Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: S.M. Subramaniam, J., while determining the compensation in the cases of accident, observed that,

“…job of Homemaker can never be compared with employee or employment and the importance and the values are also to be considered by the Courts, while assessing the compensation.”

Claimant who is the appellant has sought enhancement of compensation in the present appeal.

Claimant sought who sustained grievous injuries resulted in permanent disability.  A Bus had hit the appellant/claimant when she was standing near the bus stand to catch a bus, causing her grievous injuries in the back along with other serious injuries.

Permanent Disability

Perusal of the nature of injuries revealed that the appellant/ claimant sustained not only grievous injuries but resulted in permanent disability and she is continuously taking treatment for that.

Tribunal concluded that due to the rash and negligent driving of the bus driver, the grievous injuries were caused to the appellant.

A monthly income of the appellant was fixed as Rs 4,500 ad accordingly a sum of Rs 4, 86, 000 was granted towards loss of income by the Tribunal.

Analysis & Decision

Court noted that the appellant/claimant is unable to support the family and the husband and children have to take care of her. Undoubtedly, no document has been produced to establish employment as well as the income of the appellant/claimant.

 “…as a woman at home is the Homemaker and for this purpose, the fixation of income for grant of compensation, assessment can be made considering the appellant/claimant as to the Homemaker.”

It happens the claimants are advised either by the relatives, friends, or counsels to say as if they are employed and earning and in order to get compensation, the claimants are ill-advised to provide such facts before the Tribunal in their claim petitions.

In the present matter, there is no dispute between the parties that the appellant is a Homemaker with husband and children. Thus, the tribunal ought to have drawn factual inference in the absence of any material to establish employment and income.

High Court found the amount of compensation fixed to be inadequate and improper.

Bench also emphasized on the importance of “Homemakers”. Thus, the importance, value as well as the materialistic factors are to be considered, while fixing the compensation as far as the Homemakers are concerned.

Keeping in view the amount of fairness to be adopted in the cases of Homemakers, we cannot forget that the Homemakers are the Nation Builders.

If the Homemaker died, the impact would be unmeasurable and the family will become scattered. It would be very difficult to cope with the family.

Therefore, homemakers are standing on a higher pedestal than that of the earning member in a family. Thus, mitigating factors, family status, the income of the husband and other aspects are to be considered while fixing the compensation for Homemakers.

Bench stated that it has no hesitation in arriving at the conclusion that the permanent disability caused to the appellant/claimant would affect not only her family life but also a great loss to the entire family.

Tribunal has mechanically on the basis of proof for employment as well as income decided the compensation without taking the aspects in the right perspective.

Once the fact of an accident is established and the Insurance Policy Coverage is not disputed and negligence is decided, then the claimants are entitled to ‘Just Compensation’.

Enhancement of Compensation

Hence, it was held that the compensation of Rs 4,86,000 awarded by the Tribunal towards loss of income is to be modified. This apart, the compensation granted under the head of ‘Pain and Sufferings’ is also very less, which is to be enhanced as the appellant/claimant has suffered continuously, and therefore, the enhancement is to be granted to the appellant/claimant.

Total compensation of Rs 14,07,000 with an interest at the rate of 7.5% per annum is to be granted to the appellant/claimant. [Bhuvaneswari v. Mani, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 2163, decided on 01-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of Ujjal Bhuyan and Riyaz I. Chagla, JJ., rejected the relief of payment of full wages to the petitioner employees union holding that there case is not covered by the March 29th Order of the Central Government directing all establishments to pay full wages to employees during the period of lockdown due to COVID-19.

Premier Union Employees had approached the Court seeking direction to the State of Maharashtra and Commissioner of labour to ensure that workers of Premier Limited are pid wages for the duration of the lockdown in terms of Ministry of Home Affairs order dated 29th March, 2020, order of Department of Industries, Energy and Labour, Government of Maharashtra dated 31.03.2020; and order dated 20.03.2020 passed by the Industrial Court, Maharashtra at Pune.

Appropriate proceedings to be initiated against Premier Limited under Disaster Management Act for failure to comply with government orders.

On the other hand, Premier Limited assails the legality and correctness of the Order passed by the Industrial Court.

Union has raised grievance of unfair labour practice against the company. Complaint pertaining to the said grievance was registered at the Industrial Court.

Company obtained No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the office of Commissioner of Labour for shifting its plant, NOC was conditional in as much as the company had to give an undertaking that it would make full payment of wages and dues to the workmen and ensure continuity of their employment.

However, the company defaulted and has not paid wages and dues to the workmen since May, 2019.

Thus, Union in view of the above filed a petition before the Court seeking a direction to the State and Commissioner of Labour for cancellation of the NOC, both the matters are pending with no orders passed thereon.

On 3rd March, 2020, company had issued a notice addressed to all the workmen and staff stating that the management had decided to suspend operations with immediate effect. In response to this notice, Union raised the grievance of unfair labour practice and filed a complaint.

Industrial Court directed the company to pay wages to the workmen w.e.f. 01.03.2020 on or before the tenth day of each month.

Despite the above order, no payment has been made to the workmen.

Ministry of Home Affairs order dated 29-03-2020:

“all the employers, be it in industry or in shops and commercial establishments, shall make payment of wages to their workers at their workplaces and on the due date without any deduction for the period their establishments are under closure during the lockdown.”

Government of Maharashtra in the Industries, Energy and Labour Department issued a government resolution dated 31.03.2020 declaring that all the workers / employees including contractual, temporary and daily wagers working in private establishments, shops (except essential services), factories etc., who had to remain indoors due to outbreak of COVID-19 and the lockdown, shall be deemed to be on duty and shall be paid full salary / wages and allowances.

On 2nd June, 2020, this Court had directed the company to comply with the Order of the Industrial Court, to which company filed a petition with regard to the legality and validity of the Industrial Court’s Order.

Company alleged that the union had adopted an obstructionist approach leading to the company losing many precious orders thereby causing substantial loss. This prevented payment of salary / wages to the employees and workers on regular basis post May, 2019.

Due to the stated circumstances, company had to suspend all its operations.

Analysis & Decision

A conjoint reading of the central government order and the Maharashtra government resolution would go to show that those have been issued to meet the situation arising out of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Question to be addressed is:

Could the central government order and the Maharashtra government resolution be invoked in a situation where the management and workmen are engaged in an industrial adjudication relating to non-payment of salary / wages and suspension of work much prior to closure of the establishments due to the lockdown?

Or where the related cause of action arose prior to the lockdown?

In Court’s opinion, the claim of the workmen to wages will not be covered by the central government order and the Maharashtra government resolution.

Adding the reasoning to its’ conclusion, bench stated that measures introduced by the above two would cover a situation where an employee / worker was in employment as on the day the lockdown was declared and had received salary / wages for the previous month i.e., the month immediately preceding the lockdown.

The said  measure was introduced to ensure maintenance of status quo with regard to payment of salary / wages and employment.

Industrial Court’s Order

Industrial Court noted that a prima facie case for interim relief was made out by the union. It was further observed that if the management was not directed to pay wages, members of the union would suffer hardship and inconvenience.

Since according to the Industrial Court, complainant had made out a strong prima facie case, interim direction was issued to the management to pay wages to the workmen from 01.03.2020 onwards till final disposal of the complaint.

In Courts opinion, the above view of Industrial Court was found to be contradictory and therefore, High Court held that, in the interest of justice it would be just and proper if a direction is issued to the management to pay 50% of the full monthly wages to the workmen with effect from 01-03-2020 till disposal of Complaint (ULP) No.32 of 2020.

Industrial Court is directed to complete the adjudication process within a period of six months.

In the above view, petitions were been disposed off. [Premier Employees Union v. State of Maharashtra, 2020 SCC OnLine Bom 794 , decided on 13-07-2020]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Supreme Court of United Kingdom: Full Bench of Lady Hale (President), Lord Reed (Deputy President), Lord Hodge, Lady Black and Lord Kitchin, JJ., examined the considerations to be taken into account when deciding whether it is appropriate to award compensation to an employee for an invention made during employment. The instant appeal was filed by Professor Ian Shank (appellant) for compensation under Section 40 of Patents Act, 1977 for an invention made by him in 1982 that was granted patent and which provided benefit to his employer Unilever UK Central Resource Ltd. (3rd respondent/ CRL).

Appellant was the inventor of technology used in glucose testing for diabetics while he was employed at CRL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever Plc. In October 1982, Shank built the first prototype and was known as ECFD. Appellant accepted that right of his invention belonged to CRL from Section 39(1) of Patents Act, 1977 later these rights were given to Universal Plc. Universal Plc filed for the patents application for both ECFD and FCFD technologies. Since Universal was not interested in developing business so they did little to develop ECFD. Appellant left Unilever in October 1986.

The appellant represented by Patrick Green submitted that court didn’t consider that CRL was appellant employer and the entire Unilever Group can’t be considered as CRL undertaking. The argument was made it is impossible for an employee to establish benefits from the patent of a business and it will also be unjust to employ employee inventors.

The respondent represented by Daniel Alexander submitted that CRL should not be considered as undertaking because it never generated any material revenue and was neither the beneficiary of royalties in question. It was merely a service company for Unilever Group.

The exact amount of the compensation is to be determined in accordance with Section 41 of the Patents Act, which requires that the employee is awarded a “fair share” of the benefit which the employer has derived (or may reasonably be expected to derive) from the invention and/or the patent. To determine what constitutes a “fair share”, Section 41(4) of the Act provides a number of matters that must be taken into account, including the nature of the employee’s duties and remuneration, the effort and skill which the employee has devoted to making the invention, the contribution of other employees (be they joint inventors or not) and the contribution of the employer to the making, developing and working of the invention by the provision of advice, facilities and other assistance, opportunities, and managerial and commercial skill.

The Court analysed overall profit and turnover of Unilever Group and found there was an extreme disparity in numerical terms between the amount that Unilever received and the salary that the appellant was paid. It opined that the correct approach is to determine the part played by the size and success of the employer’s business as a whole in securing the benefit from the invention. Shank patent had produced a very high rate of return and Unilever made a small effort to commercialise it. Unilever had generated benefits from Shank’s patent.

The appeal of Professor Shank was allowed and it was held that Universal and CRL had an outstanding benefit from the patents of Shank and fair share was not given to appellant. Professor Shanks was awarded £2m compensation, roughly a 5 per cent share of the £24m benefit derived by Unilever from the invention, uplifted from 1999 at an average inflation rate of 2.8 per cent. [Shanks v. Unilever Plc, [2019] 1 WLR 5997, decided on 23-10-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Bench of Prabhat Kumar Jha, J. dismissed a civil writ petition claiming employment in lieu of acquisition of land on the ground that there was no policy of the Indian Railways for the same.

The instant petition sought a writ of mandamus directing the respondent to grant appointment to the petitioner in Group-C or Group-D post in the East Central Railway as per her educational qualification since her land had been acquired for construction of Neura Daniyama rail line.

The Court noted that petitioner was granted a compensation of Rs 5,26,687.92 after acquisition of her land. She never raised any objection or filed any petition before the concerned authority for providing her a job. Also, she had moved this court after long delay of more than ten years from the date of acquisition of her land without any plausible explanation. 

Reliance was placed on the judgment of Apex Court in Umesh Kumar Nagpal v. State of Haryana, (1994) 4 SCC 138 where it was held that petitioner has no fundamental right to claim job in lieu of acquisition of his land for the purpose of completion of project, besides compensation for acquisition of the land. Admittedly, there was no policy for providing employment to the landlord whose lands had been acquired for completion of the aforesaid rail line project. In view thereof, it was held that the petitioner could not claim employment in lieu of acquisition of her land as a matter of right.[Neera Devi v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Pat 2328, decided on 05-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Bench of Ashwani Kumar Mishra, J. declared that employment cannot be denied to petitioner when it was previously extended to him on his merits multiple times.

This petition has been filed challenging the order of the Joint Director of Education which states the qualification for appointment to the post of part-time instructor that would be guided by the respondent as well as the letter of the Secretary of the Board. The petitioner through his counsel Jitendra Pal Singh Chauhan has contended that owing to the above-mentioned criteria he was being denied the concerned benefits. He stated that he was appointed in 1998 and has continued since then with continued extensions plus as per the rules his appointment shall operate prospectively. The respondent has contended that as his service term was fixed thus his claim shall not be accepted.

The Court was of the view that the appointment of petitioner cannot be treated to be a fresh appointment for the purposes of determining his qualification when his employment has been extended multiple times which shall be considered of him having the requisite qualifications. Thus the Court ordered that the required consideration be made. [Vineet Kumar Kaushik v. State of U.P., 2018 SCC OnLine All 3353, decided on 05-12-2018]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

United Kingdom Supreme Court: A Five Judge Bench comprising of Lord Wilson, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hughes, Lady Black and Lord Lloyd-Jones, JJ. inferred the meaning of financially independent which means “not financially dependent upon the state”.

The appellant was residing in United Kingdom with her friend who she took care of due to medical conditions in lieu of which the appellant was provided free boarding and lodging. She resided there with leave as a student for three months and was granted further leave on 12 occasions some of which were made after the previous leave expired. After her final grant failed, the appellant applied twice but failed.

She pleaded on the context of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights requesting the court to respect her private life that she has now established in the UK. Her plea was rejected due to the fact that her life was established in the UK even when she knew that her continued stay would be dependent upon a further grant of leave also it was against the public interest that she was financially dependent upon her friend and father. Hence, she preferred the appeal.

The Supreme Court questioned the fact as to why would the financial dependence of the appellant be against the interests of the economic well-being of the United Kingdom and that in case of a cessation of a person’s employment the consequences would be more or less the same. Plus if consequently under Article 8 the claimant loses the financial independence then public interest may help to justify the interference with their right to respect for their private or family life in the UK. Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.[Rhuppiah v. Secretary of State for the Home Department, [2018] 1 WLR 5536, decided on 14-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

“Judicial service is very different from other services and the yardstick of suitability that may apply to other services, may not be the same for judicial service.”

Supreme Court: The 3-Judge Bench comprising of Kurian Joseph, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Navin Sinha, JJ., while allowing an appeal filed by a successful judicial services candidate stated that, “the consideration and candidature in the present case of the appellant are afflicted by a myopic vision, blurred by the spectacle of moral turpitude, reflecting inadequate appreciation and application of facts.”

The factual matrix of the case presents a picture in which it is stated that the appellant being a successful aspirant for judicial service was aggrieved from cancellation of his selection for appointment due to the character verification report.

The contention of the appellant by his learned counsel was that he had honestly and truthfully disclosed his prosecution and acquittal. It has been stated that appellant was being subjected to arbitrary and hostile discrimination by placing reliance of Joginder Singh v. State (UT of Chandigarh), 2015 (2) SCC 377. Counsel for the respondents stated that acquittal because prosecutrix turned hostile cannot come to the aid of the appellant and fact that he had disclosed the same earlier does not exempts his conduct involving moral turpitude.

Therefore, the Supreme Court on the observance and analysis of the facts and circumstances of the case stated that “Employment opportunities are a scarce commodity in our country.” In furtherance to the stated analysis, the Court added that “every individual deserves an opportunity to improve.” Also, the Apex Court concluded by stating that no reasonable person on the basis of materials placed before us can come to the conclusion that the antecedents and character of the appellant are such that he is unfit to be appointed as a judicial officer.

Hence, the respondents were directed to reconsider the candidature of the appellant and an appropriate decision shall be taken in light of the present discussion. The appeal was allowed. [Mohammed Imran v. State of Maharashtra,2018 SCC OnLine SC 1943, decided on 12-10-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Shekher Dhawan, J., dealt with a petition filed under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India in nature of certiorari for modification of award passed by Industrial Tribunal where petitioner was denied continuity of services though reinstated.

Facts of the case are that petitioner’s services were terminated orally and no show cause notice was provided to petitioner or was paid any retrenchment compensation thereby violating Sections 25-F, 25-G and 25-H of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. An industrial dispute was referred to Tribunal.

Petitioner contended that he was accepted to be employed under respondent and was a workman under Section 2(s) of the Act who has duly completed 240 days of service. Whereas respondent argued that petitioner was not entitled to reinstatement as he was not a workman under the relevant provision and that 240 days in service was not completed.

The High Court was of the view that Tribunal was right in reinstating petitioner and not continuing the service as petitioner himself failed to show his employment for a continuous period of 240 days. Tribunal has rightly exercised its discretion, therefore, no merit in writ petition was found and the same was dismissed. [Jaibir v. Industrial Tribunal,2018 SCC OnLine P&H 1359, decided on 21-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Hyderabad High Court: A Division Bench comprising of Sanjay Kumar and M. Ganga Rao, JJ., dismissed a writ petition against denying candidature on the ground of developing medical conditions in the future.

The appointment of the respondent for Work Assistant at Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) was rejected by the petitioner on the grounds that he was medically unfit in view of his morbid obesity, uncontrolled hypertension and sleep disorder as opined by the Medical Committee.

The matter went up to the Central Administrative Tribunal where the order of cancellation was rejected by stating that that a candidate could not be declared unfit for a particular post merely on the ground that he suffered from a disease or disorder without a clear finding that he could not perform the duties and responsibilities attached to that particular post and also the mere apprehension that he may develop complications in future cannot be accepted.

The order was challenged, following which the Court stated that the nature of the work was not so onerous or strenuous that only a person in the pink of health could do it plus no specific standard of physical fitness other than visual acuity was required for appointment of a non-technical staff. Consequently, the fundamental level of the respondent was not impaired by his hypertension or being overweight.

The Court concluded by saying that the authorities seem to have gone on a witch-hunt to come up with new diseases/disorders so as to show the respondent the door and hence being utterly devoid of merit the writ petition was dismissed and the employment of the respondent was allowed as per the orders of the tribunal. [Union of India v. Nenavath Suresh,2018 SCC OnLine Hyd 294, order dated 31-08-2018]

Case BriefsInternational Courts

General Court of European Union : The General Court confirmed the decision of the European Parliament to recover from Marine Le Pen almost €300,000 for the employment of a parliamentary assistant, on the ground that she did not prove the effectiveness of that assistant’s work.

Ms Marion ‘Marine’ Le Pen was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2009 to 2017. By decision of 5 December 2016,  Parliament decided that, for the period between December 2010 and February 2016, an amount of €298,497.87 had been unduly paid to Ms Le Pen in respect of parliamentary assistance and had to be recovered from her. That amount corresponds to the payments made by Parliament for a staff member engaged by her as a local parliamentary assistant from 2010 to 2016. Parliament complained that she did not provide evidence of the existence of an activity of the local assistant linked actually, directly and exclusively to her mandate.

Ms Le Pen requested the General Court to annul the decision taken by Parliament. General Court took the following view while confirming Parliament’s recovery decision and rejecting in entirety Ms Le Pen’s arguments:

1. That the Secretary-General of Parliament is competent to adopt decisions to recover sums unduly paid pursuant to the Implementing Measures for the Statute of the MEPs and such decision by Parliament does not undermine the independence of MEPs;

2. That she was given due opportunity to argue her point of view, such that her rights of defence were not breached;

3. That it is for MEPs and not for Parliament to prove that amounts received have been used to cover expenses actually incurred and arising wholly and exclusively from the employment of their assistants;

4. That Ms Le Pen has not been able to prove that her assistant performed actual work for her; and

5. That she was not the subject of discriminatory treatment in view of the fact that she provided no evidence establishing that only MEPs of the Front National have, in the past or at present, been the subject of similar proceedings initiated by Parliament. [Marion Le Pen v. European Parliament, Case T-86/17, order dated 19-06-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

High Court of Jharkhand: The Single Judge Bench comprising of S.N.Pathak, J., recently addressed a petition wherein the petitioner prayed for the payment of her deceased husband’s retiral benefits including gratuity and leave encashment, arising out of 23 years of service. The petitioner also prayed to the Court for directing the respondents to provide appointment to her son on compassionate grounds, owing to her husband’s death.

The petitioner had initially filed a petition for addressing her grievances which was disposed of by directing the initial respondents to make necessary payments to the petitioner. Despite the order, in the absence of the respondents complying with it, the petitioner filed another petition which was rejected by the respondents consequent to which the petitioner filed the present petition. Counsel for the petitioner argued that the respondents had not adhered to the Full Bench judgment of this Court in Ram Prasad Singh v. State of Jharkhand, 2005 SCC OnLine Jhar 553 despite the deceased being a work-charge employee and so being entitled to retiral benefits. The opposite party contended that since the deceased was not a regularized employee, he wouldn’t be given the retiral benefits, the wife contends she should be entitled to.

The Court held that the issue had been addressed in the case mentioned by the petitioner wherein it was held, “the work-charged employees, who have completed more than five years of continuous service against one post in the work-charged establishment and otherwise eligible, have a right of consideration of their cases for taking over their services in the permanent (regular) establishment” and “The dependents of work charged employees are not entitled to claim appointment on compassionate ground”.

Hence, the Court directed the respondents to pay the entire retiral benefits and quashed the plea for employment of the petitioner’s son on compassionate grounds. [Meera Devi v. State of Jharkhand, 2017 SCC OnLine Jhar 2690, order dated 18.8.2017]