ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court accepted on Thursday an appeal of the PTCL against termination of contract employees and said the employees had no vested right to seek regularisation of their job.
“Employees having entered into contracts of service on the same or similar terms and conditions have no vested right to seek regularisation of their employment, which is discretionary with the master. The master is well within his rights to retain or dispense with services of an employee on the basis of satisfactory or otherwise performance.
“The contract employees have no right to invoke writ jurisdiction, particularly in the instant case where their services have been terminated on completion of the period of contract,” the Supreme Court ruled.
However, the bench comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Tariq Pervez and Justice Ghulam Rabbani granted a relief to the employees and said that since they fell within the definition of workmen, they would be entitled to one month’s notice or salary, as permissible to them under the rule of employer and employee.
Accepting the appeal moved by Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited, the apex court held that petitions filed by PTCL employees were not maintainable.
The PTCL had introduced a Voluntary Separation Scheme (VSS) which entitled its employees to receive early retirement benefits provided he had completed a minimum of 20 years of service. When these employees applied for early retirement, they were denied the benefit of VSS by PTCL for not completing the required length of service.
The employees wrote a letter to a judge of the Hyderabad Bench of the SHC, saying that they had completed 20 years of service from the date of their appointment, but they were wrongly denied the VSS benefits.
The letter was converted into a petition and notices were issued to the authorities concerned.
The PTCL argued that the length of service of these employees could be considered only from the date of successful completion of training and not from the date of their initial appointment.
But the employees cited the case of Mrs Rubina Khadim, a telephone operator, who was granted the benefits on the basis of the date of her appointment and not that of completion of training.
They submitted that in their case, the PTCL had pursued a policy of discrimination which warranted interference by the court.
The Hyderabad bench allowed the petition and ordered the PTCL to extend the benefit of VSS to them.
Another bench of the same court through a common judgment of March 2010 granted relief to the employees and ordered the company to pay the balance and monthly pension as claimed by them.
The company approached the apex court which decided to consider whether the writ could be issued to the PTCL as it was not performing functions in connection with affairs of the government and even if it was assumed to be performing such functions, the subject matter of the impugned judgment was not connected with affairs of the government, and also whether or not the rules framed by the PTCL were statutory.
The court held as untenable the argument that the employees should be considered to be on job from the date of appointment, regularised after 183 days of service and therefore entitled to the wages as paid to regular employees of the PTCL.
The court ruled that no relief could be granted to the employees because their services were not governed by any statutory rules and even the VSS was not offered under or in terms of any statutory provisions.