The Allahabad High Court held that the medical representatives are “workman” under the Industrial disputes Act, 1947.

A Single Judge Bench of Justice Alok Mathur observed that “after coming into force of Sales Promotion Employees (conditions of service) Act, 1976 the medical representatives would be deemed to be workmen as per the provisions of Industrial Disputes act”.

Advocate Dr. R.K. Srivastava appeared for the Petitioner, whereas CSC Birendra Pd. Singh appeared for the Respondent.

The brief facts of the case were that the second respondent – workman who was initially appointed as clerk in M/s Nicholas Piramal India Ltd. in 1973, was subsequently appointed as Medical Representative in 1982. While discharging his duties as such, the workman was allegedly involved in certain acts of misconduct and most specifically submitting false call reports of visiting Doctors and Chemists to whom in fact he has not visited. Finally, the workman was dismissed from service and was paid compensation of Rs.1,64,346/- and one month salary.

Challenging his termination, the workmen raised industrial dispute under Section 4K of the U.P. Industrial Disputes Act and the Labour Court considered that the workman had worked for a very long time with the petitioner Company and during his tenure he had extremely good track record and through his efforts the petitioner had profited and had sold huge amount of medicines and consequently it was held that from the material on record that charge with regard to working dishonestly was not proved. Further, it was found that once the Doctors have given their certificates to the effect that workman had visited them on the dates in question then it cannot be concluded that the workman had not visited them on the said dates, and accordingly the charge on this count was also not proved. Accordingly, the Labour Court held that the findings recorded by the domestic enquiry were, illegal and arbitrary, and consequently the order of dismissal was set aside.

After considering the submission, the Bench noted that, to prove the charge of habitual negligence or neglect of work, no evidence was led by the petitioner, as in fact the witness for the petitioner, on the contrary stated that there was no allegation against the petitioner prior to the said act of misconduct and accordingly on the basis of the said statement, and also in absence of any other material, the said charge was also not proved.

Regarding the charge of submitting false call reports, the Labour Court held that relying upon the statement of the witness for the petitioner it was clear that on the date of the meeting there was sufficient time to petitioner to have called on the Doctors and pharmacists, and consequently it cannot be said that the call reports filed by the workman were false. This was not contradicted and is also borne out from the evidence adduced on behalf of the petitioners”, added the Bench.

The Bench found that the certificates of the Doctors were produced during the domestic enquiry and there was no reason for disbelieving them, and for the said reason the charge against the petitioner was also not proved.

It was incumbent upon the petitioner to place material/evidence indicating that fresh/other material was in fact available which could have been placed on record to prove the charges, and matters can be remitted to the Prescribed Authority/Labour Court when it is found, on examination, that there has been violation of principles of natural justice and the workman was not given proper opportunity to defend himself”, added the Bench.

Another contention raised in this case was that the Medical Representatives are not 'workmen', as defined in the Industrial Disputes Act. Reliance was placed on May and Baker (India) Ltd. v. Their Workmen, AIR 1967 SC 678. In the said case, the Apex Court held that medical representatives shall not be included in the definition of 'workman', since they do not meet the criterion specified in the Act.

"Supreme Court had decided the said issue when the Sales Promotion Employees (conditions of service) Act, 1976, was not in existence. The Act of 1976 had amended the definition of “sales promotion employee” which includes Medical Representatives and held them to be 'workman' as per the Industrial Disputes Act." the court noted.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the petition.

Cause Title: M/s Nicholas Piramal India Ltd. and Ors. v. Presiding Officer Labour Court and Ors.

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