Labour Court can enquire into violations of Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995

Disability Symbol IndiaOne Mr. R. Santharam Pai, a Clerk working in the Syndicate Bank met with a major road accident on 26/08/1993. On account of injuries sustained during the accident, he was diagonised with Quadriplegia. The medical board, after examining the workman certified that he has cent percent disability. The Syndicate Bank therefore decided to terminate his  services after giving him three-months notice in terms of Clause 522(1) of the Sasthri Award. The workman raised an Industrial Dispute, and it was refereed for adjudication by the Labour Court. In the reference order, although no issue regarding Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 was mentioned, the Court nevertheless awarded in favour of the workman, citing violation of the said Act. The Bank therefore challenged the award before the Kerala High Court contending that Labour Court is not competent to grant relief under the Act. The court held that “Argument of the management that Labour Court is not a competent authority under Section 50 of the Disabilities Act cannot be considered at all because the appropriate authority or the competent authority under the Disabilities Act cannot adjudicate the reference; like that of a Labour Court or Industrial Tribunal. In the light of our definite opinion that the Industrial Tribunal or Labour Court can also look into the matters incidental to the points of reference, automatically the Labour Court gets jurisdiction to decide the industrial dispute from the point of view of Disabilities Act also, as the party to the dispute was a person with disability.”

Another interesting aspect declared by the Kerala High Court in the same judgment is that even if an employee sustains 100% disability, making him unable to do any kind of work including marking his attendance or visit the office, he is not excluded from the purview of the enactment. The disabled should  be accommodate in the establishment (Supernumerary Post), without discrimination, so as to boost his morale to live.

 

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About Thomas Geeverghese

Advocate, Ernakulam
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