Effective relief can be granted to a worker only if the permanent address of the workman is furnished in the pleadings, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.
Observing that if any party approaches any authority for relief, the first thing required to be mentioned is his complete address, the apex court said in all pending cases and matters to be filed in future, the parties shall be required to furnish their permanent address.
A bench of Justices A S Oka and Rajesh Bindal delivered its verdict on an appeal filed by a firm against a June 2010 order of the Bombay High Court in a matter related to reinstatement of a worker.
The top court noted that the October 2005 award of the labour court, which had directed reinstatement of the worker with continuity of service from December 8, 1997 with full back wages, showed his address was through some union and he had not furnished his own address.
“It is a case in which permanent address of the workman has not been mentioned. The address furnished is care of union. All efforts made to serve him at the given address remained futile,” the bench said.
Finally, it said, the service was made at the address of the union, which may not be interested to pursue the case on his behalf.
“Before parting with the order, this court would like to direct the authorities working under the various labour laws to take some corrective steps,” the bench said, adding, “Effective relief can be granted to a worker only if the permanent address of the workman is furnished in the pleadings.”
The apex court said to simplify labour laws and strengthen the protection available to workers, including unorganised workers in terms of statutory minimum wages, social security and healthcare, Parliament has consolidated 29 labour laws under four category of Codes — Code on Wages, 2019, Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020, Industrial Relation Code, 2020 and Code on Social Security, 2020.
“The aforesaid Codes are yet to be enforced. With the enforcement of four Labour Codes, we are hopeful that in future, when rules are framed, authorities will take care that parties to the dispute furnish their permanent addresses in the cases relating to labour law disputes,” it said.
“In future all the cases to be filed and in all the pending cases, the parties shall be required to furnish their permanent address(es),” the bench said.
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The apex court said service of notice to workman will have to be effected on his permanent address.
The bench was dealing with the firm’s appeal against an order of a division bench of the high court which had upheld an order passed by its single judge bench, as a consequence of which the award of the Labour court was held to be valid.
It said the order passed by the single judge of high court showed that the workman was represented, hence he knew about the challenge to the award of the labour court and also dismissal of the petition.
The bench noted that the November 2006 order passed by the division bench of the high court in the appeal filed by the firm showed that statement of its counsel was recorded that management will reinstate the workman and he shall be communicated accordingly so as to enable him to report for duty.
It noted the challenge was to the award of the labour court only to the extent of award of back wages.
The bench said the management had sent letters to the workman and a request was also made to him to furnish his permanent address.
“When the matter was taken up for hearing, the counsel for the appellant (firm) on instructions from his client submitted that the respondent (workman) has not reported for duty till date. Meaning thereby that he is no more interested in joining duty and must have been gainfully employed after leaving the job in question,” the apex court noted.
It said considering the factual matrix, the award of the labour court granting back wages and continuity in service to the workman deserves to be set aside as he has not reported for duty despite the statement made by his counsel in court in October 2007.
“The present appeal cannot be kept pending as the conduct of the respondent (workman) itself establishes that he is no more interested in employment what to talk of back-wages,” the bench said, while setting aside the order passed by the high court as well as the award of the labour court.