The Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Punjab government to restore the services of two Punjab Roadways employees who were retrenched in 1999 and not paid any compensation benefits.
The decision came in the wake of two different petitions wherein the Punjab government had challenged a tribunal order of reinstating the workmen with all consequential benefits.
A bench presided by justice Amit Rawal held the two employees were retrenched in complete violation of provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 and ruled they were entitled to reinstatement with continuity of service.
The two men, employed as "helpers" by Punjab Roadways before they were sacked, filed a complaint with the labour tribunal that gave a verdict in their favour. However, the state government challenged the tribunal order in 2012.
The two had submitted that the order of retrenchment was not in consonance with the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act as one month's salary in lieu of not being served notice had not been paid.
The government on the other hand submitted the retrenched employees had asked for their jobs to be regularized but a committee did not consider their case after it found they did not meet the educational requirements and ordered them be retrenched. The government, however, admitted the delay in disbursement of compensation. The order of the retrenchment was passed on March 31, 1999 but the amount was released only on May 3, 1999.
The high court also ruled that the onus of proving the two men were gainfully employed lay with the government. "In the instant case the employer has failed to furnish any evidence in this regard (whether the two retrenched workers were employed or not after their services were terminated) and the findings rendered by the labour tribunal that they are entitled to be reinstated with in full back wages and consequential benefits is in accordance with the provisions of the relevant laws," the bench stated while allowing continuity of service with payment of salary arrears to the two members.