Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Delhi HC vacates its interim order to continue services of Fellows with DARC

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday vacated its interim order issued on September 21, which directed that the services of professionals engaged as fellows with the Delhi Assembly Research Centre (DARC), whose contracts were terminated by the Assembly Secretariat, shall continue in their positions until December 6, and stipends shall be paid to them.

Last week, the court had said that it will decide on Wednesday on the potential modification of its interim direction. “List for order on October 3. Let me think over it,” he had said.

This comes on an application submitted by the Legislative Assembly Secretariat and other relevant authorities, which sought to vacate the interim order.

Justice Subramonium Prasad, who presided over the case, noted that the Supreme Court in July had refused to stay the operation of the letter issued by Delhi Government’s Services Department directing the disengagement of the Fellows and Associate Fellows.

He observed, “Propriety demands that this court ought not have passed any interim order which had the effect of staying the Order dated 05.07.2023 and other consequential orders.”

While Justice Prasad disposed the application, he said that it is always open for the Fellows to approach the Supreme Court to get appropriate clarifications.

The respondent authorities had argued that the previous order could not be sustained because there was no sanction for the posts by the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, and there was an ongoing matter in the Supreme Court concerning control of services.

Counsel for the petitioners had countered the application by stating that the scope of the current petition did not overlap with the matter pending before the Supreme Court.

They had argued that the petitioners were caught between two behemoths and expressed concerns about a breach of the principle of separation of powers between the Legislature and the Eexecutive.

The court had expressed concerns about “propriety” and suggested that the petitioners seek clarification from the Supreme Court regarding the continuation of the petition in the High Court. Seventeen fellows had challenged the termination of their contracts.

Justice Prasad, on September 21, had sought explanations from the Delhi Assembly Secretariat, services, and finance departments regarding the termination of the Fellows’ contracts.

The court had noted that the Assembly Speaker had previously stated that the reasons for termination did not apply to the petitioners’ services and sought clarification on the change in the stand.

The petitioners had contended that their services were terminated prematurely, arbitrarily, and illegally after a letter issued by the services department on July 5, and they were not paid their stipends.

They argued that this violated their fundamental rights and the doctrine of separation of powers, as they were engaged at the Delhi Assembly Research Centre, which operates under the Assembly and the Speaker’s authority.

The court had directed that the services of the petitioners be maintained until the next date of hearing on December 6 and that replies be filed within two weeks.



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