The Gujarat High Court on Thursday ordered an interim stay on the implementation of a specific condition in a government resolution (GR) of May 20 with respect to MGNREGA scheme. The said condition, which has been challenged by MGNREGA employees in the state, seeks to terminate employees, who were not part of a petition filed in 2014, and fill up these positions via outsourcing agencies.
The court also issued notices to the state government and other respondents such as the director of District Rural Development Agency of 12 districts and commissioner-cum-secretary of the state rural development department to respond by June 11, with respect to the condition of outsourcing.
Ashish Asthavadi, advocate for the 39 petitioners, said, “In 2014, the state government had decided to terminate the entire set of existing employees under the scheme and had sought that fresh candidates be recruited via an examination notified through an advertisement. This decision was challenged in the Gujarat High Court in 2014 by 2,407 employees out of an approximate total of 3,000 at the time. The HC, in a July 2016 order, had partially allowed their prayers and granted the petitioners to continue in the job and not be terminated.”
The May 20 GR had notified on the extension of MGNREGA scheme for the year, from January 1, 2019 until November 30, 2019, subject to three conditions. While the first condition allows, “the 2,407 MGNREGA scheme employees who were part of the 2014 petition, to continue with their employment under the scheme,” through renewal of the contract, the second condition states that “those MGNREGA employees, who were not part of the petition, will be terminated and the vacancy will be filled via outsourcing agencies.”
“At present, there are 2,799 employees under the scheme, out of which 2,407 is protected by the order passed in 2014. However, the employment guarantee under the scheme for the remaining 372 are endangered by the second condition imposed in the GR. They can’t demarcate on the basis of whether one was a petitioner in an earlier application or not,” Asthavadi said.
The present petition filed by 39 of 372 such individuals are currently employed in various capacities. They have challenged the GR calling the move “absolutely illegal and unjust.”
The petitioners have also sought that the second condition of the May 20 GR be quashed and set aside.