The Supreme Court has directed the Central government to decide within six months whether it would like to retain the employees of Doordarshan and All India Radio with it or transfer them to Prasar Bharati, the statutory body created to perform the task of public broadcaster in the country.
A Bench of Justice SB Sinha and Justice Markandey Katju also pulled up the Centre for not taking a final decision on the status of AIR and DD employees, who continued to work for the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) after the task of public broadcasting was handed over to the statutory body that came into existence in November 1997.
"No decision has been taken for more than nine years. Despite observations made by the court, the Central government has failed and/or neglected to take a decision one way or the other. Ordinarily this court would not have issued a direction but the present state of affairs cannot be permitted to continue. The rights of the respondents (employees) cannot be allowed to remain in uncertain position for a long time," it said.
The court asked the government to take a "firm decision" in terms of Section 11 of the Prasar Bharati (Broadcasting Corporation of India) Act, 1990 on the fate of thousands of employees, who have been confused about their actual status.
It directed the Secretary, Department of Personnel and Training to file a compliance affidavit within six months.
However, setting aside the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Central Administrative Tribunal, the apex court upheld Prasar Bharati's power to transfer AIR and DD employees to various centres across the country for optimum use of manpower.
Many of the AIR/DD employees were simply sent to Prasar Bharati without any formal order regarding their status and it was not clear whether they were being transferred to the Corporation or were there on deputation.
According to Section 11 (4) of the Act, AIR/DD employees transferred to the corporation would cease to be Central government employees from the date of such transfer. However, they continued to work with Prasar Bharati for nine years without any protest on the terms and conditions.
When some of the employees transferred by the corporation challenged its power to transfer them claiming that they were still Central government employees.
The Supreme Court, however, held that the employees would be treated to be on deemed deputation despite the fact that no such order has been passed by the Central government. As per Article 309 of the Constitution, indisputably no such order having being passed, the employees continued to be with the Central government, the cour said.
Email Satya Prakash: email@example.com