While holding a retired Chairman and Managing Director of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and a company official guilty of wilfully disobeying court orders, the Madras High Court has let them off with admonition.

In his order on a contempt petition, Justice Elipe Dharma Rao said taking into consideration the fact that R.S.Sharma, the then Chairman and Managing Director, had retired on January 31 last year and further considering the fact that A.K.Balyan, presently Director, Human Resource, had acted only on the instructions and directions of Mr.Sharma, he was letting both of them off with admonition.

By an order on August 2, 2006, the court had allowed a petition seeking a direction to the company to absorb the petitioners as Marine Assistant Radio Operators (MARO) with effect from September 8, 1994 on the basis of the abolition of contract labour and as per the recommendations of June 1999 of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry to the corporation and the approval of the competent authority. The Corporation's appeals were dismissed by a Division Bench of the High Court and the Supreme Court.

Contending that the corporation committed wilful and deliberate disobedience of the High Court order by absorbing them as `Supplementary Helpers' from September 8, 1994, the present contempt petition was filed by M. George Ravi Shekaran and 45 others. The petitioners submitted that the post of MARO was the highest post in Class-III requiring certain qualifications and experience.

The post of helper was lower in Class-IV meant for unskilled workers with much lower qualification. Giving the scale of pay but not fixing the petitioners in the MARO's post and also denying them attendant benefits was a wilful disobedience of the court order.

Mr.Justice Elipe Dharma Rao said when there was ample opportunity for Mr.Sharma and Mr.Balyan to absorb the petitioners as MARO even by creating supernumerary posts, they had wilfully acted in a manner detrimental to the petitioners' interest and towards nullifying the court order.

He directed the present Chairman and Managing Director to strictly implement the court order in its true letter and spirit by absorbing the petitioners as MARO, even by creating supernumerary posts in that cadre and grant them all consequential benefits within four weeks.

  • They had absorbed petitioners as supplementary helpers

  • Court wants them appointed as marine assistant radio operators