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Service Lawyer: Back wages must follow in case of illegal termination; SC.

Supreme Court of India

Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Indira Banerjee

The SC { Jayantibhai Raojibhai Patel v. Municipal Council, Narkhed & Ors. } holds that the general principle is that back-wages must follow a determination in regard to the illegality of termination. It was held having due regard to the principles which have been enunciated by the SC, the High Court was not justified in present case, in denying the back-wages to the appellant altogether. It was further held that bearing in mind the circumstances of the present case, a lumpsum compensation should be directed to be paid. Accordingly, compensation of Rs. 5 Lakhs in lump sum, was awarded in lieu of back wages to the appellant, by the SC.

It was held 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 emolument.

In the present case, the appellant was appointed on 1 July 1986 as a Headmaster of the Nagar Parishad High School conducted by the Municipal Council of Narkhed in the District of Nagpur. On 5 February 1994, a notice to show cause was issued to him, levelling an allegation of misappropriation of Rs 5,000. After the appellant submitted a reply on 6 February 1994, the first respondent appointed a former Deputy Education Officer, Shri Marathe as an inquiry officer. A charge-sheet was issued to the appellant on 8 June 1994. The inquiry officer submitted a report on 25 July 1994, holding that the appellant was not guilty of the misconduct he was charged with. Thereafter, second inquiry officer was appointed. The new inquiry officer submitted his report on 20 April 1995, holding the appellant guilty of misappropriation of funds and defalcation. On the basis of the report of the inquiry officer, a notice to show cause was issued to the appellant to which he submitted his reply. The first respondent then passed a resolution removing the appellant.  The termination was held to be bad in law by the HC but back wages were denied by it.

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