The Bombay High Court has imposed a cost of Rs. 25,000/- on Kolhapur Municipal Corporation (KMC) for making a 73-year-old retired nurse litigate for 19 years.

The Court was dealing with a petition filed by the KMC which challenged the order passed by the Industrial Court, Kolhapur directing it to deposit pension payable to the respondent from the date of her retirement.

A Single Bench of Justice Sandeep V. Marne held, “This Court takes note of the conduct on the part of the Petitioner - Municipal Corporation, which is a public body and an ideal employer. It has made Respondent to litigate for the last 19 long years. Even though the termination/dismissal of Respondent was set aside by the Labour Court in the year 2010, she was denied pension and pensionary benefit. She was made to litigate before the Industrial Court in revision as well as this Court in Writ Petition. … She is made to survive without payment of any pension. For this conduct on the part of the Petitioner - Municipal Corporation, it is required to saddled with costs while dismissing the present Petition.”

The Bench said that even after the order was upheld, the Municipal Corporation did not implement the award and forced the respondent to file Recovery Application before the Labour Court.

Advocate Abhijit Adagule appeared for the petitioner while Advocate Jayashree Tripathi appeared for the respondent.

Brief Facts -

The respondent was appointed on the post of Staff Nurse by the petitioner/KMC in the year 1982 and she remained absent from duties from May 19, 1995 to February 28, 1996 which led to her suspension. A Departmental Enquiry was initiated against her and the charge of remaining unauthorizedly absent from duties for 287 days was proved. The petitioner, therefore, proceeded to terminate her services and the respondent approached the Labour Court, Kolhapur by filing a complaint under Section 28 of the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971 (MRTU & PULP Act, 1971) challenging the termination order.

During the pendency of the complaint, the respondent retired on attaining the age of superannuation in 2008 and after her retirement, the complaint was allowed by the Labour Court setting aside the order of termination. The Labour Court directed payment of back wages to the respondent from the date of termination till the date of attaining the age of superannuation. The Revision Petition filed by the petitioner before the Industrial Court came to be rejected due to which it approached the High Court and accordingly, for many years, the respondent had to litigate. Hence, the matter was before the High Court.

The High Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel noted, “I have no hesitation in holding that the Respondent is entitled to payment of pension and pensionary benefits consequent to her retirement as a permanent employee on 30 June 2008.”

The Court said that even after the Recovery Application was partly allowed, the payment of pension and pensionary benefits were denied thereby forcing the respondent once again to approach the Industrial Court.

Furthermore, the Court added, “Even after the said complaint being allowed by the impugned order dated 03 January 2022, the Petitioner - Municipal Corporation has filed a present Petition thereby making Respondent to litigate further. Having attained the age of superannuation on 30 June 2008, the Respondent would be at an advanced age of about 73 years.”

The Court, therefore, directed the petitioner to pay the pension and pensionary benefits payable to the respondent and also ordered to pay a cost of Rs. 25,000/- to the respondent.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the writ petition and upheld the order of the Industrial Tribunal.

Cause Title- The Commissioner Kolhapur v. Shashikala Vijay Bhore (Neutral Citation: 2023:BHC-AS:24362)

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