Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The Orissa High Court recently ordered that the principle of ‘no work, no pay’ cannot be universally applied, especially when the employer is at fault for not utilizing the services of the respective employee.

As per a report in Live Law, single bench of Justice Sashikanta Mishra gave the order while hearing a petition. Reportedly, the petitioner was appointed as lecturer in history at Joda Women’s College on 5.09.1988 and was subsequently terminated by the governing body of the College on 23.09.1995. She appealed termination, and the appeal was allowed by the Director, Higher Education, Odisha. The governing body was instructed to reinstate the petitioner and take further action according to the rules.

However, the governing body failed to comply with the Director’s order. The development led the petitioner to file a writ petition in Orissa High Court in 1996. It was disposed of directing the concerned authority to implement the Director’s order effectively.

Following instructions from the Director’s office, the petitioner rejoined the College on 10.01.1996 and continued her duties until her retirement on 31.01.2023, after being transferred to Siddheswar College. The petitioner approached the High Court and filed a writ petition. She claimed that she was not paid her salary from 10.01.2006 onwards, nor was the period of illegal termination from 23.09.2005 to 09.01.2006 regularized. In response, the Director, of Higher Education, Odisha, stated that a provisional differential salary was released for a certain period, but regularization of the aforementioned period was pending due to inaction by the governing body.

The High Court noted that the petitioner’s termination was deemed illegal by the Director of Higher Education in a subsequent ruling. Despite this, the order to reinstate the petitioner was not adhered to until 10.01.2006. Both the petitioner and the management sought legal recourse throughout this period with the petitioner urging the governing body to enforce the Director’s order and the governing body attempting to challenge the Director’s decision.

The Court held that while reinstatement is typically granted when termination is deemed illegal, the award of back wages is not automatic. Various factors come into play, including whether the employee was gainfully employed during the relevant period. Furthermore, the High Court held that the ‘no work no pay’ principle cannot be universally applied, especially when the employer is at fault for not utilizing the employee’s services, Live Law reported.