Calcutta HC quashes ISI’s decision to outsource services of Contractual employees

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Mitali Palnitkar

Published On: January 15, 2022 at 14:53 IST

On January 14, 2022, the Indian Statistical Institute’s (ISI) decision of outsourcing the services rendered by few contractual employees working as gardeners since 2013 to a government contractor was quashed by the Calcutta High Court.

Advocates Raghunath Chakraborty and Tanusree Das appeared for the Petitioners. Advocate Debapriya Gupta appeared for the State.

The Petitioners worked as gardeners at ISI and were hired as contractual employees in 2013. Later, their services were outsourced to Kalpatru Enterprise instead of ISI. The recruitment policy was also changed. Earlier, it granted extension of contract till age of 59 is attained after physical and medical tests. Later, an employment for one year of service period was only granted.

On January 3, 2022, a resolution was passed which ordered that the contractual employees shall not be pushed to a Government contractor from the ISI administration under any circumstances. This resolution was set aside by the Court.

The Government’s interference in the functioning of an autonomous institution like ISI was disapproved by Justice Abhijit Gangopadhyay. He stated that though the government provided money to the autonomous institutions, it shall not interfere with the administrative functions.

The Court directed the ISI to grant permanent employee status to the Petitioners. It stated, “ISI should consider with sincerity about giving permanent employee status to the petitioners as artificial breaks were given in their contractual periods from 2013 to 2021.”

The Court observed that the modified recruitment policy brought prejudice to the interest of Petitioners as the decision was taken without their consent. Article 21 of Constitution granted them the status and prestige as a human being.

In the January 3 resolution, the decision of outsourcing the job for which Petitioners were recruited had been taken. To this, the Court remarked, “High handedness is no substitute for reasoning. In an autonomous institution no government officer can dictate terms as if standing on a higher pedestal as has been done by some Government Officers in the meeting dated 03-01-2022.”

The Court also observed that the breaks given in the service of Petitioners was ‘wholly artificial to save the rigour of law’. This was because though the nature of job was contractual, the duties they performed were perennial in nature.

The Court finally ruled that the Petitioners shall continue to work under the ISI administration. Their services shall not be terminated without following the previous recruitment policy of conducting physical and medical tests, under any circumstances.

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