'Empanelled Employees Cannot Continue Beyond 180 Days', Kerala HC Directs KSRTC To Relieve All Empanelled Drivers By April 30 [Read Judgment]

The High Court of Kerala today directed that the empanelled drivers of Kerala State Road Transport Corporation should be relieved by April 30.

This is following the earlier order of the High Court directing the removal of empanelled conductors of KSRTC, holding that they cannot continue beyond 180 days and that the vacancies existing beyond that period should be filled up from the rank list prepared by the Public Service Commission. The order was based on Rule 9(a) (i) of Part I of KS & SSR, which said that a temporary employee appointed in an emergency vacancy cannot be allowed to continue beyond 180 days. This order was upheld by the Supreme Court, which observed that mere empanelment will not create any indefeasible right of appointment.

The Division Bench of Justices V Chitambaresh and A M Babu followed the same approach vis-a-vis empanelled drivers and observed "the empanelled drivers who are about 1565 in number cannot be permitted to overstay in the post illegally denying an opportunity to the KSRTC to request the PSC to advise the candidates for the vacancies already reported"

While the Court agreed that it was the discretion of the KSRTC to decide whether to fill up the vacancies or not, it said that if the vacancies are to decided to be filled up, the same should be done from the PSC ranked list

The bench made a further observation that it was not as if KSRTC was "unaware of the law" and that a conscious attempt was made by them often to "appease the trade unions by permitting the empanelled employees to cling on".

"the KSRTC shall not operate with empanelled drivers when those in the ranked list of the PSC are eager and willing to join duty if advised for appointment who have been kept on tenterhooks for long", observed the bench, while directing all such drivers to be relieved by April 30.

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