Consumer fora can hear denial of gratuity complaints

  • Shailee Dogra, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jan 03, 2015 21:40 IST

In an order that will have far-reaching implications, the district consumer disputes redressal forum, Chandigarh, ruled that complaints regarding non-payment of gratuity can be heard by consumer fora.

The ruling was made by the consumer forum while providing relief to Hem Singh, a resident of Dhanas, while disposing of his complaint regarding the non-payment of his gratuity against his employer Rameshwara Emporium private limited, Sector 11, where he worked for more than seven years as salesman before being sacked. He moved the forum seeking directions to the emporium to pay the amount of gratuity, along with compensation.

So now, for claiming the gratuity, the claimant apart from filing cases under the Payment of Gratuity Act before the competent authority, can also move consumer forum.

“Complaints wherein the question of non-payment of gratuity to the complainant was involved, the consumer fora will have jurisdiction to entertain such a case,” ruled the consumer forum presided over by PL Ahuja on December 31.

The forum directed the emporium to pay an amount of Rs 49,503 in respect of gratuity with 9% interest from May 2013 till the date of realisation, along with compensation of Rs 10,000 and Rs 7,500 as litigation expenses.

The complaint

Hem Singh worked as salesman with Rameshwara Emporium private limited, Sector 11, since September 2005. In April 2013, he was sacked without any notice after putting in continuous service of seven years and six months. He was entitled to gratuity which the emporium failed to pay.

Employee not consumer: Emporium

Rameshwara Emporium private limited, which runs the business of readymade garments and textile, averred that Hem Singh does not fall within the definition of a consumer as he was working with them as an employee and was being paid wages as per law. They said Hem Singh had himself left the job and nothing was due on their part.

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