The Delhi High Court has ruled that if an employee remains absent for long owing to medical emergency in the family, resultant domestic problems and submits proof of it, he cannot be dismissed for taking 'unauthorised' or 'excessive' leave.
"Once the enquiry officer was satisfied that the delinquent employee had taken leave, though excessive, for the sickness of his wife and that medical documents had also been given by him, the enquiry officer had no business to say the workman was guilty of availing excessive leave," Justice PK Bhasin ruled.
He also said the authority could not punish the employee for unauthorised absence.
The court said this while dismissing an appeal by Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) against a Delhi Industrial Tribunal order asking it to reinstate driver Anil Kumar, who was dismissed in September 22, 1992, for "unauthorised absence" from duty for 147 days.
The tribunal had asked DTC to reappoint him with full back wages and service seniority. DTC contended that Kumar was dismissed after a proper probe by its inquiry officer.
The tribunal had noted that Kumar had submitted medical certificates of his wife's treatment at LNJP Hospital from March 1990 to December 1990 and May 1991 to June 1991.
It had also taken into consideration the fact that Kumar said there was nobody except his wife and himself to look after their children. And the resultant domestic problems, which forced Kumar to take leave, and had wondered how the inquiry officer could give an order against Kumar.
The tribunal noted: "There are domestic problems and it cannot be said that the workman availed the leave for no reasons, showing lack of interest in his official duties. Even the findings of the enquiry officer are not to the effect that the conduct of the workman show that he has lack of interest in the duties of corporation."