Private employee can challenge illegal termination


Delhi High Court comprising of bench of Justice Sachdeva has observed that a suit for declaring the termination of person in private service as illegal is maintainable.

A suit was filed by the respondent/plaintiff seeking declaration and damages. Respondent/Plaintiff is an ex-employee of the petitioner and was employed as a Business Development Manager with the petitioner-company. Her services were terminated on 25th February 2011.

Aggrieved by the termination of the services, she filed the subject suit, claiming a declaration that termination of her services by letter dated 25th February 2011 to be null and void and further sought a decree of damages on account of mental harassment, loss of reputation, etc.


The trial court by the impugned order noted the contention of learned counsel for the respondent/plaintiff that respondent had merely sought a declaration that her termination being illegal be declared as void and had not sought enforcement of contract of personal services i.e. re-employment with the petitioner company, however, damages had been prayed for.

High Court observed “I am unable to accept the contention of learned counsel for the petitioner. Respondent had filed the subject Suit claiming that termination is illegal. In paragraph 1 of the plaint respondent had described herself as an ex-employee which indicates that respondent had accepted that she is no longer in services. The respondent throughout the plaint has made averment that her services were terminated illegally. Reference in particular may be had to paragraphs 1, 24 and 27 where she has categorically stated that the notice of termination is illegal”.

High Court also observed “No doubt, the expression ‘null and void’ would imply non-est, however, if prayer (a) were to be interpreted in the manner in which learned counsel for the petitioner contends, the same would imply that the termination is non est and respondent/plaintiff continues in services, but that is not what the Respondents seeks”.

High Court then observed “A meaningful reading of the Plaint shows that the respondent has not sought any re-instatement in service but had claimed that the termination is illegal and hence null and void”.

As such, High Court refused to interfere in the order of the trial court and dismissed the petition filed by the defendant company.