Read Order: Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation Limited and Another v. Tarvinder Kumar and Another

Monika Rahar

Chandigarh, May 02, 2022: While dealing with a letters patent appeal against the order of a Single Judge Bench observing that hostile discrimination was done against the respondent/writ petitioner as he was not regularized by the appellant-Corporation, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that by virtue of the Government instructions of 2001, the Corporation was to consider the case of regularization of work charged/daily wage and other categories of employees against the available regular vacancies, who had completed 3 years.  

The Bench of Justices G.S. Sandhawalia and Vikas Suri held,  “A perusal of the Instructions dated 23.01.2001…  also goes on to show that the Corporation was under legal obligation to prepare the list of work charged/daily wage and other categories of employees, who had completed 3 years and consider the case of regularization of such employees against the available regular vacancies. Apparently, the said exercise was not done in the case of the writ petitioner.”

The Court was called upon to decide an LPA against the decision of the Single Judge directing the appellant-Corporation to consider the case of the writ petitioner for regularization of his services on parity with his juniors, whose services were regularized while working on the post of work charge/daily wager.

It was further directed in the impugned order that the benefit was to be given from the date when the respondent’s(Writ Petitioner) juniors were accorded the said benefits along with all consequential past pecuniary benefits arising therefrom for 38 months prior to filing of the writ petition along with interest @ 7% per annum with effect from the date of entitlement till the actual date of disbursement. 

The reasoning given by the Single Judge was that hostile discrimination as such was done against the respondent/writ petitioner as work charge/daily wager was regularized by the Corporation after obtaining requisite approval from the State Government. 

Essentially, in this case, the writ petitioner-respondent was employed way back in October 1988 as a T-Mate and his services were terminated in June 2001. Aggrieved, the petitioner-respondent preferred a reference before the Labour Court, in which he was successful. The defence of the Corporation that it was contractual employment and, therefore, he was not liable to be reinstated, was rejected.

It was noticed by the Labour Court that the employee worked for more than 12 ½ years before the termination of the services and there were short breaks, which were borne from the cross-examination of the management witness. The juniors were retained, but his services were terminated under the garb of contractual employment. Resultantly, it was held that the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, could not be allowed to be used as a tool of exploitation. 

It was also noticed that the provident fund of the workman was deducted from 1990 to 1995 continuously and in such circumstances, reinstatement was directed with 50% back-wages. 

The writ petition filed by the appellant-Corporation was dismissed by the Single Judge by noticing the above facts and the fact that daily wagers employed after October 1988 were still working with the Corporation. 

It was specifically pleaded in the writ petition regarding the factum that in 2013 recommendations for regularization for 57 work charged and 322 daily wagers employees of the appellant-corporation were made, to which the Finance Department of the Punjab Government gave sanction. 

In reply to this plea, the Corporation admitted that employees were to be regularized on the basis of fulfillment of conditions of service as stated in Government instructions dated June 1, 2001.By virtue of the above-stated instructions, the Corporation was under a legal obligation to prepare the list of work charged/daily wage and other categories of employees, who had completed 3 years and consider the case of regularization of such employees against the available regular vacancies.The Court noted that the above-stated exercise was not carried out in the case of the writ petitioner-respondent. 

Thus, the Court opined that the findings recorded by the Single Judge could not be held to be suffering from any illegality or irregularity, which would warrant interference in the present letters patent appeal. Resultantly, the present appeal was dismissed in limine.

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