Renewal of job contract not a matter of right: HC : The Tribune India

Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5

In a significant judgment on retrenchment, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that a contractual or temporary employee cannot claim protection against termination unless the action taken by the authority concerned is shown to be vitiated by infirmities.

Elaborating, the Bench of Justice Jaswant Singh and Justice Sant Parkash ruled that the action should not have an element of illegality, perversity, unreasonableness, unfairness or irrationality and should not be “demonstrably defiant of logic”.

The Bench asserted that renewal of contract could not be sought by a temporary or contractual employee as a matter of right and it depended upon the perception of the management “as to the usefulness of the employee and the need for an incumbent on the position held by such an employee”.

The Bench also ruled that the principle of “last come first go” was not applicable to a case where the employee’s initial appointment was against public policy or the employer found his work and conduct unsatisfactory.

The Bench further ruled that the services of an employee paled into insignificance and could be terminated in accordance with the terms and conditions in case his work and conduct was found to be unsatisfactory even though he was a senior.

The ruling came on an appeal by four data entry operators in the office of the Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran since 2018 and 2019. Their counsel contended that their services had been wrongly dispensed with by ignoring the principle of “last come first go” as some of their juniors were still working in the department.

The matter was placed before the Division Bench after their counsel submitted that the single Judge had wrongly relegated them under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, on the grounds that they did not come within the definition of “workmen”.

Dismissing the petition, the Bench observed that the writ petitioners were appointed without advertisement or public notice. The Bench noted that their entry was per se illegal and consequently, the authority concerned was well within its right to dispense with their services. “Since the initial appointment of the appellants was against public policy, their services were rightly terminated by the respondent-employer,” the Bench concluded.

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