Legal RoundUpWeekly Rewind


TOP STORY OF THE WEEK


Anganwadi Workers/Helpers entitled to payment of gratuity; ‘Time to take serious note of their plight’ 

In a relief to the Anganwadi workers and helpers working tirelessly at the grassroot level, the Supreme Court has held that the Anganwadi Workers and Helpers are employed by the State Government for wages in the establishments to which the Gratuity Act applies, hence, they are entitled to payment of Gratuity.  

The Court also observed that the Anganwadi Workers/Helpers have been entrusted with the important tasks of providing food security to children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years, pregnant women as well as lactating mothers, apart from rendering pre-school education. And for all this, they are being paid very meagre remuneration and paltry benefits. 

Therefore, it is high time that the Central Government and State Governments take serious note of the plight of Anganwadi Workers/Helpers who are expected to render such important services to the society. 

Read more… 


SUPREME COURT


Producing false/fake certificate is a grave misconduct; Dismissal of service justified in such cases 

In a case where an employee had produced a fake certificate for seeking employment, the Supreme Court has held that producing the false/fake certificate is a grave misconduct and dismissal of service is a justified punishment in such cases. 

In the case at hand, while the disciplinary authority had imposed a punishment of dismissal from service on the delinquent, the Bombay High Court had directed reinstatement of the respondent without any back wages and other benefits.  

The Supreme Court, however, agreed with the disciplinary authority’s decision and observed:  

“The question is one of a TRUST. How can an employee who has produced a fake and forged marksheet/certificate, that too, at the initial stage of appointment be trusted by the employer? Whether such a certificate was material or not and/or had any bearing on the employment or not is immaterial. The question is not of having an intention or mens rea. The question is producing the fake/forged certificate.” 

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‘Can’t allow mass absorption of over 11,000 workers based on a flawed Report’. SC forms new Committee to put an end to the long drawn LIC versus temporary employees’ battle  

In a long drawn battle between Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and its temporary/badli/part-time employees over claim for absorption, a 3-judge bench of Supreme Court has appointed a two-member committee to carry out fresh verification of the claims of workers who were working between 20 May 1985 and 4 March 1991 and who claim to have been employed for at least 70 days in Class IV posts over a period of three years or 85 days in Class III posts over a period of two years shall be carried out. 

Finding the report of the previous committee faulty, the Supreme Court observed, 

“A public employer such as LIC cannot be directed to carry out a mass absorption of over 11,000 workers on such flawed premises without following a recruitment process which is consistent with the principles of equality of opportunity governed by Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. Such an absorption would provide the very back-door entry, which negates the principle of equal opportunity and fairness in public employment.” 

Read all about the newly formed committee and its tasks and timelines on the SCC Online Blog.  

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High Courts


Madras High Court| Ban the practice of two-finger test on victims of sexual offences by medical professionals

Stating that two-finger test cannot be permitted to be continued, the Division Bench of Madras High Court directed the State Government to ban the practice of two-finger test on victims of sexual offences by the medical professionals. 

Court observed that, 

“…it is necessary for us to put an end to the practice of the two-finger test. We find that the two-finger test is being used in cases involving sexual offences particularly, on minor victims.” 

Read more… 


Bombay High Court| Advocate to maintain dignity & decorum of Court, no room for arrogance and no license to intimidate Court

In a matter wherein an Advocate alleged that the Court was giving priority to certain matters and to certain advocates, the Court observed that an advocate as an Officer of the Court is under an obligation to maintain the dignity and decorum of the Court. There is no room for arrogance and there is no license to intimidate the Court, make reckless accusations and allegations against a Judge and pollute the very fountain of justice. 

Bench also expressed that, “It has to be borne in mind that casting scurrilous aspersions not only has the inevitable effect of undermining the confidence of the public in the judiciary but also has the tendency to interfere with the administration of justice.” 

Read more… 


Bombay High Court| Declaration of reciting religious verses at someone’s residence: Act of breaching personal liberty of another person?

Stating that, “Great power comes with greater responsibility”, the Division Bench of Bombay HC expressed that, the expectation of responsible behaviour or responsible conduct from those persons who are active in public life cannot be an extra expectation but would be a basic one. 

High Court stated that the declaration of the petitioners that they would recite religious verses either in the personal residence of another person or even at a public place is firstly,  encroachment upon another person’s personal liberty and secondly, if a declaration is made with particular religious verses would be recited on the public street, the State government is justified in carrying an apprehension that such act would result in disturbance of law and Order. 

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Delhi High Court| Whether absence of rule of law or utter disregard for the same propels a country towards inevitable ruin? 

Expressing that, attempts to circumvent or undermine judicial decisions need to be viewed seriously in order to ensure that the functioning of our country is unhindered, especially during turbulent times, Delhi High Court held that, 

“It is only the rule of law which not only cements the civilised functioning of a country, but also drives a country towards progress and development.” 

With regard to contempt, the Court observed that, 

“The underlying purpose of the law of contempt is meant to serve public interest and build confidence in the judicial process. This flows from how the functioning of a democratic society is sustained by the rule of law and wilful violation of the same would enable anarchy.” 

Read more… 


Legislation Updates 


IFSCA issues framework for FinTech entity in IFSCs 

The International Financial Services Centres Authority (IFSCA) has issued a detailed “Framework for FinTech Entity in the IFSCs” in order to develop and regulate financial products, financial services and financial institutions in the International Financial Services Centres (IFSC) and to encourage promotion of financial technologies (‘FinTech’) across the spectrum of banking, insurance, securities, and fund management in IFS. 

Read more… 


SEBI (Custodian) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022 

The Securities and Exchange Board of India has issued the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Custodian) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022 to amend Securities and Exchange Board of India (Custodian) Regulations, 1996. 

The amendment modifies Regulation 8 dealing with Procedure and grant of certificate and inserts clause (7) to provide that a custodian holding a certificate of registration as on the date of commencement of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Custodian) (Amendment) Regulations, 2022, may provide custodial services in respect of silver or silver related instruments held by a mutual fund only after taking prior approval of the Board. 

Read more…  


Income-tax (Ninth Amendment) Rules, 2022 

On April 21, 2022, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has issued the Income-tax (Ninth Amendment) Rules, 2022 to amend Income-tax Rules, 1962 and introduces Conditions for furnishing return of income by persons referred in section 139 (1) of the Act.  

Read more … 


 

 

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme court: In a long ongoing battle between Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and its temporary/badli/part-time employees over claim for absorption, the 3-judge bench of Dr. DY Chandrachud*, Surya Kant and Vikram Nath, JJ has appointed a two member committee to carry out fresh verification of the claims of workers who were working between 20 May 1985 and 4 March 1991 and who claim to have been employed for at least 70 days in Class IV posts over a period of three years or 85 days in Class III posts over a period of two years shall be carried out.

The Committee will consist of:

  • Justice P K S Baghel, former Judge of the Allahabad High Court; and
  • Rajiv Sharma, former District Judge and member of the UPHJS

In a 90-pages-long verdict that led to the aforementioned conclusion, the Court observed,

“The dispute is now of an antiquity tracing back to nearly four decades. Finality has to be wrung down on the dispute to avoid uncertainty and more litigation. Nearly thirty-one years have elapsed since 1991. We have come to the conclusion that the claims of those workers who are duly found upon verification to meet the threshold conditions of eligibility should be resolved by the award of monetary compensation in lieu of absorption, and in full and final settlement of all claims and demands.”

Background

The genesis of the present dispute relates to a demand raised by the Unions on 4 March 1991, pertaining to the claim for regularisation of those workers who were employed India with LIC as temporary/badli/part-time workers from 20 May 1985 till the date of reference on 4 March 1991.

The Central Government Industrial Tribunal (CGIT) which was presided over by K S Srivastav, directed that the temporary, badli and part-time workers who were employed after 20 May 1985 should be granted absorption on the same terms and conditions as was stipulated in the Tulpule and Jamdar Awards (in respect of workers who were employed from 1 January 1982 to 20 May 1985). LIC was directed to publish a notice in the newspapers for inviting applications from individual workers for absorption. If no regular vacancy was available, the award directed supernumerary posts to be created.

The Delhi High Court, however, set aside the said award.

On 12 December 2018, while dealing with the batch of contempt petitions, a two-judge Bench of the Supreme Court directed the CGIT to “look into the matter with regard to the claims made by the Union(s) individual workmen”. As many as 15,500 claims were submitted on behalf of the Unions, Associations and individual workers claiming absorption and the benefit of the Srivastav Award dated 18 June 2001. The CGIT submitted its report i.e. the Dogra Report on 31 May 2019.

The Dogra Report was primarily challenged by LIC on the ground that, as a consequence of the same, LIC would be required to regularise about 11,780 workers who claim to have worked for a limited number of days. No verification of these claims has been done either by the LIC or by the CGIT in the Dogra Report. This would amount to an illegal backdoor entry, which would be contrary to the statutory regulations framed by the LIC. Further, LIC would also face the issue of a lack of sanctioned posts for these workers.

Supreme Court’s Ruling

Dogra Report is Flawed

Holding the Dogra Report to be flawed, the Supreme Court observed,

“LIC as a statutory corporation is bound by the mandate of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. As a public employer, the recruitment process of the corporation must meet the constitutional standard of a fair and open process. Allowing for back-door entries into service is an anathema to public service”

The Court found the Dogra Report to be flawed as,

(a) It failed to carry out an accurate verification of only those Class III workers who had put in at least 85 days of work in a period of two years and Class IV workers who had put in 70 days of work in a period of three years;

(b) The lists which are appended to the report contain patent inconsistencies and errors as a consequence of a failure to carry out an adequate verification; and

(c) The report accepted the claims for absorption of those workers who were specifically governed by the decision of this Court in E Prabavathy v. LIC[1], in spite of an express stipulation to the contrary in the order of the Supreme Court as well as in paragraph 75 of the Srivastav Award;

It was, hence, held that,

“A public employer such as LIC cannot be directed to carry out a mass absorption of over 11,000 workers on such flawed premises without following a recruitment process which is consistent with the principles of equality of opportunity governed by Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. Such an absorption would provide the very back-door entry, which negates the principle of equal opportunity and fairness in public employment.”

Directions

  • A fresh verification of the claims of workers who claim to have been employed for at least 70 days in Class IV posts over a period of three years or 85 days in Class III posts over a period of two years shall be carried out;
  • The verification shall be confined to persons who were working between 20 May 1985 and 4 March 1991;
  • All persons who are found to be eligible on the above norm shall be entitled to compensation computed at the rate of Rs 50,000 for every year of service or part thereof. The payment of compensation at the above rate shall be in lieu of reinstatement, and in full and final settlement of all claims and demands of the workers in lieu of regularisation or absorption;
  • In carrying out the process of verification, the Committee appointed by this Court shall not be confined to the certified list before the CGIT and shall consider the claims of all workers who were engaged between 20 May 1985 and 4 March 1991;
  • For the purpose of verification, LIC shall make available all the records at the Divisional level to the Committee appointed by this Court;
  • It will be open to the workers concerned or, as the case may be, the Unions and Associations representing them, to make available such documentary material in their possession for the purpose of verification;
  • The process of verification shall be carried out independently without regard to the Dogra Report, which is held to be flawed;
  • The payment of compensation in lieu of reinstatement shall be effected by LIC within a period of three months from the date of receipt of the report of verification by the Committee

[Ranbir Singh v. SK Roy, Chairman, Life Insurance Corporation of India, 2022 SCC OnLine SC 521, decided on 27.04.2022]


*Judgment by: Justice Dr. DY Chandrachud


Counsels

For LIC: Senior Advocate ANS Nadkarni

For Unions, Associations and workers: Senior Advocates Dr Manish Singhvi, Pallav Sishodia, R Singaravelan, V Prakash and Salman Khurshid and Advocates Nandakumar, Rakesh Shukla and Shailesh Madiyal


[1] SLP (Civil) No 10393 of 1992

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A bench comprising of S.A. Bobde and L. Nageswara Rao, JJ. allowed an appeal filed against the judgment of the Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court and directed the State of U.P. to pay minimum of pay scales to the appellants.

The appellants were the daily workers employed in Forest Department in the State of U.P. They filed a writ petition before a Single Judge of the High Court seeking, inter alia, payment of minimum of the pay scales available to their counterparts working on regular posts. The Single Judge granted the relief as prayed for. However, the Division Bench, on an appeal by the State, reversed the judgment of the Single Judge. Aggrieved thereby, the appellants preferred the instant appeal.

The Supreme Court, for adjudication of the matter, referred to its previous decisions including that in State of Punjab v. Jagjit Singh, (2017) 1 SCC 148 and State of U.P. v. Putti Lal, (2006) 9 SCC 337. The Court, following the Jagjit Singh case, observed that “temporary employees are entitled to draw wages at the minimum of the pay scales which are applicable to the regular employees holding the same post.” The Court found itself unable to uphold the judgment of the Division Bench that the appellants were not entitled to be paid the minimum of the pay scales. Resultantly, the appeal was allowed and the State of U.P. was directed to make payments of the minimum of pay scales to the appellants w.e.f. 01-12-2018.[Sabha Shanker Dube v. Divisional Forest Officer,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2440, decided on 14-11-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the respondents who were initially engaged on casual basis and after one or two years were granted the temporary status and thereafter were regularized, had sought for full service benefit for the period during which they were working, having temporary status, the Court held that the casual worker after obtaining temporary status is entitled to reckon 50% of his services till he is regularised   on   a   regular/temporary   post   for   the purposes of calculation of pension. It was further added that the casual worker before obtaining the temporary status is also entitled to reckon 50% of casual service for purpose of pension.

The respondents in the present case were working in the Railways and hence, the Court said that those casual workers who are appointed to any post either substantively or in officiating or in temporary capacity are entitled to reckon the entire period from date of taking charge to such post as per Rule 20 of the Railway Services (Pension) Rules, 1993. The Court held that the Delhi High Court erred in holding that the worker is entitled to reckon 100% of his services for the purpose of calculation of pension and noticed that the perusal of Rules indicate that only half of the period of service of a casual labour after attainment of temporary status on completion of 120 days continuous service if it is followed by absorption in service as a regular Railway employee, counts for pensionary benefits.

The Bench of Dr. A.K. Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, JJ further clarified that it   is   open   to   Pension   Sanctioning   Authority   to recommend   for   relaxation   in   deserving   case   to   the Railway   Board   for   dispensing   with   or   relaxing requirement   of   any   rule   with   regard   to   those   casual workers who have been subsequently absorbed against the post   and   do   not   fulfill   the   requirement   of   existing rule   for   grant   of   pension,   in   deserving   cases.   On   a request   made in writing,   the   Pension   Sanctioning Authority shall consider as to whether any particular case deserves to be considered for recommendation for relaxation under Rule 107 of  Rules, 1993. [Union of India v. Rakesh Kumar, 2017 SCC OnLine SC 274, decided on 24.03.2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: Dealing with the question as to whether temporarily engaged employees (daily-wage employees, ad-hoc appointees, employees appointed on casual basis, contractual employees and the like), are entitled to minimum of the regular pay-scale, alongwith dearness allowance (as revised from time to time) on account of their performing the same duties, which are discharged by those engaged on regular basis, against sanctioned posts, the Court said that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ constitutes a clear and unambiguous right and is vested in every employee – whether engaged on regular or temporary basis.

The bench of J.S. Khehar and S.A. Bobde, JJ said that in a welfare state, an employee engaged for the same work, cannot be paid less than another, who performs the same duties and responsibilities. Such an action besides being demeaning, strikes at the very foundation of human dignity as any one, who is compelled to work at a lesser wage, does not do so voluntarily.

The Court, however, clarified the legal position for the application of the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’. Some of the principles highlighted by the Court are as follows:

  • The ‘onus of proof’, of parity in the duties and responsibilities of the subject post with the reference post, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, lies on the person who claims it.
  • Mere fact that the subject post occupied by the claimant, is in a “different department” vis-a-vis the reference post, does not have any bearing on the determination of a claim, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’. However, for equal pay, the concerned employees with whom equation is sought, should be performing work, which besides being functionallyequal, should be of the same quality and sensitivity.
  • Persons performing the same or similar functions, duties and responsibilities, can also be placed in different pay-scales. Such as – ‘selection grade’, in the same post. But this difference must emerge out of a legitimate foundation, such as – merit, or seniority, or some other relevant criteria.
  • The reference post, with which parity is claimed, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, has to be at the same hierarchy in the service, as the subject post.
  • A comparison between the subject post and the reference post, under the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’, cannot be made, where the subject post and the reference post are in different establishments, having a different management. Or even, where the establishments are in different geographical locations, though owned by the same master.
  • Different pay-scales, in certain eventualities, would be permissible even for posts clubbed together at the same hierarchy in the cadre if the duties and responsibilities of one of the posts are more onerous, or are exposed to higher nature of operational work/risk, the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ would not be applicable and also when, the reference post includes the responsibility to take crucial decisions, and that is not so for the subject post.

In the present case, all the temporary employees in the present bunch of appeals, were appointed against posts which were also available in the regular cadre/establishment. It was also accepted by the State of Punjab, that during the course of their employment, the concerned temporary employees were being randomly deputed to discharge duties and responsibilities, which at some point in time, were assigned to regular employees. The Court hence, held that there can be no doubt, that the principle of ‘equal pay for equal work’ would be applicable to all the concerned temporary employees, so as to vest in them the right to claim wages, at par with the minimum of the pay-scale of regularly engaged Government employees, holding the same post. [State of Punjab v. Jagjit Singh, , 2016 SCC OnLine SC 1200, decided on 26.10.2016]