The Madras High Court recently ruled, when a responsible authority/government makes an appointment to an unsanctioned post and when the employee has been engaged in such public service project for long years, the government cannot turn a blind eye to these employees and say that they have no right for regularisation.
The court also ordered the state government to develop plans for regularising these workers.
“Even assuming that the recruitment of these writ petitioners had not been fully in consonance with the procedure for appointment in Government’s services, the fact remained that these persons have been consciously appointed by the Government for implementing public projects and the work has been extracted from them continuously for several years. It is therefore, not open to the Government after a period of time to turn around and contend that these writ petitioners have no right at all to seek any kind of guarantee for their future.”
A writ suit filed by a group of people who were appointed as Block Level Coordinators of sanitary work in all the Block Development Units involved under the Department of Rural Development was being considered by Justice V Parthiban’s bench.
The petitioners claimed that they were hired for various projects launched by the Central Government, such as the Swachh Bharat Mission, with the goal of preserving a clean and healthy environment. After a screening and assessment of fitness, they were hired by the Collectors of the Districts in question.
The chosen candidates were then given the requisite training to prepare them for the position. The State Government appoints Block Level Coordinators, who are supported by both the Central and State Governments to pay the combined salary each month.
These petitioners have been actively involved since their appointment in 2013. Their services are necessary throughout the year to ensure that the various projects/schemes associated with the objectives are implemented in a relevant and purposeful manner.
The petitioners’ concern was that, although being appointed and employed for numerous years, they were not entitled to any of the perks that are available to normal workers in identical positions doing similar work.
The government has designated them as project workers and has not approved regular positions for them. Mr. C. Kanagaraj, standing on behalf of the petitioners, also stated that the petitioners received regular appointment letters, certificates upon completion of required training, and identity cards.
Mr. Venkatasamy Babu, Senior Panel Counsel, represented the first and second respondents, Mr. G. Ameedius, Government Advocate, represented the third and fourth respondents, and Mr. L.S.M. Hasan Fizal, Additional Government Pleader, represented the fifth and sixth respondents.
The court pointed out that in dismissing the prior writ petition, it mainly relied on the decision of State of Karnataka v. Uma Devi (2008). The officials offering jobs through the back door, according to the court in Uma Devi’s case, were violating Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution, as well as equal opportunity in employment.
“When a competent authority/ government is involved in selection and appointment towards implementation of the sanitary program at the District and Block levels, to say that they have no right at all and to be considered as illegal occupants of the posts is unfair, unjust, opposed to justice. In the said circumstances, the grievance of the petitioner herein need not be brushed aside brusquely and summarily as not maintainable.”
The court, thus ordered the State Government to develop comprehensive plans to ensure the petitioners’ employment, either by deploying them in any suitable post on a preferential basis against regular vacancies that may arise in various Departments of the Government, or by sanctioning regular positions in the State Government’s sanitation programmes for eventual regularisation.