Can a Workman be Charge sheeted for sleeping on duty, as per employment laws in India?

Sleeping while on duty, as per labour laws in India, is considered a gross misconduct. The concerned employee may be charge-sheeted for sleeping during duty hours under “habitual neglect of work or gross or habitual negligence”, if it is a listed misconduct under the Model Standing Orders applicable to the establishment.

Here is what the Courts have to say on the issue;

In Sengamuthu N.V/s Management of Neyveli Lignite Corporation Ltd., rep. by its Deputy Chief Security Officer and Ors. (W.P. Nos. 7808 and 7809/2003, decided on 29.07.2010) The Hon’ble Madras High Court, considered sleeping during duty hours a gross misconduct and stated that the issuance of charge sheet was a necessary exercise in this regard to give the concerned workman an opportunity to explain himself.

Subsequently, in 2005, in Bharat Forge Co. Ltd. V/s Uttam Manohar Nakate (Civil Appeal No. 4399 of 2002, Decided On: 18.01.2005) – where the Appellant workman was found lying fast asleep on an iron plate at his working place and the matter reached the Apex Court on an appeal from the decision of the Division Bench of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court – the Apex Court held that; having regard to the past conduct of the workman, as also his conduct during domestic enquiry proceeding, it could not be said that the quantum of punishment imposed upon the Respondent was wholly disproportionate to his act of misconduct or otherwise arbitrary. The Hon’ble Court, relying on a number of precedents such as M/s Bharat Iron Works V/s Bhagubhai Balubhai Patel and Ors. [1976 2 SCR 280] held that in a case of proved misconduct, a question of victimization does not arise and that the workman was guilty of misconduct of sleeping during duty hours.

As is clear from the aforesaid decisions, employment law in India treats sleeping during duty hours as a gross misconduct.

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