Nearly 13 years after illegally terminating the services of a conductor after his leg was amputated, the State-owned Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) has now been directed by the Karnataka High Court to reinstate him to a post having the rank and pay scale equal to that of a conductor, besides paying 75 per cent of the back wages.
A Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice B.V. Nagarathna, issued the directions on finding that the KSRTC had compulsorily retired him from the service in clear violation of Section 47 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995.
The court also directed the KSRTC to pay all increments and allowances considering as if he was in continued service, besides reimbursing all the medical expenses incurred by him before and during the course of his “forced unemployment.”
D.C. Chandrashekaraiah, who is now 52, had been serving as conductor for 11 years in Chikmagalur division when he was compulsorily retired from the service on March 7, 2003 for the reason that he was unable to work as his left lower limb below the knee was surgically amputated due to gangrene in April 2000.
However, an Industrial Tribunal (ID) in 2008 set aside the termination order while directing the KSRTC to consider him for re-employment on “humanitarian grounds” after medically ascertaining the reasons for him losing the limb.
Following this, the KSRTC re-employed him as a sweeper in 2009. Meanwhile, he challenged the ID’s order before the High Court in 2010 and sought continuity of service and back wages. However, a single judge in August 2010 did not grant these benefits but directed the KSRTC to extend continuity of service only for calculation of retirement benefits.
But during the hearing before the Division Bench, it was pointed out that Section 47 of the Act made it mandatory that “no employer shall dispense with, or reduce in rank, an employee who acquired a disability during his service.”
Pointing out that Mr. Chandrashekaraiah acquired the disability during service, the Bench observed that “there is no escaping the conclusion that, the acts [of the KSRTC] dispensing with his service or even the subsequent reduction in his rank [as a sweeper] was illegal and unsustainable.”
Observing that the KSRTC did not deserve any sympathetic consideration as it discriminated him by re-employing him only as a sweeper, the Bench said that KSRTC was not unaware of the law on disabilities but it was “trying to obtain an exemption from operation of the provisions of the Act for KSRTC” at the time of his termination.