(MENAFN - Arab News) The High Court in Kerala has dismissed an Indian worker's lawsuit seeking compensation from the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia for losing his job and being deported from the country.
The court in the Indian state ruled that the embassy is not liable to offer compensation in labor disputes between workers and their Saudi employers, according to media reports.
The court was hearing a petition filed by an Indian expatriate, K. Thankamani, for the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pay him SR37,988. He was claiming this as compensation for the loss and damage caused to him by the alleged negligence, dereliction of duty, and denial of employment on the part of the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, the reports said.
Thankamani, who had worked for a leading maintenance and contracting company in Dammam, had approached the Kerala High Court when he returned home and claimed that he was entitled to get the amount as compensation and salary arrears from his employer in Saudi Arabia.
The petition to the high court through advocate Shoby K. Francis alleged that in spite of repeated representations, the Indian Embassy in Riyadh refused to address his grievances.
Advocate John Varghese, who represented the Indian Embassy, argued that it was not within the powers of the Indian Foreign Ministry and the embassy to intervene in a labor-related dispute between a private company in a foreign country and its employees.
The court was also told that the embassy had forwarded the matter to Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry to follow up on the case.
The Indian Embassy in Riyadh told the court that the petitioner had four options to redress his grievances.
The first option was to file a complaint to his employer or sponsor regarding non-payment of his salary; and the second option was to file a petition to the embassy regarding non-payment of his salary and termination of his job before leaving the country so that the embassy could contact the authorities while he was still there. The third option was to approach the labor court in Saudi Arabia, while the fourth was to file a complaint to the Saudi Arabian immigration authorities at the exit point regarding forceful repatriation.
Justice A. V. Ramakrishna Pillai declined to interfere in the case and questioned why the petitioner did not take up the matter with the labor court in Saudi Arabia. He said the petitioner had delayed taking up the issue with his sponsor or employer, which delayed settling the matter.
The petitioner could have approached the Saudi Labor Court in case justice was denied to him, the Indian court noted.
"As the grievance of the petitioner could not have been taken up by the embassy under the provisions of any bilateral labor contract, mutual legal assistance treaty, or extradition treaty, the claims of the petitioner now raised against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Indian Embassy are bound to fail," the court held while dismissing the plea.
Indian social worker, R. Muralidharan, who has filed legal cases against the Indian Embassy in Riyadh in the Kerala High Court, told Arab News. "I welcome the judgment because one can't hold the Indian Embassy responsible for such cases." He said that there is no bilateral agreement regarding labor contracts between the two countries.