Unfair dismissal: Supreme Court dismisses Appeal of Cimco Birla Ltd

Supreme Court while dismissing the appeal of Cimco Birla Ltdhas severely criticised the company for harassing a woman employee by “dragging her from one court to another from 1987 till date, nearly 27 years”, and imposed costs on it directing it to comply with the order within a month.

Upon hearing both the parties Court was of the view that the concluded lis between the parties with regard to the wrongful termination of the respondent from services in the earlier round of litigation and passing of an award of reinstatement with full back wages and continuity of service from the date of termination till the date of reinstatement since the said award was not deliberately implemented by the appellant, therefore, the respondent-workman rightly approached the Industrial Court by filing a complaint in the second round of litigation seeking for implementation of the same. The award passed in favour of the respondent by the Labour Court has attained finality, hence, the judgment and orders passed by the learned single Judge and the Division Bench of the High Court in not interfering with the order passed by the Industrial Court dated 16.4.2007 in the complaint filed by the respondent for implementation of the award by way of execution of the award do not call for interference by this Court in exercise of its appellate jurisdiction.

Over the years the management had lost in several forums including the Bombay High Court over the years, but it did not stop the litigation against her at any stage. Supreme Court, “in this process”, observed that, “the legitimate right of receiving monetary benefits was denied by taking untenable contentions, putting her and her family members to great hardship and mental agony.”

The labour court had found Cimco Birla guilty of unfair practice in dismissing Rowena Lewis. The industrial court had directed the company to pay her back wages and benefits with 12 per cent interest. While dismissing the appeal of Cimco Birla, the court imposed costs on it and directed it to comply with the order within a month.

While dismissing the present appeal, Court held that, the appellant-employer has been litigating and dragging the workman from one court to another from 1987 till date which is nearly about 27 years. In this process the legitimate right of receiving the monetary benefits awarded in favour of the respondent is being denied by the appellant by taking untenable contentions thereby the respondent and her family members have been put to great hardship and mental agony. Therefore, it is a fit case for awarding the costs towards engaging the lawyers and hardship which has been facing by the workman from 1987.

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