U. Sarathchandran, Judicial Member.
1. Applicants are industrial personnel working in the Military Engineer Services under respondent No. 2. They are presently in the scale of pay of Rs. 9,300-34,800/- plus Grade Pay of Rs. 4,200/- (Rs. 5,000-8,000/- pre- revised). Their grievance is that despite completing 30 years of service they were not considered for financial upgradation under the MACP scheme. Hence, they seek the relief as under:-
'(a) Issue necessary directions to the respondent to grant the applicants 3 Modified Assured Career Progression Scheme benefits on considering them for rd the same from their respective due dates on completion of 30 years service and disburse to them all the consequential benefits arising there from, including monetary arrears, with interest on the same, from their respective due dates till its disbursal, all within a time frame to be fixed by this Hon'ble Tribunal;
(b) Declare that the applicants are eligible and entitled to be considered and on finding fit entitled to be paid 3 rd MACP Scheme financial benefits from their respective dates of completion of 30 years service with reasonable interest on the said sum from due date till its disbursal;
(c) Issue necessary directions to the 1st respondent to take up Annexure A2 to A7 consider the same on merit in view Annexure A1 and pass orders in accordance with law, granting 3 rd MACP Scheme benefits to the applicants within a time limit to be fixed by this Hon'ble Tribunal;
(d) Award costs of these proceedings. And
(e) Grant such other and further reliefs as this Hon'ble Tribunal deems fit and proper in the interest of justice.'
2. Respondents resisted the OA contending that the applicants were initially appointed on 24.9.1983, 6.6.1984, 24.9.1983, 6.6.1984, 19.11.1983 & 6.9.1983 respectively as Wireman/Lineman/Plumber/Carpenter. They were granted first ACP on completion of 12 years with effect from 9.8.1999 in the scale of pay of Rs. 4,000-100-6,000/- and second ACP on completion of 24 years from the due dates i.e. 24.9.2007, 6.6.2008, 24.9.007, 6.6.2008, 19.11.2007 and 6.9.2007 respectively in pay scale of Rs. 9,300-34,800/- with Grade Pay of Rs. 4,200/-. According to the respondents as per the clarification issued by the Ministry of Defence based on DoP&T letter ID No. 11(5)/2009-D(Civ-I), dated 23.7.2012 the financial upgradation under ACP/MACP Scheme cannot be more than what can be allowed to an employee on his normal promotion. The maximum Grade Pay which can be given to industrial employees in Military Engineer Services is Rs. 4,200/- as there is no promotion existing in MES beyond Master Craftsman (MCM) [Grade Pay of Rs. 4,200/-]. The third financial upgradation in the grade pay of Rs. 4,600/- to those employees who are having the grade pay of Rs. 4,200/- was not agreed to by the Ministry of Defence. It is also contended by the respondents that the pay fixation approval given in respect of three other individuals by way of third MACP was cancelled by the Accounts Officer, GE, Coimbatore vide Annexure R1(d) and thereafter no financial upgradation in the Grade Pay of Rs. 4,600/- has been granted to any individuals serving under the jurisdiction of CWE (NW), Kochi. Respondents state that all the applicants in this OA were granted three promotions in different pay scales, therefore they are not entitled to Grade Pay of Rs. 4,600/- and if they are granted Grade pay of Rs. 4,600/- it shall become a precedent for thousands of employees under the Central Government service. Since the post of MCM was not in the hierarchy of Artisan cadre up to 31.12.2005 the Highly Skilled Workers / MCM who were already drawing the pay scale of Chargeman (Rs. 5,000-8,000/-) viz. promotion post up to 31.12.2005 under the ACP may be considered for further financial upgradations, if due in the cases of Grade Pay of Rs. 4,600/- in the hierarchy of Grade Pay. In the instant case as the applicants have already been granted second ACP in the revised pay scale of Rs. 9,300-34,800/- with effect from 24.9.2007, 6.6.2008, 24.9.007, 6.6.2008, 19.11.2007 and 6.9.2007 respectively after 31.12.2005, the applicants are not entitled to third financial upgradation to MACP scheme on completion of 30 years of service in the Grade Pay of Rs. 4,600/-.
3. In the rejoinder the applicants refuted the contentions of the respondents to which an additional reply statement was filed by the respondents producing a copy of the order of the co-ordinate Bench of this Tribunal at Chandigarh pronounced on 24.3.2015 in OA No. 061/00032/2014.
4. Heard both sides. Perused the record.
5. Learned counsel for the applicants submitted that the issue involved in this case is squarely covered by the final order dated 20.3.2017 of this Bench in OA No. 180/958/2014. We have carefully perused the aforesaid decision. We are of the view that the issue involved in the present OA is analogous to the lis in that case.
6. Referring to Annexure R1(g) order of the co-ordinate Bench of Chandigarh in OA No. 061/00032/2014 learned f Central Government counsel submitted that an identical issue has been decided by the Chandigarh Bench in the aforesaid case denying the Grade Pay of Rs. 4,600/-.
7. After hearing both sides we are of the view that Annexure R1(a) clarificatory order issued by the Ministry of Defence in consultation with DoP&T tacitly indicates that there occured restructuring of the cadre of Artisan staff in the Defence Establishment pursuant to the VIth CPC. The only reasoning for denial of MACP stated in Annexure R1(a) is that ''financial upgradation under ACP/MACP scheme cannot be more than what can be allowed to an employee on his normal promotion and that the placement of the Highly Skilled grade as Master Craftsman has to be treated as one promotion for the purpose of MACP benefits''. (Italics supplied)
8. It is obvious from Annexure R1(a) that there has been a restructuring of the cadre of Artisan staff in the Defence Establishment following the VIth CPC recommendations and that the High Skilled employees amongst the Artisan staff were placed in Master Craftsman as a sequel to the cadre restructuring. We are of the view that such restructuring of the cadre and the consequential placement of the Highly Skilled category of Artisan staff as Master Craftsman is only a placement of such employees as a result of restructuring and that it cannot be treated as promotion.
9. It is the admitted case of the respondents that the applicants have been granted two financial upgradations under the erstwhile ACP scheme. The second ACP was granted to the applicants with effect from 24.9.2007, 6.6.2008, 24.9.007, 6.6.2008, 19.11.2007 and 6.9.2007 respectively. Such financial upgradations, even though granted after the restructuring of the cadre, cannot be treated as a promotion. It is the further case of the respondents that for the Artisan staff MCM is the maximum level they can reach by way of promotion and that they cannot be granted financial upgradation more than the pay in the promotion post. This argument is quite specious in view of the fact that the Highly Skilled Artisan staff, to which category the applicants belonged earlier, were given placement as MCM not by way of promotion but as a restructuring placement. This argument of the respondents by implication strengthens the case of the applicants that there is no further promotional avenues for them in future and hence they are entitled to the benefits of the MACP. As per the MACP scheme the erstwhile ACP benefits already received by the employees will be ignored (see illustration-I under paragraph 5 of Annexure-I to the MACP scheme). It is also well known in the administrative parlance that the financial upgradations are not promotions per se and that placements resultant to restructuring also cannot be treated as promotion. In Hukum Chand Gupta v. Director General, Indian Council of Agricultural Research and others (2012) 12 SCC 666 the Apex court held that ACP Scheme envisages only placement in higher pay scale / grant of financial benefits (financial upgradation) on personal basis only and does not amount to functional / regular promotion.
10. It goes without saying that applicants who have completed 30 years of service from their direct entry grade are eligible for 3 rd MACP. We are of the view that Annexure R1(g) order of the Chandigarh Bench can be distinguished from the facts of this case because in Annexure R1(g) case the placement of the employees as MCM was treated as promotion. However, in this case, we are of the view that, the respondents do not have such a case. They state that the applicants herein are not entitled to third MACP because the maximum Grade Pay to which the industrial employees working in the Defence Establishment (Artisan Staff) can reach is that of MCM ie. the Grade Pay of Rs. 4,200/- only and that the applicants cannot claim a grade pay higher the grade pay of the promotional post.
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>11. Viewing from this angle we hold that the arguments of the respondents are not in congruity with the scheme of MACP which provides for financial upgradation whenever there is a stagnation/lack of promotional avenues on completion of service of 10 years, 20 years and 30 years from their initial entry grade. The applicants have already availed of two financial upgradations under the ACP. After restructuring of the cadre they have completed 30 years of service from the entry grade have become entitled to third financial upgradation under the MACP. 12. Since the applicants have admittedly completed 30 years of service as on their respective dates they are entitled to get the benefit of third financial upgradation under the MACP scheme ie. to the next Grade Pay of Rs. 4,600/-. 13. Accordingly the Original Application is allowed. The respondents shall pass appropriate orders within two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. Parties shall suffer their own costs.