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Editorial

The Correct Door

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By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 28, 2016 1:07 am
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The state government has again in principle agreed to do away with the so called ‘backdoor’ appointments made since June 6, 2016 the date when the government had itself issued an Office Memorandum wherein it had completely banned all types of appointment except the ones through Nagaland Public Service Commission (NPSC). This time it was made possible only after a sit-in protest was called by the Naga Student’s Federation(NSF) on December 21 and departments that were flouting the rules agreed to do away with the contract appointments made since 6/6/2016 and to fill the posts with proper procedures. The state till its Office Memorandum of 6/6/2016 had been making appointments under different names such as adhoc, contract, casual, temporary, contingency, work-charged et al. without open advertisements thereby going against the rights of those who truly deserve those jobs as laid down in the constitution.

In retrospection, the same office memo of 6/6/2016 had clearly stated that any appointments made other than through open advertisements are against the provisions of Article 14 and Article 16 of the Constitution of India as per the judgement by the Gauhati High Court in a case filed by 29 unemployed Veterinary Science Graduates against State of Nagaland & others. It went further to even cite the now landmark judgement given by the Supreme Court on contract employment in the case of Uma Devi and other versus Secretary, State of Karnataka and others. In the said order the Supreme Court had observed that ‘there is no fundamental right for those who have been employed on daily wages or temporarily or on contractual basis, to claim that they have a right to be absorbed in service… they cannot be said to be holders of a post, since, a regular appointment could be made only by making appointments consistent with the requirements of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution’. It also ruled that if any prior regularisations have been made, then it need to be reopened based on the current judgement but there should not be any more appointments by-passing the constitutional requirement and also not to regularise or make permanent those appointed without following the constitutional scheme.

In contrast, the State of Nagaland in 2008 issued an office memo that gave the State Cabinet power to regularise contract employees who have put in a minimum of 3 years of service. It is felt that the state’s department of Law and Justice should have indicated then that the office memo was against the constitution and surely a case of contempt of court. It was finally nullified after 8 years of existence by the office memo of 6/6/2016 that thenceforth made any contract appointments null and void. However it came with a rider that in cases of emergency the government departments can make contract appointments with the approval from the state cabinet. The choice of the word ‘contract’ might have been to include that it is time-bound and does not in any way open door for regularisations.

However, just two months after the previous office memo the government came out with another Office Memorandum of 11/08/2016 wherein it again instructed the departments to regularise those employed under contract for more than 3 years. Any form of protest against this latest office memo has not been done by any other civil society except ACAUT and it has terming it as a contempt of court. The current office memo in the guise of helping those who have put in many years of service or is over aged etc. is wrong since such instances have also been clearly dealt with by the Supreme Court in the Uma Devi case and similar cases thereafter. The government has every right to give weightage to those employees who have put in their service earlier on temporary basis if at all those employees have to go through the prescribed procedures of employment as required by law. So blanket regularisations by the cabinet will be going against the law and is a contempt of court.

The disclosure by ACAUT in November on the purported letter of the President of ruling NPF party to all the State Cabinet written sometime in February 2016 might throw some light on the pressures being faced by the elected representatives in the present government. He had specifically stated that the existing office memo of regularising contract employees after 3 years should not be disturbed else it will be an electoral disaster as it will change the course of a thousand plus contract employees.

Starting with ACAUT and now the NSF have all taken up this issue of ‘backdoor’ appointments in government offices though on a bit different directions. The NSF’s recent stand that all contract appointments since June 6, 2016 have to be cancelled is laudable but they should also take a step further since such a stand will ensure that the Naga public and the government accept that employment without proper procedure is against the constitution.

Do the Naga civil societies have the courage to finally show the correct door to employment in government offices ?

6113
By The Editorial Team Updated: Dec 28, 2016 1:07:07 am