Contractual workers ‘can’t be regularised’

By Hasnaat Malik
Published in The Express Tribune on August 01, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The top court has reiterated that the contractual employees in the relation of master and servant had no vested right to seek regularisation without any statutory backing.

“Contractual employees have no vested right to regularisation, but their regularisation may be considered subject to the fitness, suitability and the applicable laws, rules and regulations of the department,” read an eight-page judgment authored by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar.

A three-judge bench of the apex court led Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial has adjudicated as to whether or not the petitioner, being a contractual employee, had any vested right for regularisation or absorption in the newly created cell.

Besides, it also decided whether or not a certain length of contractual services could be considered to give rise to a legitimate right to be permanently absorbed.

The court referred to judgments wherein it was held that there was no vested right to seek regularisation for employees hired on contractual basis unless there was a legal and statutory basis for the purpose.

“In the case of Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Workers Welfare Board through Chairman Vs Raheel Ali Gohar and others (2020 SCMR 2068), this court held that contractual employees have no automatic right to be regularised unless the same has specifically been provided for in the law,” the verdict added.

In 2013, the court had held that contractual employees had no right to be regularised until there was a law provided to that effect.

“They have to serve till the pleasure of their master and, in case of any wrongful termination, they cannot seek reinstatement. At the best, they can only have the compensation for the wrongful termination by applying to the competent court of law,” the SC order read.

“Whereas in the case of Chairman NADRA [National Database and Registration Authority], Islamabad, through Chairman, Islamabad and another Vs Muhammad Ali Shah and others (2017 SCMR 1979), it was held that till such time that the employees were regularised they would continue to be governed by the terms and conditions of the contract which they had with NADRA. The writ or constitutional jurisdiction of the high court under Article 199 of the Constitution could not be invoked by a contractual employee of a statutory organisation, such as NADRA,” the judgment read.

“This court in a number of cases has held that temporary/contract/project employees have no vested right to claim regularisation. The direction for regularisation, absorption or permanent continuance cannot be issued unless the employee claiming regularisation had been appointed in pursuance of a regular recruitment in accordance with relevant rules and against the sanctioned vacant posts, which admittedly is not the case before us,” it added.

The SC further observed that where a contractual employees wished to be regularised, they must demonstrate statutory basis for such a claim, in the absence of which, relief could not be granted solely on the principle of “similarly placed persons”.

The court noted that for the newly created cell, posts were advertised on February 18, 2007.

It added that the petitioner had applied in the new recruitment process but was found to be overage but he never applied for age relaxation to the competent authority as per rules.

The SC noted that the directions for regularisation could not be issued unless the employee was appointed in accordance with the relevant rules and against the regular sanctioned vacant posts.

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