Continuation of Master-Servant Relationship During Suspension: Supreme Court’s Verdict

LI Network

Published on: December 17, 2023 at 11:50 IST

The Supreme Court, in a recent order addressed the issue of deeming voluntary retirement in a Bipartite Agreement and ruled that the master-servant relationship persists during the suspension period.

The bench, comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Rajesh Bindal, emphasized that a workman remains obligated to adhere to all rules governing their post even during the period of suspension.

The court addressed the contention that, while suspended, a workman cannot be considered to have voluntarily retired. It clarified that the relationship of master and servant does not terminate during suspension, and all applicable rules and regulations remain in force.

The court highlighted that the suspension does not negate the workman’s status as an employee, even if the bank ceased to pay subsistence allowance as a measure to encourage the workman to return to duty.

The case involved a petitioner who was a workman at a bank and was suspended in 1982 due to disorderly behavior. Following an inquiry that found the petitioner guilty, the bank imposed a punishment of stoppage of two graded increments.

The petitioner was then advised to report for duty at another branch but was deemed to have voluntarily retired in 1984 for failing to comply with the transfer order.

The petitioner challenged the deemed retirement six years later, arguing that the order was illegal and impractical. The court, however, observed that the petitioner had enrolled as an advocate in 1985, had been handling cases for the bank’s employees, and never contested the punishment or transfer order in court, making the orders final.

The court referred to Clause XVI of the Bipartite Agreement, stating that when a workman remains absent for 90 consecutive days without submitting leave, the employer is entitled to deem the employee voluntarily retired.

Applying this clause, the court noted that the workman could have been treated as voluntarily retired immediately after the 90-day period from the punishment order.

Addressing the delay in filing the dispute, the court held that a person cannot unilaterally decide the illegality of an order while sitting at home, emphasizing that failure to avail of any remedy implies acceptance of the order.

The court concluded that there was no error in the High Court’s orders and dismissed the appeal.

Case Details: U.P. Singh v. Punjab National Bank, CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5494 OF 2013

Related Post