Anganwadi workers entitled to gratuity under Payment of Gratuity Act: SC

Team SoOLEGAL 27 Apr 2022 11:09am

Anganwadi workers entitled to gratuity under Payment of Gratuity Act: SC

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court ruled that under the Payment of Gratuity Act of 1972, Anganwadi workers and helpers are entitled to gratuity.

The Payment of Gratuity Act will apply to Anganwadi centres, according to a bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Ajay Rastogi, who mentioned that the time has come to improve the working conditions of such workers.

The time has come for the Central Government/State governments to collectively consider whether looking to the nature of work and an exponential increase in Anganwadi centres, to ensure quality in service delivery and community participation and find out methods in giving adequate operating conditions of the voiceless commensurate to the nature of job dispensed by them, the Court stated.

"It is high time that the Central government and State governments take serious note of the plight of Anganwadi Workers (AWWs) and Anganwadi Helpers (AWHs) who are expected to render such important services to the society," Justice Oka stated in his judgment.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court overturned a Gujarat High Court division bench decision that said the Payment of Gratuity Act did not apply to Anganwadi centres.

The petitioners were Gujarat-based retired Anganwadi workers and helpers who had moved the High Court after being denied gratuity after retirement.

According to Section 2(e) of the 1972 Act, Anganwadi workers and helpers are not employees, and the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) cannot be considered an industry.

As a result, their remuneration or honorarium cannot be considered wages under Section 2(s) of the 1972 Act, and they are not entitled to gratuity, the division bench ruled.

This prompted an appeal to the Supreme Court.

The 1972 Act, according to counsel for the appellants, is social security that recognizes the loss of employment opportunities due to age and other factors.

According to the Supreme Court decision in Ahmedabad Pvt. Primary Teachers' Assn. v. Administrative Officer and others, Anganwadi centres fall under the broad definition of establishments, and non-teaching staff is also entitled to gratuity.

Furthermore, the judgment in Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board vs A Rajappa and others was cited to emphasize that such centres engage in systematic and organized activity, and thus can be classified as an industry in an educational setting.

The appellants also referred to the case of Jaya Bachchan v Union of India, arguing that because the monthly remuneration paid to Anganwadi workers is classified as an honorarium, it cannot be differentiated from the definition of wages because the work is full-time and involves multiple responsibilities involving women and children.

The Court also stated that Anganwadi centres must be viewed as a whole rather than as individual units and that they must employ more than ten people to be considered an establishment under the 1972 Act.

As a result, the appeals were permitted, and the State of Gujarat was ordered to pay the gratuity.

"All eligible AWWs and AWHs shall be entitled to simple interest @ 10% per annum from the date specified under sub-­section 3A of Section 7 of the 1972 Act," the Court further directed.

Tagged: Anganwadi   Payment of Gratuity   Supreme court  
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