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KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • The Allahabad High Court has stated that when a worker is hired for a specific project, his or her services terminate after the project is over, and that such a worker cannot be given permanent status.
  • This statement was made by the Bench of Justice Siddhartha Varma, who was relying on the Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Lal Mohammad and Ors. vs. Indian Railway Construction Co. Ltd. and Ors.
  • The case held that such a worker could not be considered an employee of the company that oversaw various other projects.

BACKGROUND

  • The petitioner worked for the Indian Railway Construction International Ltd. (IRCON) for six months on a casual basis in Madhya Pradesh (in 1984), after which he was re-hired on a monthly basis with a consolidated remuneration of Rs. 196/- plus dearness allowance.
  • He was also a part of the Anpara Project in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh. He was hired on the scale of pay that was in the grade pay of Rs. 196-237/- after completing it.
  • An order dated May 29, 1998, was used to do this. The petitioner was allowed to continue for four years under this arrangement before being returned to the regular scale.
  • In 1993, the petitioner was shifted from the Vindhya Nagar Project to the Rihand Nagar Project in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh.
  • However, in 1998, the petitioner received notice that his services were no longer required as of February 1998.
  • Following that, he filed a labour dispute and requested reinstatement with back wages.
  • After the mediation proceedings failed, the Government of India referred the case to the Central Government Tribunal-cum-Labour Court in Lucknow, which issued an award on November 23, 2020, prompting the filing of this writ suit.
  • He claimed before the Court that he was given the status of a regular employee since he was given a regular employee scale with effect from April 1984, and he was additionally granted specific status in May 1986 and April 1989, and so his services could not be dispensed with.

COURT’S OBSERVATION

  • The Court began by citing the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Lal Mohammad and Ors. vs. Indian Railway Construction Co. Ltd. and Ors., in which the Court stated categorically that when a workman is hired for a specific project, his or her services end when the project is completed, and thus he or she cannot be given permanent status.
  • It should be noted that in the Lal Mohammad Case (supra), certain IRCON employees who were found to be surplus and whose services were dispensed with filed a complaint with the Allahabad High Court, but the issues were ultimately decided in favour of the respondent-company (IRCON) and against the petitioned.
  • The Employees/petitioners took their case to the Supreme Court, where the Supreme Court decided that the Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court's decision was right.
  • The Apex Court further determined that the petitioners were not entitled to be regularised in the Company's services because they were not employees.
  • The appeals were dismissed when it was determined that the petitioners were entitled to compensation.
  • In light of this, the Court rejected the writ petition, ruling that the petitioner's circumstance was comparable to that of Lal Mohammad, and that no interference was needed in the writ petition.

QUESTIONS

  • Do you agree with the court’s observation and order?
  • Do you think a workman should be allowed to claim permanent work status after the project is over?

Let us know your views on the issue in the comment section below!

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