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Book-recent Trends in Labour Laws

Book-recent Trends in Labour Laws

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Published by Hari Haran K

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Published by: Hari Haran K on Nov 13, 2010
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This is an attempt to compare the judgments delivered in the 1960 To 1990’s with that of judgments delivered from 2001 onwards. The Indian Economy hasundergone significant changes after the introduction of liberalization andglobalization. The Indian Judiciary has also taken a note of the prevailingcircumstances and there is a different direction taken by the Indian Judiciary inthe recent years.Earlier the Judiciary has taken a human approach. However, now the disciplineand industrial peace in the industry is considered to be of paramount importance. With this background, I tried to compare several judgments rendered by theSupreme Court and the High Courts.
Earlier absenteeism even for a period of 5 years was not considered as amajor misconduct. In a judgment the Supreme court in the case of Syed Yakoob Vs K.S.Radhakrishnan and others reported in AIR 1964 SC 477 is relevent whichdealt with that termination on the ground of absenteeism and found that it wasdis proportionate and set-aside the termination and granted reinstatement withfull back-wages. Whereas the Hon’ble Supreme court in the case reported in 2008 LLR 715SC Chairman & MD VSP and others Vs. Gokaraju Sri Prabhakar held that despiteof opportunities granted him to report for duty, he failed to report duty - Absencejustifies dismissal from service - High court cannot set aside a well reasonedorder only on
sympathy or sentiments
– Once it is found that all the proceduralrequirements have been complied, the courts would not ordinarily interfere withthe quantum of punishment imposed upon a delinquent employee.
Theft is defined as a mis-conduct under the Industrial Employment StandingOrders Act, A.P. Shops & Establishments Act and also under the IPC. Earlier thequantum involved in the theft or fraud used to be the deciding factor in case of theft, fraud or dishonesty. The courts in earlier days used to take lenient viewdepending upon the amount involved in the theft and the nature of theft. Areference can be made to the judgment of P.Orr & Sons Pvt. Ltd., and others VsPresiding Officer labour court reported in 1974 I LLJ page no.517 herein thecourt has held that the amount involved in the theft is not of a high value and assuch dismissal was a disproportionate punishment. Whereas in the recent days Supreme court has taken a view that the amountinvolved in the theft is not the criteria but integrity of the employee is moreimportant. Termination of workmen for theft of employer’s property should not beset aside reported in 2008 Supreme Court LLR 231 in the case of workmen of Balmadies Estates Vs management of Balmadies Estates. Similar Judgements onthis aspect are as follows. A)In the case of A. Venkat Ram Vs. Depot Manager, Charminar Depot, APSRTC reported in 2004 LLR 186, the A.P. High court has observed asfollows:
“Unless cases of misappropriation and loss of confidence by theemployees are dealt with iron-hand, it may not said right signalsto the employee”.
B)The Supreme court also taken the same opinion by observing that foquantum of money misappropriated but the loss of confidence is theprimary fact in the case of Depot Manager, APSRTC Vs Raghuda SivaShankar Prasad reported in 2007 LLR 113
Earlier whenever the cases relating to usage of vulgar or abusive languagereaches the court of law, the courts have taken a view that the workers basically came from the families of without much education background and they have grownin a society where usage of decent language was not possible. Therefore keepingin view of their social status, the courts have granted relief in favour of the workerseven such misconduct was duly proved. Reference can be made to the case of Ramakant Mishra Vs State of UP reported in 1982 Lab ic page no.1790 SC.
However, now the Supreme court in the year 2005 LLR page 360 in the caseof Mahendra and Mahendra Ltd., Vs. N.V. Naravade held that usage of abusiveand filthy language against superior officer held that did not call for lesser punishment than dismissal.
The courts are of the opinion in the earlier days that the workmen generally  work for the long hours and sleeping while on duty was not considered as a major misconduct warranting the dismissal unless it is an habitual act.
In this connection,a judgement of supreme court in the year 1960 in the case of Nirmal Sen Gupta Vs National Carbon Company Ltd. is relevent. Whereas now the Supreme court in the case of Bharat Forge Company Vs.Uttam Manohar reported in 2005 LLR 210 held that sleeping while on duty asmajor misconduct warrants punishment of dismissal.
The courts earlier taken a view that in some of the cases that assaulting thesuperior is not a major misconduct and considered the mitigating circumstancesused to grant relief in favour of the workers. Whereas now the Supreme court in the case of Bharat Cooking Coal Ltd.,etc., Vs. Bihar Colliery Comgar Union reported in 2005 LLR 373 SC held thatassaulting the superior is a major misconduct and also observed that the standtaken by the earlier courts that victim did not die because of the injuries is not amitigating circumstance. Similar view was also taken by the Hon’ble SupremeCourt in the case of Usha Breco Mazdoor Sangh Vs The management of UshaBreco Ltd and another reported in 2008 LLR page no.619 SC
Strike was considered to be the weapon in the hands of the workmen and theunion to pressurize the management and to get their demands settled. This wasthe approach of the judiciary in the earlier days and a reference can be made tothe case of B.R. Singh Vs Union of India reported in 1990 Lab. Ic, page 389 S.C.The Supreme Court in a landmark judgement relating to TamilnaduGovernment Employees strike held that they have no statutory or constitutionalright to go on strike as per the case reported in 2003 LLJ page 275.

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