Ker HC | Contractual employees would have no right to continuance or to challenge their termination after the period of contract is over

Kerala High Court: Anu Sivaraman, J. contemplated a writ petition where the several petitioners worked in different posts in the District Child Protection Units in various districts in the State, they challenged the move to terminate their services in order to induct another set of contract employees.

The petitioners contended that they were appointed after a due process of selection consisting of written test and interview and had been performing their duties without complaint. They further contended that they were entitled to continue in the respective post as long as the government scheme continues. The petitioners relied on the judgment in State of Haryana v. Piara Singh, (1992) 4  SCC 118, where it was held that one set of contract employees cannot be replaced with another set of employees engaged in the very same terms. It was contended that the scheme specifically provided for contract appointments and that as such, the petitioners who had gained long years of experience were liable to be continued in service in the best interests of the scheme as well. It was stated that it is not in dispute that the scheme continues and that the services of the petitioners were necessary for the best interests of carrying out the scheme successfully. It was further contended that in identical cases, other High Courts have directed the retention of the contract employees as long as the scheme continues.

 On the contrary, the Government filed an affidavit where the relevant extracts of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme were produced. It was also brought into notice that the said Scheme specified that the employment was contractual in nature. “It is stated that clause 3 of R1(a) specifically provides that contractual staff are to be appointed at State and District levels with discretion to the States to appoint staff on permanent basis or on higher salaries than provided in the scheme, for which the State will have to bear the extra expenditure incurred.” The respondents clarified that the employees were contracted for 3 years extendable by 2 more years on the basis of performance appraisal reports. It was further contended that the contracts offered to the petitioners specified that the petitioners had no right to continue in service. It was stated in Rajasree K.K v. State of Kerala, WP(C) No. 22402 of 2018 where the appointment of a staff under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) as also of the Supreme Court in Rajasthan State Roadways Transport Corporation v. Paramjeet, (2019) 6 SCC 250 were relied on to contend that the petitioners, who were contractual employees would have no right to continuance or to challenge their termination after the period of contract is over.

The Court observed that the Judgment cited by the respondents passed by the Supreme Court had relevant law point which was, one set of temporary employees were not liable to be substituted by another set which would result in the arbitrary exercise of power. However, in the instant case, the very scheme provided that the appointment of staff was to be made on a contract basis and with limited tenure.

Hence, the Court after observing the contentions of the parties and view of the Supreme Court, decided that nature of the scheme as also the appointments made and the intentions sought to be achieved, the petitioners who were engaged on short term contract basis would absolutely have no right to contend that their services are not liable to be terminated and that they are entitled to continue beyond the period of contract. Thus, the petitions were dismissed with the above view.[Resmi R S v. Government of India, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 2649, decided on 16-08-2019]

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