Observing that no employer can ever behave in a ruthless manner towards their employee, especially a hapless employee, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently slammed the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. (MSEDCL) to reimburse the medical bills of one of its employees, who died of Paralysis in 2014.
The HC has even ordered the company to pay the arrears of payments of the employee, who was terminated in May 2018 on the ground that he was medically unfit.
A bench of Justices Ravindra Ghuge and Sanjay Mehare, held that the MSEDCL illegally terminated Ramesh Gholave, a technician with the firm, who died in 2020. The bench arrived at the decision after taking note of the medical records produced by Gholave's wife stating he was 65 per cent physically unfit.
According to the plea, Gholave suffered a paralytic attack in November 2014 and in between 2017 and 2019, he made several representations with the company and other authorities to consider giving him a lighter job as the medical records of various neurologists stated that he was physically fit for a lighter work. He relied upon the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995, and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, to challenge his termination.
The employer MSEDCL, however, contended that it did not go wrong in terminating such an employee.
Considering the submissions, the judges said, "We are of the view that in such cases, wherein a hapless employee unfortunately suffers a disabling ailment, his first worry and anxiety is as to who would feed his family. In some cases, huge medical expenditure is incurred. In the present case, the widow of the employee has several medical documents to indicate an expenditure of about Rs.12 lakhs."
"We are of the view that terminating an unfortunate employee is the last resort to an employer," the judges said, adding, "No employer can behave in a ruthless manner and with a stone heart. Instead of showing sympathy and compassion towards such an employee, the company before us has acted without any sympathy or a humane touch."
The judges further noted that MSEDCL is a state body and not a private sector undertaking. "Such an employer should have acted as a model employer and before terminating the service of the employee, should have ensured that there was no scope at all to accommodate him any where in employment and that his termination was the last and the only option available, being inevitable," the judges opined, while ordering the company to reimburse the medical bills.