The Bombay High Court agreed that firing an employee for consistently being absent from work is a fair decision. The HC rejected an employee’s petition challenging a decision by the Industrial Court to not interfere with the company’s / employer’s decision to terminate employment. The Industrial Court had upheld the company’s choice to fire the employee, dismissing the employee’s petition and the High Court affirmed this decision.
Justice Milind N Jadhav stated that the termination of the petitioner’s services by the company was justified and not considered ‘unfair labour practice’ in this case.
The Industrial Court correctly rejected the petitioner’s request for additional compensation, as the denial of back wages was deemed legally unsound. The court rightfully intervened in its revisional jurisdiction, dismissing the petitioner’s complaint.
The petitioner, a technical officer with the respondent company since 1988, faced a charge sheet in 2001 for repeated unauthorised absences. He had neither taken leave nor given any intimation of his absences.
Records showed habitual absence in 1998 (44.5 days), 1999 (63.5 days), and 2000 (144 days). Admitting significant income from a milk business during this period, the petitioner had declined back wages for that period. The Labour Court granted a lump sum compensation of Rs. 60,000 since the employee had declined back wages. However, this was handled by the Industrial Court during revision proceedings and challenged as the petitioner could not be labeled as a victim at all. After all, despite his chronic absenteeism, he was earning well from his side hustle.
The Industrial Court correctly overturned the Labour Court’s decision, citing the petitioner’s refusal to accept back wages was not to be considered a sympathetic point that works in his favour since he had actually earned about Rs 2.5 lakhs annually while staying away from work. Allowing the payment of the lump sum compensation amount by the Labour Court was termed as illegal and arbitrary.