment. In implementation of the directions of the Court as aforesaid, the Government of India, Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs (Banking Division) issued a notification dated 11-4-2001, the relevant paragraphs of which are quoted hereinbelow in extenso :
"(i) The new basic pay of each RRB employees as on 1-4-2000 would be determined by notionally granting the benefit of 6th and 7th bipartite settlement and officers wage revision w.e.f. 1-11-1992 and 1-11-1997 respectively. The formula for fitment of salary in various scales may also remain the same as was adopted for commercial bank employees. Thus as on 1-4-2000, the pay scales of the RRB employees would become equal to that of their counterparts in commercial banks.
(ii) The current payment of increase in the salary due to grant of new pay scales shall be made in such a manner that the cash outflow in a particular year on this account is not more than 50% of the operating profit of the concerned RRB as per the previous year's published balance sheet. The RRBs who have incurred operating losses in theprevious year would not be able to make current payment of increased portion of the revised salary and the amount due on account of increase in salary shall be transferred to the arrear account. Similarly, if anticipated cash out flow on account of the increase in the salary is exceeding 50% of the operating profit in the last year, the current payment may be restricted only to 50% of the operating profit and the rest shall be transferred to arrear account which is to be treated in the manner stated hereunder.
(iii) There shall be a two year moratorium on the payment of arrears i.e. upto 31-3-2002 and during this period no arrear shall be payable by any RRB. After the moratorium period, the arrears may be paid in such a manner that the cash outflow on that account and the increase in wages during the current year on account of implementation of this package do not exceed 50% of the operating profit of the respective RRB for the immediate previous year. Arrears would mean increase in salary i.e. basic pay, DA and CCA due to the RRB employees by notionally granting to them wage revision w.e.f. 1-11-1992 and 1-11-1997 at par with the commercial bank employees and residual amount if any arising out of Cl. (ii) above.
(iv) The House Rent Allowance (HRA) and City Compensatory Allowance (CCA) would be payable at the same rate as applicable to comparable employees in the sponsor banks and would be given prospective effect i.e. date of issue of these orders as is done in Commercial Banks.
(v) As far as other allowances are concerned, individual sponsor banks shall negotiate the same with the respective RRBs. The revised allowances shall be paid w.e.f. 1-4-2000. The ceiling on the payment shall however be as per the formula stated in (iii) above.
The RRBs may issue a comprehensive order based on the above orders indicating the revised pay scales in respect of each category of employees after getting approval of their Board of Directors.
The principles for current payment and payment of arrears spelt out in these orders should be strictly adhered to."
Paragraph (i) of this Notification, making the pay scales of the employees of Regional Rural Banks equal to their counterparts in commercial banks on 1-4-2000 is in consonance with the directions of this Court and there is no grievance on that score from any quarter. But paragraphs (ii) and (iii) of the aforesaid circular are the identical paragraphs of the package, which the Union of India had submitted in course of hearing and which had not been accepted by the employees of the Regional Rural Banks. Even the current payment of increase in salary, after determination being made became dependant upon the cash outflow in a particular year and then there was a moratorium on the payment of the arrears for a period of two years i.e. up to 31-3-2002. The aforesaid period however is coming to an end.
(3.)According to Mr. S. K. Dholakia and other counsel appearing for different set of employees of Regional Rural Banks, the direction not to make the current payment of the increase in salary due to the grant of the new pay scale, is directly in contravention of the judgment of this Court and, therefore, such attitude of the authorities, must be severely condemned and they should be duly punished.