Four-and-a-half years after sacking him, multinational IT giant Infosys has agreed to pay Rs.20 lakh as compensation to electronics engineer Rashid Hussain who was kept in illegal detention for nine days by the Special Operations Group (SOG) of Rajasthan police following the May 2008 serial blasts in Jaipur, which had claimed 69 lives and left scores of people injured.
Mr. Hussain, then 36, was working as a senior network engineer at the Jaipur office of Infosys. When the police released him after failing to find any evidence to connect him with the blasts, the IT major terminated his service without giving him an opportunity to respond to the charges of discrepancies in records levelled by it against him.
This was the first instance of a qualified professional hunted down in connection with the Jaipur blasts in what has become a trend now, with the police in several States arresting Muslim youths on the terror charges and the courts acquitting them after protracted trial. The latest cases in point are those of a journalist and a DRDO research scholar released in Bangalore.
Claiming that he was a victim of “community profiling”, Mr. Hussain challenged his dismissal in a labour court here while pointing out that Infosys had violated the principles of natural justice by sacking him without any disciplinary proceedings. The IT company had terminated his service on July 17, 2008, barely three days after informing of initiation of disciplinary action.
After three years of hearing, the special court of the Authority under the Rajasthan Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1958, declared the termination order null and void on March 31, 2011, and ordered Infosys to take Mr. Hussain back in service with full retrospective benefits applicable during the dismissal period. The court rejected all arguments of Infosys defending its action.
Infosys moved the Rajasthan High Court challenging the labour court’s judgment. After 20 months of hearing at the High Court’s Jaipur Bench, the IT giant agreed to pay a compensation of Rs.20 lakh to Mr. Hussain for wrongfully terminating his service. The High Court disposed of the matter on January 21 after the settlement between the two sides.
Mr. Hussain’s counsel Prem Krishna Sharma told here on Saturday that Infosys had put a condition in the settlement that his client would not tell the media anything about the agreement.
“The settlement papers signed by the Infosys representative and Mr. Hussain, taken [on record] by the High Court, have this condition in writing,” he said.
Mr. Sharma, who is also president of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) State unit, said the motive behind Mr. Hussain’s dismissal – which was not officially conveyed to him – was the IT giant’s unwillingness to continue him in employment after his nine-day detention by police.
The electronics engineer was neither arrested nor charge-sheeted for the blasts. The SOG forced him to sign on papers stating that he was picked up in the morning of the day he was released. Incidentally, the then Additional Director-General (SOG) A. K. Jain is at present in judicial custody in connection with the infamous Dara Singh fake encounter case.