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Maintain records of daily wage-earners, States told

Legal Correspondent

It will obviate litigation and pecuniary liability

New Delhi : The Supreme Court has asked all the State Governments to maintain proper records of the services rendered by daily wage-earners as it will obviate litigation and pecuniary liability for the government.

A three-judge Bench comprising Justice S.N. Variava (who retired on Monday), Justice A.R. Lakshmanan and Justice S.H. Kapadia passed this order while allowing an appeal filed by a workman, a daily wage-earner challenging his retrenchment.

Not regular employees

The Bench noted that daily wage-earners were not regular employees and in all the cases concerning their retrenchment/termination of services, they were found to have been appointed to work in Government departments.

The Bench pointed out "they are not given letters of appointments. They are not given letters of termination. They are not given any written document, which they could produce as proof of receipt of wages. Their muster rolls are maintained in loose sheets."

Entries not countersigned

The Bench said that even in cases where signatures of clerks appeared, the entries were not countersigned or certified by the appointing authorities. Hence the States must maintain proper records of the services of daily wage-earners and competent designated officers should sign the records. And at the time of termination, the officers concerned should give certificates of the number of days which the labourer/daily wage-earner had worked.

Burden of proof

The Bench further said though the burden of proof was on the workman to show that he had worked for 240 days in a year, this burden was discharged upon the workman stepping in the witness box and adducing both oral and documentary evidence.

The Bench said that since there would be no record of appointment or proof of payment, the workman could only call upon the employer to produce before the court the nominal muster roll, the letter of appointment or termination, if any and drawing of adverse inference would depend on the facts of each case.

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