Legal Correspondent

Says they are not workers and provisions of law do not apply to them

New Delhi: An apprentice in an industrial establishment cannot claim the right of regularisation, the Supreme Court has held.

While an apprentice was also treated to be a workman for the purposes of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, by virtue of Section 18 of the Apprentices Act, 1961, it had been categorically provided that apprentices were not workers and the provisions of any law with respect to labour would not apply to or in relation to such an apprentice, a Bench of Justices A.R. Lakshmanan and Altamas Kabir said.

In the instant case, the National Small Industries Corporation (NSIC) appointed respondent V. Lakshminarayanan as an apprentice but his services were not regularised.

He approached the Labour Court and it directed his regularisation. The Madras High Court confirmed the order.

The present appeal by the NSIC was directed against this judgment.

Exceptions

The apex court said that even assuming that the respondent was a workman within the meaning of the ID Act, on account of his contractual nature, his case would come within the exceptions provided under the Act.

"In such a case also the provisions of Section 25 F of the ID Act [relating to termination of apprentices] would have no application to the respondent's case," the Bench said.

"The High Court appears to have been impressed by the reasoning of the labour court with regard to the finding that although designated as an apprentice, the respondent was not undergoing training but was an employee doing full time work in the establishment," the Bench said.

Materials on record did not support such a view, the Bench said and set aside the impugned judgment.