Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: Abdul Quddhose, J., dismissed a writ petition filed against the order passed by the Employees Provident Fund Appellate Tribunal holding that the provisions of the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 have to be interpreted only in the favour of employees.

An order was issued against the petitioner by the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner under Section 7-A of the EPF & MP Act stating that a sum of over Rs 14.40 lakhs was due and payable by them towards 194 employees, for whom, EPF contributions were not paid by them. The petitioner filed a review of this order, which was dismissed. An appeal filed thereagainst before the EPF Appellate Tribunal met with the same fate. The petitioner’s case was that the 194 employees concerned apprentices and temporary employees.

While considering the matter, the High Court observed: “The purpose of the enactment of the said Act is to cultivate the spirit of saving amongst the workers regularly. It is, therefore, a beneficial legislation to protect the interest of the employees. Therefore, this Court will have to necessarily interpret the provisions only in favour of the employees whenever there requires any interpretation.”

Not satisfied with the stand taken by the petitioner, the High Court said: “It is impossible for the factory to have more number of apprentices than regular employees, that too about in the ratio 1:3. Further, there is no dispute regarding the number of persons, who were working at the time of inspection by the enforcement wing officials in the factory premises of the petitioner in the year 2006.”

The Court noted that the evidence was duly considered by the Commissioner. Stating that it cannot re-appreciate the evidence under Article 226 jurisdiction, the Court dismissed the present petition finding no perversity in the impugned order. [Kumar Spinning Mills (P) Ltd. v. Employees Provident Fund Appellate Tribunal, 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 937, dated 02-04-2019]

Case BriefsInternational Courts

European Court of Justice (ECJ): The Bench comprising of K. Lenaerts, President; R. Silva de Lapuerta, Vice-President; J.C. Bonichot, A. Arabadjiev, A. Prechal, C. Toader and C. Lycourgos (Rapporteur), Presidents of Chambers, directed equal treatment for all employees until the Austrian legislation was amended.

The respondent who was employed under a private detective agency was denied public holiday pay for the work he did on a ‘Good Friday’ which he claims to be arbitrary and demands to be treated at par with the employees who were members of Evangelical Churches of the Augsburg and Helvetic Confessions, the Old Catholic Church and the United Methodist Church, for which he seeks pay from the petitioner.

The question raised in this case was regarding the Austrian law of a paid public holiday, which was only given to practice the religion on a given specified day for which the consent of the employer was not needed and if the employee for some reason has to work on that day he stands reimbursed by the employer. The principle of ‘equal treatment’ under Article 2(2) (a) of  Directive 2000/78 of European Union law was submitted wherein discrimination occurred where one person was treated less favourably than another in a comparable situation on account of religion.

The Court was of the view that if the execution of legislation demands bestowing some freedom only upon a certain religion, it was purely detrimental for the others. It also noted that relaxation was not given to perform a particular religious duty, but was subject only to the condition that such an employee must formally belong to one of those churches. Accordingly, it stated that until the Country reinstates measures to abolish this arbitrariness, observance of the principle of equality can be ensured only by granting to persons within the disadvantaged category the same advantages as those enjoyed by persons within the favoured category.

Thus the principle of Article 21 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union was applied which says that until the Member State concerned has amended its legislation restoring an equal treatment towards the ‘other’ employees, a duty be imposed upon the employer to allow the employee to be absent from work on the prescribed holiday if not compensate him for the same.[Cresco Investigation GmbH v. Markus Achatzi, C-193/17, order dated 22-01-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Sudhanshu Dhulia, J. directed the State to follow the rule of equity while granting payment to its employees.

The petitioners were Junior Residents working in a Government Medical College also pursuing a post graduation course along with it. The issue that arose was with respect to the remuneration received by them, which was less than what was being given to junior residents not undergoing any post graduation course with due consideration to the fact that work and duties performed by them were same in nature. Also, the benefit of the 7th pay commission was not been given to them.

The Court thereby highlighting the principle of equal pay and equal work, directed the respondent on the principle of equity to grant the benefit of the 7th pay commission to both the categories of junior residents irrespective of them undergoing any post graduation or not. Accordingly, the writ petition was disposed of. [Ravi Saini (Dr.) v. State of Uttarakhand, 2017 SCC OnLine Utt 1784,  order dated 06-10-2017]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The Vacation Bench comprising of Adarsh Kumar Goel and Ashok Bhushan JJ., allowed the Centre to go ahead with the reservation in promotion for employees belonging to the cadre of SC/ST in accordance to law.

Centre had stated various submissions for explaining their concern on the whole process of promotion being “standstill” due to the various orders passed by the High Courts and apex court.  The government also cited the cases on the issue of quota in promotion in government jobs by placing the apex court’s decision in M Nagaraj v. Union of India, (2006) 8 SCC 212  would be applicable, as in reference to the said case, creamy layer concept cannot be applied to the ST/SC for promotions as decided in the verdict of Indra Sawhney v. Union of India; 1992 Supp (3) SCC 210 and E.V Chinnaiah v. State of A.P; (2005) 1 SCC 394.

ASG Mahinder Singh also referred to an order passed on May 17th in which it was said that “pendency of petition before it shall not stand in the way of the Centre taking steps for the promotion”. He also mentioned Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution, which enabled the state to provide reservation in matters of promotion to SC/ST which in its view was not effectively represented for services.

By a decision of the Supreme Court in M Nagaraj v. Union of India (2006) 8 SCC 212, the constitutional validity of Article 16(4), (4A) and (4B) was upheld.
Subsequent to the pronouncement of law in M Nagaraj, there were decisions by the Supreme Court stating that the government could not blindly provide for reservation in promotions, in favour of SCs and STs unless, prior thereto, the requisite exercise, to acquire quantifiable data regarding lack of representation of SCs and STs in public services was undertaken.

On noting the Delhi High Court verdict of August 23, 2017, in which the government was restrained from granting any reservation, in promotion to SC/ST, in exercise of the power conferred by Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution, without, in the first instance, carrying out the necessary preliminary exercise of acquiring quantifiable data indicating inadequacy of representation, the instant petition was filed and till any further decision of the Constitution bench, as per law permission has been granted in regard to the promotions. [State of Maharashtra v. Vijay Ghogre, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 589, order dated 05-06-2018]