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Abolition of posts a matter of policy: court

Wednesday 29 March 2006

Legal Correspondent

``Holders not entitled to re-employment’’

Closure of department upheld High Court ruling erroneous

New Delhi: The State Governments have the power to scrap any post and its abolition will not entail any right on the holder to re-employment or to the same post, the Supreme Court held on Thursday.

The measure of economy and the need for streamlining the administration to make it more efficient might induce a Government to alter the staffing pattern, necessitating either an increase or decrease in the number of posts or abolition of posts, said a Bench consisting of Justices H.K. Sema and A.R. Lakshmanan . The court has upheld the closure of a State Government department even though it will result in retrenchment.

Writing the judgment, Justice Lakshmanan said if a department was abolished or abandoned wholly or partially for want of funds, the court could not, by a writ of mandamus, direct the employer to continue employing the employees who were dislodged.

Society liquidated

In the instant case, the Rajasthan Government decided to abolish the Avas Vikas Sansthan (AVS) as it was incurring heavy losses and asked the Housing Board to liquidate this society. It directed that the affected employees, numbering 650 including 46 daily wage earners, be employed in vacant posts in local bodies.

A single judge of the High Court quashed the order to give them alternative employment. On appeal, a Division Bench ordered them pay protection and that their service be counted for pension and certain other benefits. Allowing a batch of appeals against this order, the Supreme Court agreed that the abolition of posts was a matter of policy and was an inherent right of the employer. "After the liquidation of the AVS for any reason, unless such liquidation is mala fide, there exists no right on the employees to re-employment."

The Bench said giving a direction to the State to re-employ the ousted employees would amount to a requisition for creation of posts, though these were not required, and funding these though the employer did not have the funds for the purpose.

Redeployment scheme

In all fairness, the Rajasthan Government had framed a scheme and offered the ousted employees jobs in local bodies. While so, High Court’s decision granting them re-employment with pay protection, seniority and pension was erroneous.

The Bench directed the Government to implement its scheme in letter and in spirit for the regular employees. It asked the State to give preference to the daily wage earners for absorption in vacancies.

See online : The Hindu

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