May 2, 2021 2:17:47 am
THE AURANGABAD bench of the Bombay High Court on Friday scrapped Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation’s (MSRTC) Kutumb Suraksha Yojana, initiated in June 2016, whereby its employees — including bus conductors — terminated on account of misappropriation, were reappointed.
The court held that reinstatement of those involved in misappropriation cases and “proved to be dishonest”, cannot be termed as a “welfare act” and if the same is allowed, it would set a “bad precedent” and may adversely affect maintenance of discipline in the organisation.
A division bench of Justice Sanjay V Gangapurwala and Justice Shrikant D Kulkarni was hearing a suo motu PIL initiated by the court in 2017 after noticing that MSRTC’s scheme was “against public interest”.
Senior counsel V D Sakpal, appearing for MSRTC, referred to its affidavit to justify the scheme as an “one-time solution” taken up on “humanitarian grounds”. He said that there are around 32,000 semi-literate bus conductors, and in most cases, the conductor is the lone family member who looks after “old parents” and “children”.
Sakpal said that if conductors are dismissed for mistakes in issuing tickets and improper calculation of the cash collected, “their entire family would come on the streets and children would lose the opportunity of education”.
Advocate S S Gangakhedkar, appointed as Amicus Curiae to assist the court, said the scheme is against public policy and the “approach of showing sympathy” would give “backdoor entry” to suspended employees.
The bench observed that the decision was “arbitrary” and did not pass the “test of reasonableness and fairness”.
“The conductor involved in a case of moral turpitude impeaches his credibility, as he has been found to have indulged in a shameful, wicked and base activity… cannot be re-employed and re-instated,” it said, adding that there must be “transparency” in decisions of a corporation.
The bench said that the scheme was introduced to reduce the burden of litigation costs.
“This cannot be allowed in the welfare state. It is necessary to strike down the impugned policy… The scheme must be thrown in the dustbin. However, those who have already been granted benefit of this scheme earlier may not be disturbed,” the HC said.
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