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Teachers not entitled to gratuity: SC
Our Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 14
In an important judgment, the Supreme Court has ruled that teachers are not entitled to payment of gratuity under the Gratuity Act because they have not been defined as employees under it. But the states have the prerogative to pass separate legislations for extending the benefit to them.

Under the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, “teachers who are mainly employed for imparting education are not intended to be covered for extending gratuity benefits,” a Bench comprising Mr Justice Shivaraj V. Patil and Mr Justice D. M. Dharmadhikari said, rejecting an appeal by the Ahmedabad Private Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA).

The appeal was filed by the PPTA against a “full Bench” judgement of the Gujarat High Court holding the same view.

Mr Justice Dharmadhikari, writing the judgement, said “we are of the view that even on plain construction of the words and expression used in definition clause 2 (e) of the Act, teachers who are mainly employed for imparting education are not intended to be covered for extending the gratuity benefits. Teachers do not answer description of being employees who are skilled, semi-skilled or unskilled.”

The court said the Legislature was alive to various kinds of definitions of the word “employee” contained in various previous labour enactments when the Gratuity Act was passed because the definition under it was not as wide as it was under the Employees Provident Fund Act, 1952.

But the court made it clear that its judgement should not be “misunderstood” to convey the meaning that teachers engaged in a “very noble profession” of educating young generation should not be given the gratuity benefit.

It said several states had passed separate laws, rules and regulations, granting the gratuity benefits to teachers, which in many cases were more beneficial than the benefits provided to employees under the Gratuity Act.

The court also advised the Legislature to take cognisance of the situation where the gratuity benefits had not been provided to the teachers by enacting special law and “think of a separate legislation in this regard.”

The court said it had “critically examined” the definition in clause 2(e) of the Act to come to the conclusion in the light of the arguments advanced from either side and had compared it with the definitions given in other labour laws.

Under the clause, an employee means any person (other than an apprentice) employed on wages, in any establishment, factory, mine, oilfield, plantation, port, railway company or shop, to do any skilled, semi-skilled, or unskilled, manual, supervisory, technical or clerical work.

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