Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday overturned a claim of 281 persons who called themselves need-based casual labourers in the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Division, Handwara, by dismissing their petition with a view that no concrete evidence had been produced before court to believe that they were working as need-based wagers.
The single bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey held that the petitioners have failed to establish their case. “Consequently, I do not find any merit in this writ petition and I am convinced that none of their rights have been violated or infringed by this order. The writ petition, therefore, merits dismissal and is so hereby dismissed together with the connected multiple petitions,” Justice Magrey said.
Petitioners claiming to have been engaged as casual labour in 2006 approached the court in 2009 with a prayer for payment of their earned wages and for direction to the respondents to give them the benefit as per the judgment of the Supreme Court in Hassan Anzulla v State of J&K, Civil Appeal no.4529/90, decided on 12 November 1991.
The court in 2009 disposed the petition by order dated 16 April 2012 with a direction to the state authorities to implement the judgment of the Supreme Court in Hassan Anzulla’s case and to consider the claim of the petitioners for release of their legally earned wages. The court had also directed that for the release of wages of casual labourers of PHE Division, Handwara, for the pending period prior to 5 June 2007 to be considered later on its merits only after the genuineness of these pending claims was verified by the Departmental Committee constituted by the Administrative Department for this purpose.
Consequent to the aforesaid direction, the Chief Engineer has passed the order dated 11 April 2017 by stating that the petitioners have never worked as daily wagers in PHE Division, Handwara.
“Whereas the case of the petitioners was considered in light of the High Court order, it was found that the wages in favour of the genuine daily wagers, ITI and casual labourers working in the division are being paid at par to other PHE divisions of the valley and also as per the records available reveals that the petitioners have not worked and are not entitled for any wages. Hence the claim of the petitioners is rejected.”
Consequently, the investigation carried out by the Crime Branch has revealed that 227 imaginary casual labourers have been made by Ex-Executive Engineer, PHE Handwara to accommodate the embezzled amount of Rs.1,68,44,058.
The accused Executive Engineer, Mohammad Afzal Rather, in league with his accused cashier, I/C Establishment Bashir Ahmad Dar, Manzoor Ahmad Hajam, Establishment Clerk and Union President Abdul Rehman Shah have fabricated false documents in order to accommodate the embezzled amount.
In this regard the investigation conducted has revealed that the occurrence had taken place from January 2013 to October 2013, and during this period the above mentioned amount was drawn in the name of official accused persons and non-official accused persons.
The case was registered in April 2014 at P/S Handwara and subsequently transferred to Crime Branch Kashmir in the month of August 2014, and in the first week of September 2014 there was a devastating flood in the Valley. The accused felt that the records got damaged and they will escape their guilt, but when the Crime Branch started acting against upon the said case, the above named accused persons in the month of December 2014 fabricated false Acquittance Roll of so-called Need Based Workers, regarding whom there was a case subjudice in the High Court of J&K, titled Ab. Majeed Shah versus State & others.
The Executive Engineer, along with the other accused persons, showed disbursed embezzled amount of Rs.1,50,11927 among them in cash. But he himself intimates to his senior officers vide his communications nos. ACCT-PHE-Hand-759-62, dated 18 May 2012, and Estt-PHE-Hand-1160-62, dated 08 July 2013, that the petitioners (the so-called need-based workers) have been neither engaged nor have they worked nor been paid at all after seeking reports from his sub Divisional Officer. Moreover the accused Establishment and Establishment Clerk named above have presented affidavits duly attested by the Judicial Magistrate, Handwara, in which they have admitted to have fabricated these documents at the direction of the accused Executive Engineer. In addition, some of the so-called need-based workers were examined, and they in their statements revealed that they have not received any payment and their signatures on the Acquittance Roll / affidavits were taken by deceitful means by the accused persons.
The court on Monday said, “While parting with this file, the Court expresses the hope that apart from vigorously pursuing the case with the Crime Branch, if it still continues to be under investigation, the competent authority amongst the respondents will proceed departmentally against the official culprits who have fabricated the documents and embezzled Government funds, and ensure that the departmental proceedings are brought to a logical end. In order to ensure that the respondents do not show any slackness in this regard, Registry shall send an attested copy of this judgment to the Chief Secretary, and it is expected of him to require and persuade the concerned respondents to take necessary follow-up action in the matter, so that guilty are brought to justice.”