Vice Chancellor Anand … vs Kanubhai Nanubhai Vaghela on 26 July, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Vice Chancellor Anand … vs Kanubhai Nanubhai Vaghela on 26 July, 2021

Author: L. Nageswara Rao

Bench: L. Nageswara Rao, Aniruddha Bose

                                               Non-Reportable

         IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
           CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

             Civil Appeal No. 4443 of 2021
       (Arising out of SLP (C) No.12171 of 2019)

Vice Chancellor Anand Agriculture University

                                           .... Appellant(s)
                            Versus

Kanubhai Nanubhai Vaghela and Anr.

                                        …. Respondent (s)
                             WITH

            Civil Appeal No. 4444 of 2021
(@ SLP (C) No. 11429 of 2021 @ Diary No.3021 of 2019)

              Civil Appeal No. 4445 of 2021
              (@ SLP (C) No.15957 of 2019)


                       JUDGMENT

L. NAGESWARA RAO, J.

Leave granted.

1. The point that arises for consideration in these appeals

is whether the daily wagers/respondents are entitled for

regularization of their services.

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2. The appellant university engaged daily wagers at

different agricultural research centers who are skilled, semi-

skilled, unskilled and field labourers. The daily-wage workers

have been working as plumbers, carpenters, sweepers, pump

operators, helpers, masons etc. An industrial dispute was

raised by the daily wagers seeking regularization of their

services. The Industrial Tribunal, Rajkot directed the

appellant to regularize the services of all the daily-rated

labourers who have completed 10 years of service as on

01.01.1993 with pay and allowances along with other

benefits of the permanent Class IV employees. The writ

petition filed by the appellant against the judgment of the

industrial tribunal was partly allowed by the High Court. The

judgment of the industrial tribunal was set aside and the

appellant was directed to make payment to the workmen at

the minimum of the pay scale and to frame a scheme for

regularization of such daily-rated labourers. The Letter

Patent Appeal filed by the management was dismissed.

During the pendency of the appeal filed against the

judgment of the High Court by the appellant, a scheme for

regularization of daily-rated labourers of Gujarat Agricultural

University was framed.

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3. According to the scheme, all daily wagers who have

completed 10 years or more of continuous service with a

minimum of 240 days in each calendar year as on

31.12.1999 shall be regularized as regular employees with

effect from 01.01.2000 and shall be placed in the time-scale

of pay applicable to the corresponding lowest grade in the

university subject to certain terms and conditions. One of

the conditions is that the daily-rated wagers shall be eligible

and must possess the prescribed qualification for the posts at

the time of their appointment on daily-rated basis. It was

proposed in the scheme that the regularization will be

against the posts/vacancies of the relevant categories. The

daily-wage employees shall be regularized in a phased

manner to the extent of available regular sanctioned

posts/vacancies on the date of regularization and on the

basis of seniority-cum-suitability including physical fitness.

Such of those daily wagers who have completed 10 years of

continuous service with a minimum of 240 days in each

calendar year as on 31.12.1999 but could not be regularized

shall be treated as monthly rated employees w.e.f.

01.01.2000 in the fixed pay without allowances.

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4. The appeal filed by the university against the judgment

of the High Court was disposed of by a judgment dated

18.01.2001 in Gujarat Agricultural University vs.

Rathod Labhu Bechar & Ors.1 It was argued on behalf of

the appellant therein that it would not be possible for the

university to grant permanency to all its employees working

as daily-rated workers, who have completed 10 years of

service as on 01.01.1993. Therefore, the scheme proposed

granting permanent status to all such employees who have

completed 10 years or more of continuous service with a

minimum of 240 days as on 31.12.1999. It was further

contended by the university that daily wagers are not

entitled to get the minimum wages of Class IV employees of

the State.

5. An argument was advanced in the aforementioned

appeal before this Court that all the daily wagers cannot be

regularized or minimum pay scale cannot be given in view of

the financial constraints. It was brought to the notice of this

Court that there were 5100 daily-rated labourers. This Court

rejected the said submission and observed that financial

stringency is not a ground to deprive the daily wagers of

their right for regularization in accordance to the scheme.

1 (2001) 3 SCC 574

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6. After considering the proposed scheme, this Court

accepted the submission on behalf of the daily wagers that

prescription of certain qualifications to be fulfilled at the time

of appointment as a condition for regularization was not

justified. This Court observed that it would not be

appropriate to disqualify the daily wagers on the ground that

they did not fulfill the prescribed eligibility criteria on the

date when they were engaged initially as daily wagers. While

considering the point related to the absorption of all the daily

wagers at one point of time or in a phased manner, this

Court observed that regularization can be made phase wise.

It was made clear that posts should be created to absorb

maximum number of workers who have completed 10 years

as on 31.12.2000. The scheme proposed by the university

was approved by this Court subject to certain modifications

suggested. The additional regular posts required to be

created by the university was directed to be done

expeditiously. The first phase of absorption was directed to

be completed within a period of 3 months and the scheme to

be implemented expeditiously.

7. During the course of hearing, we were informed that

the State Government passed a resolution on 01.04.2002

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creating 890 posts for absorption of daily wagers in the

university. It has also been brought to the notice of this

Court that the State Government dissolved the erstwhile

Gujarat Agricultural University in 2004 and constituted four

new agricultural universities. The petitioner is one of the

four agricultural universities. There are 740 daily wagers

working in the university.

8. The respondents/daily wagers in these appeals filed

writ petitions in the High Court of Gujarat seeking

regularization in accordance with the scheme floated by the

State of Gujarat and approved by this Court. The contentions

of the petitioners in the writ petitions was that they were

working in Class IV posts and they were eligible to be

absorbed in accordance with the scheme. Though a number

of colleagues of the respondents/daily wagers were given the

benefit of regularization of their services, they were denied

the same.

9. Writ petitions filed by the daily wagers were allowed by

a common judgment of the High Court of Gujarat on

13.03.2018. The appellant university was directed to treat

the respondents as permanent employees from the date they

have completed 10 years of service as daily wagers. The

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appeal filed by the appellant was dismissed by the Division

Bench of the High Court of Gujarat affirming the direction of

the learned single judge to regularize the services of

respondents/daily wagers.

10. At the time of issuance of notice, we were informed by

the learned senior counsel, appearing for the appellant that

the benefits given to the respondents by the judgment of the

High Court will not be withdrawn. We make it clear that the

regularization of the services of respondents shall not be

disturbed.

11. We have heard Mr. P.S. Patwalia, learned senior counsel

for the university and Mr. Nachiketa Joshi, learned counsel for

the respondents. The main contention of the university is

that after the judgment of this Court in Secretary, State of

Karnataka and Ors. vs. Umadevi and Ors. 2, the

respondents are not entitled for regularization as there are

no sanctioned posts available. Another submission made on

behalf of the appellant is that the judgment of this Court

dated 18.01.2001 in Gujarat Agricultural University

(supra) does not survive after the judgment of this Court in

Uma Devi. It is no doubt true that in Umadevi’s case, it

has been held that regularization as a one-time measure can

2 (2006) 4 SCC 1

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only be in respect of those who were irregularly appointed

and have worked for 10 years or more in duly sanctioned

posts. However, in the instant case the respondents are

covered by the judgment of this Court in Gujarat

Agricultural University (supra). This Court approved the

proposed scheme of the State of Gujarat and directed

regularization of all those daily wagers who were eligible in

accordance with the scheme phase-wise. The right to be

regularized in accordance with the scheme continues till all

the eligible daily-wagers are absorbed. Creation of additional

posts for absorption was staggered by this Court permitting

the appellant and the State of Gujarat to implement the

scheme phase-wise. We are not impressed with the

submissions made on behalf of the university that the

judgment of this Court in Umadevi’s case overruled the

judgment in Gujarat Agricultural University (supra). The

judgment of this Court in Gujarat Agricultural University

(supra) inter partes has become final and is binding on the

university. Even according to Para 54 of Uma Devi’s case,

any judgment which is contrary to the principles settled in

Umadevi shall be denuded of status as precedent. This

observation at Para 54 in Umadevi’s case does not absolve

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the university of its duty to comply with the directions of this

Court in Gujarat Agricultural University (supra).

12. It was brought to the notice of this Court by Mr. P.S.

Patwalia, learned senior counsel for the university that 890

posts were created coterminous with the services of those

daily wagers who have been absorbed in those posts. He

made a valiant effort to impress upon this Court that no

further posts have been created and therefore, the remaining

daily wagers cannot claim regularization of their services.

Creation of 890 posts is by way of implementation of the

directions given by this Court in Gujarat Agricultural

University (supra) at the first stage. There is no ambiguity

in the directions given by this Court in Gujarat Agricultural

University (supra) that the obligation on the part of the

university to implement the scheme by regularizing all the

eligible daily wagers continued.

13. By an order dated 17.10.2011, persons similarly

situated to the respondents were absorbed by being given

the benefit of regularization. The Division Bench of the High

Court has taken note of the discriminatory approach of the

university in conferring the benefit of regularization to some

and not to all those daily wagers who are eligible. There is

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no error in the Judgment of the High Court which warrants

interference by this Court. Eligible daily wagers in

accordance with the scheme have been eagerly awaiting

regularization as per the judgment of this Court in Gujarat

Agricultural University’s case (supra). The right of the

respondents for regularization has been correctly recognized

by the High Court.

14. For the aforementioned reasons, the appeals are

dismissed.

……………………………….J.
[ L. NAGESWARA RAO ]

……………………………….J.

[ ANIRUDDHA BOSE ]

New Delhi,
July 26, 2021.

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