High Court dismisses petition challenging appointment of Labour Commissioner

Gangtok, 13 June:

The High Court of Sikkim has upheld the appointment of the Labour Commissioner for Employees’ Compensation, stating that the petition challenging the appointment was devoid of merit.

The State Government had appointed Lakchung Sherpa as Labour Commissioner on 14 Feb earlier this year after the One Man Selection Committee of Justice Kalyanjyoti Sengupta, Chairman, Sikkim Lokayukta, recommended her from among the three shortlisted candidates.

Sushmita Dong, a legal professional, had challenged the selection of on the grounds that before selection, no rules were framed under the Act of 1923. Section 32 of the Act of 1923 empowers the State to make rules to carry out the purposes of the Act.

While writing the judgment, Chief Justice Satish Kumar Agnihotri dismissed the contention of the petitioner and said that under Section 32 of the Act of 1923, there is no delegation with regard to appointment of Labour Commissioner, adding that even otherwise, non-framing of rules does not invalidate the selection for any post.

“The State Government is not competent to frame rules for selection and appointment of the Labour Commissioner,” the Court observed while dealing with the issue pertaining to framing of Rules for selection and appointment of the Labour Commissioner.

Indisputably, the post of Commissioner for employee’s compensation, which is termed as Labour Commissioner, is a creation of Parliament enactment, not under the State Government but under the Central Government.

Underlining the requirement of requisite qualification, as pressed by the petitioner citing state government Notification prescribing a uniform upper age limit of 40 years for all communities of the State in the services/posts to be filled up by direct recruitment under the Government of Sikkim and in the State Public Sector Undertakings of Sikkim, the court said that the upper age limit appears to be for services wherein appointment is made directly from young freshers.

Section 20 of the Act of 1923 contemplates experienced persons having put in some qualifying services as judicial officer or as a gazette officer or in legal profession. This requirement is for a senior seasoned man, wherein the upper age limit of 40 years cannot be prescribed, the court said.