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“Apex Court Overturns Labour Court Decision: Upholds Employer’s Position on Workman’s Engagement and Onus of Proof.”

Title: Shambhu Lal vs Union Of India

Citation: D.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 14655/2022

Coram: HON’BLE THE ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE MR. MANINDRA MOHAN SHRIVASTAVA

Decided on: 17/05/23

Introduction:

The writ petition challenges the judgment dated 12.07.2022 from the Central Administrative Tribunal, Jaipur Bench. In this judgment, the Tribunal dismissed the Original Applications (‘OAs’) filed by the petitioners. The OAs contested the verbal termination orders dated 30.06.1992/01.07.1992.

Facts:

The writ petition challenges a judgment from the Central Administrative Tribunal, Jaipur Bench, dated 12.07.2022, which dismissed Original Applications (‘OAs’) filed by the petitioners contesting their verbal termination orders dated 30.06.1992/01.07.1992. The petitioners argue that the Tribunal erred in fact and law, asserting that the termination was malicious. They claim that the recruitment advertisement issued on 23.03.1991 was for short-term positions on sanctioned posts, not contractual employment. The petitioners allege no prior notice before termination, having worked more than 240 days in the twelve preceding months. They argue that since posts were available until 31.12.1993, terminating their services before this date is illegal.

The case history involves previous litigations, including a writ petition in 1992, an industrial dispute leading to a negative award in 2012, and subsequent writ petitions dismissed in 2017. The Division Bench granted liberty to the petitioners to challenge the termination order, leading to the filing of OAs before the Tribunal, ultimately dismissed on 22.07.2022.

Judgement analysis:

In this case, the Labour Court found a violation of Section 25-F of the Industrial Disputes Act, directing the reinstatement of the workman with 50% back wages. The employer’s writ petition challenging this decision was dismissed by the High Court, which upheld the award. The employer appealed to the Apex Court, arguing that both the Labour Court and the High Court erred in relying on factually and legally erroneous premises. The employer contended that the workman was engaged on a casual basis with daily wages for specific work and a specified period, falling under Section 2(oo) (bb) of the Act. The employer claimed that the details in this regard were undisputedly filed. The Apex Court, referencing precedents, held that the relief granted by the Labour Court and the High Court cannot be maintained.

Additionally, the Apex Court emphasized that the onus regarding working for more than 240 days rests on the workman, citing precedent. The Court allowed the appeal filed by the management, overturning the decisions of the Labour Court and the High Court.

The judgment concludes by stating that, based on the discussions, there is no case favoring the petitioners. The writ petition is dismissed as devoid of merit. This analysis highlights the Apex Court’s scrutiny of factual and legal aspects, emphasizing the employer’s position regarding the nature of the workman’s engagement and the onus of proof on the workman.

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Written By: Gauri Joshi

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