The three necessary ingredients for the application of Section 17-B of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 are (i) the Labour Court should have directed reinstatement of the workman, (ii) the employer should have preferred proceedings against such award in the High Court or in the Supreme Court; and (iii) the workman should not have been employed in any establishment during such period.
It is apparent that Section 17-B of the Industrial Disputes Act was introduced for the purposes of mitigating hardship faced by the workman who had been reinstated but the reinstatement had been delayed on account of the contest laid by the employer before the High Court or the Supreme Court. It is also clear that Section 17-B of the Act, 1947 proposed to provide “payment of wages last drawn”. The object of introducing Section 17-B of the Act appears to ensure that a workman, in whose favour an award for reinstatement has been passed, is at least paid his last drawn wages. The purpose of introducing Section 17-B of the Act appears to be not to provide for a punitive measure or a disincentive for the employers to challenge the award passed by the Labour Court, but to mitigate the hardship faced by the workman on account of delays occasioned because of pendency of litigation before the High Courts and the Supreme Court. The Parliament in its wisdom, obviously thought it fit that the workman having succeeded in obtaining an award of reinstatement ought to be paid at least last wages that were drawn by him. It is also made a condition that for purposes of obtaining wages under Section 17-B of the Act, the employee should not be gainfully employed elsewhere. This object appears to be not to discourage an employer from assailing the award but to ensure that the workman who has prevailed before the Labour Court does not suffer for want of subsistence allowance for his sustenance. Management Committee v. Presiding Officer, 2016 (150) FLR 518.
It is a settled principle of law that absorption and regularisation in the service can be claimed or/and granted only when the contract of employment subsists and is in force inter se employee and employer. Once it comes to an end either by efflux of time or as per the terms of the contract of employment or by its termination by the employer, then in such event, the relationship of employee and employer comes to an end and no longer subsists except for the limited purpose to examine the legality and correctness of its termination. Oshiar Prasad v. Employers, 2015 (144) FLR 830.
An important requirement of public employment is that of transparency. Therefore, an advertisement must specify the number of posts available for selection and recruitment. The qualifications and other schedule of recruitment process should be published with certainty and clarity. The advertisement should also specify the rules under which the selection is to be made and in absence of the rules, the procedure under which the selection is likely to be undertaken. This is necessary to prevent arbitrariness and to avoid change of criteria of selection after the selection process is commenced, thereby unjustly benefiting someone at the cost of others. Renu v. District and Sessions Judge, (2014) 14 SCC 50.
The expression “control and supervision” in the context of contract labour was explained by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of International Airport Authority of India v. International Air Cargo Workers’ Union, (2009) 13 SCC 374 as under:
“If the Contract is for supply of labour, necessarily, the labour supplied by the contractor will work under the directions, supervision and control of the principal employer but that would not make the worker a direct employee of the principal employer, if the salary is paid by a contractor, if the right to regulate the employment is with the contractor, and the ultimate supervision and control lies with the contractor.
The principal employer only controls and directs the work to be done by a contract labour, when such labour is assigned/allotted/sent to him. But it is the contractor as employer, who chooses whether the worker is to be assigned/allotted to the principal employer or otherwise. In short, worker being the employee of the contractor, the ultimate supervision and control lies with the contractor as he decides where the employee will work and how long he will work and subject to what conditions. Only when the contractor assigns/sends the worker to work under the principal employer, the worker works under the supervision and control of the principal employer but that is secondary control. The primary control is with the contractor.” Workmen, Bihar Colliery Kamgar Union v. Bharat Coking Coal India Ltd., 2014 (142) FLR 536.
As per Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. 2, 3rd Edition, the word “reinstate” means to reinstall or re-establish (a person or thing in a place, station, condition, etc.) ; to restore to its proper or original state; to reinstate afresh and the word “reinstatement” means the action of reinstating; re-establishment. As per Law Lexicon, 2nd Edition, the word “reinstate” means to reinstall; to re-establish; to place again in a former state, condition or office; to restore to a state or position from which the object or person had been removed and the word “reinstatement” means establishing in former condition, position or authority (as) reinstatement of a deposed prince. As per Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “reinstate” means to place again (as in possession or in a former position), to restore to a previous effective state. As per Black’s Law dictionary, 6th Edition, “reinstatement” means:”to reinstall, to re-establish, to place again in a former state, condition, or office; to restore to a state or position from which the object or person had been removed.”
The very idea of restoring an employee to the position which he held before dismissal or removal or termination of service implies that the employee will be put in the same position in which he would have been but for the illegal action taken by the employer. The injury suffered by a person, who is dismissed or removed or is otherwise terminated from service cannot easily be measured in terms of money. With the passing of an order which has the effect of severing the employer-employee relationship, the latter’s source of income gets dried up. Not only the employee concerned, but his entire family suffers grave adversities. They are deprived of the source of sustenance. The children are deprived of nutritious food and all opportunities of education and advancement in life. At times, the family has to borrow from the relatives and other acquaintance to avoid starvation. These sufferings continue till the competent adjudicatory forum decides on the legality of the action taken by the employer. The reinstatement of such an employee, which is preceded by a finding of the competent judicial/quasi-judicial body or court that the action taken by the employer is ultra vires the relevant statutory provisions or the principles of natural justice entitles the employee to claim full back wages. If the employer wants to deny back wages to the employee or contest his entitlement to get consequential benefits, then it is for him/her to specifically plead and prove that during the intervening period the employee was gainfully employed and was getting the same emoluments. The denial of back wages to an employee, who has suffered due to an illegal act of the employer would amount to indirectly punishing the employee concerned and rewarding the employer by relieving him of the obligation to pay back wages including the emoluments. Deepali Kundu Surwase v. Kranti Junior Adhyapak Mahavidyalaya, (2013) 10 SCC 324.
In a recent Judgment of the Allahabad High Court in Sita Kumar v. State of U.P., while dealing with the issue of Promotion on the Post of Promotee Quota, it was held as under:
“That a candidate eligible for appointment against the promote quota would be appointed against the promotee quota subject to fulfilling all the eligibility qualifications for the said post and that the said post could not be filled up by a candidate on compassionate grounds by allocating the post of the promotee quota to a direct recruitment candidate.”