10 June 2024


High Court of Delhi

Life Insurance Corporation of India and Ors. Vs. Manmod Shankar and Ors.



Labour and Industrial

In case of reinstatement, payment of back wages is not a matter of right

Present are two petitions arising out of the impugned award passed by the Presiding Officer, Labour Court by which the Workman was reinstated into service. The Workman joined the Life Insurance Corporation of India as an Assistant on 25th September, 1989. Chargesheet was issued to him on the ground of unauthorised absence and on various other grounds. The said charge sheet was followed by a show cause notice and finally resulted into an enquiry and termination. The Workman filed two appeals before the Appellate Authority. The said appeals were rejected. Aggrieved by the order of the rejection of appeals, he approached the Labour Court, which directed his reinstatement vide the impugned order.

It is settled legal position that, the Workman cannot claim award of back wages in all cases. Several factors such as nature of misconduct are to be considered by the Court. In every case, upon reinstatement, payment of back wages is not a matter of right.

It is also the settled position in law that past conduct can be taken into consideration in order to adjudge whether the punishment meted out to the Workman is justified or not. The present is not a mere case of unauthorised absence for a few months due to a justified medical cause. It is much more. In fact, the Workman has defeated his own cause by not appearing before the concerned authorities and justifying his absence. It is in view of the long tenure of the Workman that the Labour Court has reinstated him but without monetary benefits for the intervening period.

In the backdrop of the legal position, present Court has perused the initial charge sheet, the show cause notice as also the order of the Disciplinary Authority, the enquiry report and the order of the Appellate Authority. The enquiry report and the orders of the Disciplinary Authority and the Appellate Authority are detailed in nature. They clearly reflect upon the complete lack of discipline on behalf of the Workman, who has not merely absented himself from duty but has continuously exhibited lack of any adherence to the discipline required for working in an organization like LIC. While mere absence due to medical grounds may not justify termination of an employee, there has to be some conduct on behalf of the Workman to show that he bonafidely placed his case before the management.

It is apparent upon a perusal of the record that the employer was almost forced to take such actions against the Workman, owing to the continuous non-cooperative attitude and indiscipline and violation of various service conditions. The charge sheet is not merely based upon past conduct for which the Workman was already punished. The charge sheet has set out the various grounds which were taken into consideration for constituting an enquiry against the Workman.

All the allegations raised against the Workman were duly communicated to him and there is no violation of the principles of natural justice in present case. The Workman has selectively chosen to participate in the proceedings, but has on most occasions refused to participate, while fully being aware of the proceedings. A workman cannot claim back wages as a matter of right as held in Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation vs. Phool Chand (Dead) through L.Rs. While the long tenure of the workman has resulted in his reinstatement, owing to his past conduct, the labour court has rightly held that he would not be entitled to back wages. Under such circumstances, the Labour Court's order which directs reinstatement on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit, as has been done in the present case, is fully justified and does not warrant any interference. Petitions dismissed.


Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation, Jaipur vs. Phool Chand (Dead) through L.Rs. MANU/SC/1020/2018

Tags : Past conduct Reinstatement Legality

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