In poll year, Haryana dishes out another sugar-coated pill
Poll-bound Haryana’s much-touted move to regularise the services of contractual and ad hoc employees, approved by the council of ministers on Wednesday, is unlikely to stand legal scrutiny.
As per a rough estimate, the cabinet decision is aimed at giving benefit to more than 20,000 employees.
In its apparent zeal to appease employees, a major vote bank, ahead of the October assembly polls, the council of ministers has overlooked various legal aspects, even ignoring the advice of its law department, while approving amendments in the regularisation policy for group B, C and D employees (classes 2, 3 and 4).
The decision of the council of ministers to regularise the services of ad hoc Group B employees whose services could not regularised under a March 7, 1996, policy is defective as the state government had withdrawn this policy in 1997 in view of the Supreme Court orders.
Strangely, no legal opinion was sought by the state government on this aspect. “How can employment be legitimised under a policy which stands withdrawn 17 years ago,” questioned a stake-holder.
The apex court had in October 1997 (‘P Ravindran vs UT of Pondicherry’ case) deprecated the practice of regularisation of services of ad hoc employees as a substitute for the appointees recommended by the public service commission.
Though of ficials are tightlipped on the matter, HT has learnt that this cabinet decision was intended to accommodate the spouse of a high-ranking police officer, among others.
The council of ministers also ignored the advice of the law department while deciding the regularisation of leftover Group C and D employees working on ad hoc basis or on contract, who were eligible under the regularisation policies of June 1997, November 1999, October 2003 and February 2004, but could not be regularised due to administrative reasons.
The legal remembrancer, in its advice on a query whether these leftover employees once eligible under the policies of 1997, 1999, 2003 and 2004 can be regularised wrote: “The policies as mentioned in this query having been rescinded vide notification of April 13, 2007, and the same having been done in view of the Supreme Court orders in the ‘State of Karnataka v/s Uma Devi’ case, this query is answered in the negative.”
The apex court in the Uma Devi case had delivered a landmark judgment on the issue of regularisation of services of temporary, ad hoc, daily-wage and contract employees.
It held that merely because an employee continued under the cover of a court order, under litigious employment or continued beyond the term of his appointment by the state or its instrumentalities, he would not be entitled to any right to be absorbed or made permanent in service merely on the strength of such continuance if the original appointment was not made by following a due process of selection as envisaged by the relevant rules.
PUNJAB POLICY UNDER CHALLENGE IN HC
Expanding the scope of regularisation, the cabinet also decided to adopt the Punjab government’s policy of March 18, 2011, for Group B, C and D employees, who have completed three years’ service on contract basis, engaged by a government or government approved agency as on May 28, 2014.
It was decided that the post against which the regularisation is to be done should be a sanctioned vacant post at the time of initial appointment or engagement and also at the time of regularisation.
However, Punjab’s regularisation policy is under challenge in the Punjab and Haryana high court, though the court has not stayed its operation.