HC upholds disengagement of casual workers in health department

HC upholds disengagement of casual workers in health department

Srinagar, Nov 4: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh High on Friday upheld disengagement of a number of casual labourers in the Health Department.

“It is a settled law that the services of casual/seasonal labourers are need based and once an employer does not need the services of a seasonal/casual labourer, it cannot be forced to continue with their engagement,” a bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar said while dismissing a petition filed by a number of casual workers.

The workers were engaged by virtue of a Government order (No.585-HME of 2014) issued by the Health and Medical Education Department  on 17 October 2014 which had provided for hiring of 1284 casual workers to work as nursing orderlies for a number of sub centres in the Health Department which were upgraded or created then.

The Court underscored that the petitioners cannot claim continuation of their engagement as their services have been disengaged by the respondents after serving only for about one and a half year.  “It is not a case where the petitioners have put in long years of service as casual labourers with the respondents that would give rise to legitimate expectation of continuation of their engagement or regularization of their services.”

The petitioners, the court said, have only put in a few months of service with the respondents and the finances regarding the scheme under which they were engaged have been stopped. “Thus, their engagement as casual workers cannot be continued once the respondents have decided that their services are not needed,” it said.  

The Court pointed out that the engagement orders in favour of the petitioners reveal that the same have been issued on the basis of nominations of local MLAs and Ministers, “meaning thereby that the contention of the respondents that no procedure or norms were followed while engaging the services of the petitioners appears to be well-founded.”

“Engagement of the petitioners on the basis of recommendation of MLAs or Ministers without inviting applications or devising any process that would give any semblance of fairness and transparency in the matter of selection of these casual employees makes the whole exercise of their engagement illegal and arbitrary,” the court said.

Terming the contention of of the petitioners that they were entitled to regularization of their services as “grossly misplaced,” the court said: “If such a relief is granted, then their backdoor engagement created by the (authorities) would become an illegal channel of appointment and consequently it would amount to violation of the constitutional mandate.”

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