The previous Punjab government, led by Charanjit Singh Channi, had floated the Punjab Protection and Regularisation of Contractual Employees Bill-2021 on November 11, 2021, for 36,000 employees who were working on contract, ad-hoc, temporary and daily basis in different government departments.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government has drafted a legislation on regularisation of contractual employees in the state and might table the same during Budget session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha that is scheduled to start from Friday.
Punjab CM, Bhagwant Mann, had in March announced the regularisation of 35,000 contractual employees in the state. The previous Punjab government, led by Charanjit Singh Channi, had floated the Punjab Protection and Regularisation of Contractual Employees Bill-2021 on November 11, 2021, for 36,000 employees who were working on contract, ad-hoc, temporary and daily basis in different government departments.
Governor Banwarilal Purohit, had not give his assent on the Bill, and raised six questions. He had raised how the Bill could withstand the scrutiny of the law after the Supreme Court judgement against regularising of temporary employees in Uma Devi vs State of Karnataka case of 2006. “We have recalled the Bill from the Governor now. We are taking our own Bill to the Vidhan Sabha,” a senior functionary of the government said. He added that legislature was supreme and the SC judgement in the case could not be an impediment. The financial implications for implementation of the Bill will be to the tune of Rs 827.87 crore for regularising 32,000 employees in government departments, and Rs 974 crore for 34,000 employees in boards and corporations.
The Governor had earlier raised objection as to how the government, already starved of funds, planned to meet the additional expenditure. He also raised questions of “clarity on how many more employees covered under section 4 of the bill, who have not completed 10 years of service, could be regularized after completion of 10 years of service, and if so, what would be the estimated financial implication. Can such employees covered under section 4 of the bill be regularised without being in contravention with the decisions of the Supreme Court in State of Karnataka Vs Uma Devi case?” Channi had accused the Governor of playing politics then. The government has now taken legal advice and is attempting to answer all the questions mentioned by the Governor after it tables the bill during the Cabinet meeting on Friday.
Rural development funds
With the Centre holding back Punjab’s Rural Development Fund (RDF) to the tune of Rs 1150 crore, the state will also table an amendment Bill to Punjab Rural Development Act that provided for spending 1 per cent of Rural Development Funds (RDF) on waiving farm loans. Incidentally, the Centre had objected to the section of Punjab Rural Development Act that provided for spending 1 per cent of the RDF on waiving farm loans. The Centre had stated that RDF, levied by Punjab on Centre while procuring foodgrains for the Central pool, could not be used for a populist scheme.
The state Cabinet had earlier approved the Punjab Rural Development (Amendment) Ordinance, 2022, but the Punjab Governor had returned the file stating that the government should take the Bill to the Vidhan Sabha and get it passed there, instead of the ordinance. In the Bill now, the government has amended the Punjab Rural Development Act, 1987 on lines of the revised principles laid down by Centre’s Department of Food and Public Distribution, Ministry of Consumer Affairs.
Now, as per the new proposal, rural funds shall be spent for the purposes/activities including construction or repair of approach roads to mandis/procurement centres and street lights thereon enabling farmers in transportation of their produce, construction/development of new mandis/procurement centers and development of old/katcha mandis/ procurement centres, for making arrangements for supply of drinking water and for improving sanitation in the mandis/procurement centres, for providing well equi- pped resthouses/night shelters/ sheds for farmers and labour engaged in procurement operations.