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ACQUIRING DISABILITY DURING SERVICE NO GROUND FOR TERMINATION BY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYER

The Bombay High Court in the case of Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay (“MCGB”) vs Shreerang Anandrao Jadhav decided on 11.11.2009 dismissed the writ petition filed by MCGB and upheld the decision of the Labour Court and the Industrial Court and ruled that termination of Shrirang Anandrao Jadhav, on account of having an injury in the course of his employment as BEST bus driver was unjust and in direct violation of the provisions laid down in the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) (“PWD”) Act, 1995 as well as the Industrial Disputes (“ID”) Act, 1947. Therefore the court ruled that he was indeed entitled to continue his services with the MCGB with full backwages along with costs amounting to Rs. 7,500/- by the MCGB.

Shreerang Anandrao Jadhav had joined the BEST Undertaking as a Bus Driver on the 24.04.1974. On the 16.07.2000 when he was performing his duties as a driver on Route 29/4 from Vaishali Nagar to Wadala Depot a series of protests erupted in Mumbai. This protest had arisen due to the arrest of a political leader. During the course of the protests, due to stone pelting, Shreerang Anandrao Jadhav sustained an injury to one of his fingers on his right hand for which he had to undergo a surgical operation. He was declared unfit to work as bus driver on 16.07.2000. Thereafter, until 07.07.2001, Shreerang Anandrao Jadhav was assigned duties as a sports marker. However, on the 07.07.2001, he was informed not to report for work. Further, no order of termination was served to him in this regard.

In this case the court has made an interpretation of section 47 of PWD Act which provides job security in government jobs to employee who acquires disability during service. The court after referring to various judgements delivered by the Supreme Court of India and High Courts opined that the expression “person with disability” is distinct from the expression “employee who acquired disability during his service’. The court stated that a ‘person with disability’ is a person having minimum 40% disability which is the requirement for availing reservation in government jobs and other benefits’ provided under PWD Act. Section 47 of the PWD Act prohibits discharge or reduction in rank of an employee who acquires disability during service. The court categorically pointed out that section 47 does not use the term ‘person with disability’ and therefore any person who acquires disability during his service irrespective of his degree of disability is entitled for the protection provided under section 47 of the PWD Act. The only test therefore is whether the disability is acquired during service. Hence in the present case, inspite of Shreerang Anandrao Jadhav sustaining 12% disability, he was still considered eligible for the protections provided under section 47 of the PWD Act as his disability had occurred during service as BEST bus driver.

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