Good news for Anganwadi Workers, Helpers in Jammu & Kashmir

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The State High Court today directed the Government to regularize the services of Anganwadi workers terminated by the Government.

Justice Tashi Rabstan, in a major relief to hundreds of Anganwadi workers, allowed all the 94 petitions filed by them challenging their order of disengagement from their services, directed the Government to extend the benefit of SRO 520 to the petitioners and consider them for regularization of their services against the positions of Anganwadi workers/helpers in terms of the eligibility conditions as contained in Rule 4 of Rules of 2017 of the said SRO.

Court also directed the authorities to give them the effect of regularization from the date each one of them has completed ten years of service as Anganwadi Worker/Helper. “While considering the case of petitioners herein for regularization of their services, the respondents would also take into consideration the policy decision taken by them in the minutes of the meeting held on 27.08.2010 under the chairpersonship of the then Minister for Social Welfare Department, for regularizing the services of those Anganwadi workers who have attained minimum period of three years”, Justice Tashi further directed.

However, court put a condition that in case any of the petitioners do not fulfill the required norms for regularization as on 17.03.2015 in terms of the eligibility conditions of Rules of 2017, in such eventt hey shall be permitted to work as Anganwadi workers/helpers till regular selection is made.

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Court also directed the authorities to forthwith release the unpaid wages in favour of petitioners, if not already released and directed to comply with the directions, within a period of eight weeks from today and a compliance report to this effect be filed before the Registry of this Court.

Petitioners through the medium of these petitions, were seeking quashing of the order issued by Mission Director, ICDS, J&K, whereby engagements of all stop gap/adhoc Anganwadi workers and helpers had been terminated with immediate effect.

The petitioners were also sought a direction to the respondents to allow them to discharge their duties against the posts of Anganwadi Workers and Helpers and also regularize their services on the analogy of similarly situated persons of various other departments of the State Government including the Power Development Department.

Petitioners pleaded before the Court that they being qualified came to be engaged as Anganwadi workers/helpers on different dates ranging from 1989 for a specific period and thereafter vide different orders they were allowed to continue till final selection is made by the competent authority and all of a sudden, on the last day of Darbar Move when the offices at Jammu were being closed, Mission Director, ICDS, J&K issued order terminating the engagements of all stop gap/adhoc Anganwadi workers and helpers with immediate effect constraining the petitioners to knock the doors of the court.

Court said petitioners in the present cases have been engaged on adhoc basis and allowed to continue to work as Anganwadi workers and helpers and continuation of petitioners to work so, for more than 10 years and even in some cases more than 15 to 20 years, has created an interest, legal right and claim, as also generated job security in them inasmuch as they, almost, have crossed maximum age limit prescribed for seeking employment elsewhere much less quest for greener pastures.

Court added that the Mission Director, ICDS, J&K, with single stroke of pen terminated the engagement of all stop gap/ad hoc Anganwadi Workers/Helpers with immediate effect vide order impugned without verifying the case of each and every petitioner to know whether any one of them has been engaged as per eligibility criteria or not.

Court reiterated in the judgment that court during the pendency of these petitions has been informed that in the minutes of the meeting held on 27.08.2010 under the chairpersonship of the Minister for
Social Welfare, it was decided that the Anganwadi workers, who have attained minimum period of three years and also fulfilling the eligibility norms, besides have rendered their services to the satisfaction of department, shall be absorbed as regular Anganwadi workers but what happened thereafter is not forthcoming.