'Assaulting Superior Is Grave Misconduct', Says Bombay HC

'Assaulting Superior Is Grave Misconduct', Says Bombay HC

HPCL challenged this before the HC, Rathod too challenged the order and sought full back wages and reinstatement.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, April 14, 2024, 01:39 AM IST
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Bombay HC | PTI

The assault on a superior is a grave form of misconduct warranting termination to maintain discipline in the workplace, the Bombay High Court has held. The high court has set aside the reinstatement of a Hindustan Petroleum workman who was terminated after he slapped his supervisor.

Justice Sandeep Marne criticized the decision of the Central Government Industrial Tribunal  (CGIT) directing the workman’s reinstatement with 20 percent back wages and seniority. The CGIT has instead awarded a punishment of withholding of one increment.

The CGIT considered the workman’s act 'not too serious to inflict the punishment of termination' as it did not cause any bodily injury. 

Terming the reasoning as “shocking” and “astounding”, Justice Marne said that such leniency could encourage similar acts by other employees.

CGIT's Decision And Subsequent Legal Challenges

The Hc was hearing cross writ petitions filed by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) and its employee, Mavji Jethalal Rathod, challenging an award of the CGIT on September 27, 2012.

Rathod, a Bulk Operator at HPCL, was assigned the task of recording temperature of products at the TTL Gantry on July 23, 1996. According to HPCL maintaining accurate temperature records is crucial for determining product quantity during loading and unloading. Rathod allegedly recorded an incorrect temperature of 260°C for a tank truck, which the supervisor corrected to 270°C. Rathod refused to change it back and assaulted the supervisor. Hence he was suspended and a disciplinary action was initiated against him. 

He was accused of insubordination, riotous, disorderly and indecent behaviour and use of abusive language, threatening, intimidating, etc as well as slapping his supervisor. A domestic inquiry found him guilty, resulting in his dismissal from service. The decision was upheld on appeal.

The matter was then referred to CGIT after conciliation proceedings failed. 

HPCL's Challenge And Rathod's Appeal for Reinstatement And Full Back Wages

CGIT held that the enquiry was not fair or proper and that the findings recorded by the Enquiry Officer were perverse. The CGIT  found the punishment of termination disproportionate and instead directed the corporation to withhold one increment as punishment. It directed his reinstatement with 20% back wages.

HPCL challenged this before the HC, Rathod too challenged the order and sought full back wages and reinstatement.

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