Utpadak Sahakari S. Ltd. Vs. Vinod Kumar Sharma Dead by LRS & Ors.
O R D E R
Heard learned counsel
for the appearing parties. This Appeal has been filed against the impugned
judgments dated 23.08.2004 and dated 21.09.2004 passed by the High Court of
Judicature at Rajasthan. This Appeal reveals the unfortunate state of affairs
prevailing in the field of labour relations in our country. In order to avoid
their liability under various labour statutes employers are very often resorting
to subterfuge by trying to show that their employees are, in fact, the
employees of a contractor. It is high time that this subterfuge must come to an
end. Labour statutes were meant to protect the employees/workmen because it was
realised that the employers and the employees are not on an equal bargaining
Hence, protection of employees
was required so that they may not be exploited. However, this new technique of subterfuge
has been adopted by some employers in recent years in order to deny the rights
of the workmen under various labour statutes by showing that the concerned workmen
are not their employees but are the employees/workmen of a contractor, or that
they are merely daily wage or short term or casual employees when in fact they
are doing the work of regular employees. This Court cannot countenance such
practices any more. Globalization/liberalization in the name of growth cannot
be at the human cost of exploitation of workers. The facts of the case are
given in the judgment of the High Court dated 23.08.2004 and we are not
repeating the same here.
It has been clearly
stated therein that subterfuge was resorted to by the appellant to show that
the workmen concerned were only workmen of a contractor. The Labour Court has
held that the workmen were the employees of the appellant and not employees of
the contractor. Cogent reasons have been given by the Labour Court to come to this
finding. The Labour Court has held that, in fact, the concerned workmen were
working under the orders of the officers of the appellant, and were being paid
Rs 70/- per day, while the workmen/employees of the contractor were paid Rs.
56/- per day.
We are of the opinion
that the High Court has rightly refused to interfere with this finding of fact
recorded by the Labour court. The Judgment of this Court in Steel Authority of
India vs. National Union Waterfront Workers (2001) 7 SCC 1 has no application in
the present case. In that decision the question was whether in view of Section 10
of the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 the employees of
contractors stood automatically absorbed in the service of the principal employer.
Overruling the decision in Air India Statutory Corporation vs. United Labour
Union, (1997) 9 SCC 377 this Court held that they did not.
In the present case that
is not the question at all. Here the finding of fact of the Labour Court is
that the respondents were not the contractor's employees but were the employees
of the appellant. The SAIL judgment (Supra) applies where the employees were
initially employees of the contractor and later claim to be absorbed in the
service of the principal employer. That judgment was considerating the effect
of the notification under Section 10 of the Act. That is not the case here. Hence,
that decision is clearly distinguishable. Mr. Puneet Jain, learned counsel for
the appellant submitted that the High Court has wrongly held that the appellant
resorted to a subterfuge, when there was no such finding by the Labour Court.
The Labour Court has
found that the plea of the employer that the respondents were employees of a
contractor was not correct, and in fact they were the employees of the
appellant. In our opinion, therefore, it is implicit in this finding that there
was subterfuge by the appellant to avoid its liabilities under various labour
statutes. For the reasons given above, there is no infirmity in the impugned
judgment of the High Court. The Appeal is dismissed accordingly. No costs.
[CHANDRAMAULI KR. PRASAD]