Rashid Paul

HC puts ‘temporary hold’ on SWD order on disengagement of 918 Aanganwari workers

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Directs authorities to continue their services, and pay them wages

Srinagar: Putting to temporary disuse the Social Welfare Department (SWD) order disengaging hundreds of Anganwari workers in Kashmir, the High Court today asked the concerned authorities to allow the workers to continue their services, and pay them wages.

At least 918 female helpers assisting the supervisors in different districts in SWD had been disengaged with one stroke of pen by the authorities at the wheel on 27th of August this year.

Hearing the petition by the aggrieved women workers, Justice Sajeev Kumar directed “if the workers are performing their duties they be allowed to continue and paid their wages”.

The court directed a notice to the government asking it to file objections to the pleas filed in the writ petition by the workers and listed the matter for further proceedings on March 15, next year.

The August 27 order by the top tier of the UT bureaucracy had directed the Mission Director, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) J&K, to disengage these 918 Helpers on the premise that they have been “engaged beyond any competence by various officers/officials from time to time”.

The petitioners came to be engaged as helpers to supervisors under ICDS in its different projects in implementation of the scheme through various Anganwari Centers, read their petition.

“They continued to perform their duties regularly without any complaint whatsoever and being legally entitled to the wages in the form of a petty honorarium as admissible under rules. There was no occasion to deprive the petitioners of their legally earned honorarium,” said T A Lone, their lawyer.

It is a different painful story that the honorarium of the poor petitioners has not been released 2019 onwards and that they have been made to run from pillar to post, he added.

“The superior officers would ask the petitioner helpers to wait for release of funds with regard to honorarium for the last three years.  Mostly they are from the lower socio-economic layers with a hand to mouth living with no other option but to cling to SWD,” he said adding a large number of the workers are orphans, widows and divorcees.

But instead of releasing their petty honorarium they “came to be suddenly terminated with one stroke of pen by the respondent department through the impugned order,” the lawyer said.

The workers, according to the petition, had been engaged in the SWD between 1990 to 2010 and worked continuously to the best of their capacity. They were pad wages till January 2019 which came to be stopped subsequently.

The petitioners had been engaged by virtue of different engagement orders issued by respective District Programme Officers and Child Development Project Officers.

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