HIGH COURT OF KERALA
Click here to view full judgement.
(1.) The petitioners in these Original Petitions are employees of the K.S.E.B. and one of their trade unions. They challenge the circular issued by the K.S.E.B. on 21.03.2003 treating that the absence of all employees on 11.03.2003 and 18.03.2003 will be treated as 'Dies - Non'. The said circular reads as follows: -
"Certain political parties had observed hartal on 11.03.2003 and 18.03.2003. It was earlier ordered in the circular cited that the absence of employees for participating in strikes, bandhs and hartals etc. will be treated as 'Dies - Non'. It has come to the notice that a few employees of the Board had absented themselves from duty on 11.3.2003 and 18.3.2003. The Board hereby orders that the absence of employees on 11.3.2003 and 18.03.2003 will be treated as Dies - Non.
The above circular has been issued relying on another circular issued on 25.11.2002. The said circular reads as follows: -
Certain Trade Unions have served notice of one day strike on 26.11.2002. The instructions to be observed during the strike period have been issued in the circular cited. In continuation of the circular cited, the Board hereby order that the absence of employees for participating in the strike on 26.11.2002 will be treated as Dies - Non.
Board also order that the absence of employees for participating in strikes, bandhs and hartals etc. will be treated as Dies - Non.
The petitioners submit that the said circulars have been issued without jurisdiction. It is also submitted that a blanket direction to treat the absence of all persons as Dies - Non is arbitrary. There may be persons who may be absent on those days for other genuine reasons. So, the general direction to treat the absence as Dies - Non irrespective of reason is unjust and unreasonable, it is contended.
(2.) I heard the learned Standing Counsel for the respondents also. It is common case that the Electricity Board has power to issue regulations concerning service conditions of its employees under S.79(c) of the Indian Electricity Supply Act. The said power will enable the Board to issue executive orders also. The Apex Court has held that the powers analogue to that of the State Government under Art.162 are available to statutory bodies also. (See the decision of the Apex Court in Balasubramanyan v. Tamil Nadu Housing Board ( AIR 1988 SC 8 ). Therefore, the Electricity Board has power to issue circulars concerning the service conditions of its employees. So it cannot be said that the aforementioned circulars were issued without jurisdiction. But, while issuing the said circulars, whether the existing service conditions have been tinkered with etc. are all matters which the petitioners can take up before the respondents and also before the forums provided under the Industrial Disputes Act for resolution in the appropriate manner. But, I find considerable force in the submission of the petitioners that the general direction to treat the absence of all employees on 11.03.2003 and 18.03.2003 as Dies - Non is unjustified. If the employees submit appropriate representations before their Controlling Officers, the same shall be considered on merits uninfluenced by the general direction to treat the absence of all employees on those days as Dies - Non. In other words, if the absence on those days was due to other genuine reasons, the competent authority will pass appropriate orders on the claim of the concerned employee in accordance with law uninfluenced by the blanket direction contained in Circular No.PS. 1/3251/98/275 dated 21.03.2003 issued by the Electricity Board.
The Original Petitions are disposed of as above.;
Copyright © Regent Computronics Pvt.Ltd.