All HC | Can workman who was employed for particular project be considered employee of the company and given permanent status after project is over? Court answers

Allahabad High Court: Siddhartha Verma, J. reiterated the law laid down by the Supreme Court in Lal Mohammad v. Indian Railway Construction Co. Ltd., (2007) 2 SCC 513, wherein it was decided that when a workman is employed for a particular project then the services of that employee came to an end as soon as the project was over and he could not be given permanent status. It was also held that shortfall of period of notice or compensation, after completion of the project would not render the termination bad on that count.

The instant writ petition was filed challenging the award passed by the Labour Court. The petitioner was employed by the Indian Railway Construction International Ltd. initially as a peon on casual basis for period of six months by the order of the Project Manager, Vindhya Nagar. After completion of such service, the petitioner was re-employed on monthly basis and was attached with Anpara Project. This was done by the order of Regional Manager IRCON – Anpara. He continued for four years in this arrangement, after which he was brought in the regular scale. Thereafter, he was transferred to another Rihand Nagar Project. However, subsequently, his services were dispensed with. The petitioner raised an industrial dispute praying for reinstatement with back wages pursuant to which the Labour Court passed the order which was challenged by the petitioner in the instant writ petition.

At the outset, the Court noted that several other workmen of the Company who were found surplus and their services were also dispensed with, had filed writ petitions before the High Court. After moving to and fro, the case ultimately reached for decision in appeal before the Supreme Court in Lal Mohammad v. Indian Railway Construction Co. Ltd., (2007) 2 SCC 513. The Supreme Court found that the petitioners were not entitled to be regularised in the services of the Company as they were not employees of the company. It, however, held that the petitioners were entitled to compensation and thereafter the appeals were dismissed.

The petitioner in the instant writ petition claimed that his case was different from the case of Lal Mohammad. However, after hearing the parties and perusing the written arguments and also going through the award, the High Court found that no interference was warranted in the award of the Labour Court. It was observed:

“The Supreme Court in the case reported in Lal Mohammad v. Indian Railway Construction Co. Ltd., (2007) 2 SCC 513 has categorically laid down that when a workman is employed for a particular project, the services of that employee came to an end when the project was over and, therefore, could not be given a permanent status. It has also held that the workman could not be considered as employee of the company under which various other projects ran.”

The High Court also found that there was similarity in the case of the instant petitioner and the case already decided. Under such circumstances, the writ petition was dismissed. [Bipin v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine All 787, dated 25-10-2021]

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