Delhi High Court Directs Payment of Gratuity to Retired Part-Time Vocational Teacher
3rd August 2021, the Delhi High Court in Janardan Sharma vs GNCT of Delhi Through its Chief Secretary & Ors. [WP(C) no. 11154 of 2019] pronounced that the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 “does not draw a distinction between a fulltime employee / a part time employee / ad hoc employee etc.” and directed the respondents to pay gratuity to the petitioner, a retired part-time vocational teacher.
Rejecting the respondent’s contention that the petitioner is not entitled to gratuity as he was working as a part-time vocational teacher, the Single Judge Bench of Justice V Kameswar Rao held:
“…it is clear that the Act does not draw a distinction between a fulltime employee / a part time employee / ad hoc employee etc. In other words, as stated by the Court, the Section does not speak of any specific categories of the employees for its applicability i.e. regular, ad-hoc, part time, casual etc. The petitioner being an employee, though according to the respondents Part Time, he is still entitled to gratuity. He worked for almost 28-29 years but was denied the benefit of pension as he was not a regular employee. In fact, on that ground, it appears he was denied the benefit of the scheme for payment of gratuity as prevailing in the department. Being a so called ‘Part Time Employee’, if he is not entitled to gratuity under the scheme prevailing in the department, the petitioner is entitled to gratuity under the Act of 1972. He cannot be left without means of sustenance, post retirement.”
In December 1991, the Directorate of Education, Government of NCT of Delhi, respondent no. 2 appointed the petitioner as a part-time vocational teacher for the banking course. Upon reaching the age of superannuation, the petitioner retired on 26th March 2020. Thereafter, payment of gratuity was denied to the petitioner.
Aggrieved, the petitioner filed a writ petition before the Delhi High Court seeking a direction to the respondents to release the payment of gratuity to the petitioner and to extend the benefits under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 to part-time vocational teachers working at Government Schools in Delhi.
The petitioner submitted that by an amendment of the Act in 2009, the definition of the term “employee” under section 2(e) has been amended, thereby bringing teachers within the scope of the Act w.e.f. 3rd April 1997. With respect to this submission, the court observed:
“…there is no dispute that the teachers have been included within the definition of the word ‘employee’ under Section 2(e) of the Act of 1972 in the year 2009 w.e.f. April 03, 1997. For all purposes, a teacher is entitled to gratuity. The Supreme Court has also in its judgment in the case of Birla Institute of Technology v. The State of Jharkhand and Ors., MANU/SC/0337/2019, has dismissed the appeal filed by the appellant Institute by relying upon the amendment, in the proceedings initiated by a teacher before appropriate authority for grant of gratuity under the Act of 1972.”
The court considered the Delhi High Court judgment, relied upon by the petitioner, in National Bal Bhawan v. Vandana wherein it was held that even a part-time employee is entitled to obtain gratuity. The relevant portion of the judgment states as follows:
“An employee is an employee, whether on casual, ad-hoc or part time basis. The definition of employee in the Act, 1972 also does not speak of any specific categories of the employees for its applicability, be it, regular, adhoc, part time, casual etc. etc.”
In conclusion, the Delhi High Court allowed the writ petition and directed the respondents “to pay gratuity to the petitioner by counting the period of service w.e.f. April 03, 1997 till March 26, 2020 with interest computed @ 6% per annum”. Further, the court added that the said payment has to be made within eight weeks from the date of the order and also imposed cost of Rs. 20,000 upon the respondents payable to the petitioner within the said period.
Ankitha Subramanya | EduLegaL