Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Anu Sivaraman, J. contemplated a writ petition where the several petitioners worked in different posts in the District Child Protection Units in various districts in the State, they challenged the move to terminate their services in order to induct another set of contract employees.

The petitioners contended that they were appointed after a due process of selection consisting of written test and interview and had been performing their duties without complaint. They further contended that they were entitled to continue in the respective post as long as the government scheme continues. The petitioners relied on the judgment in State of Haryana v. Piara Singh, (1992) 4  SCC 118, where it was held that one set of contract employees cannot be replaced with another set of employees engaged in the very same terms. It was contended that the scheme specifically provided for contract appointments and that as such, the petitioners who had gained long years of experience were liable to be continued in service in the best interests of the scheme as well. It was stated that it is not in dispute that the scheme continues and that the services of the petitioners were necessary for the best interests of carrying out the scheme successfully. It was further contended that in identical cases, other High Courts have directed the retention of the contract employees as long as the scheme continues.

 On the contrary, the Government filed an affidavit where the relevant extracts of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme were produced. It was also brought into notice that the said Scheme specified that the employment was contractual in nature. “It is stated that clause 3 of R1(a) specifically provides that contractual staff are to be appointed at State and District levels with discretion to the States to appoint staff on permanent basis or on higher salaries than provided in the scheme, for which the State will have to bear the extra expenditure incurred.” The respondents clarified that the employees were contracted for 3 years extendable by 2 more years on the basis of performance appraisal reports. It was further contended that the contracts offered to the petitioners specified that the petitioners had no right to continue in service. It was stated in Rajasree K.K v. State of Kerala, WP(C) No. 22402 of 2018 where the appointment of a staff under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as also of the Supreme Court in Rajasthan State Roadways Transport Corporation v. Paramjeet, (2019) 6 SCC 250 were relied on to contend that the petitioners, who were contractual employees would have no right to continuance or to challenge their termination after the period of contract is over.

The Court observed that the Judgment cited by the respondents passed by the Supreme Court had relevant law point which was, one set of temporary employees were not liable to be substituted by another set which would result in the arbitrary exercise of power. However, in the instant case, the very scheme provided that the appointment of staff was to be made on a contract basis and with limited tenure.

Hence, the Court after observing the contentions of the parties and view of the Supreme Court, decided that nature of the scheme as also the appointments made and the intentions sought to be achieved, the petitioners who were engaged on short term contract basis would absolutely have no right to contend that their services are not liable to be terminated and that they are entitled to continue beyond the period of contract. Thus, the petitions were dismissed with the above view.[Resmi R S v. Government of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 2649, decided on 16-08-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Pakistan Supreme Court: The Bench of Gulzar Ahmed,  Faisal Arab and Ijaz UL Ahsan, JJ., dismissed the petition filed against a Judgment of the Lahore High Court through which the appeal filed by the petitioner regarding the termination of his services was dismissed.

The facts of the case were that the petitioner was appointed as an ECG Technician in District Headquarters Hospital, Rawalpindi in 2005 on a contract basis. In 2009, his services were terminated. He challenged his termination through a representation which was not decided. He, therefore, approached the High Court in its constitutional jurisdiction. The High Court directed the respondents to decide the petitioner’s representation. This was dismissed by the departmental authority. The petitioner challenged the said order which was allowed. The respondents, feeling aggrieved, challenged the said judgment through two separate Intra Court Appeals which were allowed; the above facts raised the current contention. The Counsel for the petitioner, Sardar Abdul Raziq Khan and Syed Rafaqat Hussain Shah submitted that the Division Bench of the High Court fell in error in reversing the findings of the Single Judge in a mechanical manner, ICA filed by the Rawalpindi Medical College , which was neither a party to the proceedings nor directly aggrieved of the order, was not competent and the ICA filed by the Government of Punjab was barred by time and the Division Bench erred in law in entertaining the appeals. The respondents defended this by raising the point of law that if two appeals against the same impugned judgment are filed, one of which is within time, the other appeal should also be entertained and decided on merit rather than being dismissed on technical grounds.

The Court held that the appeal filed by the RMC was within time and even if the appeal filed by the Government of Punjab was barred by time, the Division Bench had a legal basis and lawful justification to entertain and decide both appeals on merits. Further, the Court found that the order of petitioner’s appointment was void and no period of limitation runs against a void order. The second issue that was considered was that the dispute between the parties related to contract employment. The Court stated that it is settled law that a contract employee is debarred from approaching the High Court in its constitutional jurisdiction. The only remedy available to a contract employee is to file a suit for damages alleging breach of contract or failure to extend the contract. Therefore, it was held that the petitioner approached the wrong forum in the first place and the Single Judge had exceeded his jurisdiction by interfering in a purely contractual matter. The appeal was thus dismissed. [Qazi Munir Ahmed v. Rawalpindi Medical College and Allied Hospital, 2019 SCC OnLine Pak SC 3, Order dated 06-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Anu Malhotra, J. gave a decision by upholding the decision of Presiding Officer of Labour Court-X, Karkardooma, Delhi, regarding the illegal termination of services of the workmen.

In the present case, services of two work persons Laxmi and Raj Kumar were allegedly terminated by the management i.e. New Delhi Institute of Management.

It was contended by the management; both the work persons were appointed on ad hoc basis and thus the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 would not be applied. Nevertheless, both of them were paid the salary higher than the market standard. As per the statement of claim, the management was not providing the legal facilities such as PF, ESI, appointment letter, attendance card, leave book, payslip, annual and casual leave, overtime wages, bonus etc. to its employees and on their demanding the minimum wages, the management got annoyed with them and terminated the services of both the stated work persons on obtaining their signatures on blank papers. Further, their claim was entertained by the Labour Conciliation Officer but no settlement was arrived at.

Management had failed to prove that Raj Kumar had made a request for settlement of his dues as he had taken up some other job and similarly Laxmi had made a request for settlement of her dues as she was not in a position to continue her services and thus it was held that the management had failed to prove that the resignations were voluntary, which led to illegal termination of the workmen. Management had assailed the award contending the impugned award to be erroneous and proceeded on wrong presumption of law and facts.

Workmen had submitted that the management was misleading the Court by interpreting the salary vouchers as being towards ‘full and final’ settlement. The phrase ‘full and final payment’ was later inserted by the management malafide to thwart the course of justice. Further, the workmen contended that they had never resigned and their services were terminated by the management.

Hence, on consideration of the record available, the Court was of the view that the Labour Court’s decision cannot be faulted as there is no error of law that is apparent on the face of record of the impugned award. No requisite notice was issued to the workmen for termination of their services; they could have been terminated in accordance with Section 25 F of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, which having not been done so, it was rightly concluded by the labour Court that the termination of services of the workmen was in contravention of the law and was illegal.

The writ petitions were disposed of accordingly. [Laxmi v. New Delhi Institute of Management,2018 SCC OnLine Del 12290, decided on 03-11-2018]