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Employees cannot seek enforcement of 'normal' employment terms: Delhi HC

ANI | Updated: Jun 23, 2020 12:45 IST

By Sushil Batra
New Delhi [India], June 23 (ANI): The Delhi High Court has dismissed a petition claiming that the Air Force Civil Cooks are being forced to stay away from their homes for 28 days in a month observing that employees cannot seek the enforcement of "normal" employment terms amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
A division bench of Justice Rajiv Sahay Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon said that it appears that the petition has been filed without regard to the prevalent circumstances and the large-scale loss of employment and hardships being faced by those without assurance of employment.
"The members of the petitioner though having a surety of employment are making grievances of inconveniences allegedly being suffered by them, again forgetting that the members of the petitioner, as cooks, if permitted to return to their respective residences after duty hours every day, are likely to bring with them the COVID-19 infection, when reporting back for duty, endangering the personnel of the Air Force," the bench said in its order on Monday.
"They cannot thus seek enforcement of employment terms as in the normal time when the entire country is going through abnormal times," the bench said while dismissing the plea.
The court was hearing a plea, filed by All India Association of Air Force Civil Cooks, claiming that the cooks are being made to reside at the Air Force Stations of their posting and a roster of 14+14+7 is being followed.
"For the first 14 days they are kept in quarantine; for the next 14 days they are made to work as cooks and thereafter they are given seven days at home in which they visit their respective residences and thereafter again report to work," the plea had submitted.
It contended that it is not the term of their employment that they will be made to so stay away from their respective families and added that they are not being treated as 'Corona Warriors' and being thus not conferred benefits to which 'Corona Warriors' are entitled.
The plea sought directions to allow the employees to be quarantined for 14 days at their respective residences.
The court, however, observed that petition seeking to permit the members of the petitioner to home quarantine is again without application of mind as to how many members of the family are there, what kind of residential accommodation is available and whether home quarantine is even possible for each of the members.
The suggestion made during the hearing, of the members of the petitioner being made to work in the kitchens wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is again totally illogical and without knowledge of conditions in the kitchen and the viability of using PPE, the court held.
"We are also unable to see as to how the civilian cooks of the Air Force who are during the hearing described as Group 'C' non-industrial employees of Air Force, are entitled to be treated as 'Corona Warriors' and entitled to benefits thereof," the order said.
It said that while working in the kitchen at the Air Force Stations, the members of the petitioner cannot be said to be exposed in any manner to the coronavirus to claim themselves to be "frontline workers".
Meanwhile, the court also enquired from the counsel for the Centre, why the members of the petitioners cannot be made to reside at the respective stations for a longer period to reduce the time spent in quarantine.
It also asked the counsel for the respondents whether a better arrangement can be worked out or the charges for the meals be dispensed on the petitioner's grievance that they, while being made to reside at the stations, are charged for their meals. (ANI)