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Replacement of Ad hoc employees can only be made with substantive positions

Recently, the Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court, in the case of Murad Ali Sajan & Ors v. UT of J&K & Ors (2022 LiveLaw (JKL) 238), has reiterated that an ad hoc employee cannot be replaced by another ad hoc employee. The replacements of such positions can be filled only by candidates on a substantive basis by confirming them as regular appointments.

In the instant case, the petitioners were employed with the respondent in the capacity of staff nurses on an academic arrangement basis for a period of six months. The respondent renewed the petitioners’ contract until November 2022, but the position was not made permanent. Subsequently, the respondent issued a new advertisement notice requesting applications for ad hoc staff nurses on an academic arrangement basis instead of appointing the existing employees on a substantive basis. Aggrieved by the notification, the petitioners challenged the advertisement notice on two grounds; firstly, the respondent was not at liberty to replace an existing ad hoc employee with another ad hoc employee; and secondly, the petitioners were entitled to seek extension and compensation of their existing contract. The Court examined a catena of cases to understand whether the existing ad hoc employees could be replaced by another ad hoc employee. The Court decided the matter in favour of the petitioners and stated that the respondent was not at liberty to replace the petitioners’ position with another ad hoc employee.

The decision of the Court was substantiated by the reasoning given by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Hargurpratap Singh v. State of Punjab and Ors. (2007 (13) SCC 292), where the Hon’ble Supreme Court had clarified that the position of ad hoc employees is not merely contractual, or seasonal in nature. When any organisation needs to appoint employees for the position of such ad hoc employees, it must ensure two main things; firstly, the existing ad hoc employees must be given a fair chance of being employed in their current position, as such employees have acquired the necessary skills in their current employment; and secondly, if there is a requirement to replace such ad hoc employees, it must be done on a substantive basis.


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