BY LAKMAL SOORIYAGODA
An employee who fails to report to work without an acceptable excuse for a reasonable period of time would necessarily be a ground which justifies the employer to consider the employee as having vacated service, the Supreme Court held in a recent judgment.
The Supreme Court delivered this judgment pursuant to an appeal petition filed by Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya on behalf of its member, a depot route inspector attached to the Giriulla Bus Depot challenging the termination of service, on the alleged ground of vacation of post.
Supreme Court three-judge-bench comprising Justice S.Thurairaja, Justice A.H.M.D. Nawaz and Justice Mahinda Samayawardhena observed that the appellant P.Titus Jayantha, depot route inspector was absent without leave from August 17.2004 for a period of approximately 21 days and that it is reasonable on the facts established in the case to draw the inference that he had no intention to report for work at the Giriulla depot. The appellant stated that following the General Election held on April 2, 2004 with the change in the ruling party, certain members of the Giriulla Bus Depot had threatened him and his party members not to report to work.
The Supreme Court held that there is no evidence produced before the Court to prove that the Appellant was subject to fear of life between the period from 17th August 2004 to the 06th September 2004 in which period he was absent for work.
The Labour Tribunal on May 31, 2011 decided the case in favour of the Appellant. Being dissatisfied with the order of the Labour Tribunal, the SLTB appealed to the Provincial High Court of Kurunegala. The Provincial High Court of Kurunegala on September 03, 2013, allowed the appeal while setting-aside the order of the Labour Tribunal on the basis that the Appellant had voluntarily vacated the post.
Being aggrieved by the judgment of the High Court, the Appellant filed an appeal before the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court decided to dismiss the appeal citing the Appellant had not shown any intention to return to work.