Karnataka HC refers dispute back to Labour Court for fresh disposal


PTI, Apr 20, 2023, 9:16 AM IST

Image for representation(PTI)

The High Court of Karnataka has set aside a Labour court order reinstating a man, whose service was terminated by his employer in connection with an accident case, without giving an opportunity to the latter to present its version. The HC also directed the Labour court to adjudicate the dispute afresh and dispose of the case in a year.

The Labour Court, Bengaluru had set aside the dismissal of an employee of TTK Healthcare Ltd, engaged in making ready to fry products, for allegedly causing the death of a contract labourer, and passed an order of his reinstatement.

The HC in its judgement said, “Even at the later stage of the award, the labour Court has come to the conclusion that enquiry is not fair and proper, opportunity was required to be granted to the employer to establish the Articles of Charge which has not been done.” PV Ravi was operating the G700 Gelatinizer mixing machine with the aid of a helper. On September 10, 2011, he allegedly tied a thin wire to the limit switch (safety switch) and allowed a contract worker to clean the machine.

The contract worker came into contact with a knob which started the machine and caused his death. After an internal inquiry by the factory found Ravi guilty, he was terminated from his job. Subsequently, Ravi approached the Labour Court, which in 2013 ruled that the internal inquiry was not conducted fairly and properly and set it aside. It also ordered the reinstatement of Ravi to his original post with 50 per cent backwages. The company then approached the HC challenging the Labour Court order in 2014.

The single-judge bench of Justice Suraj Govindaraj delivered his judgment on the petition on March 29, 2023.

The HC set aside the Labour Court order and said, “The contention of the workman is that a wire had been tied to the limit switch (safety switch) at the instruction of the employer. Except this oral assertion no other document or instruction was placed on record. This aspect has been considered by the labour Court at the time of the final award to also to come to a conclusion that the enquiry was not fair and proper. ”There is no opportunity provided to the employer to place its say on record. Hence, the finding which has been arrived at by the labour Court without an opportunity being provided to the employer, in my considered opinion is not sustainable.” The matter was referred back to the Labour Court for fresh disposal. Since the case dates back to 2012, the Labour Court was directed by the HC to “dispose of the matter as early as possible within a period of one year.”

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