The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi vide order dated 22.06.2020 held that employees cannot seek enforcement of employment terms as in normal times, when the entire country is going through abnormal circumstances.
The said statement was made in response to a writ petition (W.P(C) 3652/2020) filed by the All India Association of Air Force Civil Cooks.
The Petitioners expressed their grievance regarding the 14 + 14 + 7 roster as per which, for the first 14 days they are kept in quarantine; for the next 14 days they are made to work as cooks and thereafter they are given 7 days at home in which they visit their respective residences and thereafter have to report again for the same roster.
As per the Petitioners, they were forced to stay away from their respective homes for a period of 28 days every month out of which the 14 days quarantine period was nothing but sheer waste of time. It was also contended by the Petitioners, that they were not being treated as ‘Corona Warriors’ and have not been entitled to the benefits provided to such other ‘Corona Warriors’. It was further suggested to allow them to quarantine themselves for the prescribed period of 14 days at their respective homes.
After taking note of the Petitioner’s contentions, the Coram comprising of Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon condemned the Petitioners of filing the present petition without considering the present circumstances faced by the nation along with the hardships faced by people losing their employment at a large scale. The Coram stressed on the fact that if the Petitioners were allowed to return to their respective residences after duty hours every day, they were likely to bring with them the Covid-19 infection, when reporting back for duty, thereby endangering the lives of Air Force personnel.
The Hon’ble High Court negated the suggestion made by the Petitioners seeking the permission to quarantine at their respective homes, by stating that the suggestion was illogical and was made without analysing if the same was possible in terms of the area of each personnel’s home , number of members in their families and the possibility to self isolate themselves. Also the suggestion made by the Petitioners about wearing PPE kits in the kitchens was made without considering the possibility and viability to wear PPE kits in the kitchen conditions thereof.
Furthermore, the Coram asked the Petitioners as to why should they be termed as “Corona Warriors” since, factually they were civilian cooks of the Air Force described as Group ‘C’ non-industrial employees of Air Force, and were not exposed to the COVID-19 virus in any manner while working in the kitchen.
The Hon’ble High Court then asked the Respondents as to why the Petitioners cannot be made to reside at the respective Air Force Stations for a longer period than that of 14+14 days in order to reduce the number of quarantine days spent by them. The Respondents were further asked as to why the Petitioners were charged for their meals while residing at the Air Force Stations and if a better arrangement could be worked out to cure the issue.
Directing the Respondents to hold consultations with the representatives of the members of the Petitioner and to see if any other arrangement, satisfactory to the members of the Petitioner, can be worked out, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw and Justice Asha Menon finally disposed of the petition citing no merits in the present case.