Liberty Shoes promoter Adarsh Gupta gets six months jail

Adarsh Gupta, owner of Liberty Enterprises, a subsidiary of footwear maker Liberty Shoes, has been sentenced to six months' imprisonment by the chief judicial magistrate, Karnal, for unfair labour practices. The company closed down a unit in Gharunda, near Karnal, and retrenched 1,500 workers in November 2008, an act termed illegal.

After some workers moved the Haryana Labour Court, the labour department registered challans and referred the matter to the CJM. On Saturday, Karnal chief magistrate Amit Kumar passed the order against Gupta and imposed Rs 1,000 fine under the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947. Adarsh Gupta, who is currently engaged as executive director of Liberty Shoes, is one of the promoters of the company. The promoters are likely to appeal in the sessions court.

A Haryana labour department official said closure of the factory by Liberty Enterprises was illegal as the company did not acquire permission from state labour department. As per labour laws, a company employing more than 100 workers needs prior sanction for closure. Liberty workers, 900 regular and 600 contractual, have been fighting a legal battle to recover wages, terminal dues and gratuity. Over 350 workers have taken legal recourse for wage recovery. An application for terminal dues - including gratuity and compensation - from 735 retrenched workers is also pending with the Haryana labour department.

Counsel for the complainants Dalip Chandna said the workers were transferred to three isolated locations where no manufacturing plants existed. They were made to mark attendance in open fields and most were forced to quit after being denied wages for months.

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