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'Beneficial Nature Of Scheme Can't Be Doubted': Sikkim High Court Disposes Plea Challenging State's "One Family One Job" Policy

Jyoti Prakash Dutta
19 May 2022 4:15 PM GMT
Sikkim High Court Dismisses Challenge To State Government’s “One Family One Job” Scheme
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The Sikkim High Court has refused to interfere with the State Government's 'One Family One Job' scheme. While hearing a challenge to the state policy, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai observed,

"As such, the bona fides of the exercise undertaken under the Scheme cannot be held to be suspect since its object and purpose was to provide one family one job. If we are to forensically analyse the entire recruitment process at this belated stage, that too, based on technicalities, in that event, each and every person who has secured State employment following initiation and execution of the "One Family One Job Scheme", would be required to be made parties in the present writ proceeding. That apart and in any event, the beneficial nature of the Scheme cannot be doubted and examined at this stage purely on the basis of technicalities as provided under the relevant Rules."

However, the Bench directed the State government to ensure that in all future recruitment process, it adheres to the relevant statutory laws and Rules scrupulously and meticulously so that eyebrows are not raised unnecessarily or accusatory fingers pointed towards the State, while welfare and beneficial Schemes are sought to be implemented.

Factual Background:

The petitioners claimed to be unemployed and stated that they had post graduate qualifications in different subjects. They also claimed to be public spirited persons and interested in the development of society so that educated unemployed youths are not exploited. By filing the instant writ petition, they assailed the "One Family One Job" policy decision of the State Government, which, according to them, failed to comply with any statutory provision. The matter, thereafter, was heard from time to time and affidavits have been exchanged between the parties.

In the affidavit filed on behalf of the State, the deponent, the Joint Secretary, Department of Personnel, Administrative Reforms & Training, Government of Sikkim had elaborately stated about the concept of "One Family One Job Scheme", which initially emerged after the former Chief Minister completed his tour of 31 constituencies. During the said tour, it was observed that the main grievance of the people of Sikkim was lack of employment in Government service. There were thousands of applicants seeking employment and their applications, which were received during the said tour, were forwarded to almost all the major departments for consideration.

The respondent no. 2, i.e., Department of Personnel, Administrative Reforms & Training, received several hundreds of applications seeking employment, but was not in a position to consider the same, leading to public pressure on the then ruling party and the Government of that day.

Then, the office of the former Chief Minister had decided to conduct a walk-in-interview amongst such applicants and considered the selected ones for appointment on temporary posts as per the available vacancies. It was further decided that only applications of those applicants who did not have any family members in Government service would be considered. In this manner, the former Chief Minister conceptualized the "One Family One Job Scheme". The deponent thereafter elaborately explained the methodology applied for the purpose of initiation and execution of the "One Family One Job Scheme".

Court's Observations:

The Court held that a bare perusal of the explanation provided by the deponent, in the affidavit revealed that while the relevant Rules, namely, the Sikkim Government Service Rules, 1974, may not have been strictly adhered to by observing all technical requirements as mandated by the said Rules, but there has been substantial compliance.

The Court noted that more than 13,000 citizens residing in the State of Sikkim have got employment in the process. Therefore, the bona fides of the exercise undertaken under the scheme cannot be doubted, since its object and purpose were to provide one family one job.

Further, it expressed technical difficulties that might ensue by interfering in the matter. It held that if the Court forensically analyses the entire recruitment process at this belated stage, then each and every person who has secured State employment following initiation and execution of the "One Family One Job Scheme", would be required to be made parties in the present writ proceeding. That apart, it held, the beneficial nature of the scheme cannot be suspected and examined at this stage purely on the basis of technicalities as provided under the relevant Rules.

However, as a parting note, the Court advised the Sikkim Government to comply with relevant statutory laws and Rules in all future recruitment processes.

"However, the State of Sikkim is directed to ensure that in all future recruitment process, it adheres to the relevant statutory laws and Rules scrupulously and meticulously so that eyebrows are not raised unnecessarily or accusatory fingers pointed towards the State, while welfare and beneficial Schemes – such as the one before us – are sought to be implemented by the State or its agencies."

Before concluding, it made it clear that nothing contained in the judgment shall be construed in any manner as an embargo and/or fetter upon the concerned authority of the State from proceeding against any individual or individuals who may have secured employment under the "One Family One Job Scheme" through fraudulent means.

Case Title: Henna Subba & Ors. v. State of Sikkim & Anr.

Case No.: WP (PIL) No.09/2020

Judgment Dated: 19th May 2022

Coram: Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder & Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai

Judgment Authored By: Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder

Counsel for the Petitioners: Mr. A. Moulik, Senior Advocate, Ms. K. D. Bhutia and Mr. Ranjit Prasad, Advocates.

Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. Vivek Kohli, Advocate General, Ms. Y. W. Rinchen, Govt. Advocate and Ms. Pema Bhutia, Assistant Government Advocate.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Sik) 3

ClickHere To Read/Download Judgment

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