1. At the outset, prayer for grant of permission under Section 4(5)(a) of the CAT(Procedure) Rules, 1987 to move this application jointly is allowed as they are seeking similar relief from the same respondents.
2. Being aggrieved with the speaking order dated 30.05.2019 (Annexure 9 of the O.A.) by which rejected the case of the applicants for appointment against the Liberalized Active Retirement Scheme for Guaranteed Employment for Safety Category Staff (in short LARSGESS), the applicants approached before this Tribunal under Section 19 of the Administrative Act, 1985 with the following reliefs:
'8.1 That the Honourable Tribunal be pleased to set aside and quash the impugned Speaking Order No. E/170/Legal Cell/NS/2122/2016 dated 30.05.2016 (Annexure-9) and praying for a direction upon the respondents.
8.2 That the Honourable Tribunal be pleased to direct the respondents to allow the applicants to go for Voluntary Retirement and to appoint their wards under the Liberalized Active Retirement Scheme for Guaranteed Employment for Safety Category Staff (for short LARSGESS Scheme).
8.3 Cost of the application.
8.4 Any other relief or reliefs as the Honourable Tribunal may be pleased to order including cost of the case'.
3. This is the second round of litigation. In the first round, nine (9) applicants including the present seven (7) applicants had filed an O.A. No. 040/00064/2016 with prayers for direction to the respondents to allow the applicants to go on voluntary retirement under LARSGESS Scheme and to call their nominated wards for screening for recruitment to the posts in the grade of PB-1. This Tribunal vide order dated 09.03.2016 disposed of the said O.A. by directing the present respondent No.2 i.e. Chief Personnel Officer, N.F. Railway, Maligaon, Guwahati to consider the prayers of the applicants in the light of the LARSGESS Scheme and adjudicate the representations dated 24.11.2015 followed by reminders dated 07.12.2015 and 18.12.2015 of the applicants by passing a speaking and reasoned order within a period of two months from the date of receipt of copy of the order.
4. In compliance of the said order dated 09.03.2016 passed by this Tribunal in O.A. No. 040/00064/2016, the present respondent No. 1 i.e. General Manager (P) passed a speaking and reasoned order dated 30.05.2016 by rejecting the case of the applicants which reads as hereunder:
'In view of the above observations, the wards of the above 8 applicants are not eligible for appointment against LARSGESS. Therefore, the representation of the above applicants and directives of Honourable CAT/GHY passed in its order of O.A. No. 040/00064/2016 dated 05.04.2016 is disposed off.'
Aggrieved with the said rejection of speaking order dated 30.05.2019, the applicant approached before this Tribunal for setting aside the said impugned speaking order.
5. The brief case of the seven applicants, as stated in the O.A. are that the applicants are Trackman of Construction Organisation of N.F. Railway. Applicants contended that they were given ad hoc promotion but their liens have been retained to the post of Trackman under Construction Organisations. All the applicants applied for voluntary retirement and to appoint their wards under the LARSGESS Scheme but their applications were not considered. The respondent No.1 i.e. General Manager, N.F. Railway, Maligaon, Guwahati vide common impugned order dated 30.05.2016 rejected the representations submitted by the applicants stating that the applicants are not working in Safety Category. According to the applicants, the respondent has admitted that the applicants are working on ad hoc basis to the promotional posts. It has not been denied in the said impugned letter that liens of the applicants have been retained in Trackman cadre and as such, the applicants are permanent employees of Trackman category. Applicants further contended that similarly situated employee of Trackman cadre Sri Ashok Chakraborty and Sri Nakul Chandra Paul who were working on ad hoc basis in different cadres and got the benefit under the Scheme, whereas the same benefits under the Scheme have been denied to the applicants in violation of Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. Hence, this original application has been filed before this Tribunal.
6. Heard Sri. M. Chanda. Learned counsel for the applicant and Ms. U. Das, Rly. SC for the respondents.
7. Sri M. Chanda, learned counsel for the applicants submitted that the applicants’ liens are still retained in Trackman category. Their services have been utilized for long period in Dak-Courier, Xerox Operator, Record Sorter categories without any regular promotion. Now when they are entitled to the benefit of LARSGESS Scheme, the respondent No.2on wrong interpretation of the scheme has deprived the benefit of the Scheme to the applicants whereas similarly situated Trackman namely Sri Ashok Chakraborty and Sri Nakul Chandra Paul have been granted the benefit of the Scheme. As such, arbitrary actions of the respondents so far the applicants are concerned are discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
8. On the other hand, Ms. U. Das, Rly. SC for the respondents submitted that the cases of the applicants under LARSGESS are not considered as much as they have not fulfilled the criteria and condition incorporated in railway board’s letter No. E(P&A)I-2013EF 2/3 dated 23.02.2015 which stipulates that the case of employee who have completed last 10 years of qualifying service in one or more than one specified categories are covered under the LARSGESS Scheme. Further, all the applicants are not working in the safety category. They have been working as Book-Binder, Record Sorter, Xerox Operator, Dak-Courier respectively. Moreover, in the informal meeting held between N.F. Railway Administration and both the recognized Unions held on 29.06.2015 in the chamber of CPO/MLG, it was decided that (i) staff whose lien has been fixed in will get, such categories where no regular AVC exist promotion accordingly. (ii) For categories where AVC already exists, such staff will get promotion accordingly. (iii) For categories where no regular AVC exists, such staff will have an AVC for Ministerial Category against 33 1/3% and 16 2/3 quota. (iv) The seniority for the purpose of selection will be drawn by interpolating the seniority of existing staff of the concerned Division in GP Rs. 1800/- from the date of appointment and for construction staff, the date on which they have completed 10 years service which was communicated to all concerned vide GM (P)/MLG’s No. E/301/71 (MISC)/E-Pt-2(Loose) dated 24.07.2015. The list of such Ad-hoc staff has already been sent to HQ vide letter No. E/283/Con-1/Ad-hoc (Service) dated 13.10.2015 and to respective Divisions vide I/No. E/283/Con-1/Ad-hoc (service) dated 22.04.2016. On the other hand, in the cases of Sri Ashok Chakraborty and Sri Nakul Chandra Paul, post of trackman re-designated as Track-Maintainer-IV come under safety category and fulfilled the criteria and condition incorporated under the scheme. Accordingly their cases were considered. In view of that, according to learned Rly SC, the cases of the applicants were not considered for appointment of the wards on voluntary retirement of the applicant.
9. Having heard the learned counsel for the parties, perusal of the pleadings and material placed before us, we noted that the applicants were initially appointed as casual labour in N.F. Railway. Thereafter, they were conferred temporary status by the Railway Department. After that they were screened and absorbed as regular staff as Trackman and there lien were fixed in open line as Trackman. Their services were retained under Construction Organisation and have been assigned to work in various nature of job. They were promoted on ad-hoc basis as Record Sorter, Book Binder, Xerox Operator, Dak Courier respectively and have been posted in different division and still they are continuing as such.
10. The Ministry of Railways has introduced a Safety Retirement Scheme covering safety category called as 'Liberalized Active Retirement Scheme for Guaranteed Employment for Safety Staff' vide No. E/ (P&A)-2010/RT-2 dated 11.09.2010. Under the said Scheme employment to a suitable ward of the Railway employee working in the safety category is admissible. The categories under the scheme are Operating Department, Civil Engineering Department, Signal & Telecommunication Department and Mechanical & Electrical Department. The post of Trackman comes under the category of Engineering Department. The Clause 03 of the important features of the Scheme is as below:-
'03. The safety staff under the categories with grade pays up to Rs. 1900/- should have in the age group (50-57 years) and qualifying up to 20 years'.
The clause 08 of the scheme provides that:
'08. Application from those who propose to retire under this scheme will be taken once in a year. The cut-off date for reckoning the eligibility of employees for seeking retirement under this scheme will be 30th June of the respective year. All conditions of appointment for eth ward of such retires such as age limits, educational qualifications etc. will also be determined with reference to that date'.
The clause 13 of the scheme provides that:
'13. The staff working on the post with Grade Pay of Rs. 1800 & 1900/- on regular basis will continue to be eligible for seeking retirement under the scheme even after getting financial upgradation in Grade Pay higher than Rs.1900/- under MACPS'.
Details Schedule for processing the recruitment under the scheme
|01||Last date for submission of application||31st July|
|02||Last date for withdrawal of request seeking retirement||30th Sept|
|03||Scrutiny/verification of service particulars etc. without waiting for last date for withdrawal of requests for retirement (i.e. 30th September)||1st August to 30th August|
|04||Conducting of written Test, Aptitude tests, approval of panel of successful candidates, Medical test, joining of wards/retirement of employee etc.||1st Oct to 31st Dec|
The General Manager (P), N.F. Railway, Maligon vide his letter bearing No. E/228/O-Pt XIV (C) dated 29.09.2010 forwarded the Scheme to all the concerned officials of the N.F. Railway.
11. During the year 2014 and 2015,all the applicants submitted their applications for availing benefit of the Scheme along with particulars of their wards who would be screened and appointed in the Grade Pay Band-1 upon retirement of the applicants under the scheme.
12. As the respondent authorities had processed for consideration of voluntary retirement of other 27 employees and their nominated wards had been declared for appointment, the present applicants had approached before this Tribunal vide O.A. No. 040/00064/2016 with prayer for direction upon the respondents to process the applications of the applicants for grant of the benefits of voluntary retirement under th
e LARSGESS Scheme and allow them to go on voluntary retirement under the said Scheme with all the benefits. This Tribunal vide order dated 09.03.2016 disposed of the said O.A. by directing the respondents to consider the prayers of the applicants in the light of the LARSGESS Scheme. However, the case of the applicant were rejected by the respondents by taking plea that the applicants lien is fixed in open line in Trackman category and they have not completed the last 10 years of qualifying service in one or more than one specified categories as per railway boards letter dated 23.02.2015. 13. In view of the above, it is crystal clear that none of the applicants are working in the safety category and they have not completed last 10 (ten) years of qualifying service in one or more than one specified categories covered under LARSGESS Scheme. In fact they have been rendering their services as Book Binder, Record Sorter, Xerox Operator, Dak Courier on ad-hoc promotion basis and have been continuing as such till date. Thus, the applicants’ cases are not covered under the LARSGESS Scheme. Therefore, we do not find any infirmity in the impugned order dated 30.05.2016. 14. Accordingly, O.A. is dismissed being devoid of merit. No order as to costs.