Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Holding that six civilian bandsmen working with the Tambaram Air Force Station were unfairly denied regular employment, the Madras High Court has directed authorities to regularise their services.

A Division Bench, comprising Justices Elipe Dharma Rao and S.R. Singharavelu, decrying “false promises” and “flimsy grounds” held out by the authorities, said: “It is clear that the respondents, in spite of being the organ of the State and expected to be the vigilant guards of the Constitution and the people and a model employer, have freely taken it for granted and violated the accrued legal rights of the petitioners, a depressed class of society, and shockingly exploited them for 25 years or so…”

While the petitioners said they had been submitting representations to the authorities to fix a pay scale for them in the Bandsmen category in the Indian Air Force, the authorities said they could not be regularised as they were not government servants and not paid from Defence Service Estimates (public fund).

The petitioners were appointed on consolidated salary and not eligible or entitled for absorption in Group D posts, to be filled under Recruitment Rules, the authorities submitted.

As the Central Administrative Tribunal too upheld the authorities’ stand, the present writ petition was preferred.

Allowing the plea, the Judges said the authorities had invented and introduced “draconian clauses,” that too after the petitioners were appointed.

Describing the stand of the IAF authorities as “unethical and unconstitutional,” the Judges said: “If really the respondents are not in need of the services of such employees, what made them employ them and extract work from them for the last 25 years or so, is a billion dollar question that remained unanswered throughout.”

Referring to the fact that the bandsmen were sent for private functions and given only 20 per cent of that income as remuneration, the Judges said the authorities treated the bandsmen as their employees.