The Supreme Court has recently reiterated that even if there seems to be a violation of Section 25F of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, just the absence of notice alone won’t automatically help the worker in getting reinstated with back wages.
The Bench of Justice M.M. Sundresh and Justice Aravind Kumar were dealing with a Special Leave Petition contesting the Gujarat High Court’s decision which upheld the Labor Court’s ruling, which found a violation of Sections 25F, 25G, and 25H of the Industrial Disputes Act and consequently had ordered the reinstatement of the present Respondent-workman on his original post with continuity of service but without back wages.
Advocate-on-Record Hemantika Wahi along with Advocate Jesal Wahi appeared for the Petitioner while Advocate-on-Record Haresh Raichura along with Advocate Saroj Raichura appeared for the Respondent.
Background: The present Respondent-workman, Mukeshkumar Gandalal Jadav, had been working as a Computer Operator-cum-Clerk under the appellant-District Rural Development Agency since 2001 and was terminated in March 2007. Before the Labour Court, the worker claimed a violation of mandatory provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, asserting continuous service throughout each year of his tenure.
On the other hand, the appellant-District Rural Development Agency contended that the workman was retained in service on fixed pay and the Director had terminated his services in the year 2007 as presently there was no need to engage the respondent–workman. The Labour Court noted and specifically observed that the work in the appellant agency is on the increase every year and there is evidence to believe that the work which was performed by the respondent-workman has been continuing even after his dismissal from service and that workmen who are juniors to the respondent were retained. The Labour Court also held that there was a breach of Sections 25F, 25G and 25H of the Industrial Disputes Act.
As a consequence, reinstatement was granted but back wages were denied. For denying the back wages, it was reasoned by the Labour Court that it was not possible to believe that workmen remained idle without work for such a long time. The Gujarat High Court dismissed the appeals filed by the appellant and being aggrieved with the same, the agency approached the Supreme Court.
The Apex Court, after considering the merits of the case, noted, “The only issue is with respect to non-compliance of Section 25F of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (For short, ‘the Act’). The law has been quite settled by this time by various judgments of this Court. It has been held that even assuming that there is apparent non-compliance of Section 25F of the Act, mere want of notice by itself will not enure to the benefit of the workman to seek reinstatement with back-wages.”
The Court, accordingly, allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned order. However, the Bench directed the appellant to pay a further sum of Rs.5 Lakhs in addition to Rs. One Lakh already paid to the respondent. “In such view of the matter, we are inclined to set aside the impugned order while granting compensation by directing the appellant to pay a further sum of Rs.5 Lakhs in addition to Rs. One Lakh already paid to the respondent. The remaining amount will have to be paid within a period of eight weeks’ from today”, stated the Court in its order.
Cause Title: District Rural Development Agency v. Mukeshkumar Gandalal Jadav [Special Leave to Appeal (C) No(s). 15480/2022]