Public Undertakings can’t act arbitrarily like private employers

Kerala High Court: The Bench comprising of P.V Asha, J. held that denial of salary to the petitioners on the ground that they didn’t open account with IDBI Bank is illegal.

Petitioners contended that respondent (Malabar Cancer Centre) is a public undertaking defined under Article 12 of the Constitution, cannot act arbitrarily like private employers by shifting the banking transactions from SBI to IDBI without prior discussion with petitioners and forcing them to open accounts with IDBI, as salaries can be “disbursed” only through IDBI bank accounts, and on the refusal of the same, no salary and festival allowances were paid to the petitioners. They further stated that respondent has no right to decide the bank in which they should have their account, and therefore their salary must be given to them on their existing SBI accounts. In the counter- affidavit filed by respondent it was stated that, services rendered by SBI were unsatisfactory and many “practical difficulties” forced them to switch bank from SBI to IDBI, it further stated that petitioners are free to continue with their existing accounts by opening zero balance accounts with IDBI and can get their salaries transferred to their existing accounts.

Court held that respondent cannot force petitioners to open zero balance account and directed them to pay all the pending salaries and arrears within 2 weeks from the receipt of copy of judgment, to the respective accounts of petitioners via IDBI bank, thereby respondent can get services rendered by IDBI too, without hampering the rights of petitioners. [T.M.Dinesh Kumar v. Malabar Cancer Centre Society, 2017 SCC OnLine Ker 3941, decided on, 14.03.2017]

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