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Indian Law/relieving letter terms

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Hi Sir, I have worked for a private IT recruiting consultancy for 8 years and 4 months, in Dec 2012 I sent my resignation letter and served notice period till the 14 Feb 2013, I had taken a loan from the company and so the 2 months period I served as notice without pay and that loan got cleared, however rt he company still owes me some money as in the work I put and part of my incentives after all deductions... Now they send me a relieving letter stating terms that I should not join any clients of the company neither a competitor or even partner with an ex employee, and also I cannot approach any client for the next 12 months..... And they are not ready to release the remaining payment until I sign the relieving letter.
In my resignation I just informed them that I have got a better opportunity that's why am leaving, however I plan to start my own business in the same recruiting side. The appointment letter didn't have any terms and conditions
So my questions are
1. If I sign the relieving letter and start a similar company can they take legal actions against me
2. How do I Claim for gratuity
3. If I do not sign the relieving letter they are not going tho pay me my remaining amount can I file any case against them will thast help me
4 is there a possible solution to all this

Answer
Dev:

Thanks for your referral.

(A)First and foremost, such an absolute restrictive condition (that you can not do a competitive work) is bad in law unless you were in joint venture with the employer or were paid huge joining bonus etc.

(B) Furthermore, in your case such condition was not stated in your appointment letter and it is now tried to be imposed on you when you have resigned. That makes it all the more band in law.

(C) Therefore in the given circumstances, you should better not to accept any such condition and request the employer to issue a relieving letter without it. If your company refuses to issue relieving letter or pay you gratuity, you should firstly send a registered letter to the company stating that you have resigned following the company rules and demanding your dues (including gratuity) and further stating that in case of company's failure to pay within 7 days, you may be constrained to take legal action and approach authorities like NASSCOM and Competition Commission. This may yield you desired result. If not, you should consult a layer and send legal notice making demand for your dues including gratuity.

(D) To answer to your specific questions:  

Q. 1. If I sign the relieving letter and start a similar company can they take legal actions against me
A: The company may take legal action on the basis of your having accepted such restrictive condition. However, such condition being anyway bad, it is unlikely that the company will succeed.

Q.2. How do I Claim for gratuity
Q.3. If I do not sign the relieving letter they are not going tho pay me my remaining amount can I file any case against them will that help me
Q.4 is there a possible solution to all this
A: Answered under (C) above.

Please have no worry. Am reasonably sure, you will get the desired result of you proceed as above. Please write again if your problem does not get solved.

Best Regards.  

Indian Law

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Rajeev Dewal

Expertise

Indian Law relating to Banking and Financial Transactions. Kindly read instructions on "Ask the Question" page before asking a question. Kindly note that the replies here are by way of general information and not to be taken as legal advice nor the same form any client attorney relationship.

Experience

Over 20 years as In-House Counsel and banker with International, Private and Public Sector banks in India.

Organizations
Currently, Head- Legal, RBL Bank Limited, India (see web: http://www.rblbank.com/).

Education/Credentials
BSc, LLB, CAIIB.

Awards and Honors
University Prize- LLB Examination, Distinction- CAIIB.

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