The Delhi High Court said that it is a sorry state of affairs in the Constitutional Courts of the country where the poor labourers are forced to fight tooth and nail to get justice.

The Court was dealing with a writ petition filed by Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute (hospital) in 2003.

A Single Bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh observed, “In the instant case, the impugned award directing the reinstatement along with the back wages was passed by the learned Labour Court on 29th July, 2002 and the same was challenged by way of filing the instant petition in the year 2003. This Court has also perused the order sheets of the instant writ petition since the year 2003 till today and it is found that the matter has been listed 39 times, however, no decision has been taken till today. … Such a situation of gross delay can only be termed as a sorry state of affairs in the Constitutional Courts of this Country where the poor laborers are forced to fight tooth and nail to get justice for themselves.”

The Bench said that even though the hospitals are considered to be non-profit institutions, the very fact that they render services makes them part of an industry as defined under Section 2(j) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (ID Act).

Advocate M.K. Singh appeared for the petitioner while Advocate Jawahar Raja appeared for the respondents.

Factual Background -

The respondent workman was working as a casual and daily wager as a pump operator in the petitioner hospital since the year 1985 at a last drawn salary of Rs. 1300/- per month and his services were allegedly terminated illegally. Aggrieved by such illegal termination, he raised an industrial dispute vide a demand notice in 1991 and ultimately the same was referred by the appropriate government to the Labour Court for adjudication. During the proceedings, the petitioner hospital raised an issue of non-maintainability of such a dispute against them as the hospital cannot be treated as an industry under ID Act.

Subsequently, the Labour Court passed an award in favour of the workman and directed the hospital to reinstate him along with full back wages and continuity of services. Since the hospital failed to implement the said award, the workman served it with a demand notice seeking implementation of the award but to no avail. Hence, he filed an application for execution of award and a recovery certificate was issued for an amount of Rs. 3,03,554/- for the period of May 10, 1991 to September 30, 1992. Being aggrieved by this award, the hospital approached the High Court seeking quashing of the same.

The High Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel noted, “… the petitioner Hospital failed to prove that they intimated the respondent workman about the absence and tried to call him back to the services. Hence, it becomes clear that the contention of the petitioner Hospital regarding non-continuous work by the respondent workman cannot be accepted as the material on record suggested the contrary, leading to the right conclusion by the learned Court below.”

The Court added that the Labour Court had rightly appreciated the material facts and directed reinstatement of the respondent workman.

“The instant case took more than two decades to reach to a conclusion and the said prolonged delay has left the litigant/poor worker in a state of profound uncertainty. The ramifications of such delay are immense as the same leads to loss of faith in the legal system and the poor litigants find themselves trapped in a never ending cycle of waiting for justice”, it remarked.

The Court observed that the timeless adage "justice delayed is justice denied" resonates strongly in this case, where such a delay can only be interpreted as a failure of the court to meet the rightful expectations of the economically disadvantaged and that even though various stakeholders in the country strive for instant justice, the same is yet to be achieved.

“… despite no irregularity with the impugned award, the poor workman has been enduring the legal process for the past 21 years. … This inordinate delay underscores a reality which is disheartening and the judiciary’s efficacy in catering to the needs of the less privileged seems to have faltered and this Court firmly believes that it is high time that the Constitutional Courts of this Country should step up in giving speedy justice to the citizens. A swift and efficient justice is not only the fundamental right of the citizens of this country but also one of the cornerstones of a thriving democracy”, it further noted.

The Court said that despite a favourable award, the respondent workman has been moving from pillar to post to get it implemented and the same defeats the entire purpose of granting him a relief in the first instance.

“In any case, the referral of relevant material facts and records makes it clear that the learned Labour Court did not commit an error in law, rather had relied upon the settled position of law regarding the issues before it and therefore held the dispute in favor of the respondent workman”, it concluded.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the petition.

Cause Title- Vallabhbhai Patel Chest Institute v. Nishikesh Tyagi & Another (Neutral Citation: 2024:DHC:1268)


Petitioner: Advocate M.K. Singh

Respondents: Advocates Jawahar Raja, Meghna De, L. Gangmei, and Aditi.

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