Regularisation of contractual staff: Hooda govt’s poll-centric move was illegal
Cabinet ignored Haryana law secretary’s advice, overlooked all legal aspects.Updated: Jun 01, 2018 11:52 IST
The writing was on the wall. Thursday’s decision of the Punjab and Haryana high court to set aside the regularisation of contractual Haryana government employees did not come as a surprise.
Staring at an electoral defeat after a nine-year run, the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government had in May 2014 blatantly ignored the advice of its law secretary and overlooked all legal aspects to toss yet another poll-centric offering of regularising the services of over 20,000 contractual and ad hoc employees.
The move was clearly aimed at appeasing the employees, a major vote bank, ahead of the October 2014 assembly polls.
The council of ministers completely disregarded the settled legal position on the matter and even closed its eyes to the advice of law department while approving amendments in the regularisation policy for group B, C and D employees (Classes 2, 3 and 4). Hindustan Times had reported the flawed decision on May 30, 2014
The Hooda cabinet’s decision to regularise the services of ad hoc Group B employees, whose services could not regularised under a 1996 policy, was defective as the state government had withdrawn this policy in 1997 in view of the Supreme Court orders.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. Questions were raised as to how any employment can be legitimised under a policy which was withdrawn 17 years ago.
The apex court had in October 1997 (P Ravindran v/s UT of Pondicherry’ case) had deprecated the practice of regularisation of services of ad hoc employees as a substitute for the appointees recommended by the public service commission.
Law department’s advice ignored
The Hooda Cabinet had 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 once 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 law secretary, in his advice on a query whether these leftover employees once eligible under the policies of 1997, 1999, 2003 and 2004 can be regularized, had said: “The policies as mentioned in this query having been rescinded vide notification of April 13, 2007, and the same having been done in view of the Supreme Court orders in the ‘State of Karnataka v/s Uma Devi’ case, this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.