Bombay High Court cancels dismissal of employee for being absent from work

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The Bombay High Court, in a case before Justice Sandeep V. Marne, held that the penalty of dismissal from service is disproportionate for being absent from the place of work for just a few hours.

The case involved a workman employed as an Accounts Assistant (Weighbridge) in a DMT manufacturing factory. The workman was issued a show cause notice for absence during a heavy workload period without permission. After facing a charge sheet and an inquiry, the workman was dismissed from service. The Industrial Tribunal approved the dismissal, but the workman challenged it through various legal avenues

High Court’s Observations and Decision

The High Court noted that the workman admitted to being absent from work for a few hours during the specified period. He acknowledged being in the canteen, engaging with superiors in the Accounts Department, and receiving a relative during shift change time. The workman also acknowledged the pardonable nature of his absence

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The High Court found that the charges against the workman were proven before the Labour Court, but it also noted that the misconduct of being absent from work for a few hours was not of a serious nature. The court held that the penalty of dismissal was shockingly disproportionate, considering the gravity of the proven misconduct. The court also considered the workman’s age and the protracted litigation spanning approximately 25 years, and concluded that reinstatement with the petitioner was impractical and not in the workman’s best interest

Despite the workman’s proven misconduct and the delay in raising the industrial dispute, the High Court held that he was not completely exonerated. The court decreed a lump sum compensation of Rs. 25,00,000 to be paid by the petitioner to the workman. The workman was permitted to withdraw the awarded compensation from the maturity value of the backwages deposited in court, with the balance amount from the invested backwages to be refunded to the workman

Conclusion

In summary, the Bombay High Court, in a case before Justice Sandeep V. Marne, held that the penalty of dismissal from service for being absent from work for just a few hours was disproportionate. The court found that the misconduct was not of a serious nature and that the penalty of dismissal was excessive. Instead of reinstatement, the court awarded a lump sum compensation of Rs. 25,00,000 to be paid by the petitioner to the workman

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