August 12, 2014
In a shocking turn of events the DTC’s terminated ex-employee (conductor) Ranvir Singh’s 41 year old legal battle came to an unexpected, surprising end today.
Singh has been battling the DTC against his termination in 1976 in a much publicised, front page, breaking news story.
The Delhi High Court passed its judgement on the review petition of the plaintiff DTC, shocking one and all and ending a 41 year old court battle of DTC VS Ravinder Singh (1976)
Justice Hima Kohli ordered the defendant, 70 year old Ranvir Singh to pay the plaintiff Delhi Transport Corporation Rs1.42 in loss of revenue.
The amount of Rs1.42 is based on compounded interest on Rs.00.05 that the defendant, in 1973, in his capacity as a conductor for DTC, undercharged a female customer. At the interest rate of 8.5% per annum 5p would amount to Rs1.42 today.
Batting for both sides, Justice Kohli ruled in favour for the defendant too.
She also ordered the plaintiff, DTC to pay Ranvir Singh back pay and retirement benefits amounting to 70 lakhs. The amount has been calculated with 10% annual increment of Singh’s 1976 salary (Rs 338 pm), compounded interest at 8.5% and to cover the defendant’s legal fee in the 41 year legal battle.
In addition the High Court awarded the defendant Ravinder Singh Rs 41 lakhs (one lakh per year) as punitive damages for his 41 year legal battle against the DTC as well as loss of income and for “his brave victory against the sheer stupidity of DTC in pursuing a mindless case, appealing it and then demanding a review.”
The verdict demands that the damages be paid out within 30 days else an incremental interest of 20% annually will be charged to DTC as contempt of court and they will be prosecuted for the same too.
In 1990 Labour court too ruled that the punishment meted out to Ranvir Singh was “disproportionate to the alleged crime” of undercharging a customer by 5p as alleged the cause for his dismissal for “cheating the DTC and negligence”.
Despite the Labour Court ruling that Ranbir Singh be reinstated with full wages in 1990 (13 years after his dismissal in 1976) DTC refused to honour the labour court verdict and decided to approach the Delhi High Court appealing against the labour court verdict.
DTC lawyer, Ghum Singh defended the DTC’s decision to appeal the High court verdict as well as then demand a review of the Delhi High Court’s appeal verdict on the basis that “no leniency can be shown to an employee who cheats the government of revenue & argued that the court honours the DTC probes’ decision that fired Ravinder Singh in 1977 for his “crime” of undercharging the customer in 1973”.
The high court threw out the case as frivolous in 2008 yet the DTC, which cannot run a bus schedule or maintenance of its vehicles, continued with unprecedented dedicated to the cause of 5p and appealed to Delhi High Court again as a review petition that was handled by Justice Hima Kohli.
In her decision Justice Hima Kohli said, “With an annual loss of Rs1000 crores DTC should focus its efforts on improving services and road and vehicular safety as well as public transportation quality with the same dedication that they have shown in victimizing an ex-employee over 41 years who was terminated rather unfairly anyways.”
She also pointed out that this whole case was, in her opinion “a sheer waste and disregard for the public funds and office as well as a drain of national resources.”
This is a big win for the “little common man” for 41 years ago Ravinder Singh was willing to pay the difference as well as a 500% fine (of Rs5) after accepting his mistake in undercharging the customer. Yet the DTC refused to let go of its vendetta in the name of “enforcing accountability in DTC employees”
Ravinder Singh 5p mistake cost him 41 years of legal battle & Rs1.42 fine.
On the other hand DTC’s stupidity has once again cost them a lot more, a whopping 1.11 crores.
Accountability and making one pay is a two Way Street, the DTC realised much to its grief with this unprecedented verdict.
No wonder DTC’s services still run at a loss and their services are such a national shame, for the DTC surely picks losing battles rather than just doing their job, with accountability towards the public and its employees!
For more of Simantini’s work go to www.wgaw.in