Monthly Archives: May 2019

Contractual Employees – Entitled to Maternity Leave

In Dr. Shikha Jain v. State of U.P., (Service Bench No. 1206 of 2012) decided on 29.08.2012 it was observed that there is no reason to deny maternity leave benefit to contractual employees/ honorarium employees, since benefit of maternity leave cannot change with nature of employment relying upon the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Municipal Corporation of Delhi v. Female Workers (Muster Roll), 2000 (85) FLR 185 (SC). It was further observed by the Hon’ble Court as under:

        “The petitioner has a right to avail the maternity leave, which is applicable to regularly employed lecturers in the Government Degree Colleges.

        The purpose of the maternity leave does not change with the nature of employment. It is concerned with human rights of the women. The employers and courts are bound under the Constitutional scheme, guaranteeing right to life, including right to live with dignity and to protect the health of both the mother and child to preserve these rights.” Dr. Neena Raizada v. State of U.P., 2019 (161) FLR 273.

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Major Punishment – Examination of Witnesses

In Subhash Chandra Sharma v. Managing Director, 2000 (1) UPLBEC 541, it was held as under:

          “The Court also held that in the enquiry witnesses have to be examined in support of the allegations and opportunity has to be given to the delinquent to cross – examine these witnesses and to lead evidence in his defense. In Punjab National Bank v. A.I.P.N.B.E. Federation, AIR 1960 SC 160, the Supreme Court held that in such enquiries evidence must be recorded in the presence of the charge-sheeted employee and he must be given an opportunity to rebut the said evidence. The same view was taken in ACC Ltd. v. Their Workmen, 1963 (7) FLR 269, and in Tata Oil Mills Co. Ltd. v. Their Workmen, 1963 (6) FLR 257.

          Even if the employee refuses to participate in the enquiry, the employer cannot straightaway dismiss him, but he must hold an ex-parte enquiry where evidence must be led vide Imperial Tobacco Co. Ltd. v. Its Workmen, 1961 (3) FLR 524 and Uma Shanker v. Registrar, 1992 (65) FLR 674.

          Hon’ble Supreme Court in Roop Singh Negi v. Punjab National Bank, 2009 (120) FLR 610, held as under:

          “Indisputably, a departmental proceeding is a quasi judicial proceeding. The enquiry officer performs a quasi-judicial function. The charges leveled against the delinquent officer must be found to have been proved. The enquiry officer has a duty to arrive at a finding  upon taking into consideration the materials brought on record by the parties. The purported evidence collected during investigation by the investigating officer against all the accused by itself could not be treated to be evidence in the disciplinary proceedings. Not witness was examined to prove the said documents. The management witnesses merely tendered, the documents and did not prove the contents thereof. Reliance, inter alia, was placed by the enquiry officer on the FIR which could not have been treated as evidence.”

          Similar view has been taken in Sohan Lal v. U.P. Co-operative Federation Ltd., 2013 (139) FLR 723:

          “The principle of law emanates from the above judgments are that initial burden is on the department to prove the charges. In case of procedure adopted for inflicting major penalty, the department must prove the charges by oral evidence also.

          From the perusal of the enquiry report it is demonstrably proved that no oral evidence has been led by the department. When a major punishment is proposed to be passed, the department has to prove the charges against the delinquent/employee by examining the witnesses and by documentary evidence. In the present case, no witness was examined to prove the documents in the proceedings.

          It is trite law that the departmental proceedings are quasi-judicial proceedings. The Inquiry Officer functions as quasi-judicial officer. He is not merely a representative of the department. He has to act as an independent and impartial officer to find out the truth. The major punishment awarded to an employee visits serious consequences and as such the departmental proceedings ought to be in conformity with the principles of natural justice. Even if, an employee prefers not to participate in the enquiry, the department has to establish the charges against the employee by adducing oral as well as documentary evidence. In case the charges warrant major punishment, then the oral evidence by producing the witnesses is necessary.” Lalta Prasad v. State of U.P., 2019 (161) FLR 183.        

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Divorce Petition – Before Lapse of One Year From the Date of Marriage

In Manish Sirohi v. Smt. Meenakshi, AIR 2007 All 211, the husband made an application for divorce and the wife took a stand in the written statement that she is not inclined to continue marital relationship with her husband. However the said application was rejected by the court below on the ground that as per Section 14 of the Act, court cannot entertain any petition for dissolution of marriage unless at the date of presentation of the petition one year has elapsed from the date of the marriage. When the matter reached the High Court, it was held as under:

            “We have gone through the provision contained under the proviso to section 14 of the Hindu Marriage Act and we find that the High Court can allow to present the present the petition before lapse of one year from the date of marriage on the ground that the lapse is one of exceptional hardship to the petitioner or of exceptional depravity on the part of the respondent. It appears to us that when immediately after marriage no marital relationship developed amongst themselves and they are voluntarily inclined to withdraw relationship, their life should not be allowed to be deserted. When differences have occurred which cannot be compromised if at this stage they are separated, they can be able to enjoy their happy marital life elsewhere. Continuance of the litigation will cause mental and physical harassment to them unnecessarily when both of them are not inclined to continue with the relationship at all. Both the parties have withdrawn their allegations and counter allegations against each other.”

            In catena of cases relating to  matrimonial dispute, the Hon’ble Apex Court has observed that matrimonial disputes have to be decided by courts in a pragmatic manner keeping in view the ground realties. For this purpose a host of facts have to be taken into consideration and the most important being whether the marriage can be saved and the husband and wife can live together happily and maintain a proper atmosphere at home for the upbringing of their offspring. A. Agarwal v. Principal Judge, 2019 (2) AWC 1735.

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