Almost after a two-decade-long fight, the 34 workers of Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN) have been awarded Rs 1.84 crore as arrears.
Not only this, shocked over the highhandedness of the management of the power distribution company, the Punjab and Haryana court has imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on the power discom and told the managing director that he was at liberty to order a fact-finding inquiry to fix financial liability of erring officials in the department "to recover all the amount spent on this unwanted, unwarranted and avoidable" litigation.
The high court order came on two petitions of power discom, wherein it had challenged a labour court order of initiating recovery proceedings against the management of the discom company in 2013.
These workmen were terminated in 1993, following which they approached a labour court which decided in their favour and asked the UHBVN to reinstate them with 40% back wages in 2002.
The discom neither challenged the order nor implemented it, however, when the workmen approached the court in 2003, the management challenged the labour court order in 2004. However, here as well, the management lost and the labour court order was upheld. The workmen were reinstated in 2005. But the arrears as mandated by the high court were not given despite repeated pleas by workmen. In 2012, when these workmen approached the labour commissioner, it ordered recovery of the arrears from the petitioner management following which the power discom appealed before the high court in 2013.
"It seems that the officers concerned were not only taking the courts as well as the justice delivery system for a ride, treating themselves as above the law, but they were incorrigible also," the bench of justice RS Malik has recorded in its order, further elaborating that the management put the workmen on maximum harassment for a period of more than 22 years.
The high court observed that the court of law could not become mute spectator in such circumstances and was bound by duty to do complete and substantial justice between parties. The court recorded that the management had been found misconducting itself, at every relevant stage of this avoidable litigation.
While dismissing the petitions, the high court directed the discom to pay the arrears, which workmen lawyer RK Birbain said amounted to Rs 1.42 crore in one petition and Rs 42 lakh in another petition and the cost of Rs 50,000 on each petition, within a period of two months from the date of the judgment. firstname.lastname@example.org