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BARARA COOPERATIVE MARKETING-CUM-PROCESSING SOCIETY LTD V/S PRATAP SINGH

Author: Yashi Jain, IV year law student from Faculty of Law, Marwadi University


“PROTECTING THE RIGHTS OF WORKER UNDER WELFARE LEGISLATION SHOULD BE AT PRECEDENCE:- A CRITICAL COMMENTARY ON THE JUDGMENT PASSED IN THE CASE OF MANAGEMENT OF BARARA COOPERATIVE MARKETING-CUM-PROCESSING SOCIETY LTD V/S PRATAP SINGH, AIR 2019 SC 228”


Introduction

The Hon’ble Supreme court in the present case has ruled in the favour of the Appellant- employer i.e. The Management of the Barara Cooperative Marketing-cum-Processing Society Ltd. that the regularization of an employee already in service did not give any right to retrenched employee so as to enable him to invoke Section 25(H)of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 for claiming re-employment in services. The reason that was mentioned by the Hon’ble Supreme Court is that it is because an employer is not offering any fresh employment to a person to fill up a vacancy but simply continuing the services of those who are already under employment. Undoubtedly, this is a valid explanation and accordingly an employee’s claim to get reemployment in the employer services falls outside the scope of section 25H of the industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and to reap it’s benefit. However, the Hon’ble court fails to consider other relevant facts of the case that were observed by the Hon’ble High court of Punjab and Haryana from which the appeal came to this court and accordingly upheld the employee’s benefit at the paramount consideration.


A. A few pertinent facts that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has not taken into the deliberation are as follows

1. That the Respondent’s termination was declared illegal by the Labour Court, and,


2. That the Appellant- Management of the Barara Cooperative Marketing-cum-Processing Society Ltd. did not act bona-fide and disclosed all the material facts related to the status of the employees in its organisation.


(I) The respondent termination was declared illegal by The Labour Court

Respondent was working as a peon in appellant’s organisation from 1st July, 1973 and got terminated in the year 1985. As he considered his termination incorrect and unjust, he represented the matter in Labour court. The court found its termination bad in Law but awarded the lump sum compensation to the respondent instead of reinstatement in service. Being unsatisfied by the award he challenged it in the High Court. However, the court dismissed the petition and consequently he accepted the compensation awarded to him. The Hon’ble Supreme Court while observing this scenario held that the respondent received the lump sum compensation in full and final satisfaction and thus the case doesn’t qualify for the retrenchment as contemplated under section 25(H). But this observation isn’t justified on the grounds of equity as despite the compensation being awarded to him it cannot be said to be sufficient in lieu of the right of preferential opportunity of re-employment as per section 25(H) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.


(II) that the Appellant- Management of the Barara Cooperative Marketing-cum-Processing Society Ltd. did not act bona-fide and not disclosed all the material facts related to the status of the employees in his organisation.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court failed to dwell deep into the merits of the case. In the present case when the matter went to the Hon’ble Punjab Haryana High Court by an appeal challenging the order of the single bench of the High Court it was found that the Appellants have regularised the services of one Junior as peon in the year 1993 and subsequently there were several other employments took place in the organisation as clerk by virtue of section 25 (H) of the Act. However, respondent argued that there was no parity in both these posts of Chokidar and peon and appellant was a chokidar in their organisation. But a contrary was proved by placing the evidence and it was found there was no such distinction in both the posts. Hence, by doing a close appraisal of the factual matric the Hon’ble High courtwas correct to observe that the Appellant was at default by making parity in equivalent posts and tried to escape from his liability.


B. The veil of ‘regularization of service’ must be lifted up to give protection to the rights of the worker; be it a retrenched worker

As it was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court itself in the much celebrated case of Bangalore Water-Supply & ... vs R. Rajappa& Othersthat “being a beneficial legislation which protects Labour, promotes their contentment and regulates situations of crisis, Its goal is amelioration of the conditions of workers, tempered by a practical sense of peaceful co-existence, to the benefit of both-not a neutral position but restraints on laissez faire and concern for the welfare of the weaker lot. Empathy with the statute is necessary to understand not merely its spirit, but also its sense”.


Therefore, by taking the above note in consideration the researcher believes that if at all the employer was at some default to either advance benefit of section 25 (H) to some other employees for the employment in its services and not advancing the same to Pratap Singh who has been a peon in their organisation for around eight years, or if the workman was illegally terminated by any unfair labour practice of the employee, the so retrenched worker must get the benefit of doubt in such situations and must be reinstated in the employment along with the appropriate compensation.


The Hon’ble Supreme court has not just overlooked the sacred principles of justice, equity and good conscience to impart justice but has also failed to look at the complete facts of the case and accordingly decide what could have been fair and on merits. A decision merely on the difference between regularisation of service and claim of re-employment by Pratap Singh, the workman cannot be the basis to turn a blind eye on the wrongs done by the employer and hence, not upholding the spirit of the law in it’s true nature.


CONCLUSION

The researcher would like to conclude by saying that the present case - Management of the Barara Cooperative Marketing-cum-processing society ltd. Vs. Pratapsingh, Air 2019 Sc 228, is a recent case that has clarified the position of regularisation of service of an employee over re-employment of an employee. It was concluded that a retrenched worker can’t claim preference over a regularised employee for re-employment under Section 25(H) of the Industrial Disputes Act.


This case is prima facie important to consider as it clarified a lot of terminologies around retrenchment and the court has also laid down the essential conditions to attract section 25 (H) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 which deals with the re-employment of the retrenched worker. However, this case equally attracts a lot of criticism because of the decision passed against the retrenched worker that the researcher has elaborated on in the critical analysis of the paper. Lastly, this case has clarity of language and is relevant to analyzing future cases that come on a similar line of facts.


Endnotes

1. The Management of the Barara Cooperative Marketing-cum-Procesing Society Ltd. Vs. Partap Singh and Ors., MANU/PH/4011/2014.

2. Bangalore Water-Supply & ... vs R. Rajappa& Others, 1978 AIR 548.

3. Management of the Barara Cooperative Marketing-cum-processing society ltd. Vs. Pratapsingh, Air 2019 Sc 228

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