Right to Equal Pay – Living a Dignified life


Similar to the fundamental rights granted to a person, dignity is a birthright. The current societal crisis is to blame for a number of issues that relate to one’s dignity and impair it in one way or another. This essay will concentrate on equal pay in terms of dignity.


Every person is immediately familiar with some human rights, including the freedom from slavery, the right to life, and the right to a fair trial. Even though they fall under the umbrella of human rights concerns, issues like poverty, low pay, and inadequate housing are rarely recognised as such. Even though many treaties have been signed, it is obvious that our government still has a long way to go before this issue is completely eradicated from society. The effects of social security reform are heavily discussed, particularly how they negatively affect marginalized and disadvantaged individuals and groups like women, children, people with disabilities, and low-income families. Human rights are founded on the idea that everyone has a right to the same freedoms, dignity, and value. In addition to being a human right in and of itself, being healthy or educated also demonstrates the upholding of several other rights. As a result, within the context of human rights, we cannot limit our attention to inequalities in health and education. In actuality, health care and even education have some financial impact, which prompts me to talk about a topic that isn’t generally mentioned. The fundamental tenet of human dignity is that every member of the species deserves to be treated in a manner that is consistent with the high worth of sons in relation to one another since humans are the greatest type of beings or species on Earth as we have come to understand them to be one species in the animal kingdom, which is made up of many other species in addition to our own. This idea develops idealistically from a person’s self-concept to the assertion that other individuals are worthy of respect. The right to equal compensation and how having equal pay equates to dignity will be the main topics of this research paper.


When it comes to human equality, no other species comes close to us. These two tenets constitute the concept of human dignity. The idea that humans are special comes into play when people are compared from an external, deindividualized (albeit obviously just human), point of view. When speaking about dignity of every person, we can talk of the stature of the human race rather than individual standing. When compared to other species, humans are unmatched in stature. The same special and non-natural features, qualities, and capacities that are used to discuss the dignity of the species also used to discuss the dignity of the person. Therefore, I am not asserting that the species has a true existence independent of the individuals that comprise it, that it has a substance distinct from that of any one of them or from that of all of them, or that it has a collective agency distinct from that of the agency of the individuals acting alone or in groups. The social standing of a person has a significant impact on their dignity. After all, if a person has tremendous status, everyone recognizes them, however a little person from a remote region could not have as much status as a big shot. Which leads me to argue that human dignity is an existential value rather than a moral one and connects it to equal pay since, in today’s world, money plays a big role in one’s survival.[1]

Human dignity is an existential value; merit or value is ascribed to an individual’s identity. I agree that when one’s identity is in question, there is an existential issue at hand. The concept of human dignity places a strong emphasis on accepting other individuals for who they truly are and where they stand in relation to everyone else. Although Immanuel Kant[2] is sometimes cited as the creator of the modern notion of human dignity, his understanding of this concept and how it relates to human value and the need to respect others are not well known. We risk straying from Kant’s philosophy and confusing morality and dignity as a result of his idea of rights. He contends that what gives humans their distinctive value or dignity is their ability to behave properly, which necessitates acting from the right moral perspective. For instance, hiring a laborer for a particular job might be morally appropriate, and since it creates employment, one might believe that it is in their best interest. However, when considered from the standpoint of dignity, it is the sad reality of today’s society that not every laborer is treated equally as someone holding a higher position. After culture emerged, the pursuit of a living became a crucial component of life due to the numerous physiological changes brought about by evolution. A human being found it exceedingly difficult to exist in the cultural environment; as a result, he became a victim of his surroundings. Man sought work and other sources after the establishment of the State in order to support himself and survive in this harsh environment. When compared to someone who makes enough money to put a roof over their head, fulfil their necessities, educate themselves, etc., a person who earns little and can barely make ends meet is considered to be the one who is not leading a dignified life. Then again, there is the question of equal compensation, which has always been a concern in society. Equal pay is protected by law, but to what extent? Due to an increase in instances of wage discrimination, the pay gap has emerged as a matter of public interest. As a welfare and democratic organisations, we fall short in putting in place an open equal pay policy. The Research paper’s second part will concentrate on Equal pay for equal work for comparable labour.


The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor from sleeping under bridges. – Anatole France

Due to a rise in cases of discriminatory pay scales for the same sort of labour, the “Pay Gap” or problem of uneven pay has gained attention in recent years. India still lacks a thorough and open pay policy that applies to all economic sectors. Due to this, the subject of a future demand for equal pay has become contentious in recent years. Equal pay in this context refers not just to base salary but also to additional perks and allowances. The idea of equal pay for equal work is one that is taken into consideration not just in India but also internationally. Giving equal pay for equal labour to men and women who complete the same work with the same number of responsibilities and duties is a principle that applies in the workplace. Equal pay for equal work will be enforced, even though the Indian Constitution does not specifically recognize this right as fundamental or constitutional.[3] As the supreme law of the land, nothing surpasses the Indian Constitution. According to Kelson’s theory of pure law, the Indian Constitution is the great norm, which suggests that it is the ultimate benchmark and that there is nothing higher than it. The Indian Constitution safeguards every aspect of society and imposes limitations on the state’s power to infringe on individuals’ constitutionally guaranteed rights. In an effort to establish an egalitarian and secular ideology, the Declaration of Human Rights’ principles of equality, liberty, and justice were included into the Indian Constitution.[4] The Supreme Court first addressed the equal pay for equal labour principle in the 1962 case of Kishori Mohanlal Bakshi v. Union of India[5] and determined that it could not be maintained in a court of law.

But it wasn’t until 1987 that Mackinnon Mackenzie’s case[6] gave it the right amount of attention. In this instance, there was a desire for equal compensation for male and female stenographers, which raised concerns. This was resolved in favor of female stenographers because the Court supported equal pay. Even though time has passed, the problem still exists. The issue of the gender wage gap is more pervasive than previously thought, and it is being addressed, but this does not tell the whole picture. There are occasions when pay differences continue among persons of the same gender. This is true even when they put in the same amount of time and effort and execute the same kind of job as their colleagues. Despite our best efforts, no substantial legislation has been followed. Closing the pay gap is further complicated by problems like ignorance and incorrect legal interpretation. To solve this issue, it is essential to successfully implement the legal provisions as well as to increase knowledge of them.

In the case of State of Punjab and Ors vs. Jagjit Singh[7] The Supreme Court made such statement in order to signal a change in the legal justification for paying temporary workers the same as permanent workers. It is well known that, despite putting in the same or more work than permanent employees, temporary workers are compensated less. The fundamental justification for these employees continuing to work for less money is the hope that, when the chance arises, they will be regularly and permanently hired. The institutions also encourage the hiring of contract or temporary workers since it minimizes their financial commitments to pay for their salary and other benefits. Due to the temporary nature of their work and the fact that it is largely dependent on their desires, these employees are also more likely to follow orders and comply with requests made by higher-ranking authorities. Respect in the workplace is a crucial component of a successful work environment. In addition to influencing how well-being is nurtured inside a firm, a culture of dignity promotes self-respect, pride, and self-worth and increases productivity and long-term business success. Building a world with dignity and equality for everyone depends on fair pay. Each and every person has the right to respect and dignity at work, including the independence from stereotyped pay system. Equal opportunity for equal compensation is as respectable as any other right in one’s life. Anyone who is forced to work for less money is not doing it voluntarily; rather, they are giving up their self-respect, self-worth, and dignity in order to maintain their family. Any form of slavery that lowers pay than that of others doing similar work results from a dominating position. Since it places a focus on involuntary submission, the behavior is undeniably authoritarian, suppressive, and forceful.

Human dignity is mentioned in the opening paragraph of Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the most significant document in the world. The foundation for defending and developing the right to a life with dignity under the varied constitutional laws of various countries throughout the world is laid forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Everyone has the inherent right to live with dignity and without discrimination. The notion of equal compensation for equal labour is inherent in the doctrine of equality established in Article. 14 and follows from it, according to the decision in State of Madhya Pradesh v. Pramod Bhartiya[8]. The norm is equally a part of Articles 14 and 16(1) of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court looks to be backing the right to equal pay for equal work based on fundamental freedoms, as seen by the several cases discussed above. In a number of cases, the court has previously described the right to live in dignity as a fundamental right protected by article 21.

In Vikram Deo Singh Tomar v. State of Bihar[9], the court determined that “the right to live with human dignity is a basic right of every Indian citizen.”

According to earlier decisions, “equal pay for equal work” was a socialist objective of a welfare society, as was indicated above. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution, which guarantees “Brotherhood assuring the dignity of the individual,” and Article 21, which guarantees life with human dignity as a part of “protection of life and personal liberty,” are both fundamentally undermined by the current ruling, which claims that declining “equal pay for equal work” hits at these provisions. A number of other Supreme Court and High Court decisions where the many rights of individuals will need to be balanced against the socialist ideology as well as the highest standard of human rights and fundamental freedoms are likely to be affected by what appears to be a revolutionary shift in judicial reasoning.


Everyone needs to be appropriately compensated for the effort they have put into their job, regardless of gender, caste, or religion, is how this matter should be resolved. In conclusion, it may be said that the notion of “same compensation for equal effort” is a socially rooted sort of discrimination. There are many different reasons for such discrimination, all of which affect a person’s financial situation differently. Our Constitution contains this contemporary idea, but as has been shown, its goals may be compromised by a lack of understanding of a number of related elements, including gender, race, caste, and others. Additionally, via a variety of case laws, our constitution is steadily moving toward defining the term dignity. In the end, everyone is born with the same dignity, neither more nor less, and if their dignity is being violated in any manner, it is our responsibility as a nation to put a stop to it. The provisions of Part III and Part IV are cumulative and supplementary. Only through utilizing basic rights will the goals of Part IV of the Constitution be met. Fundamental Rights must be construed in light of these Directive Principles since the Constitution does not expressly guarantee equal compensation for equal work under the category of Fundamental Rights, despite the fact that these ideas are crucial to the functioning of the government and its objectives. In terms of promoting equality, this verdict is a good move that points in the right direction. Non-permanent workers shouldn’t be employed to manipulate wages; they should only be utilized when absolutely necessary. Unfortunately, discrimination against such non-permanent workers, particularly contract labour, still occurs in India, and it must be stopped at all costs. The most crucial question that needs to be answered is whether the concerned employees are performing similar duties and responsibilities as are being discharged by permanent employees, holding the same/corresponding posts, after having explored the legal parameters with regard to the application of the principle of “equal pay for equal work” in relation to temporary employees. This Supreme Court decision makes it very obvious that a simple variation in terminology is not enough to deny a temporary employee the right to receive pay on par with that of permanent employees. Because with dignity is one’s life connected.

[1] Human Dignity by George Kateb, The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England 2011

[2] https://faculty.fiu.edu/~harrisk/Notes/Ethics/KANT.htm

[3] Jain. M.P., ―Indian constitutional Law , Wadhwa Nagpur, 2008, p. 1542.

[4] S.C. Srivastava: “Equal Remuneration for men and women”, J.I.L.I., 1990. p. 83-84.

[5] A.I.R. 1962 S.C. 1139

[6] (1987) 2 SCC 469

[7] CIVIL APPEAL NO. 213 OF 2013.

[8] AIR 1993 SC 286.

[9] 1988 AIR 1782.

Author: Munmun Mohanty,
BML Munjal University, 4th Year, Student

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