17 Oct 2022 11:32 AM GMT
The Uttarakhand High Court has stayed termination of several ad hoc employees of the legislative assembly and directed the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat to permit them to work and pay the remuneration, as before.However, Justice Manoj Kumar Tiwari in the order dated October 15 also made it clear that the competent authority shall be at liberty to initiate the process of selection for...
The Uttarakhand High Court has stayed termination of several ad hoc employees of the legislative assembly and directed the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat to permit them to work and pay the remuneration, as before.
However, Justice Manoj Kumar Tiwari in the order dated October 15 also made it clear that the competent authority shall be at liberty to initiate the process of selection for regular appointment to all vacant posts, including the positions held by petitioners.
"Petitioners will not claim any equity on the strength of this order and service rendered by them on the strength of this order, will not create any new right in their favour, including that of regular appointment. However, it shall open to petitioners, who meet all eligibility conditions, to participate in the selection for regular appointment, when initiated by the Competent Authority, and their participation in the selection will be without prejudice to their rights and contentions in their writ petitions," said Justice Tiwari.
The court passed the order in a batch of petitions challenging the Deputy Secretary, Uttarakhand Vidhan Secretariat's orders terminating the services of the petitioners with immediate effect. Their services were terminated in public interest, as per the orders issued last month.
Senior Advocates Devadatt Kamat, Rajesh Inamdar, A.S. Rawat and K.P. Upadhyaya earlier appeared for the petitioners and argued that most of the petitioners were appointed in the year 2016 and at the time of their ad hoc appointment, they possessed all the requisite qualification for regular appointment to their respective posts. The work and performance of petitioners is above board and there is no complaint regarding their conduct from any quarter, it was contended.
The court was apprised that the ad-hoc appointments in the Vidhan Sabha were challenged by a public interest litigant in 2016 and Vidhan Sabha in response to that PIL had justified the engagements. The Secretariat cannot now take a contrary stand, it was argued.
A division bench, while disposing of the PIL, on 26.06.2018 had directed the authorities to verify which of the ad hoc appointees are not educationally qualified and services of only those, who were not qualified, were to be terminated, the court was told, adding that, however, the services of all ad-hoc employees have been terminated without undertaking the exercise.
It was also argued that the termination orders "entail civil and evil consequences" and no reason has been assigned for terminating service of petitioners. The court was also told that no notice or opportunity of hearing was provided to the ad-hoc employees before such drastic action.
In a counter affidavit, the respondents told the court that complaints were received against ad-hoc appointments and an Expert Committee was constituted by the Speaker on September 3 which submitted its report on September 20.
"The counter affidavit is however silent regarding deficiency, if any, in the work, conduct and performance of the petitioners," the court observed.
Observing that the counter affidavit reveals that services of the ad-hoc employees were terminated as they had been engaged without following the rules, the court said it finds substance in the contention raised by the petitioners that Rules lay down the procedure for regular appointment and no procedure is prescribed for ad-hoc appointment, therefore termination only on the ground of non-observance of the procedure provided in the rules would be unjust.
"The relevant Service Rules permit ad-hoc appointments, as held by the Division Bench of this Court, however, it is also not in dispute that petitioners were appointed, through on ad-hoc basis, without any selection," it added.
Further observing that the orders of termination do not disclose any reason, the court said whether the reason informed through counter affidavit can be considered while adjudicating the question of validity of termination orders is a debatable question.
"Similarly, whether petitioners were entitled to hearing in the matter is also a question, which falls for consideration in these cases," it said, adding such issues require scrutiny.
Granting four weeks' time to the respondents for filing counter affidavits in other writ petitions, the court listed the case for hearing on December 19 and stayed the termination orders passed in respect of the petitioners.
It also said the competent authority shall be at liberty to undertake the exercise in terms of the division bench order.
"Each petitioner shall also give undertaking by filing affidavit before the Competent Authority in Vidhan Sabha Secretariat that they will abide by all the orders issued by the superior authorities; they will serve the organisation with utmost sincerity, honesty and dedication and they will not divulge any official information to unauthorised person; they will never break the discipline nor will they cause disturbance in Vidhan Sabha; and they will not create hindrance in the process of selection, when initiated for regular appointment," Justice Tiwari said.