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Explained: What is the Kerala PSC row that has triggered protests across the state?

The trigger for the protests is the regularisation of hundreds of temporary employees, with most of them allegedly having links with the ruling CPI(M), in various government departments, self-governing bodies and state-run corporations.

Written by Shaju Philip , Edited by Explained Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: February 11, 2021 9:01:36 am
Kerala has 5.28 lakh state government employees with 20,000-odd retiring every year.

Thousands of youths, including Public Service Commission (PSC) rank holders, have hit the streets across Kerala demanding government jobs. The trigger for the protests is the regularisation of hundreds of temporary employees, with most of them allegedly having links with the ruling CPI(M), in various government departments, self-governing bodies and state-run corporations.

Why are Kerala PSC rank holders protesting?

The sudden surge in regularisation of temporary workers, in the final lap of the present LDF regime, is at the cost of lakhs of job aspirants who are in various rank lists of the PSC, the state recruitment board.

Many government departments made temporary appointments even when rank lists prepared by PSC were alive. Besides, there are several state-run corporations and self-governing bodies, which have made their own appointments without bringing selection to such bodies under the ambit of PSC. A rough estimate shows that 1.50 lakh have been appointed on temporary basis in various government departments and entities.

How are government posts filled?

Kerala has 5.28 lakh state government employees with 20,000-odd retiring every year. When an existing government post falls vacant, the department concerned has to absorb the eligible person from the rank list prepared by the PSC. If no valid rank list is live, the departments can recruit temporary hands from state employment exchanges in all districts, which have 34 lakh youths registered for government jobs. At the same time, the vacancy has to be alerted to PSC, which, in turn, would initiate a recruitment process. Most often, these mandatory and legal options are bypassed, and vacancies are filled with nominees of ruling political parties on a temporary basis. Sometimes, the departments also do not promptly report vacancies to PSC.

Are temporary appointments common?

Yes. The duration of temporary appointments to various government departments is extended from time to time so as to ensure that nominees of political leaders remain in service. After a temporary staff remains in service for five to ten years, they then make claims for regularisation on humanitarian grounds. In fact, pointing out their long service as temporary staff, they sometimes move court seeking regularisation of their appointments, making the normal selection process complex.

As long temporary employees remain in service, the appointment of those in the PSC rank lists remains in abeyance, often getting expired also.

In its defence, the CPI (M) pointed out that the previous Congress regime had resorted to “illegal temporary appointments and had regularised a chunk of such appointments”. The government said the previous UDF government had regularised 5,910 persons. The government also said that during the last five years, 1.57 lakh persons had been issued advice memo for (jobs) as against the figure of 1.15 lakh during the UDF regime.

What is the Kerala government’s stand?

The state government insists there was no political consideration in regularisation of temporary staff. While it also claims that only those who have completed 10 years in service are being regularised on humanitarian grounds, however, this is not the case in many departments.

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Besides, the government said all those figures in a PSC rank list would not get jobs as the list would have five-fold names than the real number of vacancies. For every 20 vacancies, there would be a rank list of 100 persons.

Is regularisation a violation of the SC directive?

Yes. In the State of Karnataka vs Uma Devi and others, the Supreme Court in 2006 had stated that “equality of opportunity is the hallmark, and the Constitution has also provided affirmative action to ensure that unequals are not treated equals”.

The 2006 judgment also stated that “regular process of recruitment or appointment has to be resorted to, where regular vacancies or posts to be filled up and the filling up of those vacancies can not be done haphazardly or based on patronage of other considerations.”

About the claim of temporary employers for a permanent job, the Supreme Court said when a person enters a temporary employment or gets engagement as a contractual or casual worker and the engagement is not based on a proper selection as recognised by the relevant rules or procedure, he is aware of the consequences of the appointment being temporary, casual or contractual in nature.

The order further reads: “Such a person cannot invoke the theory of legitimate expectation for being confirmed in the post when an appointment to the post could be made only by following a proper procedure for selection and in cases concerned, in consultation with the Public Service Commission. The State cannot constitutionally make such a promise.”

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