March 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm #1215
I am an working women. An autonomous body under the Ministry of civil Aviation employed me as Telephone Operator against an approved post after an advt for temp post after due selection process like interview,etc in the year 1998. Initially I was paid daily wage for few years subsequently w.e.f 2008 I was provided appointment letter stating that my appointment is on contractual basis for a period of six month and my service remain extended since then by giving letters for extension of my service after every six month. In total I put in almost 17 years service. In spite of having approved post & pay-scale in Group ‘c’, I was paid just Rs 10000 per month. As it was my necessity for my family, I managed with it and continued my service. All of a sudden in the month of Dec on 26th I was served a letter that my service is not required after 31 Dec 16, incidently the last six month term of contractual extension was also coming to end by 31st Dec.
Though there is clause in the appointment that both the party required to give two months notice before terminating the service. Through out my service, there was not even a single complaint on my service and two month notice was also not given to me. There were continued deduction of PF, etc on my pay for the past ten years. (My husband, is also an employee in this Autonomous body, who reportedly having some mis-understanding with the Management, which I suspect to be the reason for my abrupt termination). There are several other similarly placed employees, whose services are still continued by employer. On my written request asking reasons for my sudden termination, my employer was not responding. Having left with no other option, I filed a case in the High Court i.e. the place where the employees were representing their service matter for the past 30 years. I paid the payment as agreed with the lawyer. The writ was also filed. Immediate interim relief not given, perhaps the opposite lawer informed that the service of Telephone Operator is no more required by the organisation. Judiciary on their wisdom gave 3 weeks time to opposite party to file response. Almost, two months, opposite party is not filing the response. Unofficial input, what I got is that my employer will prolong for some time and will submit to High Court stating that the Jurisdiction of autonomous body is CAT and not High Court. Whereas, in 30 years, never ever they informed court or employees of this CAT jurisdiction. Under such circumstances, My request is for following clarification sir :-
1) Whether the 2 months notice period is applicable in my case or not. It was perhaps not applied by them for the reason that my contractual term is coming to an end just after 4 days when the letter was delivered indication their unwillingness to extend my contractual period.
2) When the employees were approaching High Court for 30 years, neither the Court nor the Management informed of CAT jurisdiction. While it is the fact that Govt Gazettee 2008 listed this organisation’s jurisdiction under CAT. But due ignorance of employer, employee, lawyer & Court, tll now the High Court admitted all the cases and the cases are in progress, employees paid to their lawyers, will it be appropriate for Judiciary to dismiss or transfer the case to CAT at this state, where I may have to incur expenditure again for hiring lawyer.
3) Is there any time limit for employer or Judiciary to take a call on jurisdiction of judicial review of such cases.
4) Whether High Court will transfer the case or I have to file it again with CAT
5) If the opposite party adopts delay tactics by not filing response, what is the remedy available to me.
6) Request any other valuable suggestions sir. As I feel that it is an established arbitrary act of attack on dignity of working women employee and the judicial process is really lengthy.
7) Can I approach National Commission for Women on this subject.
Please help me.Thanks.sunanda
March 29, 2017 at 9:24 am #1217
Dr. Ashok DhamijaAdmin
It is not advisable for me to comment on facts without actually seeing the documents. But, from what you have mentioned, it appears that the 2 months notice clause is a part of the same 6 monthly contract. If so, then generally such clause would state that before the completion of the 6 months period, services may be terminated by giving a 2 months notice. In your case, you have said that the services were terminated on the completion of 6 months contract (i.e., on the last day), which means no fresh contract of 6 months was signed. In that situation, in the absence of a fresh / new 6 months contract, the 2 months notice may not be relevant since the contract itself comes to an end. But, as I mentioned above, this is what is based on limited knowledge of facts. Please consult your advocate who would have seen all relevant documents.
On the second issue, under Section 14(2) of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985, the Central Government, may by notification, extend the jurisdiction of the CAT to certain corporations / societies controlled by Central Government, etc. Once such a notification is issued, the high court and other courts (excluding the Supreme Court) will not have jurisdiction to entertain service matters of their employees. So, there is a legal bar. If such a notification has been issued in respect of your organisation (as you say, it was in 2008), then the high court will not have jurisdiction and CAT will have the original jurisdiction. The fact that previously for many other employees, the high court was entertaining petitions by mistake, will be no ground for high court to entertain your petition also once it has knowledge of such notification. So, in such a case, your petition may have to go to CAT.
Generally speaking, the high court may dispose of your petition with liberty to approach CAT. But, if the high court is willing to transfer your petition to CAT, that also should be alright. But, chances are that the high court will ask you to file a fresh petition in CAT.
There is no time limit for disposal of a case. Sometimes, they take years. There is a lot of pendency in most courts and even tribunals.
If the opposite party delays the matter, you’ll have to request the court / tribunal to expedite the matter and direct the opposite party or not to give the opposite party further time, etc.
You can approach the NCW, but their powers in this regard are limited.
March 30, 2017 at 3:31 pm #1225
Everything is clear to me. Thanks a lot. Just for your information, as you said, the two months notice is a part of 6 month contract.
What is little disheartening is that High Court registering the case, carrying the proceedings for few sitting and at a later stage, just accepting the version of opposite court convincing for transfer or dismissal seems little unjust for suffer/petitioner, in view of the fact that employer/govt has not much to loose and also because the establishment of CAT has not oust the jurisdiction of High Court under Article 226. Anyhow, it is ok sir.
I am grateful for your valuable expertise. Thanks. Sunanda
March 31, 2017 at 9:44 am #1229
Dr. Ashok DhamijaAdmin
High Court jurisdiction under Article 226 is not fully taken away, but this will be only after CAT decision. What this means is that once CAT gets jurisdiction in a matter, the matter has to be taken to CAT first and the high court cannot hear it at the first or original stage. But, after CAT has given its verdict, the CAT decision can be challenged in high court under Article 226.
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