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Even In Absence Of Prescribed Statutory Limitation, Party Expected To Approach Court Within 'Reasonable Time': Punjab & Haryana High Court

Drishti Yadav
30 March 2022 6:07 AM GMT
Even In Absence Of Prescribed Statutory Limitation, Party Expected To Approach Court Within Reasonable Time: Punjab & Haryana High Court
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Punjab and Haryana High Court has reiterated that in the absence of any prescribed limitation, it has to be a reasonable time within which the party aggrieved has to approach the court.The Court was dealing with a petition filed under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of India seeking issuance of a writ of certiorari for quashing the impugned award dated 20.09.2012 wherein the termination...

Punjab and Haryana High Court has reiterated that in the absence of any prescribed limitation, it has to be a reasonable time within which the party aggrieved has to approach the court.

The Court was dealing with a petition filed under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of India seeking issuance of a writ of certiorari for quashing the impugned award dated 20.09.2012 wherein the termination of service of the husband of the petitioner was answered against him by the Labour Court.

The bench comprising Justice Rajbir Sehrawat dismissed the petition by stating that there is no illegality or impropriety in the order passed by the court below and also stated that the legal proceedings should have been filed within a reasonable time.

The case came up as a result of the dismissal of the husband of the petitioner from his employment by the respondent-department. The husband of the petitioner was a regular employee of the department whose services were regularized in 1985. He was said to be terminated whereas the juniors to him were retained. It was the case of the petitioners that Labour Court has gone wrong in law by dismissing their case on the basis of a delay of 16 years.

After hearing both the parties, the court answered the question regarding the award of the Labour Court, by stating that limitation is not the only reason on which the award of the Labour Court was based.

The counsel for the petitioner has highlighted that the award has been answered against the workman only on account of the limitation, which the Labour Court was not supposed to do. However, this court finds that this is only one of the grounds emphasized by the Labour Court. It has come on record that the workman was not in service after 01.02.1988 and the demand notice was made in the year 2002. There is absolutely no explanation for this long delay.

Coming on to another argument put forth by the petitioner that the workman was not paid any retrenchment compensation nor was he given any notice before termination of service, the court held that he was not terminated rather he abandoned his job himself.

This argument is liable to be rejected for the simple reason that the positive assertion of the respondent-department has been that the service of the workman was never terminated, rather, he had abandoned his job.

Court further held that the workmen has failed to show any evidence regarding his services for 240 days nor was the claim was raised within a reasonable time.

Hence, neither the workman is shown to have worked for 240 days in the preceding 12 calendar months from the date of alleged termination of service in the year 2001 nor the claim as such was raised within a reasonable time as counted from the year 1988.

The Court finally concluded that the workman cannot be allowed to take premium upon his own default and should have approached the court within a reasonable time.

The workman cannot get a premium upon his own default. Even if there is no limitation prescribed for making reference, that does not mean a license to the workman to file the legal proceedings at any time as per his choice. In absence of any prescribed limitation, it has to be a reasonable time within which the person has to approach the court. Reasonable time would obviously be as per the understanding of an ordinary person of ordinary prudence, as assisted by the general principles of law relating to limitation. The limitation for moving the court, in general cases, is about three years.

Therefore, the court found no merit in the present petition and dismissed the same.

Case Title: Smt. Khazani Devi Versus The Presiding Officer, Industrial Tribunal-cum-Labour Court & others 

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (PH) 49

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