Sacked driver waits for 23 years for court hearing to know who is his employer
For more than 20 years, the West Bengal government and the Centre fought court battles to decide if the man’s employer was a central or state government firm.india Updated: Jan 03, 2018 22:57 IST
A driver thrown out of a public sector company had to wait for 23 years for courts to let him know the appropriate forum to challenge his dismissal, a case that once again shines light on India’s painfully slow judicial system.
Five years after it got the case, a Supreme Court bench headed by justice Ranjan Gogoi in December 2017 ruled that the Central Government Industrial Tribunal (CGIT) had the jurisdiction to hear Pradip Kumar Ganguly, who was sacked in 1994. For more than 20 years, the West Bengal government and the Centre fought court battles to decide if Ganguly’s employer was a central or state government firm.
One of India’s leading shipyards, Kolkata-based Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineer Limited (GRSE) makes frigates and patrol boats and is under the control of the defence ministry. Distressed that Ganguly had to move from one court to the other and his case was “yet to see the light of the day,” justice Gogoi fixed a three-month deadline for the CGIT to decide the matter.
He also ordered GRSE to pay Rs 2 lakh to Ganguly as litigation expenses.
Out of job, 49-year-old Ganguly has been working as a daily wager to support his wife and two children.
He was 26 when he was sacked for “failing” to discharge duty. Ganguly challenged the dismissal. GRSE, as is the procedure, referred his challenge to the state government that forwarded the case to the state industrial tribunal.
Under labour laws, disputes between an employee and employer are taken up by an industrial tribunal.
But the GRSE went to the Calcutta high court, saying it was a Union government enterprise so the Ganguly’s case should be taken up by the CGIT. The petition was dismissed in 2010, which GRSE challenged in the Supreme Court.
During the hearing in December, Ganguly’s advocate Dushyant Parashar said his client had suffered for 23 years and all he wanted was a decision on who would hear the case.
Ganguly, Parashar said, was ready to appear before any of the two tribunals.