The principle of common seniority adds to the merit of the principle of ‘last come first go’: Bombay High Court

Observance of the principle of common seniority is while terminating the services of an employer/workman provides more value and merit to the principle of ‘last come, first go’ laid down in Indian industrial law. A full bench comprising of Justice Sunil B Shukre, Justice Rohit B Deo and Justice MG Giratkar while adjudicating the matter in Kanhaiyyalal v. Bhartiya Jagruti Shikshan Sanstha; [WRIT PETITION NO.4369 OF 2013], dealt with the issue of termination of an employer upon reaching the age of superannuation.

The petitioner was a permanent employee of an educational society and was rendering his services as an assistant teacher at a school owned by the respondent. The Education Officer issued an order terminating the services of the petitioner. The petitioner challenged his termination order before the school. The school set aside the termination order of the petitioner and told the Education Officer to include the petitioner’s name in the list of surplus teachers maintained by them. The petitioner was then asked to superannuate his contract of employment. This meant that the relief of inclusion of the name of the petitioner in the list of surplus Teachers was just like a decree on paper, a sort of moral victory rather than a real score over and enablement of fruits of the win. The petitioner expected the school to appropriately mould the relief by granting continuity of service, back-wages, and other retirement benefits to the petitioner. As that did not happen, the petitioner knocked at the doors of this Court by filing the present petition.

The Court upon considering the facts stated that “The principle of common seniority, in matters of retrenchment or termination, we may add, gives a concrete shape to the principle of industrial law, ‘last come, first go’. Observance of principle of common seniority ultimately leads to upholding of the fundamental virtues of any organizational life which are of predictability, transparency, stability and equity. Absent these virtues, no organization can prosper, much less an organization functioning in the field of education, the demands for purity and high standard of which are much more than other fields. If it is assumed that the principle of observance of common seniority of employees is not required to be followed while effecting the termination of their services, in a case where Management conducts more than one school, it would lead to an atmosphere of insecurity in and instability for the employees and that would ultimately impact their efficacy and efficiency.”

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