The Supreme Court of India in one recent case(State of Punjab Vs. Anil Kumar,2007 LLR 674) held that approaching labour court by workman after 13 years of his termination will not justify back wages even if he is found entitled to reinstatement in service. The facts of the case in brief is given below for your knowledge.
“The workman was engaged on daily wage basis for 3 specific spells in different depots of Punjab Roadways during the period from 6.2.81 to 30.9.85. As there was no work, he was disengaged after 30.9.85.The workman filed a civil suit in the Civil Court, Jalandhar claiming his continuous service under the Punjab Road Ways. The Learned Civil Court decreed the suit on 9.2.91 holding that the workman is deemed to be an employee of the Punjab Road Ways and he is entitled to back wages from the date of institution of the suit. The employer filed an appeal against the said order of the Civil Court in the court of District Judge. But the suit was withdrawn by the respondent workman for which, the judgment and decree dt. 9.2.91 of civil court lost their force.
Again on 9.5.94 the workman filed a civil suit for declaration of his service as regularized since 5.2.81 under Punjab Road Ways, which was dismissed by the Civil Judge (Jr. Division) on 12.10.96. But the workman again filed an appeal against the said judgment of Civil Judge (Jr. Division) in the court of District Judge,which was again withdrawn by him on 17.9.98.
After wasting a period over 13 years,the workman served a demand notice on the employer, the Punjab Road Ways on 29.9.98 under the provisions of I.D. Act, 1947. The matter was referred to the labour court for adjudication. The labour court passed an award dt. 12.11.03 directing reinstatement of the workman with 40% back wages from the date of demand notice i.e. w.e.f. 29.9.98. The workman filed writ petition before the High Court for giving direction to the employer to implement the award of the labour court. The workman was allowed to join duties on 1.4.05 by the employer.However, the employer filed writ petition before the High Court challenging the award of the labour court. The High Court dismissed the writ petition filed by the employer holding that the award of the labour court did not warrant any interference as the workman had worked for more than 240 days of service before his services were terminated.
The said judgment of the High Court was challenged by the employer in the Supreme Court. The apex court held that there is no infirmity in the order passed by the labour court as affirmed by the High Court so far as entitlement of the workman for reinstatement is concerned. At the same time the fact that there was belated approach cannot be lost sight of and admittedly there was belated approach and the labour court was moved after 13 years. In the aforesaid back ground the Apex court set aside the direction for payment of back wages to the workman, while maintaining the direction for reinstatement. “
I request all the CITEHR community members to share their knowledge of any Rulings of Supreme Court or State High Courts on employees’ service matters under this Discussion Topic.
Email: 4th August 2007 From India, Calcutta