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22 years on,woman gets dues

The perseverance of a woman to get justice following her illegal termination from service has paid off after 22 years of pursuing the matter...

Written by Mohan Kumar | Mumbai |
July 14, 2009 12:44:12 am

The perseverance of a woman to get justice following her illegal termination from service has paid off after 22 years of pursuing the matter,from the labour court to the industrial court and finally to the Bombay High Court.

Rowena Lewis,who was working with Cimco Birla Limited in Mumbai,will finally get her dues amounting to Rs 22 lakh after the High Court upheld a labour court order of 1996 that had concluded that the company was engaged in unfair labour practice. The company was directed to reinstate her and pay her full wage backlog.

The company’s counsel argued before the HC that the labour court had not permitted them to put forward a specific plea that the establishment in Mumbai had closed down in 1996 and in view of that,the question of reinstatement and wage backlog did not arise. The labour court had observed that all the workers in the company had resigned and only Lewis had continued. The company argued that substantial injustice has been caused on account of the labour court not permitting to bring these points before it through written submissions.

However,advocates for Lewis,C R Naidu and Santosh Shetty,opposed this by saying that the company was bringing this up at the fag end of the hearing as the company had put forward their first written submissions in 1999,whereas the company closed down in 1996.

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Lewis argued that this was a new strategy by the company devised with malafide intentions and to protract the proceedings.

Justice V M Kanade observed that there is no merit in the submissions of the company as the “chronology of events clearly reveals that the plea of closure would have been raised by the company in 1999 when the written statement was filed.”

“However,no such plea was raised,” justice Kanade observed.

If the establishment had been closed down in 1996,this plea would have been raised at the first available opportunity,the court observed.

The court also noted that it is quite surprising that the company continued to pay the last drawn salary to the employee until January 2006 as per an interim order passed by HC in 1996 to deposit all pending wages with the court.

Lewis was appointed as secretary-stenographer in the company in September 1976.

Her services were terminated on December 30,1987,following which she filed a complaint with the labour court.

Finally in August 2008,the industrial court ordered the recovery of Rs 20,08,084 against the company after Lewis filed a complaint stating that the company had failed to comply with the orders of the labour court directing recovery of the said wages.

The company had then moved the High Court against this order.

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