Supreme Court of India
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. vs Sri Deo Kumar Rai @ Deo Kumar Ray on 14 December, 2021Author: R. Subhash Reddy

Bench: R. Subhash Reddy, Hrishikesh Roy



CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 7707-7708 OF 2021
(Arising out of SLP (C) Nos. 28616-28617 OF 2019)





Hrishikesh Roy, J.

Leave granted.

2. Heard Mr. Dinesh Agnani, learned Senior Counsel

appearing for the appellant. Also heard Mr. Surendra

Patri, learned counsel representing the respondent
Signature Not Verified

(original applicant before the Central Administrative
Digitally signed by
Rajni Mukhi
Date: 2021.12.14
17:28:39 IST

Tribunal (for short “the Tribunal”)).

Page 1 of 18
3. The challenge here is to the judgment and order

dated 31.5.2018 whereunder, the Gauhati High Court in

the Writ Petition (Civil) No. 991/2017 filed by the

appellant upheld the order passed by the Tribunal on

25.8.2015 and had directed conferment of temporary

status to the respondent, under the Casual Labourers

(Grant of Temporary Status and Regularization) Scheme

of the Department of Telecommunications, 1989

(hereinafter referred to as “the 1989 Scheme”). The

appellant also impugns the order dated 4.6.2019 by

which the Gauhati High Court rejected the Review

Petition 59/2019, against the order dated 31.5.2018.

4. Under the 1989 Scheme, the casual workers who are

working in the BSNL on the day of coming into force of

the Scheme i.e. 1.10.1989 and who had rendered

continuous service of at least one year, and out of

this one-year period those, who have been engaged for

at least 240 days, are entitled to be conferred the

temporary status. The Union of Casual Labourers were

Page 2 of 18
agitating on behalf of the casual workers for securing

the temporary status. To address the issue, a Committee

was constituted to verify the records of the casual

workers to determine as to who amongst them satisfy the

eligibility criteria for securing the benefit under the

1989 Scheme.

5. The respondent herein had appeared before the

Committee on 19.1.2004 and on verification of the

records available with the Department, the Committee

members concluded that the respondent was engaged for 4

days in the year 1989; 29 days in 1992; 17 days in

1993; 38 days in 1994; 38 days in 1995; 34 days in

1996; 37 days in 1997 and 17 days in 1998, well below

the required 240 days in the year. It was also noted

that in support of the claim for temporary status,

engagement for much longer periods in the concerned

year from 1995 (239 days), 1996 (240 days), 1997(250

days), 1998(89 days) was claimed but the respondent

Page 3 of 18
failed to produce any original documents before the


6. Upon verification of the service records, the

Committee in its Report dated 29.8.2005 observed that

the respondent did not fulfil the eligibility criteria

since he had not completed “240 days” in 12 calendar

months. Before the Committee, the BSNL authorities

additionally contended that the photostat copies of the

certificates relied upon by the respondent, were never

issued by any officer of the BSNL. The relevant part of

the Committee’s final finding is extracted below:-

“In view of the above proof and
evidence, the Committee has found that
the applicant Shri Deo Kumar Rai has
completed maximum 38 days in 12 calendar
months during 01.01.1995 to 31.12.1995
and as such the applicant is not
entitled to grant of temporary status as
per the provisions of the Scheme,

7. The above decision of the Committee was challenged

by the respondent in the High Court by filing the Writ

Petition(C) No.2158 of 2006 which was transferred on

Page 4 of 18
8.4.2009 to the Tribunal and the petition was numbered

as TA No. 30/2009. Similar such cases were analogously

considered by the Tribunal and in the common order

(22.1.2010) the Tribunal adverted to the Committee’s

conclusion and opined that since the Committee had

considered all relevant materials placed before it by

either side, no case is made out by the applicants to

claim temporary status and accordingly the TA and the

connected petitions were dismissed by the Tribunal on


8. When this was challenged, the High Court vide its

common order dated 19.3.2013 in Writ Petition(C) No.

2945/2011, set aside the Tribunal’s order and remanded

the matter back to the Tribunal for fresh adjudication.

In the remand order, the High Court noted that in view

of the diametrically contradictory factual assertion of

the applicants and the Department (on the entitlement

to the benefits under the Scheme), evidence of the

parties will have to be recorded as permitted under

Page 5 of 18
Section 22(3) of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985

(for short “the 1985 Act”). Accordingly, fresh

adjudication of the issue was directed by recording

evidence of the parties.

9. Following the above, the Tribunal reconsidered the

matter, by once again perusing the Report of the

Committee dated 29.8.2005, and noted that as per the

genuine records verified from the office of G.M.T.D.,

Kamrup, the applicant was engaged for 4 days in the

year 1989; 29 days in 1992; 17 days in 1993; 38 days in

1994; 38 days in 1995; 34 days in 1996; 37 days in 1997

and 17 days in 1998. Adverting next to the photocopy of

the certificates produced by the applicant, it was

observed that the applicant was made to work from 1989

to 1998, with some artificial breaks. With such cryptic

observations and without any further evidence or

material, the Tribunal passed an order in favour of the

applicant on 25.8.2015 in the TA No. 30/2009.

Page 6 of 18
10. The Tribunal’s order was challenged by the

appellant by filing the WP(C) No. 991/2017 where a

specific plea was raised about the Tribunal failing to

follow the procedure under Section 22(3) of the 1985

Act in terms of the High Court’s earlier directions in

the remand order (19.3.2013).

11. The Department again contended before the High

Court that the respondent does not fulfil the

eligibility criteria of having worked for 240 days in

12 months and that he had relied on fabricated

certificates which do not correspond with the official

records and without recording any evidence to conclude

otherwise, the Tribunal chose to record a finding which

was not supported by any acceptable material. In fact,

an erroneous conclusion was drawn purporting to draw

support from the contrary conclusion drawn by the

Committee, which categorically held that the applicant

is disentitled to temporary status, as per the

provisions of the 1989 Scheme. The Department also

Page 7 of 18
relied on the decision of this Court in Secretary,

State of Karnataka & Ors. vs. Umadevi & Ors. 1 to

contend that the foundation of the 1989 Scheme stood

demolished and no relief can be claimed under the said


12. The High Court under the impugned judgment dated

31.5.2018, had however dismissed the writ petition

filed by the BSNL, where the Court adverted to the

xerox copies of the documents produced by the applicant

to erroneously observe that the authenticity of those

documents have not been disputed by the Department.

With such finding, the judgment of the Tribunal dated

25.8.2015 in favour of the respondent was upheld and

the Writ Petition was dismissed with the following


“ **** **** **** ****
By the impugned judgment and order
dated 25/08/2015, the learned
Tribunal had allowed the application
filed by the respondent by recording
categorical finding of fact that the

1 (2006) 4 SCC 1

Page 8 of 18
petitioner had worked for more than
240 days under the department during
the period from 1989 to 1998. Such
finding of fact was recorded after
considering the report dated
29/08/2005 submitted by the
“Responsible Committee” constituted
by the Department to look into such
matters as well as the documentary
evidence produced by the SDE/JTO.
The learned counsel for the writ
petitioner has not been able to
invite our attention to any material
which would go to dislodge the
factual finding recorded by the
learned Tribunal.”

13. Thereafter, the High Court dismissed the Review

Petition filed by the Appellant, vide order dated

4.6.2019, and this order is also under challenge in

this case.

14. Mr. Dinesh Agnani, learned senior counsel for the

appellant points out that both the Tribunal and the

High Court failed to appreciate that the 1989 Scheme is

intended as a one time measure specifying the

eligibility criteria for conferment of temporary status

on the casual workers and the respondent had not worked

Page 9 of 18
for 240 days in 12 months and is therefore ineligible

for any benefits under the Scheme. Moreover, such also

being the finding of the competent committee, there was

no justification either for the Tribunal or for the

High Court to give an incorrect factual finding

favouring the respondent, without recording any

evidence or adverting to any acceptable material,

notwithstanding the specific direction issued by the

High Court on 20.11.2013 when it remanded the matter

back to the Tribunal, for fresh adjudication. The

learned counsel argues that the photostat copies of the

documents produced by the applicant does not correspond

to the departmental records and therefore without

recording any evidence to determine the authenticity of

the xerox copies of the relied documents, neither the

Tribunal nor the High Court could have concluded that

the applicant fulfilled the eligibility criteria under

the Scheme.

Page 10 of 18
15. Per contra, Mr. Surendra Patri, the learned

counsel for the respondent argues that the respondent

is litigating since long to secure the benefit under

the 1989 Scheme and since the Tribunal, as well as the

High Court, have granted relief in his favour,

interference by this Court is not merited.

16. In order to secure the benefit of the 1989 Scheme,

it was necessary for the respondent to establish that

he satisfied the eligibility criteria prescribed under

the Scheme and had worked for at least 240 days in 12

months. To resolve the factual controversy, the High

Court in its earlier round while remanding the matter,

directed the Tribunal to record evidence. However, the

Tribunal’s order dated 25.8.2015 shows that the only

basis for concluding in favour of the respondent was

the Report/proceedings of the Committee dated

29.8.2005. The Committee however upon verification of

the Records concluded that the respondent has completed

maximum 38 days in 12 calendar months during 1.1.1995

Page 11 of 18
to 31.12.1995 and as such he is disentitled for the

temporary status under the Scheme. Yet, by misreading

the specific recording of the Committee and without any

basis for a contrary view, the Tribunal cryptically

observed that the applicant was made to work with

artificial breaks during 1989 to 1998 and on that

basis, relief was granted to the respondent. But the

Tribunal never recorded any evidence to determine the

factual controversy and instead respondent’s service

during 10 years from 1989 to 1998 were erroneously

taken into account to compute the requirement of 240

days service in 12 calendar months.

17. The Review application filed by the appellant to

challenge the incorrect conclusion of the Tribunal and

the High Court viz-a-viz the finding given by the

Committee was summarily brushed aside. Moreover,

although it was pointed out that the finding is

contrary to the material on record, the same was

disregarded with the observation that both the Tribunal

Page 12 of 18
and the High Court had considered the Report and

granted relief to the applicant. The Review petition

accordingly came to be dismissed on 4.6.2019.

18. The Committee as noted earlier had clearly

recorded that the respondent “has completed maximum 38

days in 12 calendar months during 1.1.1995 to

31.12.1995 and as such the applicant is not entitled to

grant of temporary status as per the provisions of the

Casual Labourers (Grant of Temporary Status and

Regularization) Scheme of the Department of

Telecommunications, 1989.” Although this categorical

finding of the Committee was noted both by the Tribunal

as also by the High Court, regularization was

surprisingly ordered for the respondent. For the

contrary finding, the Tribunal did not make any inquiry

or record any evidence, in terms of the remand order

dated 19.3.2013 of the High Court in the earlier round.

It is therefore seen that the conclusion is drawn

without any material foundation.

Page 13 of 18
19. In the above circumstances, we are of the

considered opinion that the conclusion drawn by the

High Court and by the Tribunal favouring the respondent

is contrary to the factual finding recorded by the

Committee on 29.8.2005. The Committee Report also

discloses that the Applicant had failed to produce

records in original, to support his claim. The

Committee further noted that certificates were issued

by unauthorised persons and the authenticity of such

documents have not been established.

20. At this stage, it is apposite to extract Clause

5(i) of the 1989 Scheme which prescribed the

requirements for conferring temporary status to casual


“5. Temporary Status
(i) Temporary status would be conferred on
all the casual labourers currently employed
and who have rendered a continuous service
of atleast one year out of which they must
have been engaged o work for a period of
240 days (206 days in case of offices
observing five days week) such casual

Page 14 of 18
labourers will be designated as Temporary

The above clause makes it clear that the Applicant

was required to have been engaged for 240 days in a

given calendar year. The Committee’s findings showed

that the respondent had served for a maximum of 38 days

in a calendar year and was ineligible.

21. The Tribunal in its order (25.8.2015) has relied

upon the judgement in Uma Devi (supra) to consider the

service period during 1989 to 1998, to compute 240 days

of engagement. However, this manner of considering

eligibility does not gain support from the ratio in Uma

Devi. To understand this, we benefit by reading the

opinion of Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan, who speaking

for the Constitution Bench, made the following

observation on the issue of regularisation of

irregularly appointed workmen as a one time measure,

“ 53. …There may be cases where irregular
appointments (not illegal appointments) as explained
in S.V. Narayanappa [(1967) 1 SCR 128 : AIR 1967 SC

Page 15 of 18
1071] , R.N. Nanjundappa [(1972) 1 SCC 409 : (1972) 2
SCR 799] and B.N. Nagarajan [(1979) 4 SCC 507 : 1980
SCC (L&S) 4 : (1979) 3 SCR 937] and referred to in
para 15 above, of duly qualified persons in duly
sanctioned vacant posts might have been made and the
employees have continued to work for ten years or more
but without the intervention of orders of the courts
or of tribunals. The question of regularisation of the
services of such employees may have to be considered
on merits in the light of the principles settled by
this Court in the cases abovereferred to and in the
light of this judgment. In that context, the Union of
India, the State Governments and their
instrumentalities should take steps to regularise as a
one-time measure, the services of such irregularly
appointed, who have worked for ten years or more in
duly sanctioned posts but not under cover of orders of
the courts or of tribunals and should further ensure
that regular recruitments are undertaken to fill those
vacant sanctioned posts that require to be filled up,
in cases where temporary employees or daily wagers are
being now employed. The process must be set in motion
within six months from this date. We also clarify that
regularisation, if any already made, but not sub
judice, need not be reopened based on this judgment,
but there should be no further bypassing of the
constitutional requirement and regularising or making
permanent, those not duly appointed as per the
constitutional scheme.”
22. The above ratio as is seen, was concerned with

irregular appointments, which issue however is not very

relevant in this matter. Furthermore, the ratio does

not lay down a ten-year service yardstick for

determining the eligibility of casual workers, as has

been understood by the Tribunal. As such, the period of

engagement spreading across several calendar years (and

Page 16 of 18
not one year as mandated under the Scheme) could not

have been accepted by treating the gaps in service over

those years, as ‘artificial breaks’. This manner of

computation is inconsistent with the diktat of Uma Devi

as well as the prescribed criteria governing the

Respondent. It is also seen that the Tribunal in its

order (22.01.2010), while dismissing the regularisation

claim of the respondent amongst other applicants, had

noted the admission therein that they had not satisfied

the requirement of engagement of 240 days in any year.

It was finally held that the applicants had failed to

establish any infirmity in the Committee’s findings.

For the sake of completion, we may note that the above

order of the Tribunal was interfered with and remanded

by the High Court, as was previously mentioned.

23. Such being the situation, the impugned judgments

dated 31.5.2018 and 4.6.2019 of the High Court as also

the order dated 25.8.2015 of the Tribunal in T.A. No.

Page 17 of 18
30/2009 are found to be unsustainable. The same are

accordingly set aside and quashed.

24. The appeals are allowed with the above order

without any order on cost.


DECEMBER 14, 2021

Page 18 of 18


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