Punjab governor ‘playing politics’ over Bill regularizing contractual govt employees, contends Channi

The Punjab Assembly passed Punjab Protection and Regularization of Contractual Employees Bill 2021 on November 11 but it is yet to receive the assent of Governor Banwarilal Purohit

Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi (File photo)
Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi (File photo)

Bipin Bhardwaj

The hopes of thousands of contractual employees, working for decades in various departments of the Punjab government, to get regularised seem to have been dashed to the ground with the Charanjit Singh Channi-led Congress government and Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit locking horns over the ‘The Punjab Protection and Regularisation of Contractual Employees Bill -2021’.

Working in the hope that they would be regularized some day, scores of such employees even retired and many others died over the years. Now, over 36000 employees, working in various Departments, Boards, Corporations and other entities of the Punjab government, are feeling uneasy.

These contractual employees saw a ray of hope after the Congress government led by Channi passed the Bill in the Assembly and sent it to the Punjab governor Banwarilal Purohit for his assent. But the governor is yet to sign off on it.

Channi, while briefing the media on completion of 100 days in office, has accused the governor of ‘playing politics' on the Bill. Channi said that his government had framed the law paving the way regularisation of 36,000 contractual employees. “But the governor has stopped the file (relating to the Bill) because of some political reasons,” alleged Channi.

The Punjab CM said he had met the governor along with his ministers regarding this issue. Even the Chief Secretary had also met the governor twice, Channi said.

Channi threatened to stage a dharna along with his cabinet colleagues if the governor failed to give his assent to the Bill.

“It is the governor's responsibility to clear the file. Earlier, I thought he was busy somewhere. But as I have already met him and the CS visited him, it is now politics. Just because there is pressure from the BJP, he should not do politics,” Channi said.

Ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls, the Channi Government has been facing allegations from its political rivals for not being able to fulfill the promise of regularization of jobs of contractual employees.

Reacting to Channi's statement, Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit on Sunday in an official statement alleged that Channi had supplied the media with “factually incorrect” information over the Bill, the file of which he climed to have sent back to the CM’s office with some queries.

Purohit said the file regarding regularisation of services of contractual employees was reverted to the Chief Minister’s office with six queries for clarification. This file was duly received by the CMO on December 31 and the reply to queries is awaited, the statement read. “I advise the chief minister to give reply to the queries raised on the file,” said Purohit. “Once the reply comes, the Bill will be re-examined at the governor’s secretariat,” he said.

The state Assembly had passed the Punjab Protection and Regularization of Contractual Employees Bill 2021 on November 11. After a lapse of 20 days, the file was sent to the Punjab Raj Bhavan on December 1, said the statement.

“During the month of December, the governor was on tour to various districts of the state. The governor concluded the tour on December 21 and thereafter on December 23, the CM Punjab came and met him at the Punjab Raj Bhawan. The file was duly studied and reverted with observation/queries to the CMO on December 31, 2021,” it said.

The governor’s office has sought to know from the state government about the status of the case related to the Punjab Ad hoc, Contractual, Daily wages, Temporary, Work Charged and Outsourced Employees Welfare Act, 2016, which has been challenged in the High Court. The Bill seeks to replace the 2016 Act.

The governor’s office also pointed out that in the opinion of the advocate general, the Bill continues to remain vulnerable to legal challenge. The state government has been asked to clarify as to how the specific views of the AG have been addressed in the Bill.

With the regularisation of contractual employees who were recruited without following reservation rules, will the reservation ratio not get disturbed, the governor’s office asked the state government. It also sought to know how the state government proposed to meet the expenditure on account of regularisation of services.

The Congress leaders, however, pointed out that the governor had sat on the Bill for over a month and sent it back to the government for ‘clarifications’ after the CM raised the issue.

Amidst this tug-of-war between the state government and the governor, it is the contractual employees who are suffering, facing an uncertain future with fear of retrenchment haunting them, claimed a leader of Punjab Government Employees Union on the condition of anonymity.

He alleged that the politicians have been using the contractual and government employees as a major vote bank for their vested interest without feeling their pain and agony.

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