Hon’ble Mr Justice Tashi Rabstan of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Jammu, over video-conferencing, heard the case of Chaman Lal & Ors. v. State of J&K and Ors. The petitioners here seek the court to quash the order given by the respondent who is the Chief Engineer of Public Health Engineering, wherein regularization of their services was rejected. They also seek an order by the court releasing their unpaid wages by the respondents.
Facts of the Case
The writ petition was filed by 17 members hailing from the District of Kathua, who was engaged as Daily Rated Labourers in Civil as well as Mechanical Divisions of PHE, Kathua from October 1994 to January 2000. Ever since they have been discharging their duties which was indeed certified by the respondents in the years 2005 and 2010.
It is alleged that despite the petitioners making several representations, the respondents did not regularize their services. Thus, back then 26 members filed a writ petition that was disposed of on 01-11-2013 directing the respondents to regularize their services.
However, Respondent No. 2 vide Order No. PHEJ/GE/04/E of 2014 dated 04-01-2014 impugned, that rejected the claim of petitioners. These are the facts from the writ petition.
Arguments Of The Petitioners
Mrs Veenu Gupta, the learned counsel appearing for the petitioners argues that:
- The respondents did not consider the case of petitioners in an effective or bonafide manner.
- The respondents did not consider the fact that the petitioners were working there from the dates of their respective engagements without any break in service, thus, the action of the respondents is per se illegal and arbitrary.
- Even though the State Government has framed various policies for regularization of ad hoc/daily rated workers/casual labourers from time to time, the benefits are not reaching the petitioners, even when they rendered more than qualified service. Therefore, he argued that they should be entitled to the regularization of services.
- It was further stated that the respondents have not paid the legitimate wages to the petitioners which they are entitled to.
Arguments Of The Respondents
Mr K.D.S Kotwal, the learned counsel for the respondents argued that:
- The objections were filed on 09-07-2014 by the respondents against the petition filed by the petitioners back then.
- The report submitted by the concerned Executive Engineer clearly shows the period specifically for which the petitioners were engaged for work.
- The petitioners, at present, are not working in the department and they had left the department since 2003, 2004 and 2005 on their own.
- Regarding wages, the claim of the petitioners does not sustain for any monetary benefit because wages of the petitioners were calculated on an individual basis and were deposited before this court.
After hearing both the parties and after the perusal of the writ file, the Court analysed the following:
- The respondents have not denied the fact that the petitioners were engaged as Daily Rated Labourers from October 1994 to January 2000.
- The respondents contend that all the petitioners left the department on their own since the years 2003, 2004 and 2005.
- The petitioners themselves have failed to establish their claim nor did they produce any record of them discharging their duties without any break, even after the year 2005 to the date of filing the instant petition.
- The details of the impugned order reveal that none of the petitioners worked after March 2005.
- The Court further pointed out Section 5 of Jammu & Kashmir Civil Services (Special Provisions) Act, 2010 which says that regularization of ad hoc or contractual or consolidated appointees will be done if the following conditions are fulfilled:
- that he has been appointed against a clear vacancy or post;
- that he continues as such on the appointed day;
- that he possessed the requisite qualification and eligibility for the post on the date of his initial appointment on ad hoc or contractual or consolidated basis as prescribed under the recruitment rules governing the service or post;
- that no disciplinary or criminal proceedings are pending against him on the appointed day; and
- that he has completed seven years of service as such the appointed day.
- The Court said that the above section does not apply to them as these petitioners do not fall under J & K Civil Services (Special Provisions) Act, 2010 as they all left the department on their own before April 2005, neither do they fall under SRO 64 OF 1994 which is applicable only if the labourers are engaged with work before 31st March 1994, whereas these workers joined the work from September 1994.
The Court did not find any merit in the petition.
However, it directs the respondents to clear the unpaid wages, if any, within four weeks from the date of the judgment. The judicial Registrar is also directed to release the wages in favour of the eligible petitioners as per their entitlement after proper verification and identification if the same has been deposited in the Registry of the Court in the form of cheque by the respondents.
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