Uma Devi Judgment cannot be taken as providing rigid cut-off

In a significant judgment, Tripura High Court upheld the claim of 13 casual workers for regularisation in government employment.

A Division Bench comprising Hon’ble Justice Akil Kureshi and Hon’ble Justice SG Chattopadhyay directed the Tripura Government to form a committee to consider the petitioners’ claims.

The Bench held that employees who fulfil the following conditions should be regularised:-

  • Petitioners who had the necessary educational qualifications at the time of initial engagement.
  • Petitioners, who had completed ten years of engagement before the High Court granted protection to them.

Hon’ble Court observed that the 2006 judgement of the Apex Court in Secretary, State of Karnataka vs Umadevi and Ors, can’t be seen as providing a rigid cut-off.

In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that casual/ daily wage workers have no right to seek regularization; however, workers who had been working for more than ten years were regularised by the Court as a one time measure.

The State relied on the above-mentioned case law and contended that casual workers can’t be regularised after the Uma Devi judgement. The Apex Court rejected this argument and termed in contradictory as the State continued to make casual engagement even after ten years of Uma Devi judgement.

As per the Court, it is not open to the state to continue paying fixed wages for these workers when:-

  • They were engaged against sanctioned posts.
  • They have been working for a long time.
  • They have educational qualifications.
  • The work was perennial in nature.
  • They do the same work done by regular staff.

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The Court opined that casual workers could not be equated to government workers for allowance and pay. Still, as it has been clearly mentioned in State of Punjab & Ors vs Jagjit Singh & Ors, their allowance should be at the scale prescribed for the post.

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