Observing that every employee has the right to job security, the Bombay High Court last week ordered the Raigad Zilla Parishad to once again prepare a seniority list of around 40 workers who had been working on temporary basis for the last 30 years in the water supply department. The HC said that the state had failed in its duty as a welfare state, to treat its employees properly.
A single-judge bench of Justice Ravindra Ghuge was hearing a plea filed by the Raigad Zilla Parishad challenging the orders of an industrial court which declared that the authorities acted in an ‘unfair manner’ towards 40 of its employees, who had been responsible for supply of water to citizens.
As per the zilla parishad, it had no powers to regularise these workers and, at the most, it could only make a recommendation to the state government to make these employees permanent.
However, twice, the government refused to accept these recommendations. The latest refusal was in 2020.
Taking note of the facts of the case, the judge said, “It requires no debate that such employees discharging their duties, be it in the water supply department or sanitation department etc., are indispensable. They shoulder responsibilities of the zilla parishad or the municipal councils. These workers are a part of the departments discharging civic functions and extending civic amenities to the citizens.”
“It is inhuman to make such workers work for 30 years; and the zilla parishad, being helpless, continues to request the state government which rejects the proposal contending that it has no funds,” the judge said, adding, “If this be the situation, the rule of law in a welfare state society would only be a paper arrangement.”
“Employees, who have dedicated 30 years of their lives in serving such state instrumentalities or local authorities, would be without any job security and retiral benefits. The state, therefore, needs to take a decision as regards the water supply workers, who are working in such a department which has to supply water to the citizens.
“If workers in such departments are made to work as temporaries or daily wagers, it would not be inappropriate to state that the state has failed in taking care of them. Every employee has a right to job security and retiral benefits, except in case of illegal appointments or back-door entries,” the bench held.
The bench, accordingly, ordered the zilla parishad to once again prepare a seniority list of all the employees working on temporary basis and forward a recommendation to the state government.
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