In a major development, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana has quashed four policies by which the Haryana Government had sought to regularize the services of Group B, C and D employees with a minimum of three years or 10 years in service on May 28, 2014, as it held that the same were framed only to appease voters ahead of the 2014 Assembly elections.
Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Anil Kshetarpal quashed the four policies issued by the government as it held that the same were framed in violation of the decision of the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court in the year 2006 in a case titled Secretary, State of Karnataka and others v. Umadevi and others, wherein direction was given to the State to frame regularisation policy as 'one time measure' for the employees working for at least 10 years.
The bench, however, directed the State to give one-time age relaxation to all employees appointed on ad-hoc/contract/work-charged/daily wages in the next process of selection so that they may not suffer on account of they being over-age.
The four policies which have been quashed by the court are --- Policy dated June 16, 2014, vide which the government decided to regularise the services of Group 'B' employees, who had worked for not less than three years as on 28.5.2014 and were still in service.
The second policy under challenge was dated June 18, 2014, by which the government provided that services of Group 'C' and Group 'D' employees, who had a minimum of three years service as on 28.5.2014 and were still in service, be regularised.
Other two policies under challenge were -- policy dated July 7, 2014, for regularising the services of Group 'B' employees, who have or will complete 10 years of service as on31.12.2018; and another policy dated July 7, 2014, in terms of which the government decided to regularise the services of Group 'C' and Group 'D' employees, who have or will complete 10 years of service as on 31.12.2018.
Some of the petitioners before the court were candidates for the posts of Assistant Professor who had contended that with the regularisation of a number of Guest Faculty, the number of posts may considerably reduce, as a result of which the chance of selection of the petitioners may be affected, hence, they have a cause of action to challenge the policy.
There was another set of petitioners who are working either on contract/ad- hoc/daily wage basis and had sought direction for regularisation of their services in terms of the aforesaid policies. These petitions were, however, dismissed.
“Even though in terms of the judgment of Hon'ble the Supreme Court in Umadevi (3) and others' case (supra), direction was given to the State to frame regularisation policy as 'one time measure' for the employees working for at least 10 years, the State completely in violation thereof, came out with other policy on 16.6.2014 providing for regularisation of Group-B employees working on contract basis, who have been working for not less than 3 years as on 28.5.2014 and were still in service. This policy provided that this is being done as 'one time measure' on humanitarian ground and further that in future, no illegal/irregular appointment should be made against sanctioned posts,” the bench noted.
With regard to the other two policies, the bench said, “The aforesaid two policies were framed giving benefit of regularisation to the employees more than four years after the circulation of the policies. In fact, the exercise for framing the aforesaid four policies in June and July, 2014 was merely to please the voters as the State was in election mode and Assembly elections were due in October, 2014. For gaining personal benefits, the bosses were not concerned about any order or judgment of the court, hence, they dared to violate the same.”
State tried to please voters, legalize back-door entrants
The bench criticized the government for framing the four policies.
“The extent to which political heads of the State can go to please the voters is evident from the policies dated 7.7.2014 dealing with Group 'B', 'C' and 'D' employees. Though just a few days back policies were issued on 16.6.2014 and 18.6.2014 providing for regularisation of Group 'B', 'C' and 'D' employees, who had rendered not less than three years service as on 28.5.2014, but still new policies in question were issued. It gives a cut-off date, which is more than four years even after the date of issuance of the policy.
“The illegality sought to be legalised by these policies is that all those employees, who would complete 10 years of service on 31.12.2018 would be considered for regularisation, even if their original appointment may not be following the due process by issuance of advertisement, interview etc., means illegal appointments. Code of Conduct was to be notified in the State for Assembly elections to be held in October, 2014. In fact, at that stage, the State was in a hurry to pass orders, which may or may not stand judicial scrutiny so that they could claim credit and leave it to the courts to adjudicate upon the issues and take dis-credit. Vide this policy, even illegal appointments were sought to be regularised. Ten years period mentioned by Hon'ble the Supreme Court to be considered for the purpose of regularisation in Umadevi (3) and others' case was not to be applied in perpetuity as it was a one time measure. The object of the aforesaid policy was merely to regularise the services of the employees, who had been appointed by the Government when came into power by adopting illegal means, i.e., back door entrants,” said the court.
Order of the court
*In view of our aforesaid discussions, we find that the policies dated 16.6.2014, 18.6.2014, 7.7.2014 (Group 'B') and 7.7.2014 (Group 'C' and Group 'D'), having been framed in violation of the law laid down by Hon'ble the Supreme Court deserve to be quashed. Ordered accordingly. Any benefit already granted to an employee shall be withdrawn as in terms of the order passed on 2.9.2016, this Court had already directed that regularisation orders, if any, passed earlier shall be subject to final outcome of the writ petition.
* The present judgment will not affect rights of those employees who have been regularized in view of the order passed by the Supreme Court or the high court as they already have an order passed by the court in their favour.
*As there are thousands of employees who had been appointed on ad-hoc/contract/work-charged/daily wages, to take care of the work being carried out by them in different departments, we direct that they be allowed to continue for a period of six months, during which the State shall ensure that regular posts, wherever required, are advertised and the process of selection is completed. Under no circumstances, any ad-hoc/contract/work-charged/daily wages employees shall be allowed to continue thereafter.
*This Court cannot lose sight of the fact that even the employees to some extent may not be said to be at fault. They are swayed by the promises made to them or the assurances given, which may not be legally tenable. To take care of the fact that all such employees, who had been appointed on ad-hoc/contract/work-charged/daily wages may not suffer on account of they being over-age, it is directed that all such employees be given relaxation in age to the extent of the period they have worked continuously on ad-hoc/contract/work-charged/daily wage basis in the next process of selection, which is to be carried out in terms of the directions given by this court. The aforesaid relaxation shall be one time measure and not in any subsequent selection.