SRINAGAR The High Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by 106 persons, seeking directions for their regularization by treating them to have been engaged as daily rated workers under Jammu and Kashmir Daily Rated Workers / Work Charged Employees (Regularisation) Rules, 1994.
The 106 petitioners had claimed to have been engaged as Casual Labourers in the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department, Budgam, in the years 2005, 2006 and 2007 and to be continuing till date.
The law laid down is that where a casual labourer has continued to work for a sufficiently long period, it would not be apt to call him having been appointed on casual basis, and he would be entitled to regularisation under the 1994 Rules, a bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey observed.
However, the court said that the word used is continued and this has to be borne in mind, meaning thereby a person who is appointed for a month or two during a calendar or financial year on need basis and is, thereafter, again engaged in some subsequent year for a month or two would not fall in such category.
The court gave resume of the the practice of engagement of Casual / Seasonal Labourers in the Works Departments of the State, underlining that it has been in vogue since long.
In 1994, pursuant to Administrative Council Decision no.14 dated 24.01.1994, the Government issued order no. 26-F of 1994 dated 31.01.1994 providing for regularisation of daily rated workers / work charged employees in terms of the conditions laid down therein, and withdrawing the practice of engaging daily wagers / daily rated workers in the Government in any form.
The order, however, retained the concept of casual labourers / seasonal labourers for specified development works. Such casual labourers / seasonal labourers were provided to be engaged on muster rolls for payment of wages and no engagement / appointment orders were to be issued, the court said. Subsequently, the Finance Department issued SRO 64 dated 24.03.1994, notifying the Jammu and Kashmir Daily Rated Workers / Work Charged Employees (Regularisation) Rules, 1994, which came into force with effect from 01.04.1994.
Rule 3 of the 1994 Rules, the court said, provided for creation of posts for regularization of daily rated workers and work charged employees. Rule 4 prescribed the eligibility criteria for regularization while Rule 7 provided that with the commencement of the 1994 Rules, no field or subordinate officer shall have the power for engagement of a daily rated worker. However, Proviso to Rule 7 provided that the competent authority may engage casual labourers or seasonal labourers in any of the departments to be specified by notification, from time to time, by the Government, and that such labourers shall be on the muster rolls for payment of wages and no engagement or appointment orders shall be issued.
While the petitioners had contended that they were engaged continuously, the officials had rejected their claim, stating that some need based casual labourers were engaged in the year 2005 but they had not continued in the department. The officials said in order to verify the casual labourers working in the Division, a Committee was constituted in the year 2011-12 for physical verification of such labourers which was headed by the Superintending Engineer, Hydraulic Circle Budgam. However, the officials said that the petitioners failed to submit the required documents before the Committee and were found not eligible.
26. It is important to note here that the list of the 106 NBCLs who are the petitioners herein, is heavily relied upon by the petitioners to substantiate their claim. Furthermore, by MP no.02/2018, the petitioners brought on record certain documents with the prayer to require the Committee directed to be constituted by the Commissioner / Secretary to Government, PHE Department, to consider the same. Let these documents which have been brought on record by the said MP be examined to ascertain what do they establish.
Going through the documents, the court found that payments have been made to the petitioners just for a month or two in the years 2005 to 2009, not beyond that.
For instance, the name of petitioner no.1 herein figures at serial no.7 of the list. He is shown to have been paid for the months of 10/2006, 12/2007, 12/2008 and 01/2009. Petitioner no.2, Abdul Majid Shah, figuring at serial no.2 of the list, is shown to have been paid for the months of 01/2007, 03/2008, 01/2009 and 12/2009.. ..The document establishes that they had been engaged for a month or two during the relevant years and have duly been paid their wages. This document does not, in any way, support their claim, the court observed.
The petitioners had also placed on recorded purported photocopies of nominal muster rolls of casual labourers engaged on need basis at different PHE installations during the months of August, 2006, November, 2006, December, 2006, January, 2007, February, 2007, March, 2007, December, 2008 and January, 2009.
Perusal of these muster rolls reveals that half of these are the copies of the other half, and a person shown to have been engaged during a particular hardly has been engaged again during the other months and even if an engagement is repeated, it is made, at best, for one more month after a considerable gap, the court said, adding, In any case, there is no document evidencing that any of the petitioners was continued month after month as a casual labourer for a sufficiently long period to entitle him to the benefit claimed for in terms of the judgment relied upon by the petitioners.
Before parting with the file, the court observed that at times the authorities tend to be revengeful against those who approach Courts claiming reliefs against them, because they feel like having been put to face awkward situations while defending such claims, as in the instant case.
And by reason thereof do not engage such persons in future. I make it clear that filing of this case before the Court should not be an excuse for the respondents not to engage the petitioners or any one of them on need basis in the future, the court added.