Civil Appeal No. 2831 Of 2007 (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No. 6802 of
Dr. Arijit Pasayat, J
2. 1. Challenge in this appeal is to
the order passed by Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court
dismissing the writ petition filed by the appellant. In the writ
petition challenge was to the award of the Labour Court, Amritsar (in
short Labour Court ) dated 27.112002, whereby alleged termination of
services of the respondent was held to be illegal for want of compliance
with the requirements of Section 25-F of the Industrial Disputes Act,
1947 (in short the Act ). The respondent was directed to be reinstated
with continuity of service with back wages. The appellant s stand was
that the workman had not completed 240 days in 12 months preceding the
date of termination of the service and, therefore, the management was
not required to comply with the provisions of Section 25-F of the Act.
High Court noted that the workman had joined the service in 1991. The
services were dispensed with in the year 1993. It was noted that the
management which was required to maintain the muster rolls failed to
produce the records to support its contention that during this period
the workman had not completed the requisite period of 240 days.
Accordingly, the award passed by the Labour Court was found to be in
order and writ petition was dismissed.
2. Learned counsel for the appellant
submitted that the workman had not worked for more than 240 days in the
preceding 12 months. Except bare assertion no material was produced. On
the contrary the appellant has categorically stated that the respondent
had not worked for more than 240 days.
3. In this connection reference was
made to the assertion made before the Labour Court that the workman was
engaged on daily wager basis and his services were only seasonal. It was
specifically asserted that after the season was over the respondent
workman did not turn up and he had not completed 240 days of service. He
was not permanent employee of the appellant and, therefore, reference
was not maintainable. Since the workman was employed only for seasonal
work, his services were not to be continued after the season was over.
4. Learned counsel for the
respondent on the other hand submitted that the Labour Court as well as
the High Court referred to the material on record and categorically held
that the appellant had been working for more than 240 days. Certain
documents in this regard were referred to.
5. This Court in several cases has
held that the workman has to prove that the he has worked for more than
240 days. (See: Range Forest Officer v. S.T. Hadimani (2002 (3) SCC 25),
Essen Deinki v. Rajiv Kumar (2002 (8) SCC 400, Batala Coop. Sugar Mills
Ltd. v. Sowaran Singh (2005 (8) SCC 481).6. In Batala Coop. Sugar Mills
(supra) it was observed as under:
We find that the High Court s
judgment is unsustainable on more than one count. In Morinda Coop. Sugar
Mills Ltd. v. Ram Kishan and Ors. (1995 (5) SCC 653) it was observed as
4. It would thus be clear that the respondents were not working
throughout the season. They worked during crushing seasons only. The
respondents were taken into work for the season and consequent to
closure of the season, they ceased to work.
5. The question is whether such a
cessation would amount to retrenchment. Since it is only a seasonal
work, the respondents cannot be said to have been retrenched in view of
what is stated in clause (bb) of Section 2(oo) of the Act. Under these
circumstances, we are of the opinion that the view taken by the Labour
Court and the High Court is illegal. However, the appellant is directed
to maintain a register for all workmen engaged during the seasons
enumerated hereinbefore and when the new season starts the appellant
should make a publication in neighbouring places in which the
respondents normally live and if they would report for duty, the
appellant would engage them in accordance with seniority and exigency of
7. Learned counsel for the appellant
is correct that it was for the workman to establish that he had worked
for more than 240 days. Learned counsel for the respondent has referred
to certain materials which have been filed as additional documents in
this case. These were not part of the records before the Labour Court or
the High Court. It appears that the High Court did not examine the
issues in the proper perspective as to whether Labour Court did not
specifically deal with the stand of the appellant that the workman had
not completed more than 240 days as he was working as a seasonal daily
wager and after the season was over there was no engagement.
8. In the circumstances we set aside
the order of the High Court and remit the matter to the Labour Court for
9. Considering the fact that the
matter is pending since long, we request the Labour Court to dispose of
the matter within three months from the date of receipt of this order
after due notice to the parties.
10. The appeal is disposed of
accordingly with no order as to costs.
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