In a plea moved by the All India Air Force Civilians Cooks Association, the Delhi High Court has observed that the employees cannot seek enforcement of employment terms as in normal time, when the entire country is going through abnormal times.
The observation was made by the Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon in a plea moved by civilian cooks of the Air Force challenging the revised terms of employment brought into force due to COVID19.
As per the revised format, the civilian cooks have to follow the roster of 14+14+7 i.e. for the first 14 days they are kept in quarantine; for the next 14 days they are made to work as cooks and thereafter they are given 7 days at home in which they visit their respective residences and thereafter again report and the roster of 14+14+7 again commences.
The Petitioners have argued that they are being forced to stay away from their homes for 28 days in a month and out of which, for 14 days their services are not utilised, by keeping them quarantined.
It was further argued by the Petitioners that is not the term of their employment that they will be made to stay away from their respective families. Petitioners were also aggrieved by the fact that they are not being treated as Corona Warriors and thus not conferred with benefits to which 'Corona Warriors' are entitled.
At the outset, the court remarked that the Petitioners have moved the present petition without regard to the prevalent circumstances and the large scale loss of employment and resultant hardships being faced by those without assurance of employment.
The court said:
'The members of the petitioner though having surety of employment are making grievances of inconveniences allegedly being suffered by them, again forgetting that the members of the petitioner, as cooks, if permitted to return to their respective residences after duty hours every day, are likely to bring with them the Covid-19 infection, when reporting back for duty, endangering the personnel of the Air Force.'
The court further observed that suggestion, of permitting the members of the Petitioner association to home quarantine is again without even application of mind as to how many members of the family are there, what kind of residential accommodation is available and whether home quarantine is even possible therein for each of the members of the petitioner.
In addition to this, the court also refused to heed any importance to the suggestion made by the Petitioners to use PPE kits in the kitchen. The court remarked the said suggestion as 'illogical'.
The court also refused to accept the argument of recognising Petitioners as Corona Warriors by noting that the Petitioners cannot be said to be exposed in any manner to the Coronavirus, to claim themselves to be "frontline workers".
Therefore, the court disposed of the petition by requesting the Respondents to, either centrally or regionally or at each Station, hold consultations with the representatives of the members of the petitioner and to explore if any other arrangement, satisfactory to the members of the petitioner, can be worked out.
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