No bar on claiming past dues from employer if employee has availed VRS

>>> If employee has availed VRS (Voluntary Retirement Scheme), it is NO Bar on claiming Past Dues from employer.

>>> The courts of law are Parens patriae (parent of the nation) and risen time and again to defend the interest of citizens and employees.

>>> In its recent judgment dated:  September 30, 2016:

The Apex Court:  Supreme Court of India:  Once again rose to defend the interest of community of employees and delivered path breaking and trendsetting judgment.

Thus the apex court provided relief to the employee and community of employees that were facing roadblocks and controversy created due to previous judgments.

>>> A three-judge Bench of the Supreme Court has held that even though there is cessation of relationship between the employee and the employer, if the Voluntary Retirement Scheme does not cover past dues like lay off compensation, subsistence allowance, etc., the workman that has availed of the scheme would be entitled to approach the Labor Court under Section 33C (2) of the Industrial Disputes Act.

>>> The apex court made the matter as clear as water, that:

“Workman is entitled to approach the Labor Court, if the VRS does not specifically provide for lay-off compensation.”

If it is specifically covered, or the language of VRS would show that it covers the claim under the scheme, no forum will have any jurisdiction.

On a perusal of the VRS, it is clear as day that it did not deal with the lay-off compensation.

Setting aside the judgment of the high court and orders of the labor court, the court remitted the matter to the labor court for adjudication.

>>> One of the learning’s from the recent judgment,  previous judgments, roadblocks, controversies and nature of employment, designation and classification of employees, coverage or non-coverage by umbrella of Labor Laws is that:

Employee (s), Employee’s unions should remain careful and watch the language and insertions in agreements that are being negotiated and framed and place before them to sign.

An error can cause loss and even courts may not agree more so, in case of employees that are not covered by the def. of ‘Workman’ as in Industrial Disputes Act.

>>> It shall be pertinent to point from following judgment, in which class of employees were Officers:

1. The appellants are the erstwhile officers of the respondent who opted for voluntary retirement under the Voluntary Retirement Scheme - 2008 dated 1st February, 2008 (hereinafter referred to as „VR Scheme‟) on 25th February, 2008.

2. On 19th February, 2011, i.e. almost three years of taking voluntary retirement, the appellants filed the writ petition to claim an incentive under Scheme of Performance Linked Incentive (hereinafter referred to as „SPLI‟) for the financial year 2007-08 which was dismissed by the learned Single Judge and is under challenge in this appeal.

Factual matrix

3. The salient features of VR Scheme of the respondent are as under:-

3.1. The employees are entitled to the benefits mentioned in Clause 7 only.

3.2. SPLI is not mentioned in Clause 7 of VR Scheme.

3.3. Clause 7.7 clarifies that no other benefit shall be available to the employees opting for voluntary retirement under the VR Scheme.

3.4. Clause 9.4 further specifies that the benefits payable under the VR Scheme shall be in full and final settlement of all claims whatsoever arising under the Scheme or otherwise and the employee will not have any claim whatsoever against the respondent and no demand or dispute will be raised by him whether for re-employment or compensation or back wages. 3.5. Clause 9.12 further clarifies that there will be no revision of the voluntary retirement amount on account of pay revision or any other account in future.

3.6. Clause 9.13 further clarifies that the VR Scheme is not negotiable.

Conclusion

25. On careful consideration of the rival contentions of the parties, we hold that the appellants are not entitled to the SPLI in view of the voluntary retirement and acceptance of all the benefits mentioned in Clause 7 of the VR Scheme in full and final settlement as back as on 25th February, 2008 which resulted in cessation of jural relationship. The principles of estoppel and waiver are applicable to the present case. There is no merit in the writ petition which has been rightly dismissed by the learned Single Judge. That apart, the appellants‟ claim suffered from delay and laches as there is abnormal delay in filing the writ petition and there is no plausible explanation for the same.

26. This appeal, being an abuse of the process of law, is dismissed with costs of Rs.25,000/-. The respondent can recover the costs in accordance with law.

The pending applications are also dismissed.

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Kumar Doab 
on 06 February 2017
Published in Labour & Service Law
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