They kept Radio Kashmir running in the strifetorn Valley when others were leaving it in the 1990s. Nearly 25 years later, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has ordered that their services be regularised within three months for serving during “very crucial period of militancy.”
The order has rekindled the hopes of 10 employees of Radio Kashmir in Srinagar, employed way back in 1990 on ad hoc basis. Shafeeq Ahmad Sofi (41), Parmeet Kour (39), Qudsia Jan (40), Mujeeba Akhter (41), Masooda (40), Saif-ud-Din Lone (44), Mubashir K. Fazili (52), Syed Zaffar Islam Andrabi (43), Zulfiqar Hamid Wani (45) and Tahira Mir (35) had been waging a legal battle for regularisation of their services since 1991.
The CAT pulling up the ministry of information and broadcasting, Prasar Bharati and Radio Kashmir, Srinagar, for its insensitive approach said, “These persons had rendered service in the Valley in the very crucial period of militancy, when nobody was willing to work in the area and they have shown courage to face all these adversities, they could not be discriminated by not placing them on the same footing where the other persons have been regularised even by relaxing the relevant rules.”
The tribunal said, “they had joined the posts after being sponsored by the Employment Exchange and undergoing the selection process and have been working for almost 10 years continuously… they are held to be entitled for their regularisation in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case.”
The tribunal had relied on the observation of the high court Srinagar saying that the persons who are appointed on ad hoc basis after going through the selection process and fulfilling the requisite qualifications as per rules and continued for sufficiently long time on the posts can be considered for regularisation.
The tribunal clarified that if respondents were not happy with the order passed they could have challenged the same in a higher court of law but they cannot be allowed to adopt a short-cut route of passing an order rejecting the claim of the applicants by challenging the very foundation of observations made by this Tribunal.”
The applicants were employed on ad hoc basis in 1990 when due to militancy lots of employees of Radio Kashmir, Srinagar, migrated, paralysing the functioning of the All India Radio in the Valley. With a view to tide over the resultant crises and maintain optimum functioning of the All India Radio these persons were recruited in Clerks Grade II (then LDC) after requisition was sent to the District Employment Board for sponsoring names of eligible and suitable candidates.
In response to the same, the District Employment Officer, Srinagar, in June 1990 and on being successful the applicants were appointed as Clerk Grade II. The appointments were termed ad hoc for a period of six months initially which has since been extended from time to time and the applicants continue to be in employment of respondents even now.
These employees said that the government initiated action in September 1991, to dispense with the services following which they moved high court Srinagar challenging the move. The petition was dismissed and they moved the high court which had stayed the order of the state government to dispense their services and they were allowed to continue in service.
The applicants were again served notice of dispensing their services and they again moved CAT which in May 2006 directed the ministry of information and broadcasting, New Delhi, to consider the cases of the applicants for regularisation as a special case.
However, in disregard to the observations made by the high court as well as by the Tribunal, the claims of the applicants were rejected on June 13, 2007.
The ministry of information and broadcasting, Prasar Bharati and Radio Kashmir said the appointments were only on ad hoc basis for a period of six months or till candidates are nominated by the staff selection commission (SSC), whichever is earlier. Since the SSC was not able to sponsor the candidates, the applicants were allowed to continue.
Such candidates came to be sponsored in 1991, but litigation followed due to which the applicants were adjusted against other available posts.