dispute settlement for government employee
I am a regular employee of BSNL. I worked in BSNL from March 2003 to June 2014. From July 2014, I joined a full time PhD course in IIM Indore. BSNL management has granted me permission for this course in March 2014. In this permission, it was mentioned that study leave (with salary) is not permissible to me and I can use any other leave to pursue this course. At that time, I didn't oppose this decision because It would take long time to settle these types of disputes and I have to join this course in July 2014. Thus, I have applied extraordinary leave (without pay) for three years and it was also sanctioned. I am on leave and still an employee of BSNL. In BSNL employees' training documents published in 01/04/2011, two years study leave (with salary) are permissible to BSNL employees. No circular is issued from BSNL administration since 2011 which modify this study leave rules. Thus, as per rules, study leave should not be denied to me in the permission letter issued from BSNL management in March 2014. This is an injustice to me. Then, after a year, in June 2015, I have written a letter to Director (HR), BSNL, New Delhi (through proper channel) to convert my extraordinary leave into study leave as per rules because without salary it becomes difficult for me to financially sustain my family. But, still I didn't get any reply from BSNL management of my application. Then, in October 2015, I filed a RTI to BSNL-HQ to enquire about the study leave policy of BSNL. They replied: "it is informed that Study Leave Rules as existing on 30-09-2000 is applicable to BSNL employees as per provisions made under CCS(Leave) Rules, 1972, which is available in Public Domain . " The above RTI response clearly state that study leave is applicable to BSNL employees as per the provisions of CCS leave rules, 1972. Then, In March 2016, I filed another RTI to BSNL and asked following questions: 1) The present status of my application. 2) The time period required for the conversion of my extraordinary leave into study leave. I didn't get any reply of my above filed RTI. Then, in May 2016, I filed first appeal to know the status of my application but still I didn't get any reply from BSNL administration. I have also heard from some sources that BSNL board has decided to bar all long term management course due to the poor financial condition of the BSNL but no circular is issued to BSNL employees in this matter. I am still studying this course and it would take further 1 to 1.5 years to complete the course. In view of the above background, I want to know, what legal options are available to me to settle my case (ie. to convert my without pay extraordinary leave into with pay study leave). Should I file second appeal in Central Information commission to know the status of my application? Should I write a reminder to my application in BSNL through proper channel? Should I go in Court? Should I file a writ in High Court or should I file a case in Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT)? Out of these two options which one would be less costly in terms of different fee including procedural and advocate consultation charges. Also which option would most likely to give a fast decision. What chances of success I can expect in these type of cases? Sir I know these are lots of questions but please help me as I am not aware about these things. Once I get your suggestions, I would decide my future course of action accordingly. Thanks in anticipation of help.
Answered by Sammanika Rawat, Lawfarm Researcher:
Thank you for coming to our portal. We are extremely sorry to hear your problem. We went through the Central Civil Services Leave Rules of BSNL available here and the as well as Chapter 3 of the BSNL Service Leave Rules available here. You are correct that the policy allows 12 months ordinary study leave at one time and 24 months in the entire duration of service. We are glad that as a smart citizen you have utilised your Right to Information. However, if you go through the Leave Rules again, you shall see that Rule 7 of Chapter 4 says that "Leave cannot be claimed as a matter of right" and "Leave of any kind may be refused or revoked in the interest of service by the sanctioning authority but it is not open to the authority to alter the kind of leave applied for except at the request of the official."Hence like you mentioned that BSNL is suffering poor financial conditions, they are within their rights to not accept your request. Just consider the situation from the point of view of BSNL that if they start granting study leave during financial breakdown then the entire staff would apply so that in case BSNL shuts down, they can apply for a better job. Also, whenever a person goes for a study leave, there becomes a vacancy in his place and BSNL has to recruit someone else to do the pending work. In its financially poor conditions, BSNL may not be in a position to cover the cost for an additional employee. Also, since you wanted a continuous leave for three years and the study leave only permit 12 months leave at a time and 24 months in total, during the entire job-period; they were justified enough to not grant the permission as per the law. Also, since you had yourself submitted the extraordinary leave, they may cite the same in the court.
However, BSNL's act of not replying to your RTI is legally not justified. You are being advised to file a Second appeal at the State Information Commission so that BSNL can atleast come ahead and give their reasoning for not providing the response. You are also being recommended to file cost on BSNL at the State Information Commission for not following the RTI regulations properly.
We are sorry if you felt the answer was not favourable to you. We shall recommend you to file another RTI to BSNL HQ asking them "Whether an employee who's on extraordinary leave (without pay) for studies, can do a part time job?" If they respond in affirmative, we would highly recommend you to devote some of your hours to some form of part time job like tutions etc where you can share and build upon your knowledge. Also, there will be many online jobs available, you can spend 4-8 hours per week and earn a decent amount.
Feel free to write back.
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