Staff Reporter

"It is a clear instance of violation of human rights" "It is a clear instance of violation of human rights"

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has criticised the "inhumane" working conditions imposed on educated youth employed in liquor shops run by Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation Limited (TASMAC).

Allowing a batch of writ petitions moved by six retrenched employees, engaged on contract basis, from Madurai and Theni districts recently, Justice P. Jyothimani said, "The entire facts and circumstances would reveal the shocking reality of exploitation of unemployed graduates who are made to work for a paltry amount of Rs.3000 per month from 8 a.m. to 12 midnight... "

Though the employer claimed that these youth took up the job only after being appraised of the terms and conditions, the Judge said, "In my view, it is a clear instance of not only human exploitation but also a clear case of violation of human rights as far as the terms and conditions, especially relating to the period of work, were concerned."

All the writ petitioners, working as supervisors in bars attached to liquor shops, were removed from service for not performing their duties to the satisfaction of their superiors and the security deposit of Rs.50,000, given by each one of them while joining duty, was also forfeited.

On perusing the explanations given by the petitioners to their superior officials during the course of a departmental enquiry, the Judge found that every one of them had given a gloomy reason for not coming to the bar on time.

While one of the petitioners had stated that he was additionally acting as a driver to the District Manager of the corporation and hence there was some delay in attending the bar on time, another person fell behind schedule on a particular day because he had gone to write the National Eligibility Test for the post of lecturer.

In yet another case, the bar supervisor said he was delayed because he was engaged in cleaning the toilets in the bar.

"These predominant reasons given by the petitioners show the pathetic condition of unemployed graduates who have been abused and misused in the most possible manner against all human norms... " Mr. Justice Jyothimani added.

Further, the Judge refused to accept the contention of the corporation that the employees were engaged only on contract basis and hence they could be ousted without assigning any reason. However, he accepted the argument advanced by the petitioners' counsel, G. Prabhu Rajadurai, that the petitioners had lost confidence on the employer and hence the court need not direct the employers to reinstate them.

"In any event, since the relationship of the petitioners with the respondents (TASMAC) has strained... I am of the view that instead of reinstatement of the petitioners, they may be adequately compensated by directing the respondents to return the amount of security deposit," the Judge said. The deposit amount was ordered to be returned with interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum from the date of deposit, besides imposing a cost of Rs.10,000 to the corporation officials to be paid to the Chief Justice Relief Fund.