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The Madras High Court Bench here has upheld the authority of Inspectors of Labour to direct Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (TANGEDCO) to regularise services of its contract employees by invoking provisions of Tamil Nadu Industrial Establishments (Conferment of Permanent Status to Workmen) Act, 1981.
A Division Bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and J. Nisha Banu dismissed writ appeals preferred by TANGEDCO Chairman and confirmed a decision taken by a single judge of the court in 2014 to desist from interfering with orders passed by the Inspector of Labour in Karur district on January 29, 2010 to regularise services of 55 labourers.
Challenging the single judge’s decision, TANGEDCO had claimed that there was no employer-employee relationship between it and the labourers since they had been engaged through contractors for execution of certain works. The corporation also disputed the labourers’ claim of having worked without a break for more than 480 days in 24 calendar months.
In so far as the service certificates issued to the workmen by Assistant Engineers, it was contended that those officers were not competent to issue such certificates and hence those documents could not be relied upon by the labourers to demand conferment of the status of permanent employees.
Even otherwise, the Inspector of Labour has no authority under the 1981-Act to adjudicate disputes related to conferment of permanent status to the labourers engaged through contractors and paid by the latter for performing works such as digging the soil, laying cables and so on, the writ appellant claimed.
Rejecting all the grounds raised by the appellant, the Division Bench held that it was not open to TANGEDCO to question the authority of the Inspector of Labour to order conferment of permanent status to workmen especially when the High Court had answered it in the negative consistently since 2004 in a series of other judgements.
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