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Financial stringency is not a ground to deprive the daily wagers of their right for regularization: The Supreme Court of India

This 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. Similar footsteps were followed by the Supreme Court in the case of Vice Chancellor Anand Agriculture University v. Kanubhai Nanubhai Vaghela and Anr. [Civil Appeal No. 4444 of 2021] which was adjudicated upon by a single judge bench comprising Justice L. Nageswara Rao on 26 July 2021.

The facts of the case are as follows. The appellant university engaged daily wagers at different agricultural research centers who are skilled, semi- skilled, unskilled and field labourers. The daily-wage workers have been working as plumbers, carpenters, sweepers, pump operators, helpers, masons etc. An industrial dispute was raised by the daily wagers seeking regularization of their services. The Industrial Tribunal, Rajkot 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 allowances along with other benefits of the permanent Class IV employees. The writ petition filed by the appellant against the judgment of the industrial tribunal was partly allowed by the High Court. The judgment of the industrial tribunal was set aside 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. The Letter Patent Appeal filed by the management was dismissed. 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. This 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. While considering the point related to the absorption of all the daily wagers at one point of time or in a phased manner, this Court observed that regularization can be made phase wise.

The court perused the facts and arguments presented. it was of the opinion that “The Division Bench of the High Court 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. There is no error in the Judgment of the High Court which warrants interference by this Court. Eligible daily wagers in accordance with the scheme have been eagerly awaiting regularization as per the judgment of this Court in Gujarat Agricultural University’s case (supra). The right of the respondents for regularization has been correctly recognized by the High Court.”

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