A bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Ajay Rastogi on Friday asked the Chief Justice of India to place a batch of appeals on regularization of workmen before an appropriate larger bench due to apparent inconsistencies in a 2015 judgment of another division bench, which was relied on by the High Courts of Andhra Pradesh, Delhi and Uttarakhand while distinguished by the High Court of Madras, all of which are presently in appeal before the Court.
In the appeals clubbed under Oil and Natural Gas Corporation v Krishan Gopal & Ors., the Supreme Court observed that the 2015 judgment of the apex court in Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited v Petroleum Coal Labour Union (PCLU) needs to be revisited and hence the present batch of appeals be placed before the CJI for listing before an appropriate bench.
The decision in PCLU holds that the workmen upon completion of 240 days’ service in a period of 12 calendar months “are entitled for regularisation of their services into permanent posts of the corporation”. Clause 2(ii) of the Certified Standing Orders was construed to confer a right to regularisation on the completion of 240 days of service in a calendar year. It further upheld the jurisdiction of the Industrial Tribunal to adjudicate upon the dispute and had rightly passed an award directing regularisation of the services of the workmen.
The issues pointed out by the court, with respect to the PCLU judgment are:
(i) The interpretation placed on the provisions of clause 2(ii) of the Certified Standing Orders;
(ii) The meaning and content of an unfair labour practice under Section 2(ra) read with Item 10 of the Vth Schedule of the ID Act; and
(iii) The limitations, if any, on the power of the Labour and Industrial Courts to order regularisation in the absence of sanctioned posts. The decision in PCLU would, in our view, require reconsideration in view of the above decisions of this Court and for the reasons which we have noted above.
Item 10 of Schedule V, which is a list of unfair labour practices, reads as:
“10. To employ workmen as “badlis”, casuals or temporaries and
to continue them as such for years, with the object of depriving
them of the status and privileges of permanent workmen.”
Justice Chandrachud has observed that an earlier, 2007 decision of a division bench – Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited v Engineering Mazdoor Sangh which set aside the High Court direction to regularize all workmen who had completed 240 days of service – was not brought to the notice of the bench which heard the PCLU case.
— India Legal Bureau
Read the full judgement here