Rules for regular staff do not apply to contractual employees: Apex court

In keeping with its trend to move with times in matters economic, the Apex Court vide its recent order in GRIDCO Ltd v. Sadananda Doloi held that when a person accepts a tenured job (for three years in this case) – senior General Manager HR Policy, job evaluation, appraisal and remuneration was the description of the tenured job – he cannot demand for application the same sympathetic considerations that apply to regular employees so long as the removal order was not vitiated by mala fides and was as per the contractual agreement. Incidentally, he was removed midway through the contract tenure – that had been extended a couple of times as was permitted by the agreement – when he persisted with his request for regularisation.
Quashing the order of the Division Bench of the Orissa High Court which had held the removal of the respondent illegal, the Supreme Court made among other things the following telling observations: “We need to remind ourselves that in modern commercial world executives are engaged on account of their expertise in a particular field and those who are so employed are free to leave or be asked to leave by the employer. Contractual employments work only if the same are mutually beneficial to both the contracting parties and not otherwise.”
The Court also observed that those taking up contractual employments do so on their own volition and must be prepared to face the consequences if their contracts are not renewed at the end of each tenure.
(The author is a Delhi-based chartered accountant)

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