The Madras High Court while allowing a plea has held that a workman should be treated as deemed to be in service till the date of his death on medical grounds.

A Single Bench of Justice J. Nisha Banu observed, “The findings of the Labour court is that due to medical grounds, he was absent and accordingly, set aside the dismissal order passed by the transport corporation. In such view of the matter, the workman should be treated as deemed to be in service till the date of his death. As a natural consequence, the workman is entitled for full backwages and all other consequential and attendant benefits, to which he is entitled to.”

The Bench was dealing with a case wherein an award passed by the Labour Court was challenged by the petitioners.

Senior Advocate V. Ajoy Khose appeared on behalf of the petitioners while Advocate R. Babu appeared on behalf of the respondents.

In this case, a writ petition was filed seeking to quash the award passed by a Labour court, in so far as depriving back wages, continuity of service, other attendant benefits, compassionate appointment, lumpsum death benefits, and other terminal benefits including a pension in respect of a workman who died during the pendency of the dispute. The petitioners i.e., the legal heirs further prayed for a direction to the Transport Corporation to pay back wages and other attendant benefits by giving annual increments, pay revision, lump sum death benefits, and all terminal benefits including pension.

The deceased workman while serving both night and day shifts, developed health problems like ulcers, diabetes, and vision defects and he could not spend much amount for his medicines. He was unable to attend duty or submit a leave application for a specific period as a result of which the corporation issued a charge memo alleging that he was unauthorisedly absent and thereafter, initiated enquiries and accordingly, dismissed him from the service.

The High Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case asserted, “In the present case, the Labour court held that the absence of workman from duty was due to his health condition. The undisputed fact is that due to his continued treatment, he cannot attend duty and so the absence was proved as not wilful.”

The Court, therefore, directed the corporation to work out the monetary benefits to which the petitioners, being the legal heirs of the workman are entitled and pay the same within a period of four months.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the plea.

Cause Title- P. Ayothi & Ors. v. The Management of Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation & Anr.

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