The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh recently ruled that the completion of seven years of continuous service alone would not entitle a daily wager for regularization, unless other eligibility conditions were fulfilled.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Javed Iqbal Wani was hearing an appeal against the single bench judgment passed in favour of daily wagers who were engaged by the J&K administration in 1994. The respondents in their plea before the single Judge had pleaded for their service from 2001 to 2009 to be considered for all service benefits including promotion, seniority, pension and other monetary benefits.
Counsel for the J&K government in his appeal argued that the respondents lacked eligibility for regularization after having completed seven years of daily wage service, as they did not possess the requisite qualifications and had not attained the prescribed age to be considered for regularization.
Appellant UT administration further argued that the respondents had challenged the conditions belatedly, more than eight years after they were regularised in 2009. Further, the petitioners could not claim to have parity with another worker whose post was identified in 2001, the counsel submitted.
Counsel for the respondent Daily wagers submitted that they were entitled to regularization from April 1, 2001, on which date they completed seven years of service. However, the process was not finalized by the State for unknown reasons, owing to which they came to be regularized on December 30, 2009 with prospective effect. The counsel therefore submitted that the single-judge was right in his order passed in 2017 whereby he had directed the authorities to give effect to their regularization with effect from the date they had completed seven years of continuous service.
Adjudicating upon the matter the Division Bench referred to a government rule called SRO 64 issued in 1994, which contained the conditions to be fulfilled by daily wagers to be considered for regularisation. After perusing the rule position in the said provision which listed the eligibility criteria the Court noted,
"A plain reading of the aforesaid provision would manifestly suggest that a Daily Rated Worker would become eligible for regularisation on fulfilment of all the conditions as contained therein. All the conditions are inter-dependent and have to be fulfilled by a daily wager whose case is to be considered for regularisation..."
Deliberating further on the issue the bench observed that since the daily wagers were lacking the qualification and age conditions, the administration had decided to relax the same. At the end of this exercise, the wagers were regularised in 2009, on the condition that they submit an affidavit undertaking that they shall not claim regularization from the back date. In this context the Court said,
"The writ petitioner/respondents herein admittedly have consented to abide by the conditions imposed by the appellants qua the filing of affidavits in the year 2009 and then turned around and filed the petition in the year 2017."
Explaining further the bench recorded
"A Daily Rated Worker would become eligible for regularization on fulfilment of all the conditions as contained in Rule 4 of the provisions of SRO 64. Completion of seven years of continuous period of daily wage service alone thus would not entitle a daily wager for regularization unless such daily wager fulfills other eligibility conditions," the bench underscored.
Hence, the appeal was allowed.
Case Title : State of J&K Vs Mushtaq Ahmad Naik & Ors.
Citation : 2022 LiveLaw (JKL) 101