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Mind your language, it may cost your job

By J. Venkatesan

NEW DELHI, FEB. 24. Abuse the boss — and get the sack. This age-old practice now has the highest court's seal of approval.

The Supreme Court today held that the use of abusive language in office by an employee or workman against his boss or superior without provocation could be a ground for dismissal from service.

A three-judge Bench, comprising Justice N. Santosh Hegde, Justice Tarun Chatterjee and Justice P. K. Balasubramanyan, allowing an appeal from Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd, against a judgment of the Bombay High Court said: "Punishment of dismissal for using abusive language cannot be held to be disproportionate." The Bench set aside three concurrent findings of the Labour Court and the High Court that punishment of dismissal would be disproportionate to the misconduct alleged.

Writing the judgment for the Bench, Mr. Justice Hegde said that "in this case all the forums below have held that the language used by the workman [N.B. Narawade] was filthy. We, too, are of the opinion that the language used by the workman is such that it cannot be tolerated by any civilised society. Use of such abusive language against a superior officer, that too not once but twice, in the presence of subordinates cannot be termed to be an indiscipline calling for lesser punishment in the absence of any extenuating factor."

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