MANIBEN MAGANBHAI BHARIYA VS DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT OFFICER DAHOD & ORS.

MANIBEN MAGANBHAI BHARIYA VS DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT OFFICER DAHOD & ORS.

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 3153      OF 2022
   (@ SLP(CIVIL) No. 30193 of 2017]
MANIBEN MAGANBHAI BHARIYA … APPELLANT(S)
v.
DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
DAHOD & ORS. … RESPONDENT(S)
WITH 
CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 3154      OF 2022
   (@ SLP(CIVIL) No. 30834 of 2017]
CIVIL APPEAL NO(S).  3155      OF 2022
   (@ SLP(CIVIL) No. 30809 of 2017]
CIVIL APPEAL NO(S).  3156    OF 2022
   (@ SLP(CIVIL) No. 30820 of 2017]
CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 3157   OF 2022
   (@ SLP(CIVIL) No. 5392 of 2018]
AND
CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). 3158   OF 2022
   (@ SLP(CIVIL) No. 29011 of 2018]
1
J U D G M E N T
Rastogi, J.
1. I   have   had   the   advantage   of   going   through   the   judgment
penned by my brother Abhay S. Oka, J.   I entirely agree with the
conclusions which my erudite Brother has drawn, based on the
remarkable process  of reasoning.   I  wish  to add  few  lines and
express my views not because the judgment requires any further
elaboration but looking for the question of law that emerged of
considerable importance.
2. The   moot   question   which   has   been   raised   in   the   instant
appeals for our consideration indeed is a question which may not
only determine the rights of the contesting appellants working as
Anganwadi workers/helpers who are discharging a pivotal role in
the society at the grassroot level and are the role model of the ICDS
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scheme which is one of the extended arm of the Ministry of Women
and   Child   Development,   at   the   given   time,   it   may   also   give   a
thought process to the Legislature to consider as to whether the
applicability   of   gratuity   being   a   social   security   measure,   be
extended to the employees who served the establishment in an
organized   or   unorganized   sector   and,   in   one   way   or   the   other,
contributing in the sustainable development of the nation.
3. Looking   to   the   large   number   of   persons   working   in   the
organized/unorganized sector by passage of time, different social
security legislations have been introduced in this largest democratic
country, which can be divided into two broad categories, namely,
the contributory and non­contributory.   The contributory laws are
those which provide for financing of the social security programmes
by contributions paid by employees and employers and in some
cases supplemented by contributions/grants from the Government.
At the same time, we have major non­contributory laws such as the
Employee’s   Compensation   Act,   1923,   the   Maternity   Benefit   Act,
1961 and the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 with which we are
presently concerned.
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4. When we talk about social security legislations, two broad
categories   are   social   insurance   legislation   and   social   assistance
legislation.     In   social   insurance,   benefits   are   generally   made
available to the insured persons under the condition of having paid
the required contributions and fulfilling certain eligibility conditions
and as regards social assistance, the beneficiaries receive benefits
as a matter of right, but they do not have to make any contributions
and to support thereof, the finance is made available either by the
State or a source provided by the State/Central Government.  
5. Before the enactment of the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972
(hereinafter referred to as “Act, 1972”), there were two State Laws
providing for payment of gratuity. These were the Kerala Industrial
Employees’ Payment of Gratuity Act, 1970 and the West Bengal
Employees’ Payment of Gratuity Act, 1971.   The question of having
a central legislation on the subject was discussed at length in the
Labour Minister’s Conference held on many occasions and after
general   consensus   was   reached,   the   Central   Legislation   was
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enacted in the form of The Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, which
was brought into force on 16th September, 1972.
6. When we talk about the mandate of the Act 1972, if one looks
into the scheme in a holistic manner, gratuity is a reward for good,
efficient and faithful service rendered for a considerable period and
the employee who remains in continuous service for 5 years or more
including   superannuation/retirement/resignation/untimely   death
becomes qualified to claim gratuity in terms of the computation as
has been provided under Sub­section (2) of Section 4 of the Act,
1972   which   covers   in   its   fold,   the   large   sector   of
organized/unorganized   workers/employees   who   are   employed   in
various class of establishments covered under Section 1(3)(a) & (b)
and also notified by the Central Government under Section 1(3)(c )
of   the   Act   1972.     Such   of   the   employees   working   under   the
establishments referred to under Section 1(3) (a),(b) and (c ), as the
case may be, shall be eligible to claim payment of gratuity in terms
of Section 4 of the Act, 1972 and so far as the term ‘wages’ defined
under Section 2( s) of the Act 1972 is concerned, it appears to be
only for the purpose of computation as provided under Sub­section
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(2)   of   Section   4   of   the   Act   and   withholding   of   gratuity   is   not
permissible under any circumstances other than those enumerated
under Sub­section (6) of Section 4 of the Act, 1972.   The employee
defined   under   Section   2(e)   has   a   right   to   claim   gratuity   as   a
statutory right while working in the establishment covered under
Section 1(3) of Act 1972.  Section 1(3) and 2(e) and 2(s) of Act, 1972
relevant for the purpose are referred to as under:­
“1(3) It shall apply to – 
(a)   every   factory,   mine,   oilfield,   plantation,   port   and   railway
company; 
(b) every shop or establishment within the meaning of any law for
the time being in force in relation to shops and establishments in a
State,   in   which   ten   or   more   persons   are   employed,   or   were
employed, on any day of the preceding twelve months; 
(c) such other establishments or class of establishments, in which
ten or more employees are employed, or were employed, or, any
day of the preceding twelve months, as the Central Government
may, by notification, specify in this behalf.
2.    Definitions.   –  In   this   Act,   unless   the   context   otherwise
requires, 
­
………………
(e) "employee" means any person (other than an apprentice) who is
employed for wages, whether the terms of such employment are
express or implied, in any kind of work, manual or otherwise, or in
connection with the work of a factory, mine, oilfield, plantation,
port, railway company, shop or other establishment to which this
Act applies, but does not include any such person who holds a
post under the Central Government or a State Government and is
governed by any other Act or by any rules providing for payment of
gratuity.
……………
6
(s)   “wages”   means   all   emoluments   which   are   earned   by   an
employee while on duty or on leave in accordance with the terms
and conditions of his employments and which are paid or are
payable to him in cash and includes dearness allowance but does
not   include   any   bonus,   commission,   house   rent   allowance,
overtime wages and any other allowance.”
7. Act, 1972 on the genre of statutes like The Minimum Wages
Act, Employees State Insurance Act, etc. is a welfare measure to
secure social and economic justice to employees to assist them in
old age and to ensure them a decent standard of life on retirement.
8. Derived from a Latin word ‘Gratuitas’, the term Gratuity means a
‘Gift.’ In the industrial sector, gratuity is considered as a gift from the
employers to their employees. Gratuity is a lump sum payment paid
by an employer to the employee for his/her past dedicated services.  It
is   a   gesture   to   appreciate   the   efforts   of   a   person   towards   the
betterment, development and prosperity of an establishment and that
is the reason for which gratuity is considered to be a social security,
and with passage of time, it has become a statutory obligation on the
part of employers.
9. Thus,   gratuity,   as   a   social   welfare   legislation,   its   effective
implementation is of paramount importance to fulfil the legitimate
7
expectation of the employees.  So far as the unorganized sectors are
concerned, these Acts have been pillars in social security and laid
the   foundation   for   improvement   in   standards   of   living   of   the
employees.
10. The Act 1972 is a social security legislation to wage earning
population   in   industries,   factories   and   establishments,   etc.
Therefore, considering the inflation and wage increase even in case
of employees engaged in private sector, the Government decided
that the entitlement of gratuity should be revised in respect of
employees who are covered under Act, 1972 and accordingly, the
Government initiated the process for amendment to Act, 1972 to
increase the maximum limit of gratuity to such amount as may be
notified by the Central Government from time to time.
11. This   will   indeed   ensure   harmony   amongst   employees   in   the
private   sector   and   in   Public   Sector   Undertakings/Autonomous
Organizations under Government who are not covered under CCS
(Pension) Rules. These employees will be entitled to receive higher
8
amount of gratuity may not be at par with their counterparts in
Government sector.
12. That appears to be the reason for which amendments are made
in the year 2007 to widen the definition of the term “employee” and to
bring under its fold the large number of employees working in various
establishments employed for wages or in any kind of work or in
connection with the work of a factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port,
railway company, shop or any other establishment.     Even by later
notification, teachers have also been held eligible to claim gratuity.
13. When   social   security   legislations   are   being   interpretated,   it
always has to be interpreted liberally with a beneficial interpretation
and has to be given the widest possible meaning which the language
permits, known as Beneficial Interpretation. When a statute is meant
for the benefit of a particular class and if a word in the statute is
capable of two meanings, i.e., one which would preserve the benefits
and one which would not, then the former is to be adopted.
14. Maxwell on Beneficial Construction holds the following:
  “The construction of a statute must not strain the words as to
include cases plainly omitted from the natural meaning of the
9
language.   Nevertheless,   even   where   the   usual   meaning   of   the
words falls short of the object of the legislature, a more extended
meaning will be attributed to them if they are fairly susceptible to
it. The relaxation of strictly literal rule of interpretation is known
as beneficial construction.”
15. This Court had an occasion to examine discussions in detail
about constructive and welfare legislations.  The judgment in State
Bank   of   India  Vs.  Shri   N.   Sundara   Money1
  followed   with
Bangalore  Water   Supply   and   Sewerage   Board  Vs.  A.   Rajappa
and others2
; Sant Ram Vs. Rajinder Lal and others3
 and later the
Constitution Bench in Steel Authority of India Ltd. and others Vs.
National   Union   Waterfront   Workers   and   others 4
  are   the
exposition of law on the subject.
16. When we examine the judicial precedents while interpreting the
Act 1972, we come across certain judgments of this Court in State of
Punjab  Vs.  Labour   Court,   Julludur   and   others5
;  Ahmedabad
Private Primary Teachers’ Association Vs. Administrative Officer
1 1976(1) SCC 822
2 1978(2) SCC 213
3 1979(2) SCC 274
4 2001(7) SCC 1
5 1980(1) SCC 4
10
and   others6
;  Jaya   Bachchan  Vs.  Union   of   India   and   others 7
;
State   of   Karnataka   and   others  Vs.  Ameerbi   and   others8
  and
Birla Institute of Technology Vs. State of Jharkhand and others9
may be in the different context.
17. While adverting to the facts of the instant cases, it manifests
from   the   record   that   the   five   appellants   joined   as   Anganwadi
workers/helpers between the period 1982­1985 and served for 21­31
years and stood retired between February 2006 and February 2012.
When   gratuity   was   not   paid   to   them,   each   of   them   filed   their
applications before the prescribed authority.  After taking note of the
claim of each of the appellants, the prescribed authority held in their
favour with a direction to the respondents to pay gratuity in terms of
the procedure for computation referred to under Section 4 of the Act
1972.   The order of the prescribed authority under the Act, 1972
came to be confirmed by the appellate authority and also by the
learned Single Judge of the High Court vide judgment dated 6th June,
2016 but the finding returned by the learned Single Judge came to be
6 2004(1) SCC 755
7 2006(5) SCC 266
8 2007(11) SCC 681
9 2019(4) SCC 513
11
reversed by the Division Bench of the High Court under the impugned
judgment primarily relying on the judgment of this Court in Ameerbi
(supra).   The details of each of the appellant who had served in
Anganwadi workers/helpers are reproduced below:­
Date 
Of
Joining
Date of
Retirement
Number of
Years of
Service
Amount
directed to
be paid 
towards
gratuity
SCA
1219/2016
1982 27.02.2011 29 Rs.20,913/­
SCA 
1220/2016
19.01.1984 30.04.2011 27 Rs.38,942/­
SCA 
1221/2016
03.08.1983 30.04.2006 23 Rs.13,269/­
SCA 
1222/2016
16.04.1981 29.02.2012 31 Rs.22,356/­
SCA
1223/2016
03.06.1989 20.02.2006 21 Rs.15,144/­
18. This Court took a judicial notice that after the incumbent has
served for 21­31 years but because of the wages being admissible at
the relevant time being Rs. 1000/­ or Rs. 1250/­ per month, the
amount which has been computed towards gratuity in terms of the
provisions of the Act 1972 is only into thousands of rupees.
12
19. The role of Anganwadi workers (AWW) and Anganwadi helpers
(AWH) is not only at war against malnutrition but have played a
pivotal and significant role during the Covid­19 pandemic which
was   the   unprecedented   health   war   faced   by   the   nation   in
responding to the various challenges posed.  These frontline women
workers are the backbone of the ICDS.   The ICDS scheme was
introduced on 2nd October, 1975 and by this time has successfully
completed its journey of 47 years and established its roots.   The
record shows that ICDS is the world’s largest programme for early
childhood care and development, covering over 158 million children
as per 2011 census, and pregnant and lactating mothers in the
country.  If we go as per the statistics as of June 2018, there were
1.36 million functional Anganwadi centres spread across all the
districts in the country.   These districts are staffed by frontline
health staff: one Anganwadi worker and one Anganwadi helper.
Majority of these centres are located in difficult terrains and these
women have to trek for kilometres every day to discharge their
duties. In the pandemic, these workers took the additional duty to
home­deliver ration to ICDS beneficiaries and also educate rural
13
people about dos and dont’s of coronavirus and prepare a list of
outsiders visiting the villages. 
20. ICDS scheme is not just a welfare scheme but a means of
protecting the rights of children under six­ including their right to
nutrition, health and joyful learning and rights of pregnant and
lactating mothers. The survival, well­being and rights of children
become social issues of interest to the whole community and not
just to the mothers of the families concerned. “Socialised childcare”
also contributes to the liberation of women: it lightens the burden of
looking after children, provides a potential source of remunerated
employment for women and gives them an opportunity to build
women’s   organizations.     In   light   of   these   rich   contributions   of
childcare to social progress, ICDS deserves far greater attention in
public policy since ICDS acts as an institutional mechanism for
realization   of   child   and   women   rights.   Yet   these   services   are
regarded as State largesse rather than as enforceable entitlements.  
21. If   we   take   a   holistic   view   of   the   matter,   extending   social
security   to   the   early   child   care   and   development   of   millions   of
14
children of this country, health and nutrition services to children is
a   good   investment.     The   study   indicates   that   returns   to   child
nutrition   are   quite   high,   or   at   least   can   be   quite   high   in   this
country. Thus, ICDS is an extended arm of the Ministry of Women
and Child Development and their nature of services been provided
to a common man must be acknowledged by the legislation.
22. The National Family Health Survey (2005­06) indicates that
48% of children under five are stunted and 43% are underweight for
their age.  There is a worldwide consensus among psychologists,
educationists,   pediatricians   and   sociologists   regarding   the
significance of early years of life for the optimum development of
child.  Early childhood is a time of remarkable brain development
that   lays   the   foundation   for   later   learning   and   any   damage   or
impoverishment suffered at this stage is likely to be irreparable.
These are years of extreme vulnerability and tremendous potential
during   which   adequate   protection,   care   and   stimulation   are
essential to provide the foundation for the child’s well­being and
development. A lack of adequate nutrition and proper care has
irreversible consequences. Poor nutrition has a negative impact on
15
school enrollment and readiness. Undernourished children are less
likely to enroll in school and would drop out, if enrolled. A severe or
chronic lack of essential nutrients in childhood impairs language,
motor and socioemotional development.  In addition, extending the
provision of safe drinking water and proper sanitation would reduce
infant and child mortality drastically.
23. When we talk about fundamental rights and rights of children
under   six   years,  recognizing   the   significance   of   child­care   and
development in realizing the goal of national progress, the Founding
Parents   enacted   several   provisions   concerning   welfare   and
development   of   children,   especially   in   Parts   III   and   IV   of   the
Constitution. The Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of
State   Policy   have   provided   an   inspiration   to   all   legislations
concerning child welfare, education and development.
24. Article 15(3) provides for affirmative action for women and
children and is of great significance under which several beneficial
laws and programmes have been passed.  Jurisprudence developed
by passage of time under Article 21 of the Constitution by this
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Court   underlines   the   primary   importance   of   early   childhood
developments. As right to food, nutrition and health have been
judicially crafted as being part and parcel of the Right to Life to
which every citizen, including a child is entitled to.  It is taking this
approach that right to free education up to the age of 14 years was
read into Article 21 by this Court in  Unni   Krishnan   J.P.  and
others Vs. State of Andhra Pradesh and others10
.
25. This   Court,   while   creating   such   right   made   an   important
observation that Right to Life has to be read in light of Directive
Principles of State Policies, viz. Articles 41, 45 and 46, eventually,
give specificity of the needs of children under six, and the value of
having   a   positive   right   ensuring   to   the   child   the   right   to   full
development,   Article   21­A   was   inserted   through   the   86th
Amendment   Act,   2002   in   the   Constitution,   recognising   the
fundamentality of the right to education for children between the
age   group   of   six   to   fourteen.     Although   the   86th   Amendment
brought a Directive Principle of State Policy, ignored until now,
within the folds of Part III of the Constitution, it excluded children
10 (1993)4 SCC 111
17
below the age of six, thus denying them education for proper growth
and development.
26. When we talk of national development, their concerns were
amply reflected in the enactment of Articles 39(e) and (f) of the
Constitution.   These two provisions provide for health care and
protection   of   its   citizens,   including   children.   While   Article   39(e)
stipulates that the State shall direct its policy towards securing
“that the health and strength of workers, men and women and the
tender age of children are not abused” and “that the citizens are not
forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their
age or strength”.   At the same time, Article 39(f) requires the State
to ensure that “the children are given opportunities and facilities to
develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and
dignity and that the childhood and youth are protected against
exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.”
27. Article 45 provides that “the State shall endeavor to provide
early   childhood   care   and   education   for   all   children   until   they
complete the age of six years”.  This provision makes the right to
18
early   childhood   care   and   education   an   explicit   Constitutional
Objective, which can be further supported by later enactment in
October 2010, i.e., the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory
Education Act, 2009 (RTE), that came to be introduced “with a view
to prepare children above the age of three years for elementary
education and to provide early childhood care and education for all
children until they complete the age of six years, the appropriate
Government may make necessary arrangement for providing free
pre­school education for such children”.
28. Health and nutrition are other sectors which are also primary
area for young child.  The right to nutrition and healthcare in fact
constitutes   the   most   basic   and   fundamental   right   of   children.
Absence   of   legally   enforceable   entitlements   makes   children
especially under­six more vulnerable to neglect and discrimination.
29. At the same time, health, especially the reproductive health of
the mother and the health of the infant child are closely related.
Recognizing   this   close   relationship,   this   Court   in   a   petition
(popularly known as petition for right to food) filed by the PUCL
19
held Central and State Government responsible for providing ICDS
services including supplementary nutrition, nutrition and health,
education, etc. not only to every child under the age of six but to
pregnant   women   and   lactating   mothers   as   well   –   a   clear
endorsement of binding relation of mother and child’s health.
30. Further   recognizing   the   special   needs   of   pregnant   and
lactating mother and its relation to child’s health, which has been
acknowledged and recognized under Section 4 of the National Food
Security Act, 2013 wherein provisions have been made entitling
such women to “meal, free of charge during pregnancy and six
months after the child­birth, through local Anganwadi, so as to
meet the nutritional standards specified in Schedule II of the Act.”
31. The vision of ICDS scheme is to empower women living with
dignity   to   contribute   as   equal   partners   in   development   in   an
environment free from violence and discrimination along with well
nurtured   children   with   full   opportunities   for   growth   and
development in a safe and protective environment.
20
32. The mission and mandate of the scheme of ICDS is to promote
social and economic empowerment of women through cross­cutting
policies and programmes, mainstreaming gender concerns, creating
awareness   about   their   rights   and   facilitating   institutional   and
legislative support for enabling them to realize their human rights
and   develop   to   their   full   potential.     The   second   is   to   ensure
development, care and protection of children through cross­cutting
policies and programmes, spreading awareness about their rights
and   facilitating   access   to   learning,   nutrition,   institutional   and
legislative support for enabling them to grow and develop to their
full potential.
33. When   we   go   further   and   take   note   of   ICDS   scheme
implemented through Anganwadis, a pivotal role is being played by
Anganwadi   workers   and   Anganwadi   helpers,   by   taking   care   of
children in the age group 0­6 years, which, as already observed,
constitutes around 158 million children as per 2011 census. These
children   are   the   future   human   resource   of   the   country.     The
Ministry of Women and Child Development is implementing various
schemes for welfare, development and protection of children.
21
34. ICDS   Scheme   is   one   of   the   flagship   programmes   of   the
Government of India and represents one of the world’s largest and
unique programmes for early childhood care and development.  It is
the foremost symbol of country’s commitment to its children and
nursing mothers, as a response to the challenge of providing preschool non­formal education on one hand and breaking the vicious
cycle   of   malnutrition,   morbidity,   reduced   learning   capacity   and
mortality on the other. The beneficiaries under the Scheme are
children   in   the   age   group   of   0­6   years,   pregnant   women   and
lactating mothers.  
35. The objectives of the Scheme are:
● to   improve   the   nutritional   and   health   status   of
children in the age­group 0­6 years;
● to lay the foundation for proper psychological, physical
and social development of the child;
● to   reduce   the   incidence   of   mortality,   morbidity,
malnutrition and school dropout;
● to   achieve   effective   co­ordination   of   policy   and
implementation   amongst   the   various   departments   to
promote child development; and
● to enhance the capability of the mother to look after
the normal health and nutritional needs of the child through
proper nutrition and health education.
22
36. If we examine the role of Anganwadi workers/helpers, in the
context of community support and participation, they have played a
significant role in facilitating child nutrition. A conjoint reading of
Sections 3, 4, 5, 6 & 7 of the National Food Security Act, 2013
would unerringly point to the fact that effective implementation of
the aforementioned provisions of the Act largely depends on the
Anganwadis, which are run by Anganwadi workers/helpers, etc.,
who are village level workers/ward level workers and in charge for
delivery of the various services envisaged under the Act.
37. Their daily tasks include taking responsibility for pre­school
activities   for   children   in   the   age   group   of   3­6   years,   arranging
supplementary nutritional food for children of age group 6 months
to 6 years and expectant and nursing mothers, giving health and
nutrition education to mothers, making home visits for educating
parents, eliciting community support and participation, assisting
the Primary Health Centre Staff in implementation of immunization,
among others.
23
38. Anganwadi workers/helpers are the key facilitators of child
nutrition initiatives at the ground level and involved in performing
the   work   of   dissemination,   publicity,   building   awareness,   and
implementation of various schemes of the Government.  No wonder,
the   strength   of   Anganwadi   Centres   has   increased   manifold   by
passage of time in the country.
39. Anganwadi workers/helpers also function as a bridge between
the   Government   and   the   targeted   beneficiaries   in   delivering   a
bouquet   of   services   stipulated   under   the   NFSA.   They   work   in
proximate quarters with the beneficiaries and their services are
utilized by the respective State Governments for a wide range of
activities   ­   be   it   survey,   promotion   of   small   savings,   providing
health care, group insurance, or non­formal education.
40. If   we   look   towards   the   problems   plaguing   the   Anganwadi
workers/helpers, the first and foremost, they are not holders of civil
posts due to which they are deprived of a regular salary and other
benefits that are available to employees of the State.  Instead of a
salary, they get only a so called paltry ‘honorarium’ (much lower
24
than the minimum wages) on the specious ground that they are
part­time voluntary workers, working only for about 4 hours a day.
41. The other argument which has been advanced by the learned
counsel   for   the   respondents   denying   them   parity   with   other
employees   is   that   their   work   is   stated   to   be   of   a   community
participation   and   their   names   are   neither   sponsored   from   the
employment exchange nor they are bound by the code of conduct.
The   further   objection   raised   is   that   posts   have   been   filled   up
without advertisement and there is no requirement to comply with
any statutory recruitment rules.
42. It may be relevant to note that the contribution of Anganwadi
workers/helpers at the grassroot level under the ICDS scheme is
being well acknowledged by the Government of India, Ministry of
Women and Child Development and in the last few years, it has also
witnessed   not   only   an   exponential   increase   in   the   Anganwadi
centres/workers   but   also   significant   specific   efforts   aimed   at
ensuring   quality   in   the   delivery   of   services   and   community
participation.     Indeed,   the   responsibilities   of   the   Anganwadi
25
workers/helpers have tremendously increased which now require to
perform   multiple   tasks   ranging   from   delivery   of   vital   services,
involving   Community/women’s   groups/Mahila   Mandals   and   for
ensuring the effective convergence of various sectoral services.    For
restructuring   and   strengthening   of   ICDS,   provisions   have   been
made for rationalization of appointment of Anganwadi workers as
Supervisors which is a cadre post under the Government.
43. The relevant part of the policy decision dated 15th September,
2015 is referred to as under:­
“The above position has been reviewed keeping in view the
aspirations   of   these   field   functionaries,   to   encourage   their
participating   in   the   higher   posts   vis   a   vis   their   merit   and   to
improve   their   career   prospects.     The   following   guidelines   on
promotion and appointment of AWWs to the posts of Supervisors,
in   supersession   of   earlier   guidelines,   are   conveyed   to   the
States/UTs for compliance:
(i) The 50% of vacancies in the posts of Supervisors would be
filled up by promotion from amongst AWWs with 10 years of
experience as AWWs and having the prescribed educational
qualifications as per the Recruitment Rules for the post of
Supervisor, failing which the vacancies would be filled up by
direct recruitment; and
(ii) The remaining 50% vacancies in the posts of Supervisors
would be filled up by direct recruitment.
It is requested that the States/UTs may amend recruitment Rules
for the posts of Supervisors as per the above guidelines on urgent
26
basis and a copy of such Recruitment Rules, after being notified,
may be sent to the Ministry.”
44. This appears to be the reason that on acknowledging their
services   on   account   of   an   exponential   increase   in   Anganwadi
centres/workers   which   has   been   recognized   by   Government   of
India,   the   opportunities   are   made   available   to   Anganwadi
workers/helpers being brought into the mainstream and to become
Government employee, with a passage of time.
45. That apart, the Government of Gujarat has also come with a
composite scheme vide its Resolution dated 25th  November, 2019
laying down the procedure according to which selections shall be
made through a transparent procedure to be followed laying down
the eligibility criteria (including academic qualification) according to
which the merit list of the candidates who had participated in the
selection process for post of Anganwadi workers/helpers shall be
made and if any participant/applicant is dissatisfied or aggrieved by
the   process   of   selection   held   by   the   authorities,   can   prefer   an
appeal to the Committee constituted for the said purpose.
27
46. Further,   those   who   are   finally   selected   and   appointed   as
Anganwadi   workers/helpers   shall   be   governed   by   the   Code   of
Conduct and they could also to be terminated, if any misconduct
being committed in discharge of duties or on attaining the age of
superannuation.  
47. Thus, the in­built transparent procedure has been prescribed
by the State of Gujarat under its Resolution dated 25th November,
2019   laying   down   the   mode   of   selection   along   with   service
conditions   to   be   regulated   while   working   as   Anganwadi
workers/helpers at Anganwadi centres and they shall retire at the
age   of   superannuation.     This   controls   the   effective   working   of
Anganwadi workers/helpers in various Anganwadi centres.
48. Learned counsel for the State has given much stress on the
honorarium paid to the Anganwadi workers/helpers.  Suffice it to
say   that   the   honorarium   is   basically   the   quantum   of   money
offered/conferred to somebody who is especially a professional or a
well   honoured   person   for   providing   services.     It   is   a   voluntary
process.     However,   what   is   being   paid   to   Anganwadi
28
workers/helpers with a nomenclature used by the respondents in
projecting the term ‘honorarium’, is in fact the ‘wages’ that has been
paid for the services rendered at the end of the month.   It is the
form of emoluments which is being earned on discharge of duty in
accordance with the terms of employment defined under Section
2(s) of the Act 1972.
49. So   far   as   the   judgment   in  Ameerbi  (supra)   on   which   the
Division Bench of the High Court has placed reliance is concerned,
it was a case where the question raised for consideration was as to
whether those who are appointed as Anganwadi workers/helpers
are holders of civil posts and are entitled to seek protection of
Article 311 of the Constitution.  In that context, it was held by this
Court that they are not holders of civil posts and protection of
Article 311 of the Constitution is not available and that was the
reason for which the application which was filed at the behest of
Anganwadi workers/helpers under Section 15 of the Administrative
Tribunal Act, 1985 was held to be not maintainable.
29
50. In the instant cases, the question which has been raised for
consideration is limited to the extent as to whether those who are
working as Anganwadi workers/helpers are eligible to claim gratuity
under the provisions of the Act, 1972.
51. The judgment of Ameerbi  (supra) relied upon by the Division
Bench of the High Court and placed by the respondents before this
Court is of no assistance and has no application so far as the
question raised before us in the instant appeals.
52. Before parting with the order, I would like to observe that the
time has come when the Central Government/State Governments
has to collectively consider as to whether looking to the nature of
work and exponential increase in the Anganwadi centers and to
ensure   quality   in   the   delivery   of   services   and   community
participation   and   calling   upon   Anganwadi   workers/helpers   to
perform multiple tasks ranging from delivery of vital services to the
effective   convergence   of   various   sectoral   services,   the   existing
working   conditions   of   Anganwadi   workers/helpers   coupled   with
lack of job security which albeit results in lack of motivation to
30
serve in disadvantaged areas with limited sensitivity towards the
delivery of services to such underprivileged groups, still being the
backbone of the scheme introduced by ICDS, time has come to find
out modalities in providing better service conditions of the voiceless
commensurate to the nature of job discharged by them.
53. In my considered view, the appeals deserve to succeed and are
accordingly allowed and the impugned judgment dated 8th August,
2017   of   the   Division   Bench   of   Gujarat   High   Court   being
unsustainable in law is hereby set aside. 
………………………J.
(AJAY RASTOGI)
NEW DELHI
APRIL 25, 2022.
31
REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO.   3153    OF 2022
[@ SLP (CIVIL) No. 30193 of 2017]
MANIBEN MAGANBHAI BHARIYA           …  APPELLANT
v.
DISTRICT DEVELOPMENT OFFICER
DAHOD & ORS.                                       …  RESPONDENTS
WITH
CIVIL APPEAL NO.  3154     OF 2022
[@ SLP (CIVIL) No. 30834 of 2017]
CIVIL APPEAL NO.  3155     OF 2022
[@ SLP (CIVIL) No. 30809 of 2017]
CIVIL APPEAL NO.  3156   OF 2022
[@ SLP (CIVIL) No. 30820 of 2017]
CIVIL APPEAL NO.   3157    OF 2022
[@ SLP (CIVIL) No. 5392 of 2018]
AND 
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3158   OF 2022
[@ SLP (CIVIL) No. 29011 of 2018]
1
J U D G M E N T
ABHAY S. OKA, J.
Leave granted.
1. The   issue   involved   in   these   appeals   is   whether
Anganwadi workers and Anganwadi helpers appointed to work
in   Anganwadi   centres   set   up   under   the   Integrated   Child
Development Scheme (for short “ICDS”) are entitled to gratuity
under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 (for short “the 1972
Act”).   The appellants are Anganwadi workers and/or their
organisations.  The appeals arise out of writ petitions filed by
the District Development Officer and two other officers for
taking   exception   to   the   orders   passed   by   the   Controlling
Authority under the 1972 Act.   The finding rendered by the
Controlling Authority which was confirmed by the Appellate
Authority   was   that   Anganwadi   Workers   (AWWs)   and
Anganwadi Helpers (AWHs) are entitled to gratuity under the
1972 Act. The Appellate Authority confirmed the said orders.
The learned Single Judge dismissed the writ petitions.   In
2
Letters  Patent   Appeals,   a   Division   Bench   of   Gujarat   High
Court   interfered   and   set   aside   the   orders   passed   by   the
Controlling Authority and the appellate authority under the
1972 Act.   The Division Bench held that AWWs and AWHs
could not be said to be employees as per Section 2(e) of the
1972  Act,  and  the  ICDS   project  cannot  be  said  to  be  an
industry.  It was held that as the remuneration or honorarium
paid to them cannot be treated as wages within the meaning
of Section 2(s) of the 1972 Act, they are disentitled to gratuity.
The Judgment of the Division Bench is the subject matter of
challenge before this Court.
SUBMISSIONS OF THE APPELLANTS
2. Detailed submissions have been made on behalf of the
appellants in support of the appeals.  The submissions have
been made by Shri Sanjay Parikh, the learned Senior Counsel,
and Shri P.V. Surendranath, the learned Senior Counsel. The
submissions can be summarised as under: 
a) The 1972 Act is a social security welfare legislation.   The
1972 Act recognizes that all persons in the society need
3
protection   against   loss  of   income  due   to  unemployment
arising out of incapacity to work due to invalidity, old age,
etc.
b) Anganwadi centres set up under ICDS are ‘establishments’
within the meaning of clause (b) of Section 1(3) of the 1972
Act.
c) The concept of ‘establishment’ under the 1972 Act is much
broader than the definition of ‘industry’ under Section 2(j)
of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (for short, “the 1947
Act”).
d) Relying   upon   a   decision   of   this   Court   in   the   case   of
Bangalore   Water   Supply   and   Sewerage   Board  v.  A.
Rajappa and others11, it was submitted that as there is a
systematic and organized activity carried out in Anganwadi
centres with the cooperation of the employer and employees
for rendering services, Anganwadi centres will have to be
treated as ‘industry.’
111978 (2) SCC 213
4
e) In the alternative, it was submitted that even if clause (b) of
Section 1(3) of the 1972 Act does not apply to Anganwadi
centres,   clause   (c)   of   Section   1(3)   will   apply   as   the
Government of India has exercised power under clause (c)
of Section 1(3) by notifying educational institutions as a
class of establishment to which the 1972 Act will apply.
Under the ICDS scheme, pre­school non­formal education
is provided in Anganwadi centres to children in the age
group of 3 to 6.  Even teaching about nutrition and health
is imparted in Anganwadi centres.  Hence, the Anganwadi
centres are educational institutions.
f) Placing reliance on a decision of this Court in the case of
Ahmedabad   Pvt.   Primary   Teachers’   Assn.  v.
Administrative   Officer   and   others12,   it   was   submitted
that as per the notification mentioned above, teaching as
well as non­teaching staff of educational institutions has
been covered. It is submitted that the effect of the said
122004 (1) SCC 755
5
decision is that the 1972 Act will even cover employees
other than teachers in educational institutions.  
g) While  deciding   the  Ahmedabad  Primary   Teachers’
Association case, this Court relied upon the definition of
‘employee’ in the 1972 Act, which was restricted by the
words “to do any skilled, semi­skilled or unskilled…...”.  By
Act   No.   47   of   2009,   these   words   were   deleted,   and
therefore, the definition of ‘employee’ under Section 2(e) of
the 1972 Act has become very wide.
h) This Court in the case of State of Karnataka and others v.
Ameerbi and others13 held that AWWs and AWHs are not
the employees of Anganwadi centres or the ICDS scheme.
In the said case, the dispute was confined to an issue of
whether AWWs can be said to be holding civil posts to
attract   the   jurisdiction   of   the   Karnataka   State
Administrative Tribunal established under Section 15 of the
Administrative   Tribunals   Act,   1985.     Hence,   the   said
decision is not relevant in this case.
132007 (11) SCC 681
6
i) Merely because the monthly remuneration paid to AWWs is
styled   as   honorarium,   it   cannot   be   conclusive.   Under
Section 2(s) of the 1972 Act, the definition of ‘wages’ is very
wide to include both the categories.  AWWs and AWHs are
doing full­time jobs involving multiple duties concerning
women and children.  Reliance was placed on a decision of
this Court in the case of Jaya Bachchan v. Union of India
and others14
.
j) Reliance was placed on definitions of ‘establishment’ and
‘industrial establishment’ under various statutes.  On this
behalf, a reference was made to a decision of this Court in
the case of  State  of  Punjab  v.  Labour  Court,  Jullundur
and others15
.
k) The submission is that the provisions of the 1972 Act apply
to AWWs and AWHs.
SUBMISSIONS OF THE RESPONDENTS
142006 (5) SCC 266
151980 (1) SCC 4
7
3. Ms. Aastha Mehta, learned counsel appearing on behalf
of  the   State  of   Gujarat  submitted  that  ICDS  is  a   Central
Government   scheme   which   the   State   Governments   are
implementing.  Her submission is that AWWs and AWHs are
appointed from amongst local inhabitants. Usually, women
who   are   well­versed   in   cooking,   processing   food,   cleaning,
etc., are appointed on a yearly basis.  They are being paid an
honorarium   and   not   wages.     It   is   pointed   out   that   the
honorarium payable to AWWs and AWHs has been enhanced
in the year 2020. She submitted that though the share of the
Central   Government   in   the   honorarium   has   not   been
increased, under the Government Resolution dated 21st March
2020, the State Government has increased its contribution,
and now the remuneration of AWWs is Rs.7,800/­ per month.
She submitted  that a number  of other benefits have been
made available by the State Government to AWWs, set out in
the counter affidavit.  It is pointed out by learned counsel that
there are 53,029 Anganwadi centres established under the
ICDS in the State of Gujarat, and presently there are about
8
51,560   AWWs   and   48,690   AWHs   in   the   entire   State.     If
gratuity   is   held   to   be   payable   to   them,   there   will   be   a
substantial financial burden on the State exchequer as the
amount payable towards gratuity will be more than Rs.25
crores. 
4. Ms. Aishwarya Bhati, the learned Addl. Solicitor General
of   India   submitted   that   while   the   Government   of   India
acknowledges   the   important   role   of   Anganwadi   centres   in
implementing the ICDS scheme and consequently the role of
AWWs and AWHs, the provisions of the 1972 Act do not apply
to them.  She pointed out that clause (b) of Section 1(3) refers
to ‘establishments’ within the meaning of any law for the time
being in force in relation to shops and establishments in a
State and therefore, in this case, the provisions of Gujarat
Shops and Establishments Act, 1948 (for short “the Gujarat
Act”) as applicable to the State of Gujarat will have to be
considered.     Referring   to   the   definitions   of   ‘commercial
establishments’ and ‘establishments’ under the Gujarat Act,
she submitted that ICDS is not an establishment as it does
9
not carry on any business, trade or profession or any activity
connected, incidental or ancillary thereto. She submitted that
ICDS   is   a  welfare  scheme   designed   and   implemented   to
benefit   children,   pregnant   women,   and   lactating   mothers.
Relying upon a decision of this Court in the case of Bangalore
Turf Club Limited  v.  Regional Director, Employees’ State
Insurance   Corporation16
, she   submitted   that   the   term
‘establishment’ used in the 1972 Act presupposes an element
of commercial activity.  She submitted that what is being paid
to AWWs is an honorarium which cannot be described as
wages.  In support of the said submission, she relied upon a
decision of the Delhi High Court in the case of Akhil Bhartiya
Anganwadi Kamgar Union (Regd.)  v. Union of India & Ors.
She also pointed out that the decision of this Court in the
case of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (supra)
has been referred to a larger Bench. She pointed out that as
AWWs   and   AWHs   render   valuable   assistance,   there   is
insurance   coverage   provided   to   them   by   the   Central
162014 (9) SCC 657
10
Government as set out in the counter affidavit.   Apart from
insurance   benefits,   other   benefits   are   being   extended   to
AWWs.  
REJOINDER OF THE APPELLANTS
5. The learned counsel appearing for appellants pointed out
that Anganwadi centres are performing the statutory duty of
implementing provisions of Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the National
Food Security Act, 2013 (for short “the Act of 2013”).   By
pointing out the duties of AWWs and AWHs, which are placed
on record along with IA No. 161608 of 2021, it was pointed
out   that   their   responsibilities   extend   not   only   to   running
Anganwadi   centres   but   to   running   pre­primary   schools   in
Anganwadis.   Apart   from   that,   they   are   obligated   to   make
home visits for various purposes.  It is certain that they are
doing   full­time   jobs   and   are   discharging   onerous
responsibilities.
ROLE OF ANGANWADI WORKERS AND HELPERS
11
6. I have given careful consideration to the submissions.   The
Government of India launched ICDS on 2nd October 1975.  Under
ICDS, six services are being provided: ­
(i) supplementary nutrition,
(ii) pre­school non­formal education,
(iii) nutrition and health education,
(iv) immunization,
(v) health check­up and 
(vi) referral services.  
The cost of running ICDS and Anganwadi centres is being shared
by the Government of India and the State Governments. 
7. The 2013 Act came into force on 5th July 2013.  One of
the objectives of enacting the 2013 Act was to give effect to
Article 47 of the Constitution of India, which is a part of the
Directive Principles of State Policy.  Article 47 reads thus:
“ARTICLE   47:   DUTY   OF   THE   STATE   TO
RAISE THE LEVEL OF NUTRITION AND THE
STANDARD   OF   LIVING   AND   TO   IMPROVE
PUBLIC HEALTH
12
The State shall regard the raising of the level of
nutrition and the standard of living of its people
and the improvement of public health as among
its primary duties and, in particular, the State
shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of
the consumption except for medicinal purpose
of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are
injurious to health.”
8. It is the duty of the State to improve the level of nutrition
which is one of the best methods to improve public health.
Apart from Article 47, India is a signatory to the Universal
Declaration   of   Human   Rights   and   the   International
Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.   The
said   convention   casts   responsibilities   on   all   States   to
recognize the right of citizens to adequate food.  As provided
in the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the 2013 Act,
one of its objectives is to improve the nutritional status of
women and children.   The object of the 2013 Act was to
bring about a shift in addressing the issue of food security.
The approach was changed from the welfare approach to
the rights­based approach.  The role of Anganwadi centres
13
finds a place in paragraph 7 of the Statement of Objects and
Reasons of the 2013 Act.
9. Anganwadi centres were statutorily recognised under the
2013 Act.   Sub­section (1) of Section 2 of 2013 Act reads
thus: 
“(1)   “anganwadi"   means   a   child   care   and
development centre set up under the Integrated
Child   Development   Services   Scheme   of   the
Central Government to render services covered
under section 4, clause (a) of sub­section (1) of
section 5 and section 6.”
10. Anganwadi centres have been entrusted with a very
vital and significant role in implementing Sections 4 to 6 of
the 2013 Act, which read thus:
“4. Nutritional   support   to   pregnant   women
and   lactating   mothers.­  Subject   to   such
schemes   as   may   be   framed   by   the   Central
Government,  every   pregnant   woman   and
lactating mother shall be entitled to—
(a) meal, free of charge, during pregnancy and
six  months after the child birth, through the
local anganwadi, so as to meet the nutritional
standards specified in Schedule II; and
(b) maternity benefit of not less than rupees six
thousand,   in   such   instalments   as   may   be
prescribed by the Central Government:
14
Provided that all pregnant women and lactating
mothers in regular employment with the Central
Government   or   State   Governments   or   Public
Sector Undertakings or those who are in receipt
of similar benefits under any law for the time
being in force shall not be entitled to benefits
specified in clause (b).
5.Nutritional support to children­­(1) Subject to
the   provisions   contained   in   clause   (b),  every
child   up   to   the   age   of   fourteen   years   shall
have   the   following   entitlements   for   his
nutritional needs, namely:—
(a) in the case of children in the age group of
six months to six years, age appropriate meal,
free of charge, through the local anganwadi so
as to meet the nutritional standards specified
in Schedule II:
Provided that for children below the age of six
months,   exclusive   breast   feeding   shall   be
promoted;
(b) in the case of children, up to class VIII or
within   the   age  group  of   six   to  fourteen   years,
whichever is applicable, one mid­day meal, free of
charge, every day, except on school holidays, in
all schools run by local bodies, Government and
Government   aided   schools,   so   as   to   meet   the
nutritional standards specified in Schedule II.
(2)  Every   school,   referred   to   in   clause (b) of
sub­section (1),   and   anganwadi   shall   have
facilities   for   cooking   meals,   drinking   water
and sanitation:
Provided   that   in   urban   areas   facilities   of
centralised kitchens for cooking meals may be
15
used, wherever required, as per the guidelines
issued by the Central Government.
6. Prevention   and   management   of   child
malnutrition.­The   State   Government   shall,
through   the   local   anganwadi,   identify   and
provide meals, free of charge, to children who
suffer   from   malnutrition,   so   as   to   meet   the
nutritional standards specified in Schedule II.”
                       (emphasis added)
11. The   provisions   mentioned   above   lay   down   the
entitlements   of   pregnant   women,   lactating   mothers,   and
children   in   the   age   group   of   6   months   to   6   years.   In
addition,   the   children   who   suffer   from   malnutrition   are
entitled  to   the   benefit   of   free   meals   through   Anganwadi
centres. These entitlements confer corresponding rights on
the said beneficiaries. The benefits referred to in Sections
4,5 and 6 of the 2013 Act are provided through Anganwadi
centres as set out in the Supplementary Nutrition (under
the Integrated Child Development Services Scheme) Rules,
2017 (for short “The Supplementary Nutrition Rules”). Rules
3 and 4 of the Supplementary Nutrition Rules are relevant
which read thus: 
16
“3.   Nature   of   entitlements. ­   (1)   The
entitlements   referred   to   in   sections   4,   5   and
section 6 of the Act shall be provided under the
Supplementary   Nutrition   Programme   of
Anganwadi   Services   (Integrated   Child
Development   Services   Scheme)   of   the   Central
Government   to   every   pregnant   woman   and
lactating mother till six months after childbirth,
and every child in the age group of six months to
six   years   (including   those   suffering   from
malnutrition).
(2)   The   Supplementary   Nutrition   under   the
Anganwadi   Services   (Integrated   Child
Development   Services)   is   primarily   designed   to
bridge   the   gap   between   the   Recommended
Dietary Allowance and the Average Daily Intake.
4.  Place  of   serving  meal. ­ (1) The Anganwadi
Services (Integrated Child Development Services)
is a self­selecting scheme and the entitlements,
as mentioned in clause (a) of section 4, clause
(a) of sub­section (1) of section 5 and section 6
shall   be   available   to   those   who   enroll
themselves   and   visit   the   nearest   anganwadi
centre during its working hours, as notified by
the   State   Government   or   the   Union   territory
Administration from time to time.
(2)  The  meal   shall   be   served   at   the   nearest
anganwadi   centres  where   the   beneficiary   is
registered or enrolled.”
(emphasis added)
17
12. Thus,   Anganwadi   centres   have   been   entrusted   with   the
onerous responsibility of implementing some of the most important
and   innovative  provisions   of   the  2013  Act.  It  can   be  said  that
Anganwadi   centres   perform   a   pivotal   role   in   discharging   the
statutory obligation of the State to provide nutritional support to
pregnant women, lactating mothers and children in the age group of
6 months to 6 years.  A free meal is provided to pregnant mothers
during   pregnancy   and   6   months   after   childbirth   through   the
Anganwadi centres. In the case of children in the age group of 6
months to 6 years, an age­appropriate free meal is to be provided in
Anganwadi centres. In addition, the important duty of providing free
meals   to   the   children   who   suffer   from   malnutrition   has   been
entrusted to Anganwadi centres.   The free meals to be provided
through   Anganwadi   centres   must   satisfy   the   nutritional
requirements and standards  specified in Schedule II of the 2013
Act.     Therefore,   under   sub­section   (2)   of   Section   5,   there   is   a
provision that every Anganwadi centre shall have a proper facility of
cooking   meals,   drinking   water   and   sanitation.     Another   crucial
statutory duty assigned to local Anganwadi centres is to identify
18
children who suffer from malnutrition so that free meals can be
provided   to   such   identified   children.   The   AWWs   and   AWHs
constitute the backbone of Anganwadi centres and therefore, this
onerous responsibility of extending benefits under the 2013 Act to
the beneficiaries is on them. Anganwadi centres are responsible for
ensuring the healthy growth of the children in the age group of 6
months to 6 years and the children who suffer from malnutrition. 
13. Now,   coming   to   the   State   of   Gujarat,   the   Government
Resolution   dated   25th  November   2019   (Annexure   A­1   of   IA   no.
161608   of   2021)   lays   down   exhaustive   provisions   regarding
selection criteria, duties, disciplinary action, rules, etc. in respect of
AWWs   and   AWHs.     In  fact,   by   the  said   Resolution,   the   State
Government has framed the Anganwadi Worker/Helper (Selection
Criteria, Honorary Service, Review and Discipline) Rules (for short
“the said Rules”). Duties of AWWs and AWHs have been laid down
in   Appendix­1   to   the   Government   Resolution.   Very   important
functions   and   responsibilities   have   been   assigned   to   AWWs   in
Appendix­1. We are reproducing some of the onerous duties and
functions assigned to AWWs :
19
(a)  The AWWs shall carry out the survey within their area
of duty and shall update the record regularly by taking
note of the occurrence of new events;
(b)  Apart from providing health and nutrition services to
the children within their jurisdiction, AWWs are under
a   duty   to   monitor   the   growth­development   of   all
children. They are also under an obligation to identify
severely malnourished children and children in need of
medical attendance;
(c) AWWs have a duty of monitoring the growth of the
children in the age group of 0 to 3 years, including
monitoring   their   weight.   They   are   responsible   for
maintaining a growth chart for measuring the child’s
individual growth.  They must identify children who are
significantly underweight and take special care of such
children;
(d)  To  make  four  follow­up   visits   every   fortnight   to  the
children   rehabilitated   at   Children   Malnutrition
Treatment   Centres/Nutrition   Rehabilitation   Centres
20
and  ensure  that the said children get supplementary
food at Anganwadi centres;
(e) AWWs are also required to cater to vaccination services
with the help of Aasha workers.   They are also dutybound   to   undertake   activities   relating   to   health,
nutrition, and hygiene education;
(f)  They are responsible for following safety and hygiene
norms   in   respect   of   food   materials   in   Anganwadi
centres;
(g) AWWs must make home visits at least three times a
week   and   meet   children   below   the   age   of   3   years,
pregnant women, and lactating mothers;
(h)  With   a   view   to   ensuring   public   participation   in   the
activities of Anganwadis, they are required to celebrate
various special days on all four Tuesdays;
(i) It is the duty of the AWWs to identify handicapped
children   or   children   with   slow   growth   and   provide
referral services to them by referring them for health
screening;
21
(j) AWWs are required to conduct pre­primary education
activities for the children of the age group of 3 to 6
years   following   pre­school   timetable   and   using   preschool kit;
(k)  Appendix­1 provides for AWWs attending meetings of
various committees;
(l)  The   AWWs   are   required   to   look   after   the
implementation   and   coordination   of   various   other
services under various Government schemes;
(m)  Their duties are to carry out Aadhar registration of the
children attached to Anganwadis; and
(n) They are required to maintain several reports, registers,
records   relating   to   beneficiaries,   deaths   of   children,
registration of births and deaths, and submit monthly
or annual reports.
14. The   duties   and   functions   of   AWHs   are   also   very   onerous.
Some of the important duties are as under:
● To report half an hour before the working hours of
Anganwadi centres and clean Anganwadi centres every
22
day. To maintain a neat and clean environment within
the Anganwadi centres;
● To cook and serve healthy food to the beneficiaries;
● To bring children to Anganwadi and to drop them at
their houses;
● To clean the utensils used for cooking and serving;
● To maintain personal hygiene of children; 
● To   help   AWWs   in   public   relations   and   public
participation works; and 
● To   perform   all   duties   relating   to   ICDS   as   may   be
assigned  by   the   Child  Development   Program   Officer
and the State Office of ICDS.
15. One of the important functions of Anganwadi centres is to
conduct pre­primary education activities for the children of the age
group of 3 to 6 years by following the pre­school timetable and by
using   the   pre­school   kit.   That   is   the   specific   provision   in   the
Government   Resolution   dated   25th  November   2019.     It   is   also
provided therein that the Anganwadi children admitted to primary
schools shall be issued a certificate of pre­primary education signed
23
by   the   Child  Development   Programme   Officer.    On   this   aspect,
Section   11   of   the   Rights   of   Children   to   Free   and   Compulsory
Education Act, 2009 (for short, ‘the RTE Act’) is relevant.  Section
11 reads thus:
“11.  Appropriate   Government   to   provide   for
pre­school education. —With a view to prepare
children   above   the   age   of   three   years   for
elementary   education   and   to   provide   early
childhood   care   and   education   for   all   children
until   they   complete   the   age   of   six   years,   the
appropriate   Government   may   make   necessary
arrangement   for   providing   free   pre­school
education for such children.”
The appropriate Government, in this case, is the Government of
Gujarat.  For giving effect to Section 11 of the RTE Act, a provision
has been made by the State Government to conduct pre­primary
schools for children above the age of three years in the Anganwadi
centres.     Moreover,   as   specifically   laid   down   in   the   aforesaid
Government   Resolution,   it   is   the   duty   of   AWWs   to   provide   a
pleasant educational environment at Anganwadi centres.  It is also
the duty of AWWs to assess the growth of children and make entries
in the booklet titled “My Growth Story”.  Thus, Anganwadi centres
are also running pre­primary schools for children in the age group
24
of 3 to 6 years. The educational activity of running pre­school is an
integral   part   of   Anganwadi   centres.   AWWs   and   AWHs   who   are
managing the Anganwadi centres have a duty to look after preprimary schools as well. We may also note here that on 8th March
2018, the Government of India has launched the National Nutrition
Mission by the name “The Prime Minister’s Overarching Scheme for
Holistic Nourishment”. The responsibility of implementing a part of
the   scheme   is   of   the   Anganwadi   centres.   Under   the   National
Education Policy, 2020, there is a proposal to make available Early
Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) to children having socioeconomic disadvantaged backgrounds. It is provided that ECCE will
be extended through Anganwadi centres.  
THE DECISION IN THE CASE OF AMEERBI   
16. In the case of Ameerbi (supra), this Court dealt with the issue
whether AWWs and AWHs were holding civil posts.  The issue was
whether the original applications filed by AWWs before the State
Tribunal established under the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985
were maintainable.  This Court held that the posts of AWWs were
25
not statutory posts and the same have been created in terms of
ICDS.     Therefore,   there   was   no   relationship   of   employer   and
employee between the State Government and AWWs.  It was held
that the AWWs do not carry on any function of the State.  It was
observed   that   no   Recruitment   Rules   have   been   framed   for
appointing AWWs. Much water has flown after the decision in the
case of Ameerbi (supra) was rendered in the year 2007.  When the
said decision was rendered by this Court, the 2013 Act was not on
the   statute   book.     As   noted   earlier,   the   Anganwadi   centres
established under ICDS have been given statutory status under the
2013 Act.  Moreover, under Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the 2013 Act, the
Anganwadi centres perform statutory duties under the 2013 Act.  I
have   already   referred   to   the   Government   Resolution   of   the
Government of Gujarat dated 25th November 2019 in extenso. 
17. The Resolution incorporates the said Rules which lay down
selection   criteria,   educational   qualifications,   the   process   of
selection, etc. of AWWs and AWHs.  Under the said Rules, a detailed
process of making appointments of AWWs and AWHs has been
incorporated.     It   also   incorporates   the   marking   system   for   the
26
selection of AWWs and AWHs. The said Rules provide that the
AWWs and AWHs will continue in the service till the age of 58
years.  Even the minimum and maximum age of the candidates for
participating in the process of recruitment has been laid down.
There are provisions made for the termination of services of AWWs
and AWHs.  Though the said rules refer to their service as honorary
service, the use of the word “honorary” is not determinative of the
status of AWWs and AWHs.  
18. In view of the provisions of the 2013 Act and Section 11 of the
RTE   Act,   Anganwadi   centres   also   perform   statutory   duties.
Therefore, even AWWs and AWHs perform statutory duties under
the said enactments.  The Anganwadi centres have, thus, become
an extended arm of the Government in view of the enactment of the
2013 Act and the Rules framed by the Government of Gujarat. The
Anganwadi   centres   have   been   established   to   give   effect   to   the
obligations of the State defined under Article 47 of the Constitution.
It   can   be   safely   said   that   the   posts   of   AWWs   and   AWHs   are
statutory posts.  
27
19. As far as the State of Gujarat is concerned, the appointments
of AWWs and AWHs are governed by the said Rules. In view of the
2013 Act, AWWs and AWHs are no longer a part of any temporary
scheme of ICDS. It cannot be said that the employment of AWWs
and AWHs has temporary status.   In view of the changes brought
about  by  the  2013  Act  and  the  aforesaid  Rules  framed  by  the
Government of Gujarat, the law laid down by this Court in the case
of Ameerbi will not detain this Court any further from deciding the
issue.   For the reasons stated above, the decision in the case of
Ameerbi will not have any bearing on the issue involved in these
appeals.
PLIGHT OF AWWs AND AWHs
20. AWWs   and   AWHs   have   been   assigned   all­pervasive   duties,
which include identification of the beneficiaries, cooking nutritious
food,   serving   healthy   food   to   the   beneficiaries,   conducting   preschool for the children of the age group of 3 to 6 years, and making
frequent home visits for various reasons. Implementation of very
important and innovative provisions relating to children, pregnant
28
women as well as lactating mothers under the 2013 Act has been
entrusted to them.  It is thus impossible to accept the contention
that the job assigned to AWWs and AWHs is a part­time job. The
Government   Resolution   dated   25th  November   2019,   which
prescribes duties of AWWs and AWHs, does not lay down that their
job is a part­time job. Considering the nature of duties specified
thereunder, it is full­time employment.   In the State of Gujarat,
AWWs are being paid monthly remuneration of only Rs.7,800/­ and
AWHs are being paid monthly remuneration of only Rs.3,950/­.
AWWs working in mini­Anganwadi centres are being paid a sum of
Rs.4,400/­   per   month.     The   important   tasks   of   providing   food
security   to   children   in   the   age   group   of   6   months   to   6   years,
pregnant women as well as lactating mothers have been assigned to
them.  In addition, there is a duty to render pre­school education.
For all this, they are being paid very meagre remuneration and
paltry   benefits   under   an   insurance   scheme   of   the   Central
Government.  It is high time that the Central Government and State
Governments take serious note of the plight of AWWs and AWHs
who are expected to render such important services to the society.
29
APPLICABILITY   OF   THE   PROVISIONS   OF   THE   1972   ACT   TO
AWWs AND AWHs
21. Now, I turn to the provisions of the 1972 Act. Sub­sections (3)
and (3A) of the 1972 Act deal with the applicability of its provisions.
Sub­sections (3) and (3A) of Section 1 reads thus: 
“(3) It shall apply to ­
(a) every factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port
and railway company; 
(b)  every   shop   or   establishment   within   the
meaning of any law for the time being in force
in  relation  to   shops  and  establishments   in  a
State,   in   which   ten   or   more   persons   are
employed,   or  were   employed,   on   any   day   of
the preceding twelve months; 
(c)   such   other   establishments   or   class   of
establishments, in which ten or more employees
are employed, or were employed, on any day of
the   preceding   twelve   months,   as   the   Central
Government may, by notification, specify in this
behalf. 
[(3A) A shop or establishment to which this Act
has   become   applicable   shall   continue   to   be
governed by this Act, notwithstanding that the
number of persons employed therein at any time
after it has become so applicable falls below ten.]”
                         (emphasis added)
30
22. Reliance has been placed by the appellants on clause (b) of
Section 1(3) and in the alternative, on clause (c). Clause (b) of
Section   1(3)   applies   to   every   shop   or   establishment   within   the
meaning of any law for the time being in force in relation to the
shops and establishments in a State in which ten or more persons
are employed or were employed on any day of the preceding twelve
months.  
23. Though, during the course of submissions, reliance was first
placed on the Gujarat Act as applicable to the State of Gujarat, by
the Gujarat Shops and Establishments (Regulation of Employment
and Conditions of Service) Act, 2019, the Gujarat Act has been
repealed.
24. Now, the question is whether clause (b) of Section 1(3) of the
1972 Act will apply.  This Court in the case of the Labour Court,
Jullunder (supra) has given a wide interpretation to clause (b).  In
paragraph 3 of the said decision, this Court held thus:
“3. In this appeal, the learned Additional Solicitor
General contends on behalf of the appellant that
the   Payment   of   Gratuity   Act,   1972   cannot   be
invoked   by   the   respondents   because   the   Project
31
does not fall within the scope of Section 1(3) of that
Act. Section 1(3) provides that the Act will apply to:
(a) every factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port
and railway company;
(b)   every   shop   or   establishment   within   the
meaning of any law for the time being in force in
relation to shops and establishments in a State, in
which ten or more persons are employed, or were
employed,   on   any   day   of   the   preceding   twelve
months;
(c)   such   other   establishments   or   class   of
establishments, in which ten or more employees are
employed,  or   were  employed,   on   any  day  of   the
preceding   twelve   months,   as   the   Central
Government   may,   by   notification,   specify   in   this
behalf.”
According to the parties, it is clause (b) alone which
needs to be considered for deciding whether the Act
applies to the Project. The Labour Court has held
that   the   Project   is   an   establishment   within   the
meaning of the Payment of Wages Act, Section 2(ii)
(g) of which defines an “industrial establishment” to
mean   any   “establishment   in   which   any   work
relating   to   the   construction   development   or
maintenance of buildings, roads, bridges or canals,
relating  to  operations  connected  with   navigation,
irrigation or the supply of water, or relating to the
generation,   transmission   and   distribution   of
electricity   or   any   other   form   of   power   is   being
carried on”. It is urged for the appellant that the
Payment   of   Wages   Act   is   not   an   enactment
contemplated by Section 1(3)(b) of the Payment
of Gratuity Act. The Payment of Wages Act, it is
pointed out, is a Central enactment and Section
1(3)(b), it is said, refers to a law enacted by the
State  Legislature.  We  are  unable  to  accept  the
contention.   Section  1(3)(b)   speaks   of   “any   law
32
for the time being in force in relation to shops
and establishments in a State”. There can be no
dispute   that   the   Payment   of   Wages   Act   is   in
force   in   the   State   of   Punjab.   Then,   it   is
submitted,  the  Payment  of  Wages  Act   is  not  a
law   in   relation   to   “shops  and  establishments”.
As   to   that,   the   Payment   of   Wages   Act   is   a
statute which, while it may not relate to shops,
relates  to  a  class  of  establishments,  that   is  to
say,   industrial   establishments.   But   it   is
contended,   the   law   referred   to   under   Section
1(3)(b) must be a law which relates to both shops
and   establishments,   such   as   the  Punjab  Shops
and Commercial Establishments Act, 1958. It is
difficult to accept that contention because there
is no warrant for so limiting the meaning of the
expression   “law”   in   Section   1(3)(b).   The
expression   is   comprehensive   in   its   scope,   and
can mean a law in relation to shops as well as,
separately,  a  law  in relation to  establishments,
or   a   law   in   relation   to   shops   and   commercial
establishments   and   a   law   in   relation   to   noncommercial establishments. Had Section 1(3)(b)
intended to refer to  a single enactment, surely
the appellant would have been able to  point to
such a statute, that is to say, a statute relating
to   shops   and  establishments,  both   commercial
and   non­commercial.   The   Punjab   Shops   and
Commercial Establishments Act does not relate
to all kinds of establishments. Besides shops, it
relates to commercial establishments alone. Had
the intention of Parliament been, when enacting
Section   1(3)(b),   to   refer   to   a   law   relating   to
commercial   establishments,   it   would   not   have
left   the   expression   “establishments”
33
unqualified.   We   have   carefully   examined   the
various   provisions   of   the  Payment   of   Gratuity
Act, and we are unable to discern any reason for
giving   the   limited   meaning   to   Section   1(3)(b)
urged   before   us   on   behalf   of   the   appellant.
Section   1(3)(b)   applies   to   every   establishment
within   the   meaning   of   any   law   for   the   time
being in force in relation to establishments in a
State.  Such   an   establishment   would   include   an
industrial   establishment   within   the   meaning   of
Section   2(ii)(g)   of   the   Payment   of   Wages   Act.
Accordingly, we are of opinion that the Payment of
Gratuity Act applies to an establishment in which
any work relating to the construction, development
or   maintenance   of   buildings,   roads,   bridges   or
canals,   or   relating   to   operations   connected   with
navigation,   irrigation   or   the   supply   of   water,   or
relating   to   the   generation,   transmission   and
distribution of electricity or any other form of power
is being carried on. The Hydel Upper Bari Doab
Construction Project is such an establishment, and
the Payment of Gratuity Act applies to it.”
(emphasis supplied)
Hence,   ‘establishments’   contemplated   by   clause   (b)   can   be
establishments within the meaning of any law for the time being in
force in a State in relation to establishments. Therefore, I have
examined the laws in relation to establishments which are in force
in the State of Gujarat. 
25. I   may   refer   to   the   provisions   of   the   Contract   Labour
(Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 (for short “the Contract Labour
34
Act”).  Establishments have been defined in clause (e) of Section 2
which reads thus : 
“(e) "establishment" means­
(i) any office or department of the Government or a 
local authority, or ­
(ii) any place where any industries, trade, business, 
manufacture or occupation is carried on.”
The   Contract   Labour   Act   is   applicable   to   establishments   as
provided in sub­section (4)(a) of Section 1.  In view of sub­section (2)
of Section 1, the Contract Labour Act is applicable to the State of
Gujarat. Therefore, it is legislation in relation to establishments in
the State of Gujarat.  As stated above, under the said Rules, now
the selection and appointments of AWWs and AWHs are being made
by the Government of Gujarat.  An officer of the said Government is
empowered   to   issue   an   order   of   termination   of   employment   of
AWWs   and   AWHs.     As   stated   earlier,   Anganwadi   centres   have
become an extended arm of the Government.  Now, it operates as
an establishment or a wing of the Government. The remuneration to
AWWs and AWHs is paid by the State Government. However, the
State Government gets contributions from the Central Government.
Moreover, it can always be said that occupation is carried out in the
35
establishments of Anganwadi centres.  Hence, Anganwadi Centre is
an establishment within the meaning of clause (e) of Section 2 of
the Contract Labour Act.  
26. The Code of Wages, 2019 is an enactment that received the
assent of the President on 8th August 2019.  However, only a few
provisions therein have been brought into force so far.  Clause (m)
of Section 2 thereof defines establishment which means any place
where any industry, trade, business, manufacture, or occupation is
carried out and it includes the Government establishments.  There
is a similar definition of establishment under clause 29 of Section 2
of the Code on Social Security, 2020 which received the assent of
the President on 28th September 2020.  These provisions show the
legislative intent to include the various Government establishments
in the category of establishments in the welfare statutes. 
27. It   is   not   the   case   of   the   State   Government   that   every
Anganwadi centre is a separate entity.  Anganwadi centres and Mini
Anganwadi centres are a part of the Anganwadi establishment of
the   State   Government.     The   Anganwadi   centres   have   been
36
employing ten or more AWWs and AWHs in the State.  Therefore, I
have   no   manner   of   doubt   that   Anganwadi   centres   are
establishments   contemplated   by   clause   (b)   of   sub­section   (3)   of
Section 1 of the 1972 Act.  The learned Additional Solicitor General
relied upon a decision of this Court in Bangalore Turf Club (supra).
It was a case arising out of the Employees’ State Insurance Act,
1948. The said Act does not define “establishment”. The decision
has no relevance in this case.
28. Clauses (e), (f), and (s) of Section 2 of the 1972 Act which
define ‘employee’, ‘employer’ and ‘wages’ are relevant.   The same
read thus:
“(e) “employee”  means any person (other than an
apprentice) who is employed for wages, whether the
terms of such employment are express or implied, in
any   kind   of   work,   manual   or   otherwise,   in   or   in
connection with the work of a factory, mine, oilfield,
plantation,   port,   railway   company,   shop   or   other
establishment to which this Act applies, but does not
include any such person who holds a post under the
Central Government or a State Government and is
governed by any other Act or by any rules providing
for payment of gratuity;
(f) “employer”  means,   in   relation   to   any
establishment, factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port,
railway company or shop: ­ 
37
(i) belonging to, or under the control of, the Central
Government   or   a   State   Government,   a   person   or
authority appointed by the appropriate Government
for   the   supervision   and   control   of   employees,   or
where no person or authority has been so appointed,
the   head   of   the   Ministry   or   the   Department
concerned, 
(ii) belonging to, or under the control of, any local
authority, the person appointed by such authority for
the supervision and control of employees or where no
person has been so appointed, the  chief executive
officer of the local authority. 
(iii)   in   any   other   case,   the   person,   who,   or   the
authority which, has the ultimate control over the
affairs of  the establishment,  factory, mine, oilfield,
plantation, port, railway company or shop, and where
the said affairs are entrusted to any other person,
whether called a manager, or managing director or by
any other name, such person;
(s) “wages” means all emoluments which are earned
by   an   employee   while   on   duty   or   on   leave   in
accordance   with   the   terms   and   conditions   of   his
employment and which are paid or are payable to him
in cash and includes dearness allowance but does not
include   any   bonus,   commission,   house   rent
allowance, overtime wages and any other allowance.”
29. The definition of ‘wages’ is very wide.  It means all emoluments
which are earned by an employee on duty.  Thus, the honorarium
paid to AWWs and AWHs will also be covered by the definition of
38
wages.  As AWWs and AWHs are employed by the State Government
for wages in the establishments to which the 1972 Act applies, the
AWWs and AWHs are employees within the meaning of the 1972
Act.   In view of the said Rules of the Gujarat Government, the
Anganwadi   centres   are   not   under   the   control   of   the   Central
Government.     Therefore,   the   State   Government   will   be   an
appropriate Government within the meaning of clause (a) of Section
2 of the 1972 Act.  Accordingly, a person or authority appointed by
the   appropriate   Government   for   the   supervision   and   control   of
AWWs and AWHs will be the employer within the meaning of clause
(f) of Section 2.  
30. I may add here that the Government of India by a notification
dated   3rd  April   1997   has   notified   educational   institutions   as
establishments under clause (c) of sub­section (3) of Section 1 of the
1972 Act.  In the Anganwadi centres, the activity of running a preschool for the children in the age group of 3 to 6 years is being
conducted.  It is purely an educational activity.  The job of teaching
is done by AWWs and AWHs. The State Government is running pre39
schools in Anganwadi centres in accordance with Section 11 of the
RTE Act.
31. For the reasons recorded above, I have no manner of doubt
that the 1972 Act will apply to Anganwadi centres and in turn to
AWWs and AWHs. In the impugned Judgment, the Division Bench
was swayed by the view taken by this Court in the case of Ameerbi
which was followed by the Delhi High Court in the case of  Akhil
Bhartiya   Anganwadi   Kamgar   Union   (Regd.)  (supra).   These
decisions, for the reasons recorded earlier, have no bearing on the
issue involved in these appeals.  The learned Single Judge was right
in holding that the 1972 Act was applicable to AWWs and AWHs.
The Controlling Authority has granted simple interest at the rate of
10% on the overdue gratuity amounts.  All eligible AWWs and AWHs
shall be entitled to the benefit of interest. 
32. Hence,   I   allow   the   appeals   and   set   aside   the   impugned
Judgment dated 8th August 2017 of the Division Bench of Gujarat
High Court and restore the Judgment of the learned Single Judge
dated 6th June 2016 in Special Civil Application no. 1219 of 2016
40
and other connected cases by holding that the provisions of the
1972 Act apply to AWWs and AWHs working in Anganwadi centres.
Within a period of three months from today, necessary steps shall
be taken by the concerned authorities in the State of Gujarat under
the 1972 Act to extend benefits of the said Act to the eligible AWWs
and AWHs.   We direct that all eligible AWWs and AWHs shall be
entitled to simple interest @ 10% per annum from the date specified
under sub­section 3A of Section 7 of the 1972 Act. 
…………..…………………J.
(ABHAY S. OKA)
New Delhi;
April 25, 2022.
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