After hearing the petitions of more than 2,000 Punjab Home Guards personnel for around nine years, seeking directions to the state government to treat them as regular employees and grant them regular pay scales, including pensionary benefits, the Punjab and Haryana high court has held that it cannot grant the relief as prayed by the petitioners.
A division bench headed by chief justice Arjan Kumar Sikri said that in view of the directions issued by the seven-judge constitutional bench of the Supreme Court in the "Secretary, State of Karnataka vs Uma Devi" case, "it is not possible for this court to either give directions for framing of scheme for regularisation or giving directions to create supernumerary posts."
The decision came while dismissing 24 petitions filed by Hardev Singh and others in 2004. The petitioners were working as home guards/sectional leaders/platoon commanders in Punjab without any break for a minimum period of 10 years in some cases to 30 years in other cases. They were being paid Rs 90 per day irrespective of their rank and were not being given any of the benefits available to regular employees.
The court observed that, in one such case, "No doubt, the apex court made important observations… that with continuous deployment of such Home Guards in that state, the voluntary character of the scheme was lost. No doubt, here also, the petitioners have been working for a number of years as Home Guards."
But the apex court had re-emphasised in the "State of Rajasthan and others vs Daya Lal and others" case in 2011 that the "high courts will not give any direction for creation of posts or to frame a scheme for regularisation and such a direction can only be given by the Supreme Court in its powers under Article 142 of the Constitution," the court cleared.
Arguing for the state government, additional advocate general JS Puri had informed the court that the petitioners were appointed as 'volunteers' only under the Punjab Home Guard Rules, 1963, and they were not appointed to any class-1, 2 and 3 posts, for which separate service rules were framed. He had also submitted that the expenditure on Home Guard volunteers is to be shared between the central and state governments. He informed that since there were no sanctioned posts of Home Guards, hence their claims for regularisation could not be considered.