Karnataka HC: Granting ‘Protected Workman’ Status to Delinquent Workers May Encourage Misconduct

Karnataka High Court Law Insider
Karnataka High Court Law Insider

LI Network

Published on: February 17, 2024 at 10:36 IST

The Karnataka High Court has observed that conferring the status of “protected workman” on a worker facing disciplinary action could potentially fuel misconduct among others, who might seek similar protection under the same status.

In a partially allowed petition, the Court addressed a challenge to an order from the Assistant Labour Commissioner concerning the “protected workmen” status under Section 33(4) of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

The Court emphasized that merely lacking serious charges or convictions is insufficient reasoning for such a designation.

The case involved M/s. Armstrong Design and Acmite India Manufacturing Pvt. Ltd., contesting an order from the Assistant Labour Commissioner regarding the “protected workmen” status.

The Union sought this status for five workers, including Umesha K.P., amid ongoing disciplinary proceedings. Despite the petitioner’s pending response, the Assistant Labour Commissioner granted protected status to all five, including Umesha K.P., leading to Umesha K.P.’s dismissal by the petitioner.

The Court noted that the Assistant Labour Commissioner’s reasoning was flawed, as the absence of serious charges or conviction isn’t enough.

The Court expressed concern that granting such status to a worker facing disciplinary action sets a dangerous precedent, potentially encouraging other workers to engage in similar misconduct to seek protection under this status.

The Court held that the matter needs reexamination by the Labour Court based on established legal principles regarding the entitlement of a worker to be declared a “protected workman.”

The Assistant Labour Commissioner’s decision was set aside, and the case was remitted back for a fresh consideration.

Case Title: M/S. Armstrong Design And Acmite v The Assistant Labour Commissioner

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