Rlys dumps recruitment scheme; 2 lakh vacancies in safety category to remain

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Oct 2018 10:42:00


By Sagar Mohod,

Citing violation of principles of equality by Railways, SC upholds Punjab and Haryana High Court order of scrapping the LARGESS scheme

In a solace to aspirants, the Railway Board allowed all Zones to induct beneficiaries selected till October 27, 2017

Railway Board has aborted the Liberalised Active Recruitment Scheme for Guaranteed Employment for Safety Staff (LARGESS) after finding the going tough in view of the court order. The Railways’ decision came after Supreme Court upheld a judgement of Punjab and Haryana High Court scrapping the scheme, saying it is violative of principles of equality. With LARGESS junked, the focus would be back on two lakh vacancies in safety category, it is also going to generate a lot of heat in times ahead.

The Railway Board issued a circular in last week of September informing Zones about termination of LARGESS with immediate effect. The circular was issued by N P Singh, Joint Director, (EP&A), Railway Board, wherein he cited observations of High Court and also mentioned about the failed challenge in the Apex Court which forced the Board’s hand on the safety category scheme.

However, while shutting the door for new entrants, the Board, however, stated that beneficiaries selected till October 27, 2017, would be inducted in the service. That was the time when Punjab and Haryana High Court granted injunction to petitioner who challenged validity of LARGESS.
The High Court directed Railway Board to revisit the principles of equal opportunity. The Court also observed that LARGESS in effect leads to situation of monopoly in holding public employment which does not stand scrutiny of Article 14 and 16 of Indian Constitution.

The judgement of High Court came in year 2016 and immediately the Board filed a review petition that also was dismissed in July 2017 and mentioned the judgement of Constitution Bench which in effect sealed the fate for LARGESS.

The Railways preferred an appeal in the Apex Court but it concurred with the High Court’s judgement through its order on January 8, 2018. Still, Railways did not let it go and sought clarification from Union Ministry of Law and Justice and only then after about eight months the LARGESS was officially put to end.

Recently, even at Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court a challenge was mounted to LARGESS and the petitioner dubbed it as back door entry to favoured few. The scheme was floated to move out railway employee in safety related cadres through voluntary retirement and induct fresh blood, their wards in their places. In initial phase, only Running Staff was eligible. Later, Trackmen and other employees categorised as working in intensive cadre were included as eligible for LARGESS.

The swapping was to happen simultaneously and LARGESS worked smoothly over the year after many modification, categories of eligible staff to increased manifold. The challenge mounted when the list of eligible staff increased as those outside Railway family find the doors shut on their chance to get inducted.

Reacting to Railways’ decision, Debashish Bhattacharya, Zonal Working President, Central Railway Mazdoor Sangh (CRMS), said, “It is sad that the LARGESS is terminated. The scheme was suited to Railways as a person familiar with set-up would easily assimilate as compared to outsider.”

Echoing the same feeling, Virendra Singh, President, CRMS, Nagpur Division, said, “In the scheme, able bodied men would replace their aging fathers which helped Railways.”
National Railway Mazdoor Union (NRMU) also has expressed disappointment over dumping of LARGESS, said Habib Khan, Divisional Secretary, Nagpur Division of Central Railway. He said they would press Railway Board to go for revision before the Apex Court as the scheme ensured that new entrants keep coming into safety category. He also said, LARGESS was inherently linked to safety which is paramount and if rail is safe then only the nation is safe.