Leaving duty to comb hair amount to serious misconduct: High Court

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Observing that leaving duty abruptly to comb hair amounts to serious misconduct, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court recently refused to grant any relief to a Girni Kamgar (mill worker), who had assaulted his boss. The HC further said that attacking and abusing the boss or superior officer would amount to a grave misconduct.

A bench comprising of Justice Vinay Deshpande was seized with a plea filed by one Rangrao Chaudhary, who challenged the December 2005 order passed by a labour court which upheld his employer’s decision to terminate his service.

According to the employer, on a random visit by a senior officer of the factory on the fateful day of May 1995, Chaudhary was not found on the machine but was seen combing his hairs.

Since it was a night shift, the senior officer viewed Chaudhary’s conduct seriously and asked him to get back to his duty. Irked over this, Chaudhary abused his boss and threw an iron rod/container on him, after which the latter got injured.

The employer, accordingly registered a case against Chaudhary and he was even subjected to a departmental enquiry, following which he was removed from his job.

To buttress his case, Chaudhary claimed that since he was acquitted in a subsequent criminal proceeding over the same attack incident, the employer erred in terminating his service.

At this, Justice Deshpande said, “Departmental proceeding and the proceeding in criminal case can proceed simultaneously as there is no bar and they are being conducted simultaneously though separately. Standard of proof for proving the guilt in a criminal trial is much higher than to prove the misconduct in a domestic enquiry.”

“Therefore, merely because Chaudhary was acquitted in the criminal case, the same will not be helpful to him,” the judge said.

“Chaudhary’s act of leaving the machine abruptly, though he was supposed to work on the machine and combing hairs was a serious misconduct. Not only that, when he was asked by his superior to resume the duty, instead he used abusive words and assaulted on him, in view of this Court, is a grave misconduct,” the judge held, while dismissing his plea.

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