‘Employer doesn’t allot work to employee? Then it is retrenchment’: JKL HC

Aga Syed Mustafa was accused by JK Handicrafts of “abandoning” his job, but the court ruled that the employee could not work because he wasn’t assigned work by his employer or order a posting, and not because it was Mustafa’s  wish to quit


JK Handicrafts had accused Aga Syed Mustafa of ‘abandoning’ his job at the establishment, where he had been working as assistant craftsman for over four decades. After he was transferred to the company’s headquarters along with others, he was not assigned any post, role or job unlike his co-workers. A dispute resulted with the establishment terminating him and alleging that Mustafa had abandoned his job, while the latter claimed that he had been awaiting further orders for posting all along.

The matter was escalated to the assistant labour commissioner who noted that Mustafa’s termination did not comply with the applicable sections of the Industrial Disputes Act. After that, the matter was forwarded to the industrial tribunal for resolution.

Initially, the tribunal took JK Handicrafts’ side, but this decision was overruled by a prior verdict from the High Court. The case was subsequently sent back to the tribunal to be assessed again.

In the latest ruling, the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh said that Mustafa had not willingly left his job; instead, he was unable to work because the company did not assign him work or offer him a posting like his other colleagues. Therefore, his termination was actually ‘retrenchment’. The court clarified that ‘retrenchment’ referred to any termination of service, irrespective of the reason, except in case of voluntary retirement or superannuation.

In Mustafa’s case, he had been consistently been asking for new posting orders when he wasn’t accommodated like his co-workers. JK Handicrafts, as per the Court, had failed to comply with the legal protocols specified in Section 25F of the Act.

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