The Telangana High Court has issued a directive to the Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (APRTC), known as TSRTC after the state’s division, to treat a former employee as though he had remained in service from the time of his removal until his passing, particularly in relation to the matter of back wages.
Justice Nagesh Beemapaka delivered this ruling following a writ filed by the deceased man’s wife, aiming to overturn a previous decision by the Labour Court.
The Labour Court had instructed TSRTC to acknowledge the deceased employee’s service starting from the date of his removal, excluding any periods of absence, until his demise, which included all related benefits but excluded back wages.
The petitioner’s argument stemmed from her husband’s severe health issues. As per medical recommendations it became necessary for him to take complete bed rest. Unfortunately, her husband passed away in November 2006 due to these health issues. She contended that her husband had taken sick leave in December 2005 and, in accordance with the doctor’s advice, remained on bed rest. Consequently, she believed he was entitled to back wages since he did not seek alternative employment during this period.
However, the corporation disputed the categorisation of the deceased individual as a ‘workman’ and contended that the dispute in question fell outside the jurisdiction of the Labour Court. Furthermore, the corporation maintained that the deceased had been absent from work for more than a month before his termination, and even during his employment, his performance at work was consistenly irregular. The corporation argued that his absence, which was not even notified, constituted misconduct under Regulation 28(xxvii) and (ix)(a) of the APS RTC Employees’ (Conduct) Regulation 1963, resulting in inconvenience for the corporation.
The Court, however, ruled that the employee’s absence from work could not be called negligence, as he did not stay away willfully. It was his health that forced him to follow bed rest.