[Case Brief] Sharad Kumar v/s Government of NCT of Delhi & Others, 2002

Case NameSharad Kumar v/s Government of NCT of Delhi & Others
Case NumberCivil Appeal No 2622 of 2002
CourtSupreme Court of India
BenchJustice DP Mohapatra, Justice Brijesh Kumar
Author of the judgmentJustice DP Mohapatra
Decided On April 11, 2002
Relevant Act/SectionsIndustrial Disputes Act, 1947- Section 2(8), 2(5), 10(1) and Section 12
Author of the case-briefAditya Gor

Brief Facts and Procedural History-

Sharad Kumar was serving the post of ‘Area Sales Executive’ in the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi. By an order dated 20.12.1995, his service was terminated without any kind of show-cause notice or inquiry. However, salary for one month was sent to him along with the termination letter. Sharad Kumar questioned the legality and validity of the termination order and the matter was taken up for conciliation. The Conciliation officer submitted a failure report to the state government based on which the Government declined to refer the dispute to the Industrial Tribunal or the Labour Court for adjudication. This refusal by the Government was based on the conclusion that Sharad Kumar was not covered under the definition of “workman” as defined under section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. Feeling aggrieved by this order of the State Government, an appeal was preferred before the Delhi High Court which was also subsequently dismissed. The present appeal before the Supreme Court is against this order of the High Court.

Issues before the Court of Law- 

1) What is the correct interpretation of the term ‘workman’ under section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947?

The ratio of the Court- 

On a fair reading of the provisions in Section 2(s) of the Act it is clear that ‘workman’ means any person employed in any industry to do any manual, unskilled, skilled, technical, operational, clerical or supervisory work for hire or reward including any such person who has been dismissed, discharged or retrenched. The later part of this section excludes 4 classes of employees including a person employed mainly in a managerial or administrative capacity, or a person employed in supervisory capacity drawing wages exceeding Rs. 1600/- per month or exercise functions mainly of a managerial nature. It has to be taken as an accepted principle that in order to come within the meaning of expression ‘workman’ in section 2(s) of the act the person has to be discharging any one of the types of the works enumerated in the first portion of the section. If the person does not come within the first portion of the section then it is not necessary to consider the next question as to whether he comes within any of the classes of workmen excluded under the latter part of the section. The question whether the person comes within the first part of the section depends upon the nature of duties assigned and discharged by him. if the duties assigned to the employee is multifarious then the next question which may arise for consideration is which of them is his principal duty and which is his ancillary duty. While deciding this question, designation of the employee is not of much importance and certainly not conclusive in the matter to whether or not he is a workman under section 2(s) of the Act. 

Decision Held- 

The position in law today is that for a person to be ‘workman’ within the meaning of the Industrial Disputes Act, he must be employed to do the work of any of the categories, viz., manual, skilled technical, unskilled, operational, clerical or supervisory. It is not enough that he is not covered by any of the four exceptions to the definition. Thus the High Court and the State Government were in error to decide that Sharad Kumar is not a ‘workman’ under the section 2(s) of the Industrial Disputes Act. Both of them merely considered the designation of the post held by him which is extraneous to the matters relevant for the present purpose. The determination of the question as to whether a person is a ‘workman’ or not depends upon the examination of factual matters for which materials including oral evidence has to be taken into consideration. Such a matter should be decided by the Industrial Tribunal or Labour Court on the basis of the materials to be placed before it by the parties. Thus the previous orders are erroneous and unsustainable. Sharad Kumar was made entitled to receive from respondents a sum of Rs. 20, 000/- towards cost and hearing fee of the case.

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