Beaten up, electrocuted and forced to resign

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | Updated: Feb 13 2013, 08:10am hrs
Labour court must take into account all material evidence when judging a case

The Supreme Court, while dismissing the appeal of Atlas Cycle (Haryana) Ltd with costs, upheld the Punjab and Haryana High Courts order that directed the firm to reinstate its employee, who was allegedly beaten up, given electric shocks and forced to write his resignation letter.

In this case, Atlas Cycle (Haryana) Ltd vs Kitab Singh, the latter was charge-sheeted for committing theft. While Singh had resigned citing domestic circumstances, he had written to the Haryana chief minister complaining that he was beaten up by the management, given electric shock and forced to resign. However, these factors were not considered by the labour court on reference of dispute by the state government. On appeal, the high court passed the order of reinstatement with 25% back wages. The Supreme Court stated that since the labour court overlooked material evidence on record, the HC was justified in interfering with the finding of facts by the labour court.

The management argued that a direction for reinstatement of the workman in service was warranted, particularly when the management had completely lost confidence in the workman.

One-fourth deposit of purchase money mandatory in auctions

Dismissing the appeal of an auction purchaser in the case of CN Paramasivan vs Sunrise Plaza, the Supreme Court said that the provision for deposit of 25% of the purchase money in an auction sale under the Debt Recovery Act (DRT) is mandatory and such a relaxation cannot be given.

The provisions of the rules requiring the deposit of 25% of the purchase-money immediately on the person being declared as a purchaser and the payment of the balance within 15 days of the sale are mandatory and upon non-compliance with these provisions there is no sale at all... in the circumstances of the present case, there was no sale and the purchasers acquired no rights at all, the apex court said, adding that if there is a default on this, the property shall be resold immediately.

In this long, drawn-out legal battle of over two decades, the Indian Bank had advanced a loan to Sunrise Plaza, a partnership concern.

The partners of the firm had defaulted in repaying the loan, prompting the bank to move the DRT in 2001 for the recovery of the money. The property mortgaged with the bank was sold in a public auction in March 2003, which was challenged by the partners of the firm for violation of the rules. They filed a plea in 2003 for the setting aside of the auction sale.

The debt recovery appellate tribunal had allowed the stand of the partners and held that the purchasers did not act bona fide. The buyer challenged the order before the Madras High Court, contending that the rule to deposit was not mandatory, but only directory. The HC rejected his petition while concluding that the auction was illegal and void because of non-compliance with the provisions of the Income Tax Act, 1961 which in turn were in view of the provisions of Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993.

No dual compensation benefit from two Acts

Rejecting the appeal of Oriental Insurance Company (OIC), the Supreme Court has held that the dependents of a worker who dies in the course of employment are entitled to compensation both under the Workmens Compensation Act and under the Motor Vehicles Act.

In the case of Oriental Insurance Company Ltd vs Dyamavva & Ors, a pump operator at the Mormugao Port Trust had died in an accident while discharging his duties. The widow and the dependents had filed a compensation claim petition under the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 in May 2003. Meanwhile, the Port Trust had deposited compensation of R3,26,140 with the Workmens Compensation Commissioner payable to the dependants under the Workmens Compensation Act, 1923.

However, the claim raised by the widow under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 was independently determined by the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal, which awarded a compensation of R11,44,440. Out of the compensation, the tribunal had ordered a deduction of the amount that had been disbursed by the Workmens Compensation Commissioner.

Aggrieved by the tribunals order, the insurance firm had moved the Karnataka High Court contending that since the claimants got compensation under the 1923 Act, they were barred under the Motor Vehicles Act to claim compensation once again. Both the HC and the Supreme Court rejected OICs contention on the grounds that the dependents had not claimed damages twice; they moved only the tribunal. However, the apex court adjusted both compensation amounts to ensure that the claimants were not allowed dual benefits under the two enactments.

indu bhan@expressindia.com