HYDERABAD: In a setback to the Telangana government, a division bench of the High Court on Wednesday suspended the proceedings issued for absorption of outsourced persons working under private contractors of state’s power sector companies _ power distribution companies (Discoms), Transmission Corporation (Transco) and Generation Corporation (Genco) _ to fill regular posts. The state will not make any further absorptions till further orders, it noted.
“This court, prima facie, feels that absorbing 20,000-odd outsourced persons into regular posts without any selection process is violation of law and the employment has been gained through backdoor.”It, however, said their services can be continued by paying them consolidated amount as decided by the government. But these employees shall not be given any pay scales.The bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice Ramesh Ranganathan and Justice J Uma Devi, passed this interim order on a PIL filed by M Sravan Kumar, an unemployed engineering graduate from Warangal district.
The proceedings were issued to absorb outsourced persons to fill 23,699 regular posts of assistant engineers/sub-engineers down to unskilled workers in the state’s power companies, the petitioner said. The Acting CJ asked advocate-general D Prakash Reddy, who appeared for power companies, to tell how many outsourced employees had been absorbed by the government as on December 4, 2016 _ the cut-off date.
When the AG sought a day’s time to get the information, he was given time till 3.30 pm. When the hearing was resumed, the AG told the bench that 20,903 outsourced employees had been absorbed by the said date. The decision to absorb them was taken to avoid ‘exploitation’ by private contractors. These employees were divided into four categories and paid accordingly. Most of them hold engineering diplomas and degrees; more than 10 years of service; and have put in about three decades of service in the state power sector companies. They had expertise to manage the affairs of discoms. They too are working eight hours a day on a par with regular employees. Taking these aspects into consideration, the state decided to absorb them, the AG said.
Satyam Reddy, appearing for the petitioner, urged the court to issue directions to the authorities not to give pay scales and increments to the outsourced employees.The bench suspended the proceedings, saying that the move to absorb 20,000-odd outsourced employees violated Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. While allowing the government to continue with their services on consolidated pay, the bench said they cannot be treated as regular employees.
“This issue needs thorough examination and such large-scale absorption needs the scrutiny of the court. Pending adjudication, youngsters who have slogged for years will not be thrown into streets,” it said and asked the advocate-general to give details of monthly remuneration being proposed.
Asking the chief secretary, principal secretary (energy), chairmen and managing directors of discoms, transco and Genco to file counter affidavits in four weeks, the bench adjourned the case.
Absorbed staff will get L1,000 extra, says KCR
Chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has said that there was a human angle in HC verdict and the court followed the earlier Supreme Court judgement not to regularise employees to give scope to others for recruitment. ‘‘The HC court rounded off the wages proposed by TS power utilities. After discussing with energy officials, I have decided to pay I1,000 extra to all the power employees who will be absorbed,” he said.