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Bharti Airtel Limited Vs. A.S. Raghavendra (Neutral Citation: 2024 INSC 265) - (Supreme Court) (02 Apr 2024)

There must be a level of infirmity greater than ordinary in a Tribunal's order to justify interference of High Court under Articles 226 and 227 of Constitution



The present appeal arises out of the final judgment passed by High Court by which the High Court dismissed the appeal filed by the Appellant. The moot issue is whether the Respondent would or would not come within the definitional stipulation of a "workman" as laid out under Section 2(s) of Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 (ID Act).

With regard to the power of the High Court to re-appraise the facts, it cannot be said that the same is completely impermissible under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution, 1950. However, there must be a level of infirmity greater than ordinary in a Tribunal's order, which is facing judicial scrutiny before the High Court, to justify interference. Present Court do not think such a situation prevailed in the present facts.

There is no direct allegation of any bias against or victimisation of the Respondent as he himself has stated as also written to various persons venting his grievances. Only because things did not turn out the way the Respondent wanted them to, or for that his grievances were not adequately or appropriately addressed, cannot lead to the presumption that the resignation was forced upon him by the Company. One way to label the Respondent's resignation as "forced" would be to attribute the compulsion to the Respondent, rather than factors relating to the Company and/or its management. It can be termed a result of feeling suffocated due to lack of proper appreciation and not being given his rightful due that led to the chain of events, rather than by way of any arbitrariness or high-handedness on the part of the Appellant. Bearing due regard to the nature of duties performed by the Respondent, present Court is satisfied that the same do not entail him being placed under the cover of Section 2(s) of ID Act.

The impugned judgment as well as the judgment rendered by the learned Single Judge are set aside. The judgment of the Labour Court is revived and restored. It is held and declared that the Respondent is not a "workman" and thus, reference to the Labour Court under the ID Act against the Appellant would not be maintainable. Appeal allowed.


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