Casualization of service of workmen amounts to unfair labour practice

Supreme Court: In one of the prominent decision the Court granted relief to 49 casual workers working in Food Corporation of India by affirming the award of the Central Industrial Dispute Tribunal which held that continued casualization of service of workmen amounts to unfair labour practice and social justice principle demands order of absorption and therefore directed the Food Corporation Management to absorb 49 casual workmen.

The dispute was regarding the regularization of 49 causal workers and the Corporation. The workers who initially worked in the Modern Rice Mill of the Corporation in Durgapur on contractual basis  were directly employed by the Corporation in June, 1991 as casual employees on daily wage basis in the Food Storage Depot at Durgapur corporation after the Rice Mill was closed .The decision of the Tribunal was affirmed by a single Judge bench of the Calcutta High Court but was later on reversed by the Division Bench on the basis of back door appointments and violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution

The Corporation represented by Y.P. Rao  raised the same issue as raised in Calcutta High Court i.e the legality of the initial appointment as it was a backdoor appointment on which S.C. Patel, the counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants submitted that in absence of any pleading made by the Corporation before the Tribunal about legality of initial appointment of appellants, it was not open to the Corporation to raise such question before the Division Bench of the High Court or the Supreme Court. He also contented that the Division Bench of the High Court was also not justified in giving any judgment with regard to the initial appointment of the workmen, in absence of any issue suggested or framed by the Tribunal.

On these issues the Court decided that it was not open to the Division Bench of the High Court, particularly in absence of any such plea taken by the Corporation before the Tribunal to come to a finding of fact that initial appointments of workmen were in violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution, nor it was open to the High Court to deny the benefit to which the workmen were entitled under Item 10 of Part I of the Fifth Schedule of the Industrial Dispute Act. Durgapur Casual Workers Union v. Food Corporation of India2014 SCC OnLine SC 986 decided on 9/12/2014

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