The state government has the right to fill all vacant posts or keep them unfilled, the Punjab and Haryana high court has said, pointing out that it’s not the business of the court to issue direction to the government to fill posts.
Disposing of a petition filed by the revenue union, Sinchai Vibhag (irrigation department), Punjab, the court observed that unless there was discrimination in filling vacancies or arbitrariness, the candidates concerned would have no legal right to obtain an order from the court on the issue.
“It is not the business of the court to issue directions to the government to fill posts and no such directions may be issued,” the court said in its order. The HC, however, said though courts could not interfere, it did not mean that the state had the licence to act in an arbitrary manner and the decision not to fill vacancies had to be taken bona fide for appropriate reasons.
The union, in its plea, had submitted that they were overburdened and being made to collect cess imposed by the government, which was not their duty. They had sought directions to the government to fill vacancies in the department as there were only 550 canal patwaris working across the state for the past three decades against 1,680 posts.
They had also said that even in cases of promotion, canal patwaris were still made to perform duties attached to the lower post as well, which was causing heartburn.
The high court bench of justice Rajiv Narain Raina issued directions to the government to take a decision on the grievance of these revenue officials. “A grievance is a grievance and deserves to be redressed for whatsoever it is worth so that there is peace and harmony maintained among the functionaries of the state whose minds are agitated,” the bench said, directing the government to give the union a hearing and carry out a cadre review exercise, if needed.