The Delhi High Court observed that the alternative remedy available under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (the Act) to approach the Industrial Tribunal has to be exhausted before filing a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution.

The Bench dismissed a petition filed by the former employees of the State Bank of Mysore (SBM) who sought reinstatement and regularisation of their services with full back wages and other consequential benefits following their retrenchment due to a merger with the State Bank of India (SBI).

A Single Bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh observed, “The present petition is not maintainable under Article 226 since the petitioners have failed to exhaust the alternative remedy available to them under the Act, i.e., to approach the Industrial Tribunal/Labour Courts. It is also held that the petitioners have failed to bring before this Court, any point of contention in order to showcase as to why this Court may invoke its extraordinary writ jurisdiction in the instant matter.

Advocate R. K. Saini represented the petitioners, while Advocate Rishesh Mani Tripathi appeared for the respondents.

The petitioners were temporary workmen working as sweepers and peons at various Delhi branches of SBM between 2004 and 2010. Following the merger of SBM with SBI in 2017, the workmen received retrenchment notices, as the merger restricted the absorption of only permanent and regular employees. The workmen contended that the retrenchment violated their fundamental rights under Article 14 of the Constitution and breached the fundamental principles of judicial procedure.

The High Court observed that the Act constituted an extensive and self-contained legislative framework that provided a detailed mechanism for the resolution of industrial disputes and the corresponding remedies available to the aggrieved parties.

As a matter of statutory design and policy, all industrial disputes are initially required to be adjudicated by the Industrial Tribunal/Labour Courts and the decisions rendered by the Tribunal/Labour Courts are subject to the invocation of the writ jurisdiction of the High Court. This hierarchical structure is a deliberate reflection of the legislative intent underlying the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947,” the Court remarked.

The Bench noted that the writ jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution was “inherently discretionary” and should not be invoked when an efficacious alternative remedy exists. “The sole test for entertaining a writ petition related to an industrial dispute in cases, wherein, there exists presence of 'exceptional circumstances', thereby, underscoring the importance of adhering to the statutory framework and exhausting the remedies available under law before seeking recourse to the writ jurisdiction of a High Court,” the Court remarked.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the petition.

Cause Title: Maya & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2024:DHC:4033)


Petitioners: Advocates R. K. Saini and Ravi Kumar

Respondents: Advocates Rishesh Mani Tripathi, Rajiv Kapur, Akshit Kapur and Aditya Saxena

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