HC sets aside CAT order regarding regularizing services of DDK’s casual assignees
“Nothing observed in this judgment shall prevent the PBBCI from considering the case in terms of the policy presently in operation”
Srinagar: J&K High Court today set aside an order by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Chandigarh that had directed the Prasar Bharati Broadcasting Corporation of India (PBBCI) to regularize the services of some casual assignees appointed in Doordarshan Kendra (DDK) Srinagar in the early 1990’s.
The casual engagees had claimed that in 1990’s they had gone against the tide of the militancy and rendered worthwhile services to the PBBCI when no other Kashmiri was ready to work for its Regional News Unit Srinagar.
The employees had approached the CAT which held that the action of the PBBCI in not regularizing the services of the applicant engagees to the extent of vacancies available was uncalled for.
It had directed the PBBCI “to delink the regularization of casuals in Kashmir from the casuals engaged in the rest of the country and regularize the services of the applicants in the order of seniority w.e.f. 2003 against the post of Production Assistant to the extent of available vacancies with all consequential benefits”.
It had further directed that the relevant exercise be carried out within three months.
PBBCI challenged this order seeking that it be set aside.
S N Rattanpuri, counsel for the PBBCI, argued in the court that the respondent casual assignees had been engaged on short term basis to perform certain duties. Such engagement was not made against clear vacancies as the posts held by them are public posts which required to be filled up through a proper selection process.
The counsel further submitted that in absence of any support from the rules, scheme, statute or any provision of law, the claim of the petitioner assignees cannot be acceded to.
Tribunal has grossly erred in law to direct the petitioners to regularize the services of the respondents who are not engaged against substantive posts, he argued.
R A Jan, Senior Counsel representing the casuals, submitted “the order of the Tribunal to grant the relief in favor of the respondents was essentially and primarily passed while considering the fact that the casuals make a distinct class for having worked in difficult situation and in recognition of such service, they deserved the relief granted by the Tribunal”.
The senior counsel pleaded “this Writ Court being the court of justice has to bear in mind the peculiar facts of the case to come to the rescue of the respondents who have been made to suffer by the wrong doings of the petitioners”.
He said “it is obligatory on the part of the PBBCI to have adhered to the promises made by them to the respondents for regularization of their services more so in view of the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Labour, (2015-2016) Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India”.
Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Mohan Lal while adjudicating the case observed “the contention of Mr R. A. Jan, senior counsel, that a right has accrued to the respondents for claiming regularization on the basis of the recommendations of the Standing Labour Committee is not well founded”.
The Standing Labour Committee recommendation cannot be a substitute for the Policy in the shape of Rule or law governing such regularization, the bench said.
“Therefore, the contention having no substance, merits rejection. The regularization of services could be recognized under a particular Rule/ Policy of the Government and not otherwise. There is absolutely no scope for two opinions over it”, the bench said further and set aside the CAT order of 2019.
The judges however made it clear that nothing observed in their judgment shall prevent the PBBCI from considering the case of the respondents in terms of the policy presently in operation notified in terms of Circular dated 5th September, 2019.
The Policy provides for a mechanism for the permanent absorption of these casual engages in the RNU Srinagar.
The eligibility criteria, in such, eventuality, shall not form an impediment for the authorities to take a view favorable to the casual assignees, said the court.