The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ordered regularisation of services of an 84-year-old woman at a Punjab government school. The woman has been working as a part time ‘kuhar’ since 1977 at a school in Sangrur district. ‘Kuhar’, according to Shanti Devi’s counsel, is a person appointed to serve water and perform other menial tasks. “In accordance with the state government policy, her services will now be regularised as a sweeper,” her lawyer Charanpal Singh Bagri said.
The High Court also ordered regularisation of services of a 48-year-old woman, who has been working as a sweeper at another school since 1993. The two women had approached the High Court in 2014.
“After perusing the records and in view of the age of the petitioners, who are working in their respective schools from the last 21 to 35 years and still continuing in services, which are perennial in nature, the present petition is disposed of with a direction to the respondents to regularise the services,” the order reads.
According to the case details, Shanti Devi has been working at Government Senior Secondary School, Khanori Kalan since October 1977. According to her Aadhaar card, her date of birth is January 01, 1934. Her counsels Charanpal Singh Bagri and Gurjit Kaur Bagri pleaded in the High Court that she has continued to work in the school due to extreme poverty and the school is in need of a full-time employee on the post.
“The petitioners are having good moral character and continuous attendance above 80 per cent since the time of their appointment,” the counsel had submitted. The state government had contended that she has already attained the age of superannuation in December 1989 and until that year, her turn for regularisation of services had not come as per the seniority position defined in the policy.
However, Justice Jitendra Chauhan in the judgment said that Shanti had put in more than 12 years of service by the time she had reached the age of superannuation and as she is continuing her services, she cannot be denied her legitimate claim. “Since the petitioners are working for the past 21 to 35 years in their respective schools, it is manifest that there is requirement of the posts. The stand taken by the sate that a number of similarly situated persons are still awaiting regularisation of their services for want of vacancies, cannot be accepted as gospel truth,” the order reads. Shanti’s salary at present is Rs 2,250 per month and till 2012 it was only Rs 1,850 per month.
Advocate Charanpal Singh Bagri told The Indian Express on Thursday that they were waiting for the verdict since July as the court had reserved it and it was made available on Wednesday.