The Supreme Court slammed Delhi Government on Thursday for "exploiting' a woman employee by keeping her on contract for an uninterrupted period of 10 years and then terminating her services abruptly.
A bench comprising Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly disapproved of the State's practise to appoint a person on contract for such a duration. "The State, as a modal employer in a welfare State, is not expected to take advantage of its position," the bench said.
As the practise is contrary to several apex court rulings, the bench added it was unfair to "impose wholly unreasonable conditions of employment on prospective employees," who did not have a choice but to accept the appointment on the terms and conditions offered by the employer.
The bench's concern was expressed while hearing an appeal by Radha Dubey who was appointed as medical officer in Delhi Government's health department. Dubey got the job on January 12, 1996, on a one-year contract. However, she continued in service for the next 10 years without any break. But, the nature of her employment remained contractual.
As her widowed mother suffered from Parkinson's disease, Dubey proceeded on sanctioned leave on April 3, 2006. When her leave ended, she applied for an extension in June 2006 and July 2006 that was turned down. The government rejected her third request and also terminated her services in November 2007.
Dubey lost her appeal against termination before the administrative tribunal and the Delhi High Court. Before the Supreme Court she had raised an important question of law whether the State was empowered to employ a person on contract for 10 years.
In an interim order, the bench directed the state government to take Dubey back in service and issued a notice to the state for its response on the law point raised in her appeal.