punjab and haryana high court

Punjab and Haryana High Court: In a petition claiming regularization of a Clerk who had completed 30 years in service, Sanjeev Prakash Sharma, J. held her entitled to get the benefit and directed the authorities concerned to pass suitable orders with ‘all consequential benefits’.

The petitioner claimed regularization for the post of Clerk and prayed for quashing of decision of Chief Engineer regarding directions passed through order dated 24-07-2014 in Pushpa Devi v. State of Punjab (CWP-14377-2014) wherein, the Court directed the Chief Engineer of Department of Punjab Water Supply and Sanitation of Punjab to consider the petitioner’s grievance and decide the matter within 4 months.

As per the petitioner’s submissions, she was appointed as a Bill Clerk on 1-11-1996 on a daily wage basis in the office of Superintending Engineer, Water Supply and Sanitation Circle. She initially worked there up to 3-02-1997 and got wrongfully retrenched. When she challenged the said retrenchment before the Industrial Tribunal and Labour Court, an award was passed in her favour for reinstatement along with 50% back wages.

It was contended that her period of service should be counted from the date of her initial appointment in 1996. Since she was still working and had put in 30 years of service, it was submitted that she was entitled to be placed in the regular cadre of clerks and receive a regular salary. The said contention was countered that for the purpose of regularization, the period during which the petitioner did not work and was out of job could not be counted.

Another ground taken by the department to counter the petitioner’s entitlement was that she had not completed 120-hours of computer course from any recognized institution.

The Court perused the circular dated 18-03-2011 issued by the Punjab Government which read as:

“Those daily wagers/work charge employees, who are having 10 years’ service to their credit as on December 2006, for the regularization of their services, posts be created in the concerned department and against these posts, those officials fulfill the education qualification and other condition, be regularized.”

The Court noted that if the petitioner was appointed in 1996, she would have been deemed to have completed 10 years of service by December 2006 as required by the circular. The Court found the view taken by the department erroneous for the very reason that the award passed by the Labour Court/Industrial Tribunal was not challenged, which attained finality after granting 50% back wages. Thus, the petitioner’s service was to be treated as continuous from the date of the initial appointment.

The Court found the petitioner entitled to be regularized as per the terms of the above benefits. Regarding completion of the 120-hour computer course, the Court was of the view that she had already put in 30 years of service, hence, she could not be denied the benefit of regularization on that account.

The Court expressed that “It is the duty of the State Government and its department to provide opportunity to its employees especially a female employee to be given benefit of higher education by sending her for further training. The same can also be done after having regularized her on the said post.”

The Court quashed the order passed by Chief Engineer on 20-04-2015 and directed the respondents to pass orders accordingly within 3 months with ‘all consequential benefits’.

[Pushpa Devi v. State of Punjab, 2023 SCC OnLine P&H 899, decided on 5-07-2023]


Advocates who appeared in this case :

For Petitioner: Advocate P.K. Goklaney, Advocate Ashish Goklaney;

For State: Deputy Advocate General Vishnav Gandhi.

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