HC reprimands PWD on Incharge arrangements

Excelsior Correspondent
Srinagar, Aug 11: The High Court has reprimanded the Public Works Department on practice of Incharge arrangements in the department without adhering to the rules and said such kind of practice should be carried only after clearance from Departmental Promotion Committee or Public Services Commission.
Petitioners as Junior Engineers department were placed as Incharge Assistant Engineers in terms of various orders passed in the light of the Cabinet Decision No. 128/2014 dated 16-07-2014, having the effect of creating 177 posts of Assistant Engineers in the Rural Development Department by way of Govt. order No. 319-PW(R&B) of 2015 dated 01-12-2015 & order No. 321-PW(R&B) of 2015 dated 01-12-2015 their placement as I/C AEs has been revoked/rescinded and the orders of their placement came to be cancelled, as they were found junior to their other colleagues.
They question these revocation and rescinding orders on the grounds, that the same have been passed at their back and they have not been given any prior notice, thereby the orders are violative of the Articles 14 & 16 of the Constitution.
Petitioners further submitted that revoking their order of placement as Assistant Engineers would tantamount to discrimination against them and were seeking quashing of these orders with further prayer that they be allowed to continue on the posts of Assistant Engineers. Justice M K Hanjura while dismissing the writ petition took serious note on practice of Incharge arrangements in R&B department without following the rules and law said, such arrangements give the employees the fodder and grub to knock at the portals of the Court and enter into unnecessary litigations, which the court said, could have been avoided by not adopting this kind of practice in the department.
“It pains one to see that the persons, holding the posts of Junior Engineers on substantive basis, are placed as Incharge Assistant Engineers without adhering to the rules and the law evolved on the subject, although the Supreme Court has not only deprecated this practice but has also directed the State of J&K to ensure that such an exercise should be carried into effect only after seeking clearance from the PSC/DPC”, read the Judgment.
Court directed the authorities to make every endeavor to see that the directions of the Supreme Court, are complied with in their letter and spirit and the promotion to the post of the Assistant Engineers is made in accordance with the law and the rules governing the field.
“Interim arrangements cannot sustain for long”, Court said.
“In view of all that has been said and done above, the petitioners cannot lay any claim on the posts of Assistant Engineers which they never held substantively. The writ petition sans merit and is, accordingly, dismissed”, court concluded.
Court said, the simple question that arises in the case on hand is whether a person, who is placed as an Incharge to man and hold a particular post on such an analogy, can be said to have been promoted or appointed to the post and said, the answer to this question is a big ‘no’ in view of the law laid down in the case of Ramakant Shripad Sinai Advalpalkar.
Court rejected the contention of the petitioners raised before it that the department had no power to rescind/revoke the orders, whereby they were placed as Incharge Assistant Engineers. “It is devoid of any merit and substance and entails rejection on the face of it”, court said.
Court said, they were not holding these posts substantively but held them in the exigencies of public service and continued to hold their lower posts on substantive basis but were only discharging the duties of a higher post, which, in the ordinary parlance, is termed as a stop-gap arrangement and on the terms and conditions that they shall not have any preferential claim to hold the post on substantive basis.
Court said,they cannot now turn around and change colors like a chameleon.