The Karnataka High Court denied Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation’s (KPTCL) request to reverse the reinstatement of a station attendant who was fired for being absent from work without authorisation for approximately 632 days due to depression.
Chief Justice Prasanna B Varale and Justice Krishna S Dixit who made up the division bench upheld the decision of a single judge who had affirmed the labour court’s 2019 ruling to reinstate S. Kiran. Kiran was to return to work without receiving back wages but with the assurance of permanent service. KPTCL’s appeal against this decision was dismissed.
The Bench noted that stress arises from the psychological and emotional pressures faced by a person at work or at home. While it is not easy to either identify the causes of stress and understand their effects on the individual’s mind and daily activities, termination from employment can in no way solve the issue either. In fact, termination, whether justified or not, can worsen the depression. The Bench emphasised that all these aspects must be taken into account in such situations because there is no guarantee of the kind of treatment that life will mete out to anyone.
When KPTCL argued about the adverse effect on work due to an employee’s unauthorised absences, the Bench pointed out that as a state entity, KPTCL should set an example of being a model employer and ensure that workers are treated fairly and empathetically; that the employer should think of ways to spread positivity, which will ultimately result in improved productivity.