Chandigarh, January 21
More than eight years after the services of 98 Assistant District Attorneys appointed on a contract basis were regularised, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday set aside an order appointing them against public posts by “a mode not envisaged by the Rules framed under proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution”.
Justice Sudhir Mittal at the same time made it clear that the state may continue with them as contract employees, subject to initiation of direct appointment process within six months. The respondents-ADAs would also be eligible to apply for the posts. “Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of this case, it is directed that stipulation of upper age limit shall be relaxed for them,” Justice Mittal added that while fixing a year’s deadline for the completion of the process.
The matter was placed before Justice Mittal after a bunch of petitions were filed against the State of Punjab and other respondents by Gurinder Singh and other petitioners through counsel Kapil Kakkar, Shivam Malik, Anurag Goyal, Parth Goyal and Amarjit Kaur. They were seeking the quashing of orders dated October 8, 2013, regularising the services of the respondents.
The Bench was told that the Government of Punjab issued an advertisement dated October 17, 2009, inviting applications for 98 posts of ADA on contract basis. While the process of selection was underway, order dated October 8, 2013, was passed regularising the services of the respondents.
Justice Mittal observed policy dated March 18, 2011, was framed for employees of seven different departments. It was extended only for the ADAs belonging to the Prosecution & Litigation Department —a part of the Department of Home Affairs & Justice. It included the jails department and Advocate-General’s office.
Justice Mittal asserted: “The policy was framed for the benefit of employees of the said departments as well, but the ADAs were singled out for preferential treatment. Nothing has been brought on record to show that there was a necessity to extend the policy for granting permanent employment,”
Justice Mittal added the direct appointment process had already been initiated and the posts occupied by the contractual employees could also have been filled up through direct recruitment, maybe in a staggered fashion to ensure that the subordinate Courts’ working was not adversely affected. “The preferential treatment, thus, given to the private respondents and that too on the basis of their own request, is patently arbitrary,” Justice Mittal added.
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