CHENNAI: Labour courts are empowered to adjudicate even on an issue relating to suspension pending inquiry, the Madras High Court has said, adding, “a prolonged suspension can be a subject matter of an industrial dispute.”
Justice K. Chandru was passing orders on a writ petition filed by S. Thomas, boiler technician working in the Manali Petrochemicals Limited. Mr. Thomas was placed under suspension in September 2003 for insubordination. An inquiry was conducted and a show-cause notice was issued to him.
Though the worker replied to the show-cause notice in 2004, no final orders were passed by the management in the past three years.
When the trade union raised an industrial dispute before the Assistant Commissioner, the official refused to refer the dispute on the ground that the dispute of temporary suspension could not be considered as removal from service.
Since no punishment has been imposed, there is no necessity for the Government to refer the dispute for adjudication, it said. The present writ petition was filed after a review plea was also rejected by the official.
When pointed out that the dispute was raised after prolonged suspension of the employee, Mr. Justice Chandru said the scope of the definition of the Industrial Disputes Act could not be “curtailed by any artificial process. The reasoning given in the impugned order is unsustainable. The Judge said that though the petitioner submitted his reply the management did not pass any orders, and added, “it is not known as to what prevented the management from passing appropriate orders.”
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