HC hopes for regularization policy of FCI employees

Excelsior Correspondent
Srinagar, July 12: High Court has hoped that the Food Corporation of India (FCI) would come with a policy for regularizing its employees in order to erase the temporary status of its petitioners.
Justice Sanjeev Kumar observed that petitioners may have lost the battle for the present, but nothing stops them to come to this Court seeking regularization of their services on the ground of long officiation independently of the judgments earned by them in the past.
Court recorded that the nature of appointment i.e temporary status with several service benefits offered to the petitioners has all the trappings of permanent and regular appointment. “This Court is sure that the respondent Corporation (PSU), being a model employer, is alive to its duty towards its employees particularly those working at the lowest rung and would not indulge in any labour practice which is unfair and is tantamount to exploitation,” Justice Kumar said.
The temporary employees of the Corporation challenged the order of Area Manager, FCI whereby the petitioners along with other employees of the Corporation, who were working as casual labourers in FSDs Leh and Kargil have been accorded temporary status subject to certain terms and conditions laid down in the order under challenge.
The petitioners claim that they are entitled to be brought on permanent establishment in the same manner in which the other employees have been regularized and brought on the permanent establishment of FCI.
While granting temporary status to these casual employees the FCI along with other condition sought a written undertaking by each of the worker before grant of the benefit of the scheme that no claim for regularization and arrears for the prior work done be filed in any legal forum or FCI and any court case which is pending in the any court is to be withdrawn before extending the benefit of the scheme to the casual labour
Court has held the said condition as bad in the eyes of law and directed the same shall be deemed to have been deleted from the impugned order. Court said otherwise also, the aforesaid condition has outlived its utility and has not been pressed into service by the respondent-FCI to deny the petitioners any right, nor shall the petitioners be liable for any action for filing the instant petitions or in future to enforce their rights in breach of offending the said condition as laid in the impugned order.
Court recorded that the employer cannot impose conditions of employment which have the effect of taking away the right of its employees to seek judicial review of the actions of the employer.
Right to seek judicial review, court added, is a vital right conferred by the Constitution and any terms and conditions of employment taking away this right, which restrain a person to seek legal remedies for enforcement of his rights are null and void.
Court added that the said condition debarring the petitioners and other beneficiaries of the impugned order from taking recourse to litigation for seeking their regularization and arrears etc., is not sustainable in law.
The court passed these observations in two petitions filed by the casual labourers challenging the order of Area Manager, Food Corporation of India (FCI) whereby the casual workers including the petitioners, who were conferred temporary status shall not be brought on permanent payroll and shall not become employees of the FCI unless policy of regularization or permanent absorption is issued by the FCI in future on the ground that it took away their right of seeking a judicial review.
While declining any intervention, the court noted that the petitioners approached the court after the gap of five years and that the petitioners along with other casual employees of FCI got the benefits envisaged under the impugned order and worked in that capacity for almost five years without any objection or demur as the aggrieved employees have not been able to bring to the notice of the court any representation or protest petition filed by them against the impugned order.
It was only in the year 2021, they and other employees woke up from the slumber and issued a legal notice through their counsel to the FCI on July 26, 2021. “This notice was obviously issued as a run up to the filing of instant petition and to come out of the delay and laches,” the bench recorded.