Kerala HC in the case of IREL (India) Limited Versus P. N. Raghava Panicker
IREL (India) Limited
P. N. Raghava Panicker
Facts of the Case:
By this writ petition, the petitioner, IREL (India) Limited/employer is challenging Ext.P6 order passed by the Controlling Authority on 13.06.2018, under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Gratuity Act’) determining the balance amount of gratuity payable to the 1st respondent herein as Rs.41,459/- which has been confirmed by the Appellate Authority under the said Act vide order dated 15.10.2019 (Ext.P8) in an appeal under Section 7(7) of the said Act filed by the petitioner-employer.
Observations of the Court:
Trainees give various duties during the course of the so-called training and who is not deputed in a particular designated trade cannot be called as an apprentice or learner. The nomenclature of the post is not of much consequence while interpreting the beneficial provisions of the welfare statute. The Gratuity Act is undoubtedly a welfare statute that only bars an apprentice from the benefit of payment of gratuity during such a training period. However, designating an employee as a trainee, extracting regular work from him, and then denying him the benefit of the Gratuity Act under the pretext of such an employee being a trainee would certainly defeat the object of the welfare statute. The Hon’ble Orissa High Court has also considered a similar case in the matter of Chairmancum-Managing Director, Orissa Mining Corpn. Ltd (supra) and the following are the observations found in paragraph 4.
“… A trainee employed under a contract of employment is not an apprentice, under the Apprentices Act, unless he is undergoing apprenticeship training in a designated trade in pursuance of a contract of apprenticeship…”.
The Decision of the Court:
In the light of the foregoing discussions, neither error of fact nor error of law can be found in the impugned orders passed by the authorities below while holding that the 1st respondent is entitled to gratuity for the period from 16.07.1991 to 15.07.1993 in the wake of the proven fact that during the said period, he was not undergoing any training and as such was not an apprentice so as to exclude his case from the beneficial legislation i.e. Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972.
As the result, this writ petition is dismissed.
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