Srinagar: The Rehbar-e-Zirats (ReZs) can now go on a study leave and the time period would be counted in their regularization, the High Court has ruled.
According to the government scheme, the ReZs, agriculture graduates engaged in 2006 at the monthly stipend of Rs 1500, are regularised after seven years on satisfactory completion of “uninterrupted” service.
However, as many as 111 graduates had moved the court, challenging condition No. 2 (in order no: 378-Agri of 13) that period spend on study or project shall not be counted while computing seven years service for regularization.
They had also challenged condition No. 5 (in order No. 235-Agri of 11) that period spend on pursuing higher studies would not be counted for the regularization.
“It would not be permissible to exclude the period spent by the petitioners on pursuing higher education or working on research projects while computing seven years service for regularization of ReZs in terms of government orders,” said a single bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court comprising Justice Hasnain Massodi.
“The petition therefore merits to be allowed and condition 5 of the policy for regularization of ReZ agriculture graduates approved by the government vide order No. 235-Agri of 11 and condition No. 2 in order No. 378-Agrif of 13 is set aside,” the court added.
Resultantly, the court directed government to proceed with regularization of ReZs in accordance with the orders, taking into account the period spent by the petitioners on higher studies and working on projects.
“There is a lot of justification for the decision taken and reflected in the two government orders and circular. It is to be understood the focus of ReZ scheme as initially conceptualized, was to provide some succor to unemployed agriculture graduates in the form of stipend so that they were able to sail through difficult times till they found employment commensurate with their qualification,” the court said.
No government, the court added, could afford to thwart research in agriculture science or wean away candidates from institutes, or the research work.
“An ReZ did not hold a post under the government in terms of scheme he would receive meager amount styled as stipend or money to live on till he remained unemployed. If the government decided to deny the benefit under the scheme to unemployed agriculture graduates pursuing higher studies or working on research projects, such unemployed graduates would have been compelled to leave such higher courses/research projects midway at the cost of research in agriculture and allied sciences,” the court said. “Such decision would have been harsh and against public interest.”
The petitioners had gone for higher studies and research projects with the consent and permission from concerned authorities but the time spent by them was not counted for their regularization.
The court had reserved the verdict some four months ago after hearing arguments by advocates Z A Shah and Javed Iqbal, representing the petitioners, and counsel for the government.