Rashid Paul

HC dismisses petition of J&K Bank RSETI staff seeking quashment of their disengagement

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Srinagar: The J&K High Court today dismissed a petition by J&K Bank Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETI) Society staffers engaged on contractual basis, seeking quashment of the communication of their disengagement.

The court, however, said “the dismissal of the writ petition shall not form an impediment for the civil court (where the matter is already pending adjudication) to decide the case on merits in terms of applicable laws.

The petitioners sought the quashment of a notification dated 23.5.2019 by J&K Bank disengaging them from service. They also prayed that they be allowed to continue in contractual service till the continuance of the scheme.

Passing orders in the case, Justice Ali Mohammad Magray said the petitioners are stopped in law to file instant writ petition as they have already chosen a forum (Principal District and Sessions Court Srinagar) and exhausted a remedy available in terms of the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure.

“Since the petitioners have already availed remedy before the civil court on the subject, therefore, they are left free to pursue the remedy and challenge the impugned communication, if they so choose, by seeking necessary amendment in the civil suit,” he said.

“Its dismissal however shall not form an impediment for the civil court to decide the case on merits in terms of applicable laws without getting influenced or overawed by any of the observations made or finding(s) recorded in this judgment,” he said.

In 2009, the J&K Bank Ltd., created an authority the JKBRSETI Society. The objective of the Society amongst others was to promote and impart entrepreneurship development, self-employment trainings, instructions and skill building programmes in the then State of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Society set up JKBRSETI in various districts and J&K Bank acted as the lead bank. The funding of the Society was provided by the sponsoring bank, Government of India, State government and certain other instrumentalities and institutions.

Supporting faculties and staff for the Institutes were drawn on deputation from the sponsoring bank and many others were taken in on contract basis.

The petitioner contractuals were initially engaged for a period of 11 months. Thereafter, the period was extended from time to time and in terms of the final extension continued till 31.07.2019.

Before the expiry of the term of the petitioners, the Bank issued a revised online notification (contractual jobs @ J&K Bank RSETI) on 23rd May, 2019.

The communication was challenged by the petitioners before the court of City Munsiff, Srinagar, by filing a civil suit and sought a declaration to declare the notification dated 23.5.2019 as void.

Besides, the petitioners sought to restrain the defendants from disengaging them and prayed they be allowed to discharge their duties.

The Court of City Munsiff Srinagar, in its order dated 24th June, 2019, directed the defendants to maintain status quo with respect to position of the applicant petitioners till next date of hearing.

After the objections to the interim relief application and the written statement to the suit was filed by the defendants, the court of City Munsiff, Srinagar vacated the order of status quo in terms of order dated 06.07.2020.

Aggrieved of the order, the petitioners filed an appeal before the Court of Principal District Judge, Srinagar where the next date of hearing is fixed on 03.09.2020.

Till the time the status quo order was existing, the petitioners continued in service but when the same was vacated, the respondents issued a disengagement notice, impugned herein, intimating them “there is no contractual relationship between the RSETI and you as on date for continuance of service, therefore, take notice that the engagement on contractual basis is discontinued forthwith”.

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