Parliamentary Committee: uniform policy for Casual Artistes in Prasar Bharati needed

New Delhi: A Parliamentary Committee has asked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and Prasar Bharati to work out a uniform policy regarding empanelment/engagement of casuals, without compromising on the quality of performance of the Doordarshan Kendras and All India Radio Stations.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology which goes into I and B issues noted that the issue of regularization of casual workers was a major problem, both in Doordarshan Kendras and AIR stations.

Keeping in view the problems faced by casuals, Prasar Bharati has taken some decisions in recent years to address their grievances. For example, in case a casual has put in 120 days or more in a year, he/she would be given relaxation of age in the matter of direct recruitment to the posts against which they are being booked provided they fulfil the educational and other qualifications of the post as per the Recruitment Regulations. This provision has already been incorporated in the Recruitment Regulations for the posts for which recruitment has recently been undertaken through SSC.

Apart from this, orders have been issued to the effect that all existing panels would be reviewed and no new empanelment of casuals would be done without approval of the DG concerned, with a view to stopping indiscriminate empanelment of casuals.

The Committee appreciated that Prasar Bharati had taken cognizance of the problems faced by casual workers and some steps had been put in place for their benefit. The Committee feel that if implemented in the right earnest, these measures would address some of the grievances of casual workers to a great extent, given the legal scenario.

The Ministry told the Committee that there was no uniform policy for empanelment or engagement of casuals. It was left to the discretion of Station/Kendra Heads who had been empanelling casuals based on requirements from time to time. The number of casuals increased with the expansion of DD and AIR by adding more Stations/Kendras, shifts, etc.

However due to legal compulsions, such casuals are being engaged for a maximum of six days in a month to avoid any claim for regularization in the job. Since the maximum booking in a month for a casual is of six days and the programmes are to be telecast/broadcast daily, at least five casuals are being put on the panel for a particular job. There are approximately 20,000 casuals who are on the panels of AIR/ Doordarshan.

As a one-time exercise, Doordarshan had formulated a policy in 1992 (modified in 1994) for regularization of casual artistes who had put in 120 days of work in a year. However, after obtaining the views of the Additional Solicitor General, the process was again started with the approval of Prasar Bharati Board.

Under this process, 233 eligible casual artistes have been regularized. 202 eligible casual workers who were conferred Temporary Status Worker (TSW) status under the Department of Persnnel and Training Scheme of 1993 have also been regularized against vacancies.

The Committee has been given to understand that regularization would not be legally possible in view of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of State of Karnataka vs. Uma Devi as these casuals are not employed but are only empanelled. Even otherwise, the number of casuals is so large that it is neither feasible nor practical to regularize them.

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