The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India held that an employee who abandons work cannot be termed as an employee who was in ‘continuous service’ which is a requirement for applicability of section 25F of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act’).

In the matter of Manju Saxena v. Union of India & Anr.  a bench comprising of Hon’ble Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre by allowing the findings of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi held that the provisions of section 25F of the Act will not be applicable to the appellant in the case as she did not accept the alternative posts offered by the R2-Bank.

The factual pattern that surrounds this case is as follows-

The Appellant in this case was working as ‘Senior Confidential Secretary to Senior Manager’ which post became redundant after the officer to whom she was attached left services of the bank. Consequently, the bank provided the appellant with four alternate posts which were of the same pay scale as that of her previous post as well as did not require any extra educational qualifications for pursuing it. The appellant rejected all these alternate posts offered to her. As such, the R2-Bank terminated her employment by paying her severance package.

The appellant raised a dispute under the Act in front of Regional Labour Commissioner for increment in the severance package and not reinstatement. The forum asked the parties to proceed for conciliation but to no avail. Thereafter, the appellant approached the Central Government Industrial Tribunal with its Statement of Claim. The Tribunal ordered reinstatement of the appellant with full back wages. This order was questioned by the R2-Bank by filing a writ petition before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court. The Court remanded the matter to Central Government Industrial Tribunal for fresh consideration if the appellant will fall under the ambit of ‘workman’ as per the Act. During the pendency of the said Writ Petition the Tribunal upheld that the appellant will be a workman under the Act and hence ordered reinstatement, with continuity of services, full back wages and all consequential benefits. The said Writ petition before the Hon’ble Delhi High Court was allowed and the order of the Tribunal was set aside on the ground that the facts shows it clearly that the appellant has abandoned work as she did not accept any of the four options provided to her as well as did not pray for reinstatement before any forum that she has approached with respect to this matter.

Agrieved by this order, the present SLP was filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court which upheld the findings of the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi and concluded that employees abandoning the work will not be covered under section 25F of the Act. The court also considered the following precedents The Buckingham & Carnatic Co. Ltd. v. Venkatiah & Ors., Vijay S. Sathaye v. Indian Airlines Ltd. & Ors., Hathisingh Manufacturing Ltd. v. Union of India, Gurmail Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Ors., Pramod Jha & Ors. v. State of Biahr & Ors. while deciding this matter. The court was of the view that the appellant has already received an amount double the amount claimed by the appellant.

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Judgment: Manju Saxena v. Union of India & Anr.