THE NATIONAL SEEDS CORPORATION LTD (NSC), a premier Government of India (GoI) enterprise under its Ministry of Agriculture & Co-operation, has played a pivotal role in ushering in green revolution in the country through high yielding varieties (HYV) of seeds. Besides, it has created mass awareness about superior quality seeds. It has provided technical know-how to farmers concerning the recommended / improved package of practices for stepping-up the yield. This eventually led to self-sufficiency in food grain production in the country. The NSC has adopted the Central government pay pattern and all the service rules and regulations followed were in accordance with the rule book of the Union government. Employees were covered under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS). However, to the consternation and indignation of retired employees, the CGHS facility has been withdrawn now. This is cruel considering it is a dire necessity to the aged, retired employees who are more prone to health problems. Being a loss-making unit, it was on the dole from time to time. The GoI considered it a social responsibility to provide a level playing field to the NSC so farmers faced no dearth of sowing materials at fair prices, for raising crops. Furthermore, NSC maintains buffer-stocks of seeds to deal with emergencies occasioned by drought / famine or disaster or catastrophe like floods, cyclones and crop failures.
To set right this grave injustice, a Writ Petition (Civil) No.6793 was filed by this author as a Petitioner-in-Person in the year 2006 with the Delhi High Court seeking extension of CGHS facility to the retired employees of NSC as they do not enjoy even pension facility while their counterparts in GoI are entitled to both. It is strange how NSC employees are discriminated against when NSC boasts on its website that it is wholly owned by GoI. It is a great tragedy that after serving the best part of their lives in the organization, the employees are reduced to this miserable plight. No sensible government across the globe resorts to such an inhuman act.
It may be of interest to know that a full-fledged administrative set-up staffed by senior government counsels who are engaged by the various ministries, functions out of the very same building that houses the Delhi High Court. Despite notices duly served on them, the respondents, viz., the Secretaries of the Ministry of Agriculture & Co-operation and the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, GoI, adopted a “don’t care” attitude; their counsels neither turned up nor filed any counter affidavit explaining the reasons behind the denial of CGHS to the retired employees; they were conspicuously absent at the hearings. However, the advocate who represented NSC stated categorically in his deposition that the Corporation had no objection in granting CGHS facility to the retired employees. After strictly following the rigmarole, a landmark judgment was delivered by Hon. Justice J.N. Malik of the Delhi High Court on 06-11-06 ordering the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to extend CGHS facility to the retired employees of NSC.
However, the Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GoI, failed to implement the Delhi High Court order. The defiant attitude of the respondent clearly exposes his insensitivity and callousness to human misery besides his utter disregard for the order issued by the Hon. Delhi High Court. Taking into account the callous attitude of the respondent, the Delhi High Court was moved to initiate contempt proceedings against the Secretaries of the Ministry of Agriculture & Co-operation and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for dishonouring the Court’s directive. Notices were issued by the undersigned by name(s) in line with the procedure laid down by the High Court and the proof of the same was presented to the High Court as required under the law.
The same sordid story repeated itself - none was present on behalf the respondents when the contempt petition came up for hearing and the Hon. Justice Dr Murlidhar had to adjourn the case to October 30, 2007 with directions that notices be served, once again, to the respondents, this time, by the Court, all by itself.
When the case (CLP 404/07) was taken up for arguments on 30-10-07, someone claiming to be the government counsel appeared out of the blue and informed the presiding judge, the Hon. J.M. Malik (Court No.25) that his judgment had been challenged and a stay had been obtained in the case (Ref.No.LPA.353/07—N.D.H. 14-01-08) from a Division Bench of the same Delhi High Court.
This despicable and deplorable act obviously seeks to subvert the law; it is aimed at obstructing the administration of justice. If not, how can they explain the sphinx-silence they maintained during the course of the entire trial when ample opportunities were provided to them to explain their stand? With this un-foreseen and dramatic turn of events, the Hon’ble Justice, Mr J.M. Malik has expressed his inability to proceed further in the matter.
(i) The foregoing events clearly establish that bureaucrats are making a mockery of justice in this country. The verdict given by the Delhi High Court in favour of retired NSC employees has already celebrated its first anniversary and the government, showing scant respect to the High Court order, has not implemented it. This clearly shows gross in-discipline and unbridled behaviour on the part of the civil servants who are supposed to be the role model for others. This shows the poor quality of the recruitment process followed by the UPSC for the All India Civil Services. It is no better than the State Public Service Commissions where skeletons tumbled out of the cupboards recently - especially in Maharashtra, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. The recent startling revelations about blatant corruption, abuse of power, favouritism, nepotism, involvement in various scams and scandals, fake encounters, violation of human rights in which many IAS and IPS cadre officers in U.P, A.P, Gujarat and Bihar are involved have shaken the conscience of all the right-thinking people. With these chilling exposures, the country has lost faith in them and no longer treats them with reverence. The former Chief Secretary of U.P. Akhanda Pratap Singh not only amassed huge wealth running into several crores of rupees but also had an illicit relationship with the wife of a fellow bureaucrat, according to press reports
(ii) no one bothered to appear on behalf of the respondents at any of the hearings and no importance was attached to the notices issued by the High Court.
(iii) even the first contempt notices served were ignored and when fresh notices were served, a stay from a Division Bench of the same Court was clandestinely obtained knowing fully well that a Division Bench of the same High Court had passed orders in favour of retired employees of SPA which was specifically mentioned in the judgment delivered in the present case.
It is to the credit of the present UPA government that it has extended health cover even to the unorganized sector.
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