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  • Date Submitted: 08/18/2010 03:07 AM
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Bombay HC clarifies law on ‘workman’

Swati Deshpande | TNN

Mumbai: In a significant verdict that has focused on the contemporary corporate world, the Bombay high court has dispelled archaic notions of what a protected ‘workman’ means and upheld the sacking of a personal financial consultant by Standard Chartered Bank.
   The bank had appointed Vandana Joshi in May 2006 in its management cadre and dismissed her the following month for ‘‘deficiency in performance of duties’’. Joshi’s fight landed first in the Industrial Tribunal which accepted her claim of being a ‘‘clerk’’ and thus a ‘workman’ whose sudden termination it held as ‘‘unlawful’’. In January 2009 the tribunal directed the bank to reinstate her back with wages. The bank moved the high court in appeal against the tribunal order. While overturning the tribunal’s order, Justice D Y Chandrachud broke new ground in deciding what labour law experts say has been a ‘‘very vexed issue on who constitutes a workman in the post liberalisation era?’’
   In the case at hand, the HC observed that the bank employee’s job targets included ‘‘achieving allocated business targets, ensuring high quality customer service, ensuring external and internal compliance in all branch transactions, handling difficult customer situations and contributing to the overall achievement of business growth’’. Her key responsibilities included ‘‘active crossselling of third party products, generating new business via sales promotions, outmarketing calls and presentations and in-branch contacts and participating actively in branch sales planning to generate action plans for meeting targets’’. In other words, responsibilities that many executives in the large banks in Mumbai strive to achieve daily. Joshi, when she first challenged her termination, admitted that hers was a managerial appointment but later insisted that she was a clerk as she reported to her branch manager and had no power to ‘‘sanction leaves or initiate disciplinary...

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