In W.P.(C) 11733/2019-DEL HC- By virtue of Article 19(1)(c), right to form Association is a fundamental right even though recognition of such Associations by Govt may not be a fundamental right: Delhi HC directs appropriate decision to be taken in respect of recognition of Central PWD Engineers Association from 2009 till 2021 under CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993
Justices V. Kameswar Rao & Anoop Kumar Mendiratta [25-05-2023]
New Delhi, May 25, 2023: While observing that the primary objective of the Central Civil Services (Recognition of Service Associations) Rules, 1993 is of granting recognition to any Service Association in order to encourage legitimate union activities and maintenance of harmonious relationship between the government and employees, the Delhi High Court has asked the competent Authority to expeditiously look into the matter of continuation of recognition of Central PWD Engineers Association for the period 2009-2021.
“The government servants cannot be excluded from the protection of the rights guaranteed by part III of the Constitution though the duties which they may discharge as a public servant might involve restrictions of freedom in terms of Article 19 of the Constitution of India. By virtue of Article 19(1)(c) of the Constitution of India, the right to form Association or Union or Cooperative Societies is a fundamental right even though the recognition of such Associations by the government may not be a fundamental right”, the Division Bench of Justice V. Kameswar Rao & Justice Anoop Kumar Mendiratta affirmed.
The Central Pwd Engineers Association petitioners preferred an application before the Tribunal claiming the Association to be one of the oldest Service Associations espousing the cause of promotee Engineers in CPWD, having Assistant Engineers, promotee Executive Engineers and Superintending Engineers as its Members.
The Association was formed way back in the early 1960s. In the year 1993, CCS (RSA) Rules were promulgated which provided for recognition of service Associations with the object of promoting common service interest of its members.Following the promulgation of the Rules, the petitioner Association was granted recognition by the respondent- Union of India, through Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs.
After carrying out the re- verification of membership, the Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs approved continuance of recognition of the petitioner Association for a further period of five years vide letter dated July 27, 2004. It is claimed by the petitioners that despite repeatedly submitting the details of its members, the respondents failed to carry out the re-verification process and grant renewal of recognition.
Aggrieved by the fact of keeping the issue of renewal of recognition pending since 2009 despite issuance of several letters, petitioners preferred an application before the Tribunal but the Tribunal denied the continuation of recognition of the petitioner Association as on the ground that the petitioners did not file the required documents as per schedule specified under Rule 6(e) of the CCS (RSA) Rules.
Thus, the petitioners approached the High Court praying for an order partially quashing the judgment of the Tribunal and also for quashing the impugned transfer orders dated as well as all consequential orders.
The Bench noted that in terms of Rule 4 of CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993 a Service Association or Federation which has been recognized by the government before the commencement of these Rules and in respect of which the recognition is subsisting at such commencement, the recognition only continued for a period of one year from such commencement or till the date the recognition was withdrawn, whichever was earlier.
“The condition for recognition of Service Associations does not confer an automatic 'continuation of recognition' of Service Associations since the 'continuation of recognition' is further subject to compliance of clauses 6(a) to (l) of the CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993”, the Bench held while observing that the present case was not a case of 'withdrawal' of recognition but the petitioner Association had been treated as 'unrecognized' since the continuation of recognition of Service Association was dependent upon compliance of Rule 6(e) of CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993 by the Association, which required the furnishing of a list of members and office bearers and up-to-date copy of the rules and an audited statement of accounts of the Service Association after the Annual General Meeting, so as to reach the government before the 1st day of July each year.
It was noticed by the Bench that steps were taken on behalf of the petitioner Association for continuation of recognition vide various communications though after a delay of about one year and eight months. However, thereafter the matter was expected to be dealt expeditiously by the respondents.
As per the Bench, the right of continuation of a recognized Association should not have been delayed for such a considerably long period thereby denying the office bearers as well as the Association of the privileges.
“This court has ample power under Article 226 of the Constitution of India in appropriate cases to compel the performance of the obligation by the respondents for compliance of grant/continuation of recognition under CCS (RSA) Rules, 1993”, the Bench said while further adding that the recognition finally appeared to have been granted to the petitioner Association in 2021 for a period of five years from the date of issue of the letter but the decision for the period 2009 to 2021 still needed to be reconsidered by the Competent Authority.
Thus, setting aside the findings of the Tribunal whereby the prayer to quash the office memorandum qua the petitioner Association was declined, the Bench directed the Competent Authority/respondents to take an appropriate decision in respect of the continuation of recognition in respect of petitioner Association from 2009 till 2021, in accordance with law.
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