26 Jul 2121
Case : Vice Chancellor Anand Agriculture University v. Kanubhai Nanubhai Vaghela & Anr. Civil Appeal No. 4443 of 2021 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 12171 of 2019)
Court : Supreme Court of India
Bench : Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice Aniruddha Bose
Decided on : 26 Jul 2121
Brief Facts and Procedural History
1. The appellant (Vice-Chancellor Anand Agriculture University) had engaged daily wagers at different agricultural research centres who are skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled and field labourers. The daily wagers were working as carpenters, plumbers, sweepers, pump operators, helpers, mason etc.
2. An industrial dispute arose when these daily wagers started asking for regularization of their services and the dispute went to the Industrial Tribunal. The Industrial Tribunal directed the appellant to regularize the services of all the daily rated labourers who have completed 10 years of service as on 01.01.1993 with pay and allowance along with the other benefits of the permanent Class 4 employees.
3. The appellant filed a writ petition in the High Court of Gujarat against the decision of the Industrial Tribunal. The High Court of Gujarat set aside the judgment of the industrial tribunal and the appellant was directed to make payment to the workmen at the minimum of the pay scale and to frame a scheme for regularization of such daily-rated labourers.
4. The Letter Patent Appeal (appeal to the larger bench of the same court which has given decision i.e High Court of Gujarat in this case) filed by the appellant’s management was dismissed.
5. The appellant then filed an appeal in Supreme Court in the case Gujarat Agricultural University vs. Rathod Labhu Bechar & Ors, SLP © No. of 2001 (CC No. 2360). However, during the pendency of the appeal filed against the judgment of the High Court by the appellant, a scheme for regularization of daily-rated labourers of Gujarat Agricultural University was framed.
6. According to the scheme by Gujarat Agricultural university, all daily wagers who have completed 10 years or more of continuous service with a minimum of 240 days in each calendar year as of 31.12.1999 shall be regularized as regular employees with effect from 01.01.2000 and shall be placed in the time-scale of pay applicable to the corresponding lowest grade in the university subject to certain terms and conditions. The scheme stipulated necessary qualifications, seniority criteria, regularization in a phased manner.
7. The appellant applied Special Leave Petition to the Supreme Court against the dismissal of the Letter Patent Appeal by the High Court of Gujarat. The Supreme Court disposed of off Special Leave Petition filed by the Appellant.
The Issue of the Case
Whether the daily wagers/respondents are entitled to regularization of their services?
The Observations of the Court
1. The Honourable Supreme Court observed that it would not be appropriate to disqualify the daily wagers on the ground that they did not fulfil the prescribed eligibility criteria on the date when they were engaged initially as daily wagers.
2. The Honourable Supreme Court observed in the instant case that the respondents are covered by the judgment of Supreme Court in Gujarat Agricultural University vs. Rathod Labhu Bechar & Ors, SLP © No. of 2001 (CC No. 2360). The Supreme Court approved the proposed scheme of the State of Gujarat and directed regularization of all those daily wagers who were eligible in accordance with the scheme phase-wise. The right to be regularized in accordance with the scheme continues till all the eligible daily wagers are absorbed. The creation of additional posts for absorption was staggered by this Court permitting the appellant and the State of Gujarat to implement the scheme phase-wise.
Decision Held by the Court
The Honourable Supreme Court upheld the decision by the Division Bench of the High Court of Gujarat which has taken note of the discriminatory approach of the university in conferring the benefit of regularization to some and not to all those daily wagers who are eligible and there is no error in the High Court’s judgement.
The Honourable Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.