Posted On by &filed under High Court, Punjab-Haryana High Court.


Punjab-Haryana High Court
Punjab State Civil Supplies … vs Presiding Officer, Labour Court, … on 10 October, 2000
Author: S Sudhalkar
Bench: S Sudhalkar, M S Gill


JUDGMENT

S.S. Sudhalkar, J.

1. By this writ petition, petitioner-Corporation is challenging the award of the Labour Court dated 3.6.1998 (copy Annexure P/3) vide which order of dismissal of respondent No. 2 (hereinafter referred to as the workman) was set aside and he was ordered to be reinstated with continuity of service but without backwages. The workman was dismissed on various charges. They are as under :-

“1. Causing monetary loss to the tune of Rs. 6980.32 on account of showing less mileage in the log book and non-payment of advance money of Rs. 462/-;

2. Shortage of palm oil amounting to Rs. 1533.60;

3. Shortage of 200 litres of oil amounting to Rs. 1639A;

4. Showing over consumption of 296 litres oil; and

5. For not plying the truck on 28.11.1983 and

1.12.1983.

2. All the charges were answered by the Enquiry Officer against the workman. It is observed by the La
bour Court that the workman has confessed to the ex
tent that he was illiterate and could not fill up the log
book himself and his cleaner used to complete the
same and regarding advance of Rs. 462/- he admitted
that he was liable to deposit the amount but for his being placed under supervision and during 8/83 the truck
was not repaired by the Transport Officer, Punsup.

The workman has contended that the truck was push
started and at the time of loading, engine has to be kept
in running condition as it was difficult to drive the
truck, Because of this, more diesel was consumed. He
has also mentioned that his predecessor driver also
mentioned in the log book that the truck is push started
and five litre diesel is consumed and the tyres of the
truck were not in good condition. The Labour Court
has also observed that “documents Ex.WW2/1 to
Ex. WW2/5 adduced in defence indicate some likelihood of palm oil and partly the department also ordered for the recovery of the shortage in transit loss
and storage loss from the concerned official”. How
ever, it has been held that the Enquiry Officer based on
the evidence of the defence witnesses and did not fully
exonerate the delinquent workman from the charges
regarding shortage of palm oil and also over consumption of diesesl. It is also observed by the Labour Court
that assistance of a co- worker was not provided to the
workman in the enquiry proceedings and this was be
cause he has not asked for any such assistance. On this
point counsel for the respondent-workman has cited
the case of Bhagat Ram v. State of Himachal Pradesh
and others
, AIR 1983 SC 454, wherein it has been ob
served by the Supreme Court as under:

“The principle deducible from the provision contained in sub-rule (5) of Rule 15 upon its true construction is that where the department is represented by a Presenting Officer, it would be the
duty of the delinquent Officer (Official ?), more
particularly where he is a class IV Government
servant whose educational equipment is such as
would lead to an inference that he may not be
aware of technical rules prescribed for holding
inquiry, that he is entitled to be defended by an
other Government servant of his choice. If the
Government servant declined to avil of the opportunity, the inquiry would proceed. But if the
delinquent officer is not informed of his right and
ah overall view of the inquiry shows that the delinquent Government servant was at a comparative disadvantage compared to the disciplinary
authority represented by the Presenting Officer
and as in the present case, a superior officer, co-

delinquent, is also represented by an officer of his
choice to defend him the absence of anyone to assist such a Government servant belonging to the
lower echelons of service would unless it is
shown that he had not suffered any prejudice, vitiate the Inquiry.”

3. The respondent-work man was, in the present

case, working as a driver. The Labour Court has held that no assistance of a co-worker was given to him because he had not asked for any such assistance. The Labour Court has considered this aspect. However, it has not exonerated the workman. It has considered that the delinquent official is a driver. It, therefore, set aside the order of dismissal and order reinstatement with continuity of service but without backwages. The backwages in this case would have been from 8.5.1991. The award of the Labour Court is dated 3.6.1998. The Labour Court has, therefore, held that the denial of backwages would be sufficient punishment.

4. The next question is regarding delay. In this case, it is the case of the respondent-workman that he had filed appeals Ex. W1 dated 23.6.1986 and Ex. W2 dated 13.8.1990, postal receipts of the same were produced at Ex. W3 to Ex. W4. Counsel for the petitioner has not told us as to what decision was taken in these appeals and if taken, when it was taken and when it was conveyed to the respondent-workman and this being so. It will not be proper to hold that the demand was raised at a belated stage. Moreover, in addition to the above reasons, the principle laid down in the case of Ajaib Singh v. The Sirhind Co-operative Marketing-cum-Processing Service Ltd. and another, JT 1999(3) SC 38 : 1999(2) SCT 667 (SC), is also applicable to the facts of the present case. We would have considered remanding of the matter to the Enquiry Officer but in view of the long period which has elapsed after the termination order, we do not find it proper to do so. In view of the above reasons we find that it will not be proper to disturb the finding recorded by the Labour Court.

5. The question of delay, explanation thereof and the punishment, all considered together lead us to observe that the award of the Labour Court should not be set aside.

6. As a result this writ petition is dismissed.

7. Petition dismissed.


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