LIC, being a public employer, cannot hire 11,000 workers without due process: SC

The Supreme Court said on Wednesday that a public employer such as LIC cannot be ordered to carry out a mass absorption of more than 11,000 workers without following a recruitment process, in accordance with the principles of equal opportunity governed by Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution.

“Such an absorption would provide a very backdoor, negating the principle of equal opportunity and equity in public employment, which was specifically denounced by this Court in ‘Secretary, State of Karnataka v Umadevi’ “, a bench chaired by Justice says DY Chandrachud.

The court said the LIC is bound by the mandate of Articles 14 (equality) and 16 (non-discrimination) of the Constitution as a statutory corporation. As a public employer, the company’s recruitment process must meet the constitutional standard of a fair and open process. Allowing backdoors into the service is anathema to public service, he added.

Addressing a nearly four-decade-old dispute related to part-time LIC workers, the bench, which also includes Justices Surya Kant and Vikram Nath, said the duly vetted workers’ claims met the eligibility requirements. shall be resolved by the awarding of monetary compensation in lieu of absorption, and by the full and final settlement of all claims and demands.

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Using its constitutional power to dispense comprehensive justice under Article 142, the bench appointed a justice committee PKS Baghel, former judge of the High Court of Allahabad; and Rajiv Sharma, former District Judge and member of the UP Superior Judicial Service for carrying out the verification task.

In its judgment on a batch of applications, the court ordered a new verification of the claims of the workers, occupied at least 70 days in class IV positions over a period of three years or 85 days in class III positions over a period two years between May 20, 1985 and March 4, 1991.

“All persons deemed eligible under the standard are entitled to compensation calculated at the rate of Rs 50,000 for each year of service or part of a year. Payment of compensation at the rate will replace reinstatement, and in full and in full .final settlement of all workers’ claims and demands in lieu of regularization or absorption,” the bench said.

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