KOCHI: The High Court on Monday directed the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) to relieve the empanelled drivers, who were allowed to continue beyond 180 days, on or before April 30. A Division Bench comprising Justice V Chitambaresh and Justice AM Babu also cautioned the KSRTC it shall not operate with empanelled drivers when the candidates, who have been kept on the tenterhooks, in the rank list of the PSC are eager and willing to join duty if advised for appointment.
The court passed the order while disposing of a batch petition filed by candidates seeking a directive to appoint drivers from the PSC rank list. The court had earlier directed to relieve empanelled conductors, who were overstaying beyond 180 days. The KSRTC was free to request the PSC to advise candidates from the rank list for the vacancies already reported if it so desires and the appointment, if any, shall be in accordance with the seniority in advice.
“It is not as if KSRTC is unaware of the law though a conscious attempt is made by them often to appease the trade union by permitting empanelled employees to cling on,” observed the Bench.It said empanelled drivers were allowed to continue even after the expiry of 180 days in violation of Rule 9(2) of Part II of KS and SSR.
The order stated that the expiry of the rank list of the PSC dated August 23, 2012, was immaterial since it was conceded that 2455 vacancies in the post of drivers were reported by the KSRTC to the PSC much before the expiry of the rank list on December 31, 2016, pursuant to an interim order in 2015. It was the discretion of the KSRTC whether to fill up the existing vacancies or not.
But the empanelled drivers, about 1565 in number, could not be permitted to overstay in the post denying an opportunity to the KSRTC to request the PSC to advise the candidates for the vacancies already reported.The Bench made it clear that the relieving of the empanelled drivers shall not affect their claim for regularisation, if any, pending before various forums.
I was shocked (with the HC verdict). I have worked with utmost sincerity even though we were treated as second grade workers. We won’t even have a chance to find some other daily wage work. We are all looking forward to the government’s action and hoping that we won’t be left to fend for ourselves
-Anil Kumar, 46, of Karette, T’Puram
This job has been my only mode of income for the past 13 years. At this age no one would even hire me for another job. I am looking for a miracle or mercy
-Satheesh Babu, 53, Mariyapuram, T’Puram
We are looking at all the options and the legal side is being discussed. We will have a solution by the deadline given by the court
-MP Dinesh, MD, KSRTC
A new exam will have to be conducted. The drivers require a month training period, health and fitness tests and other steps before they can proceed to be full time employees. KSRTC is going to bear the brunt of this
-Pradeep Sreedhar, president, Kerala State Transport Employees’ Union