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Sikkim High Court directs State Government to follow statutory rules during Recruitment process

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The Sikkim High Court on May 19 directed the State government to ensure that in all future recruitment process, it adheres to the relevant statutory laws and Rules scrupulously and meticulously so that eyebrows are not raised unnecessarily or accusatory fingers pointed towards the State, while welfare and beneficial Schemes – such as “One Family One Job Scheme”.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai with the above direction disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Henna Subba and others assailing the “One Family One Job” policy decision of the State Government which, according to them fails to comply with any statutory provision.

In the first order passed by the High Court on 14th December, 2020, reasons have been provided as to why it was prima facie satisfied with the information laid before it by the petitioners required examination.

The petitioners claimed to be unemployed and stated that they had post graduate qualifications in different subjects. They also claimed to be public spirited persons and interested in the development of society so that educated unemployed youths are not exploited. The matter, thereafter, was heard from time to time by the High Court and affidavits have been exchanged between the parties.

In the affidavit filed on behalf of the State, which was affirmed on 16th April, 2021, and filed on the very next day, the Court noted that the deponent, Umesh Sunam, Joint Secretary, Department of Personnel, Administrative Reforms & Training, Government of Sikkim, in his preliminary submissions, has elaborately stated about the concept of “One Family One Job Scheme”, which initially emerged after the former Chief Minister completed his tour of 31 constituencies. During the said tour, it was observed that the main grievance of the people of Sikkim was lack of employment in Government service. There were thousands of applicants seeking employment and their applications, which were received during the said tour, were forwarded to almost all the major departments for consideration.

The Department of Personnel, Administrative Reforms & Training, received several hundreds of applications seeking employment, but was not in a position to consider the same, leading to insurmountable public pressure on the then ruling party and the Government of that day. The office of the former Chief Minister had decided to conduct a walkin-interview amongst such applicants and considered the selected ones for appointment on temporary posts as per the available vacancies. It was further decided that only applications of those applicants who did not have any family members in Government service would be considered. In this manner, the former Chief Minister conceptualized the “One Family One Job Scheme”. The deponent, Umesh Sunam, thereafter elaborately explained the methodology applied for the purpose of initiation and execution of the “One Family One Job Scheme”.

On a bare perusal of the explanation provided by the deponent, Umesh Sunam, in the affidavit the Court further noted that while the relevant Rules, namely, the Sikkim Government Service Rules, 1974, may not have been strictly adhered to by observing all technical requirements as mandated by the said Rules, there has been substantial compliance. More than 13,000 citizens residing in the State of Sikkim have got employment in the process. As such, the bona fides of the exercise undertaken under the Scheme cannot be held to be suspect since its object and purpose was to provide one family one job.

The Bench opined that if it forensically analyse the entire recruitment process at this belated stage, that too, based on technicalities, in that event, each and every person who has secured State employment following initiation and execution of the “One Family One Job Scheme”, would be required to be made parties in the present writ proceeding. That apart and in any event, the beneficial nature of the Scheme cannot be doubted and examined at this stage purely on the basis of technicalities as provided under the relevant Rules.

“However, the State of Sikkim is directed to ensure that in all future recruitment process, it adheres to the relevant statutory laws and Rules scrupulously and meticulously so that eyebrows are not raised unnecessarily or accusatory fingers pointed towards the State, while welfare and beneficial Schemes – such as the one before us – are sought to be implemented by the State or its agencies”.

While disposing the PIL , the Bench clarified that nothing contained herein shall be construed – in any manner – as an embargo and/or fetter upon the concerned authority of the State from proceeding against any individual or individuals who may have secured employment under the “One Family One Job Scheme” through fraudulent means.

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