25 April 2022 2:25 PM GMT
In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court has held that Anganwadi Workers and Anganwadi Helpers are entitled to the payment of gratuity under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972."The 1972 Act will apply to Anganwadi centres and in turn to AWWs(Anganwadi Workers) and AWHs(Anganwadi Helpers)", a bench comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Abhay S Oka held while allowing the appeals filed against...
In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court has held that Anganwadi Workers and Anganwadi Helpers are entitled to the payment of gratuity under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.
It is full time employment
The court also refused to accept the contention that the job assigned to AWWs and AWHs is a part-time job.
"AWWs and AWHs have been assigned all pervasive duties, which include identification of the beneficiaries, cooking nutritious food, serving healthy food to the beneficiaries, conducting preschool for the children of the age group of 3 to 6 years, and making frequent home visits for various reasons. Implementation of very important and innovative provisions relating to children, pregnant 28 women as well as lactating mothers under the 2013 Act has been entrusted to them. It is thus impossible to accept the contention that the job assigned to AWWs and AWHs is a part time job. The Government Resolution dated 25th November 2019, which prescribes duties of AWWs and AWHs, does not lay down that their job is a part time job. Considering the nature of duties specified thereunder, it is full time employment.". Justice Oka said
Played significant role in facilitating child nutrition
In his concurring opinion, Justice Ajay Rastogi noted that the Anganwadi workers/helpers, have played a significant role in facilitating child nutrition
"Anganwadi workers/helpers are the key facilitators of child nutrition initiatives at the ground level and involved in performing the work of dissemination, publicity, building awareness, and implementation of various schemes of the Government. No wonder, the strength of Anganwadi Centres has increased manifold by passage of time in the country.", the judge said.
They get only a so called paltry 'honorarium' (much lower than the minimum wages)
Justice Rastogi also noted that the AWWs and AWHs are not holders of civil posts due to which they are deprived of a regular salary and other benefits that are available to employees of the State. Instead of a salary, they get only a so called paltry 'honorarium' (much lower than the minimum wages) on the specious ground that they are part time voluntary workers, working only for about 4 hours a day, the judge said.
"The time has come when the Central Government/State Governments has to collectively consider as to whether looking to the nature of work and exponential increase in the Anganwadi centers and to ensure quality in the delivery of services and community participation and calling upon Anganwadi workers/helpers to perform multiple tasks ranging from delivery of vital services to the effective convergence of various sectoral services, the existing working conditions of Anganwadi workers/helpers coupled with lack of job security which albeit results in lack of motivation to serve in disadvantaged areas with limited sensitivity towards the delivery of services to such underprivileged groups, still being the backbone of the scheme introduced by ICDS, time has come to find out modalities in providing better service conditions of the voiceless commensurate to the nature of job discharged by them.", the judge added.