High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Micron Instruments Pvt. Ltd. v. Presiding Officer Labour Court, U.T. Cha - CWP-17344-2004  RD-P&H 3434 (25 May 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH
C.W.P. No.17344 of 2004
DATE OF DECISION: 25.5.2006
Micron Instruments Pvt. Ltd.
Presiding Officer Labour Court, U.T. Chandigarh & Anr.
CORAM: HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE J.S. NARANG.
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE ARVIND KUMAR,
Present:- Mr.P.K. Mutneja,Advocate
for the petitioner-management.
Mr. O.P. Batra, Advocate
for respondent No.2
The award dated 28.5.2004 (Annexure P-11) passed by respondent No.1 is in challenge before us in this writ petition filed under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of India.
Few facts may be noticed, which are as under:- "The petitioner Micron Instruments Pvt. Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as the "management") engaged the services of respondent No.2 Vijay Kumari (hereinafter referred to as the "workman") on 20.4.1998 for a period of six months. Her services were extended twice on 20.10.1998 and 20.1.1999 for three months each. Thereafter, her services were not extended which gave rise to an industrial dispute. On 23.4.1999 the workman served a demand notice under Section 2-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (for brevity, the Act) upon the C.W.P. No.17344 of 2004 2
management alleging therein that her termination is illegal due to non-compliance of mandatory provisions of Section 25-F of the Act, as neither any notice nor any retrenchment compensation was paid to her. Resultantly, the matter was referred to the Labour Court for adjudication. The management contested the claim of the workman by submitting detailed reply. The issues were settled by the Labour Court. Both the parties led evidence in support of their respective claims. Vide the impugned award dated 28.5.2004 the Labour Court set aside the termination of the workman and ordered her reinstatement with continuity of service and 50% back wages from the date of demand notice."
Feeling dissatisfied the management has preferred the present writ petition on the ground that the workman was appointed on contractual basis for a fixed period. Her services automatically comes to an end as per the terms of the letter of contract executed between the parties. Her discharge did not amount to retrenchment in view of exception to Section 2 (oo) (bb) of the Act. Thus, there was no requirement of complying with the provisions of Section 25-F of the Act.
We have heard learned counsel for the parties and have perused the paper book.
The counsel for the petitioner-management has argued that the Labour Court has fallen into error of law in not considering the definition of retrenchment as contained in Clause (bb) to Section 2(oo) of the Act. On the contrary, the argument of the respondent-workman is that the action of the management in terminating the services of the workman amounts to unfair C.W.P. No.17344 of 2004 3
labour practice. The arguments have been scanned. The issue to be examined is whether the action of the petitioner-management in terminating the services of respondent-workman, can be treated as "retrenchment from the employment" within the meaning of the provisions of the Act.
Retrenchment has been defined in Section 2(oo) of the Act, excerpt of which reads as under:-
"2 (oo) 'retrenchment' means the termination by the employer of the service of a workman for any reason whatsoever, otherwise than as a punishment inflicted by way of disciplinary action, but does not include
(a) (b) xxxxxxxxx
(bb) termination of the service of the workman as a result of the non-renewal of the contract of employment between the employer and the workman concerned on its expiry or of such contract being terminated under a stipulation in that behalf contained therein."
A bare perusal of Clause (bb) shows that it is in the nature of exception to Section 2(oo) of the Act. The question arises whether the case of the respondent-workman falls in the said exception or not? In the instant case, the employment of the respondent-workman was made on 20.4.1998 for a fixed term of six months. The relevant extract of appointment letter (Annexure P-1) containing aforesaid condition on reproduction, reads as under:-
"......This appointment is purely temporary for a period of six months in connection with work which is of temporary nature. The appointment will automatically come to an end on the expiry of the said period or even earlier if considered necessary.
If these terms and acceptable to you, please signify your assent by signing the duplicate copy of this letter in token C.W.P. No.17344 of 2004 4
of your acceptance."
She was given further extension on 20.10.1998 and 21.1.1999 for a period of three months on each occasion with the same terms and conditions.
Hence by logical corollary, the services of respondent-workman being for a fixed term and the nature of term also contractual was within her full knowledge that she is to render services to the management on contract basis. She admittedly had voluntarily accepted her term of said engagements. Therefore, the question of workman taking the plea that the matter falls within the purview of Section 25-F of the Act does not arise. It is not a case where the workman was continuously appointed with artificial gap of one day or so to say that the management was prone to unfair labour practice. Rather a bare perusal of the said offer and the extensions thereof clearly show that they were contractual and were for a fixed term. In this backdrop the case of the respondent-workman falls within the said exception of Clause (bb). It is thus imperative to conclude that the termination of the workman did not amount to retrenchment as the same was in consequence with the terms and conditions of her appointment/extensions. Once the conclusion logically so arrived is that the termination of the workman from the employment did not constitute retrenchment within the meaning of Section 2(oo) of the Act, in our view there is no question of application of Section 25-F of the Act. Our this view findings support from a decision rendered by Hon'ble the Apex Court in the case of Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board v. Subhash Chand & Anr. 2006 (2) Law Herald (SC) 1053. The Labour Court has failed to consider this aspect of the matter that the services of respondent-workman were discontinued after the expiry of fixed term and it is not open to her to C.W.P. No.17344 of 2004 5
raise dispute under the Act by taking the plea of applicability of Section 25- F of the Act.
As a result of the discussion, the present writ petition succeeds and the same is allowed. The award dated 28.5.2004 passed by respondent No.1 is quashed and set aside. The claim of the workman is dismissed.
However, there shall be no order as to the costs.
May 25,2006 JUDGE
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