Tamil Nadu

Madras High Court bats for home guards

The Madras High Court on Tuesday impressed upon the government the need for laying down an objective criteria for engaging some home guards (those who volunteer to assist the police) for only 10 days in a month and others, for more number of days. Since such engagement was the only source of livelihood for many volunteers, the court hoped the government would revise their daily rates whenever the salary of police personnel gets revised.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P.D. Audikesavalu made the observations while disposing of a public interest litigation petition filed by Bharatiya Janata Party,State president K. Annamalai early this year. The petitioner, a former Indian Police Service officer, had challenged a September 19, 2019 Government Order through which engagement of home guards in the State was restricted to only 10 days in a month.

After recording the submissions made by Government Counsel C. Harsha Raj that the daily rates paid to home guards were more in the nature of a honorarium than compensation since it was a completely voluntary service, the judges said: “However, in view of the lack of employment opportunities, there are several men and women who treat their engagement as home guard as their source of income and sustain their families with the income.”

Stating that the entire system required a revamp, the Bench wrote: “Though the State says that 10 days’ work is ensured for every volunteer who signs up, there does not appear to be any basis for selecting the personnel. It also does not appear that the rule of minimum of 10 days’ per month applies to all personnel since there are several home guards on regular duty, almost throughout the month. These aspects have to be rationalised by the State.”

The court stated that, at least, there must be no perception that some persons were selected for greater engagement than others unless rules and criteria were put in place in such regard. “As much as the court will not interfere in a matter of policy which has been reduced to writing in the G.O., the State should ensure that every volunteer applying for home guard duty and found eligible therefor is allotted at least 10 full days’ work per month in terms of the relevant notification or work equivalent to a total honorarium of ₹5,600 being earned per month,” it ordered.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 12:36:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madras-high-court-bats-for-home-guards/article36600546.ece

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