Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Temple is not an industry- Gujarat HC

Ahmedabad: Upholding a decision of a labour court, the Gujarat high court has maintained that a temple is not an industry, particularly when it is run by a trust.

The observation came in a case where a former employee of a Swaminarayan temple claimed compensation from the management for his removal from the job as per labour laws. He was contending that the temple authorities should have followed proper procedures, and the courts should adjudge his issue under the Industrial Disputes Act. But a labour court and two benches of the high court have held that temple cannot be considered an industry, and his employment dispute cannot be resolved as per industrial laws.
As per case details, Indravadan Adhvaryu got a job with Dholera Swaminarayan Temple, which is run by the Laxminarayan Dev Trust, in 1977. He was later transferred to Padhari Temple in Uttar Pradesh, brought back to Dholera temple and later transferred to Vadtal Kanam Charotar Vahivat under the same trust. Adhvaryu approached the labour court at Nadiad in 1990 claiming that he was not allowed to join Vadtal and terminated with oral instructions only.
The labour court dismissed his plea in 2009. This led him to approach the high court this year. A single-judge bench heard the case and came to the conclusion that the activities of the trust are on a voluntary basis and for religious purpose, and it cannot be treated as an industry.
Going through the service records of Adhvaryu and highlighting his fault, justice KS Jhaveri observed, "The temple is not an 'industry' as per the definition of 'industry' and there is no breach of provisions of section 25F of the Act... In any case, the alleged termination is of the year 1989 and it would not be in the interest of justice to interfere with the same after almost 21 years.”
Adhvaryu challenged this order before the division bench, claiming that the temple and its trust should be treated as industry and he should be treated as industrial labour. His counsel argued that the temple’s trust is maintaining a balance sheet and is involved in certain activities that can bring it in the definition of an industry, but the division bench refused to accept the contention and dismissed the appeal.

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