V Nagaraj


The change in the philosophy of the State and the development of Labour Jurisprudence have eroded most of the prerogatives of the employer in hiring and firing workmen. The terminated workmen now have the right to challenge the termination. The Labour Courts established under the Industrial Disputes Act 1947 as specialised bodies are conferred with wide powers unknown to the common law system. They have the duty to see whether the principles of Natural Justice are followed while taking disciplinary action and whether the punishment inflicted is in proportion to the misconduct. They can also look into the bonafides of the employer's action in inflicting the punishment. The Labour Courts have powers to reinstate the terminated workman, if necessary, with back wages and other consequential benefits. Prior to 1965 a termination dispute in order to be an Industrial Dispute was to be espoused by a Trade union or a substantial number of workmen of the industrial establishment. In 1965 the Central amendment to the Industrial Disputes Act made a termination dispute as deemed Industrial dispute. Like any industrial dispute it has to go through conciliation. On failure of conciliation the appropriate government may refer the dispute for adjudication. The Government of Karnataka having taken note of the futile exercise of conciliation process in termination disputes has amended the Industrial Disputes Act and made provision for workman to approach the Labour Court directly in case of termination dispute. In the State of Karnataka, the senior District and Sessions Judges are appointed as Presiding Officers of Labour Courts. There are no training facilities for them. It is only after taking charge as Presiding Officer, that they start learning Labour legislations. Finally certain possible amendments are suggested for the industrial Disputes Act, 1947 to overcome the problem of delay.



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