The Delhi High Court has refused to interfere with the order of reinstatement of a now dead DTC bus conductor who was terminated from service on account of an unauthorised absence for 15 days in 1991.
The punishment of removal, the high court said, was “shockingly disproportionate” and even if the matter was to be reconsidered for the quantum of penalty, no purpose would be served as the conductor was unfortunately not alive.
In an order passed earlier this month, a bench headed by then Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma dismissed the appeal by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) challenging a single-judge order upholding a 2003 labour court award directing the conductor’s reinstatement with back wages.
The dead employee inflicted the punishment of removal from service in January 1992 after an inquiry was initiated against him by the DTC.
He then proceeded to file a case against his dismissal under the industrial disputes law. He, however, died during the pendency of the legal proceedings.
The bench, also comprising Justice Sanjeev Narula, observed that during the inquiry, only one witness was examined and the inquiry officer disbelieved the conductor’s statement that he was compelled to take leave of 15 days on account of illness and his leave application was sent through his brother.
It further noted that the medical certificates were ignored only on the ground that the treatment was in a private hospital and the fact-finding by the Labour Court was not at all perverse.
“Not only this, in the considered opinion of this Court, for an absence of 15 days, the punishment of removal is shockingly disproportionate, and therefore, on this count alone, the workman was entitled for the relief,” the court said.
“The most unfortunate part in the present case is that the workman is no more, and even if the matter is to be remanded back to the Labour Court on the point of quantum of punishment, no purpose is going to be served as the workman is not alive,” it added.
The court was informed that DTC has paid all the terminal dues to the dead conductor’s wife and legal heirs and implemented the award of reinstatement.
“This Court does not find any reason to interfere with the Award dated 31.05.2003 passed by the Labour Court, nor with the order passed by the learned Single Judge, especially in the light of the fact that the workman is no longer alive and entire terminal dues have been paid to the widow and other LRs of the deceased workman. The appeal is, accordingly, dismissed,” the court ordered.
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