The Supreme Court upheld exemptions to several existing KSEBL employees from qualifications under Central Electricity Authority (Measures relating to Safety and Electric Supply) Regulations, 2010.
Writ Petition was filed in the High Court of Kerala for a declaration that Regulation 116 of the Central Electricity Authority (Measures relating to Safety and Electric Supply) Regulations, 2010 is ultra vires the regulation making power of the Central Electricity Authority under the Electricity Act, 2003 and, therefore, void. The Petitioner also sought for a declaration that the State of Kerala has no power to allow deviation under subregulation (1) of Regulation 116 in respect of qualifications prescribed in Regulations 6 and 7 of the Safety Regulations.
Senior Advocate V. Chitambaresh, appearing on behalf of the Appellants, in Civil Appeal arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) contended that Regulations 6 and 7 of the Safety Regulations prescribe qualifications for engineers, supervisors and technicians, etc.
He argued that the Division Bench of the High Court exempted all employees who were working in the Board prior to 31.10.2013 from the qualifications as required under Regulations 6 and 7 of the Safety Regulations which results in compromising the safety of people and the operation of power plants, grid and transmission lines.
Senior Advocate P.V. Surenderanath, appearing on behalf of the State of Kerala, referred to Section 133 of the Electricity Act which enables the State Government to formulate a scheme providing for transfer of officers and employees to the transferee company on the vesting of the properties, rights and liabilities in such transferee company.
The division bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai noted that Regulations 6 and 7 were relaxed in favour of the erstwhile employees. The width and amplitude of Regulation 116 cannot be restricted by interpreting the word ‘deviation’ as having lesser scope than exemption. ‘Deviation’ from the Regulations would amount to either exemption or relaxation.
The court stated that it is in agreement with the Division Bench that the order cannot be said to have been issued beyond the power conferred by Regulation 116 of 2010 Regulations.
The court said that the High Court was right in setting aside the order which permitted deviation from Regulations 6 and 7 to all appointments made till the date of issuance of order, even after the transfer scheme.
The court stated that as the exercise of power by the State Government in issuance of the order is well within its jurisdiction, grant of exemption in favour of erstwhile employees cannot be termed as arbitrary. However, the extension of the continuity to employees appointed after 31.10.2013 is not reasonable and only the transferred employees are entitled for protection of their service conditions.
The court approved the findings recorded by the Division Bench of the High Court of Kerala and dismissed the appeals.
Case title: Muhammed A.A. & Ors. v/s State of Kerala & Ors.
Citation: Civil Appeal Nos._1498-1500 of 2022