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Supreme Court to take up plea challenging sacking of North MCD employee

The bench of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari will hear the petition filed by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.

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The Supreme Court will today take up a petition, challenging the order passed the Delhi High Court, wherein the HC has held, “Merely because the employer, during the pendency of industrial dispute, has terminated the employee seeking regularisation, cannot deprive the employee of the benefits of the award ultimately made.”

The bench of Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Dinesh Maheshwari will hear the petition filed by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation.

The High Court, without going into the technicalities of the case because of the pendency of the matter before the Single Judge, clarified that the observation made by the Court was for the purpose for Section 17B applications only and shall have no bearing on the final arguments in the writ petitions.

The erstwhile Municipal Corporation of Delhi, prior to its trifurcation, hired the respondents on a contractual basis. The respondents raised an industrial dispute for their regularisation and of which reference was made. The said industrial dispute resulted in an award dated May 5, 2017, which is under challenge in two different Writ petitions preferred by NrDMC and EDMC respectively. Since in the interregnum, the trifurcation had taken place and the respondents had been allocated to either of the three entities so created. Vide the award impugned in the writ petitions aforesaid, the respondents have been found entitled to be regularised and direction for their regularisation has been made. However, appellants NrDMC and EDMC had in the interregnum terminated the services of the respondents.

The single-judge, stayed the operation of the award, by restraining coercive action against the petitioners, on the contention that the services of the respondents had been terminated and the termination had not been challenged separately.

The respondents filed applications for restoration of status-quo ante and/or for vacation of the stay but it is informed that no orders were made and the matters remained pending. Vide the orders dated 29th January 2021 impugned in these two appeals, the applications of the respondents under Section 17B of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 have been allowed by directing the appellants to make payment under Section 17B with effect from the date of the order.

Before the High Court, the EDMC has submitted that the respondents have already recovered excess amount from them, by having a recovery certificate issued and executed prior to the date when the interim stay of the award was granted in the writ petition and are thus now not entitled to recover any further amount.

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The High Court observed that the amount recovered by the respondents is for an earlier period and is not towards the Section 17B wages as have directed to be paid with effect from the date of the impugned order.

The Court further did not agree on the arguments made by the petitioner and held, “Once the industrial dispute qua regularisation was pending consideration and has resulted in an award of regularisation, the termination in the interim is immaterial. There can be no regularisation without the respondents continuing to be in service,” the order read. 

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