New Delhi: The gap between salary hike of a tainted employee and those with clean record cannot be construed as discriminatory or violating the equality clause provided in the Constitution, the Supreme Court has said.

Upholding an appeal filed by the Rajasthan government, a bench of justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma said, “Although the Constitution says that everyone is to be treated equally, the state has the power to adopt “positive discrimination” between a censured employee and a colleague with a clean record.

The Rajasthan government filed the petition challenging the state High Court’s direction to grant “selection grade” (increase in salary) benefits to certain employees despite having been censured for misconduct.

The state government in the petition has stated that the censured employees will not be granted “selection grade” for at least one year.

The state had issued an office memo in the year 1992, providing for selection grade to employees on completion of 9, 18 or 27 years of service. The person who has an untainted, unblemished and clean record in service and have completed the fixed-term are entitled for promotion and selection grade. But those who have tainted, blemished and unclean record would not come under selection grade for one year.