Ineligible beneficiaries exploited loopholes to get favourable court orders

Concerned over the “backdoor entry of a large number” of persons, the State government has decided not to regularise the services of those full-time daily wage employees who completed 10 years of service after January 1, 2006.

A government order, issued by Chief Secretary Sheela Balakrishnan on June 27, acknowledged that there had been “improper implementation” of the regularisation scheme devised in February 2006, resulting in a huge financial commitment that ran into “several crores of rupees” to the exchequer. This defeated the purpose for which the scheme had been drafted. 

To arrest the “improper implementation” of the scheme, the government had decided to lay down “fresh modalities” to govern the regularisation of the services of full-time daily wage employees.

According to the regularisation scheme of 2006, the services of daily wage employees working in all government departments who completed 10 years of service as on January 1, 2006 would be regularised, subject to fulfilling other conditions. But, in practice, a number of deviations had taken place while implementing the scheme. Listing the deviations, the latest order stated that the benefit of the scheme, meant for full-time daily wage employees, had been extended to part-time employees and those who were recruited outside the ambit of the employment exchange or open competition examination. The regularisation of the services was made from the date of initial appointment, not prospectively. As a result, the monetary and other service benefits were allowed retrospectively. Rules relating to educational qualification and the mode of recruitment were also relaxed. And, what was more significant was that the services of daily wage employees, appointed even after January 1, 1996, were also regularised, invoking the 2006 government order.

A senior official, who played a role in getting the latest order issued, said no consolidated data were available with regard to the number of ineligible persons who got their services regularised in the last seven years.  The benefit of regularisation went to those who belonged to Group ‘D,’ the lowest rung in the administration. The official added that many ineligible employees got favourable orders from the Madras High Court and in many cases, the failure of compliance with the court orders led to contempt of court proceedings. 

An analysis of the handling of such cases by various departments revealed that the orders were passed either because counter affidavits were not filed promptly or facts and rules not presented comprehensively or appeals not filed in time. When some individuals, ineligible for the benefit of regularisation got it through the legal recourse, similarly-placed persons managed to secure the benefit, citing the case of the other category of employees.  In some cases, the amount of arrears was in the range of Rs. 15 lakh to Rs. 20 lakh, the official said, adding that if this trend were to continue, the government would find itself in a “precarious financial position” soon.

Among the departments which have seen a considerable number of cases of regularisation are School Education, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, Municipal Administration and Water Supply, Forests, Highways and Public Works.

In March this year, the Madurai Bench of the High Court held all casual and daily wage labourers who had served in government establishments and local bodies for a period of 10 years were entitled for regularisation in service, irrespective of the year in which they had completed the stipulated service period. Last month, in Chennai, members of the Public Works Department Workers’ Welfare Union observed a fast., demanding that the government regularise daily wage workers employed by the Chennai Corporation.  According to the union, there were about 1,200 daily wage workers whose services were yet to be regularised.

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