HC quashes Govt’s 2012 order, holds Agri Engineers entitled to Rez Scheme

 J&K High Court, Srinagar
J&K High Court, SrinagarMubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar, Nov 11: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has quashed a government order by which the claim of unemployed Agriculture Engineers as Rehbar-e-Ziraat (ReZ) was rejected in 2012.

 Allowing a petition filed by the aggrieved Agricultural Engineers through their counsel Saqib Amin Parray, a bench of Justice Javed Iqbal Wani observed that the government order (No.323- Agri of 2012 dated 23.11.2012) was “ discriminatory in nature and manifestly violative of the Doctrine of Legitimate Expectation and Article 14 of the Constitution.”

While quashing the order, the court directed the government to accord consideration to the case of petitioners for their engagement as Rehbar-e-Ziraat in terms of Government Order no.20-Agri of 2007 dated 6th February 2007.

By virtue of the order (no.20-Agri of 2007 dated 6th February 2007), the government accorded sanction to engagement of all agriculture graduates, who were unemployed as on October 2006, under the ReZ scheme on a monthly stipend of Rs1500 before their regularization after stipulated time.

In their plea, the petitioners submitted that while passing Order no.20-Agri of 2007 dated 6th February 2007, only agriculture graduates were mentioned and not Agriculture Engineers. Subsequently on a representation through their association – J&K Unemployed Diploma Agriculture Engineering Association-  the government constituted a Cabinet Sub Committee which in its report recommended the case of Agriculture Engineers along with agriculture graduates .

However the petitioners said that without any justification, the government issued an order no.20- Agri of 2007, mentioning only agriculture graduates.

They said that by virtue of Government Order (no.504- GAD of 2008) dated 15th April 2008, another Committee was constituted for addressing the issue of Agricultural Trainees, including Agriculture Engineers . The CSC recommended that since the number of Agriculture Engineers is only 90, they may also be engaged under ReZ Scheme.

The petitioners said they got themselves registered in their concerned Districts and the list of registered candidates was forwarded to the Government. However, they said, the Agriculture Engineers were left unattended which constrained them to file a petition in 2011 which was disposed of by the court on 5th August 2011, directing the government to accord consideration to the case of Agriculture Engineers for engagement as ReZs having regard to the recommendations made by the Committees constituted from time to time.

The government, the petitioners said, passed an Order (no.323- Agri of 2012) on 23rd November 2012 by virtue of which the case of Agriculture Engineers was rejected without any “reasonable ground.”

“Petitioners have had a legitimate expectation of being treated in a certain way by respondents (authorities) as had been a consistent past practice followed by them while bestowing the similarly situated persons the benefit of various schemes, which included Rehbar-e-Taleem, Rehbar-e-Ziraat,” the court said.

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