Tag Archives: employer

Conditions of Service – Governed by Statute

In the cases where the appointment and conditions of service are governed by statute, the relationship is that of status and not merely a contract. However, in other cases, it is purely a contract of service resulting in a relationship of ordinary master and servant. In such cases, where the contract of service is not governed by statutory provisions, it is well settled that contract of service cannot be enforced by seeking reinstatement or continuance in employment since such a relief is barred under the Specific Relief Act. In Executive Committee of U.P. State Warehousing Corporation v. C.K. Tyagi, AIR 1970 SC 1244 it was held as under:

        “Under the common law the court will not ordinarily force an employer to retain the services of an employee whom he no longer wishes to employ. But this rule is subject to certain well recognized exceptions. It is open to the courts in an appropriate case to declare that a public servant who is dismissed from service in contravention of Article 311 continues to remain in service, even though by doing so the State is in effect forced to continue to employ the servant whom it does not desire to employ. Similarly under the Industrial Law, jurisdiction of the Labour and Industrial Tribunals to compel the employer to employ a worker whom he does not desire to employ, is recognized. The courts are also invested with the power to declare invalid the act of a statutory body, if by doing the act, the body has acted in breach of a mandatory obligation imposed by statute.

        The position in law is that no declaration to enforce a contract of personal service will be normally granted. But there are certain well recognized exceptions to this rule and they are: to grant such a declaration in appropriate cases regarding (1) a public servant, who has been dismissed from service in contravention of Article 311 (2) Reinstatement of a dismissed worker under Industrial Law by Labour or Industrial Tribunals. (3) A staturoy body when it has acted in breach of a mandatory obligation, imposed by statute.” Ram Prasad v. State of U.P., 2019 (135) ALR 1.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Conditions of Service, Employment Law

Back Wages – Conduct of Concerned Workman

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in Novartis India Ltd. v. State of West Bengal, reported in (2009) 3 SCC 124, has held that merely because the dismissal from service has been held to be illegal would not result in automatic payment of back wages and the conduct of the concerned workman would also have to be examined. It was held as under:

            “There can, however, be no doubt whatsoever that there has been a shift in the approach of the Court in regard to payment of back wages. Back wages cannot be granted almost automatically upon setting aside an order of termination inter alia on the premises that the burden to show that the workman was gainfully employed during interregnum period was on the employer. The burden of proof that he remained unemployed would be on the workman keeping in view the provisions contained in Section 106 of the Evidence Act, 1872. The Hon’ble Court in the matter of grant of back wages has laid down certain guidelines stating that therefor several factors are required to be considered including the nature of appointment; the mode of recruitment; the length of service; and whether the appointment was in consonance with Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India in cases of public employment etc.

            It is also trite that for the purpose of grant of back wages, conduct of the concerned workman also plays a vital role. Each decision, as regards grant of back wages or the quantum thereof, would, therefore, depend on the fact of each case. Back wages are ordinarily to be granted, keeping in view the principles of grant of damages in mind. It cannot be claimed as a matter of right. M/s Rathi Udyog Ltd. v. Presiding Officer, (2019) 2 UPLBEC 1093.

Leave a comment

Filed under Back Wages, Employment Law

Inter Se Suitability

In English parlance, the word “suitable” is assigned the meaning as “appropriate, fitted for the purpose or acceptable”. Concise Oxford Dictionary defines the word “suitable” as “well fitted for the purpose; appropriate”. This ordinary meaning is to be given effect to as a general guide, unless this expression is given special meaning in a statute or rule in administrative instructions. In R. (Quintavalle) v. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, (2005) 2 AC 561 : (2005) 2 WLR 1061 : 2005 UKHL 28, the House of Lords remarked that “the word “suitability” is an empty vessel which is filled with meaning by context and background”.

In service jurisprudence, where the word “suitable” is normally examined from the point of view as to whether a particular person is suitable to hold a particular post, it is construed as “fit” to hold that post. It would mean that the job profile and job requirement of a particular post would be seen and then, going by the calibre, competence, attributes, skill and experience of the candidate, it would be ascertained as to whether such a person would be able to discharge the duties of the post i.e. whether he is suited to carry out the functions of the post, to the satisfaction of his employer.

The prefix “inter se” has also to be given some meaning as it cannot be rendered otiose. Therefore, whereas while assessing “suitability”, it has to be seen that a particular officer is not unfit for the post, when it comes to “inter se suitability”, it has reference to assessing the suitability of all eligible officers and thereafter finding who is more suitable to occupy such a post. Union of India v. Manomoy Ganguly, (2018) 9 SCC 65.

Leave a comment

Filed under Inter Se Suitability

Suspension – In contemplation of Enquiry

The purpose of suspension of an employee in service jurisprudence is two fold. The traditional and dominant purpose of suspension is to aid and assist a disciplinary enquiry against an employee. Suspension in such cases is not a punishment. The second known purpose of suspension is to impose it as a punishment.

        When suspension is made in contemplation of a disciplinary enquiry, certain prerequisites have to be satisfied. An enquiry should be contemplated or underway into charges of misconduct. The charges of misconduct, if proved, should be serious enough to warrant a major penalty.

        The order of suspension should be passed after due and independent application of mind. The suspension should not be made as a matter of routine resulting from a suspension syndrome.

        At the stage of suspension the veracity of the charges cannot be ascertained and the merits of the defence cannot be examined. However, the order of suspension should disclose a prima facie act of misconduct.

        Suspension in contemplation of an enquiry, is made to aid the process of enquiry. Suspension takes out the delinquent employee from his domain of influence. This ensures that the enquiry is independent and fair.

        Suspension also takes off the charged employee from his regular duties. This enables the employee to join the enquiry proceedings and give fulsome cooperation to the enquiry officer. It also gives him adequate time to prepare his defense. Continuing the employee on regular duties, with an enquiry on foot, would not be in institutional interests either. The official work would suffer and the enquiry proceedings would be impeded. The suspension in such cases is not a punishment. Deepika Shukla v. State Of U.P., 2018 (6) AWC 6050.

Leave a comment

Filed under Suspension in contemplation of enquiry

Major Punishment – Examination of Witnesses

In Subhash Chandra Sharma v. Managing Director, 2000 (1) UPLBEC 541, it was held as under:

          “The Court also held that in the enquiry witnesses have to be examined in support of the allegations and opportunity has to be given to the delinquent to cross – examine these witnesses and to lead evidence in his defense. In Punjab National Bank v. A.I.P.N.B.E. Federation, AIR 1960 SC 160, the Supreme Court held that in such enquiries evidence must be recorded in the presence of the charge-sheeted employee and he must be given an opportunity to rebut the said evidence. The same view was taken in ACC Ltd. v. Their Workmen, 1963 (7) FLR 269, and in Tata Oil Mills Co. Ltd. v. Their Workmen, 1963 (6) FLR 257.

          Even if the employee refuses to participate in the enquiry, the employer cannot straightaway dismiss him, but he must hold an ex-parte enquiry where evidence must be led vide Imperial Tobacco Co. Ltd. v. Its Workmen, 1961 (3) FLR 524 and Uma Shanker v. Registrar, 1992 (65) FLR 674.

          Hon’ble Supreme Court in Roop Singh Negi v. Punjab National Bank, 2009 (120) FLR 610, held as under:

          “Indisputably, a departmental proceeding is a quasi judicial proceeding. The enquiry officer performs a quasi-judicial function. The charges leveled against the delinquent officer must be found to have been proved. The enquiry officer has a duty to arrive at a finding  upon taking into consideration the materials brought on record by the parties. The purported evidence collected during investigation by the investigating officer against all the accused by itself could not be treated to be evidence in the disciplinary proceedings. Not witness was examined to prove the said documents. The management witnesses merely tendered, the documents and did not prove the contents thereof. Reliance, inter alia, was placed by the enquiry officer on the FIR which could not have been treated as evidence.”

          Similar view has been taken in Sohan Lal v. U.P. Co-operative Federation Ltd., 2013 (139) FLR 723:

          “The principle of law emanates from the above judgments are that initial burden is on the department to prove the charges. In case of procedure adopted for inflicting major penalty, the department must prove the charges by oral evidence also.

          From the perusal of the enquiry report it is demonstrably proved that no oral evidence has been led by the department. When a major punishment is proposed to be passed, the department has to prove the charges against the delinquent/employee by examining the witnesses and by documentary evidence. In the present case, no witness was examined to prove the documents in the proceedings.

          It is trite law that the departmental proceedings are quasi-judicial proceedings. The Inquiry Officer functions as quasi-judicial officer. He is not merely a representative of the department. He has to act as an independent and impartial officer to find out the truth. The major punishment awarded to an employee visits serious consequences and as such the departmental proceedings ought to be in conformity with the principles of natural justice. Even if, an employee prefers not to participate in the enquiry, the department has to establish the charges against the employee by adducing oral as well as documentary evidence. In case the charges warrant major punishment, then the oral evidence by producing the witnesses is necessary.” Lalta Prasad v. State of U.P., 2019 (161) FLR 183.        

Leave a comment

Filed under Major Punishment

Compulsory Retirement — Subjective Satisfaction

The Hon’ble Apex Court in re: S. Ramachandra Raju v. State of Orissa, 1994 Supp (3) SCC 424, has held that the subjective satisfaction must be based on adverse material of the incumbent. It was held as under:

“In Baikuntha Nath Das v. Chief District Medical Officer, (1992) 2 SCC 299, a bench of three Judges of the Hon’ble Apex Court was to consider whether uncommunicated adverse remarks would be conisered to order compulsory retirement. The Court considering the scope of Fundamental Rule 56(j) on the anvil of administrative law, held that the order of compulsory retirement has to be passed on forming the opinion that it is in the public interest to retire a Government Servant compulsorily though the order is passed on the subjective satisfaction of the Government, the Government or the Review Committee shall have to consider the entire record of service before taking a decision in the matter, of course, attaching more importance to record of and performance during the later years. The record so considered would naturally include the entries in the confidential records, character rolls, both favourable and adverse. The order of compulsory retirement is not liable to be quashed on mere showing that while passing it, uncommunicated adverse remarks were taken into consideration. Further, this does not mean that judicial scrutiny is excluded altogether. Though the court would not examine the matter as an appellate court, they may interfere if they are satisfied that the order if mala fide or passed on no evidence or that is arbitrary, in the sense that no reasonable person would form the requisite opinion or the given material, in short, if it is found to be a perverse order, the remedy under Article 226 is an important safeguard, since the remedy is an effective check against arbitrary, mala fide or perverse actions.”  Mukhtar Ahmad v. State of U.P., 2018 (3) ESC 1432.

Leave a comment

Filed under Compulsory Retirement, Uncategorized

Industrial Dispute – Jurisdiction

In Nand Ram v. Garware Polyster Ltd., (2016) 149 FLR 306, it was held that where the management at Aurangabad first took a decision to transfer the workman from Aurangabad to Pondicherry and then to close the unit at Pondicherry. It was then held that while industrial dispute of termination from service could validly be raised at Pondicherry, however, in such a case, it does not mean that the adjudication proceedings initiated at Aurangabad, where the management took a decision to close the Pondicherry unit, were without jurisdiction.
In matters of industrial dispute, the principle of part cause of action does apply and there is no rule, that only if the two or more States will be competent to make a reference. It will depend on the facts of each case. Also, it may have to be borne in mind, how much or which part of the cause of action arose inside the State where a reference happens to be made. Also, in case of two references arising in two different States, involving the same set of facts or cause of action, different tests may have to be evolved to see which of the two references arose first or which of the reference is more comprehensive or which may require to be decided first or which would suite the parties. Veritaz Health Care Ltd. v. State of U.P.¸ 2017 (3) AWC 3051.

Leave a comment

Filed under Industrial Dispute, jurisdiction