Demand of apprentices for appointment in railways without undergoing due recruitment process is not acceptable
Section 22 of the Apprentices Act, 1961 provided that it is not obligatory on the part of the employer to offer any employment to any apprentice who has completed the period of his apprenticeship training in his establishment.
Chennai : On 20th July 2023, around 250 persons who had completed Apprenticeship training at various workshops of Southern Railway, gathered in front of Dr MGR Chennai Central and staged protests demanding appointment in Railways. Railway officials held talks with them, explained the current position and briefed them about the provisions of Apprentices Act.
In light of this incident at Dr MGR Chennai Central, the following details are shared with regard to Act Apprentices engaged in Railways:
Indian Railways has been providing training to applicants in designated trades under the provisions of the Apprentices Act since August 1963. These applicants are taken as apprentices based on their academic qualification without any competition or selection. Though the railways were obligated to provide only training to such candidates, those who
completed their training were being engaged as Substitutes against level 1 posts, since 2004.
- Substitutes are temporary appointees who can be engaged to meet any exigencies and operational requirements. While such appointees are given benefits, due to temporary railway servants, they are not entitled to be absorbed in permanent employment without undergoing due process.
- In view of the ongoing transformation of Indian Railways and with a view to bringing fairness, transparency and objectivity in all railway recruitments, the railways centralized the process for all recruitments to level 1 in 2017, which would henceforth be conducted through a common nationwide computer based test (CBT).
- The Apprentices Act was amended in 2014 whereby section 22 of the Act provided that an employer shall formulate a policy for recruiting apprentices trained in its establishment. Pursuant to such amendment, Indian Railways made a provision to give preference to apprentices trained in railway establishments in open market recruitment to level 1 posts, to the extent of 20% of the posts advertised.
- While these apprentices appear for written test along with other candidates, they are given preference in appointment over others, subject to obtaining minimum qualifying marks and meeting and medical standards.
- The Apprentices’ demand for appointment in the railways without undergoing the prescribed recruitment process, namely written test and physical efficiency test that all other candidates are required to undergo as per extant rules is not feasible for acceptance as it is in violation of Constitutional provisions and Apex Court judgment in matters of public employment whereby any employment cannot be provided except through a procedure involving fair selection.