CHENNAI: Coming to the rescue of workers, especially those in state transport corporations dismissed from service for disabilities acquired during employment, the Madras high court has asked various transport corporation managements to form in-house cells to allocate alternative employments to such staff.
Justice K Chandru, while hearing a writ petition from driver P Varadharajan at the Madurai bench of the high court, regretted that though more than 500 judgments had been delivered by the high court and the Supreme Court covering all aspects of the issue, the management continued to dismiss employees, thereby forcing them to rush to courts.
After he threatened to haul up the entire top brass of various transport corporations for contempt of court, they informed the court that a five-member special cell had been constituted to receive and process grievances of employees who seek alternative employment based on medical report. The officials in the cell are: General Manager (Technical & Administration), Senior Deputy Manager,Corporation Medical Officer, Deputy Manager (Legal) and Assistant Manager (HR). The managing director of the respective transport corporations will take immediate action on the reports sent by the committee.
The order will spare the huge costs and a round of litigation for dismissed employees, who will now have to take up the matter with the in-house cell.
The case was filed by P Varadharajan, who was working as driver with the State Express Transport Corporation since 1992, till his dismissal from service in 2000 as he had acquired vision defects during employment. After the medical board gave an opinion that he suffered from colour blindness and hence not fit to be a driver, he was discharged from service in September 2000. He preferred the writ petition since there was no response to his repeated requests for alternative employment.
Justice Chandru, pointing out that the high court has passed more than 500 orders and the Supreme Court has delivered 10 such judgments, said: "The transport corporation need not drive parties to this court to have their cases considered as if the law is unclear. The corporation must realise its social responsibilities as well as the welfare of the workers in dealing with such cases. The corporation should immediately constitute a special cell relating to disabled workmen, comprising higher level officers to consider such grievances on day-to-day basis rather than making the workers to come to this court on each occasion and spend years together for getting relief, which is guaranteed to them under the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995. This will avoid unnecessary hardship besides saving money for the workmen on costly litigation."
After the transport corporations informed the court that the five-member special cell had been created as per court orders, Justice Chandru directed the officials to give wide publicity to the facility so that the workmen could utilise it.
"In the fitness of things, the corporation must be directed to publish the formation of the cell. Apart from being exhibited in notice boards they must publish it in leading Tamil newspapers, so that the workmen will be aware of their rights and can approach the in-house committee for the redressal of their grievances."
The publication shall be made in four Tamil dailies -- Dinamani, Dinakaran, Dinamalar and Daily Thanthi -- on or before December 15, the judge said.