This is a very hypothetical discussion and does not often arise in day to day labour laws in India. Assume that Mr. X has worked in your company for 12 years and suddenly resorted to unauthorized absenteeism. Within a few days it came to the knowledge of the management that Mr. X is missing and accordingly compliant before police authority has been lodged along with newspaper publication. Since nothing could be traced out and no information was given by the family members of Mr. X to the management, the management has kept the name of Mr. X in the roll. Under such circumstances, how long the management is liable to keep the name of the employee in its roll.
If Mr. X is missing for more than 7 years and police authority has been duly informed and missing information was published in the newspaper and in spite of the same no information about Mr. X could be gathered, in such circumstances since seven years have passed, under the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 it can be said that non traceability of a missing person for more than seven years shall be deemed the missing person as dead. The management is free to presume that Mr. X is dead and in such event carrying his name any longer in the roll of the company bears no justification.
Another question may arise – Whether removing his name from the roll would amount to termination of service under any labour laws in India.
This situation can be viewed from two sides. First, since Mr. X, assuming that he falls under the category of ‘workman’, did not perform any duty for last seven years (assuming that he was missing for last seven years), the provisions of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 do not apply here. Hence, there is no scope of alleging illegality as to the removal of the name of Mr. X from the roll of the company in the gurb of termination of service. Secondly, considering the provisions of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, it may be said that Mr. X is dead and in that case there is no requirement of keeping that name of a dead employee in the roll of the company.
After removing the name of Mr. X from the roll of the company, the management is required to settle his legal dues, if any, with the legal heirs of Mr. X. Now if the name of Mr. X is removed from the roll of the company, then automatically his name would not be reflected in the statutory returns (ESI, PF etc.) required to submitted under various provisions of labour laws in India.