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Madras High Court
Sivakami Mills Ltd. vs Presiding Officer, Labour Court … on 7 August, 2000
Equivalent citations: (2002) IVLLJ 815 Mad
Author: Y Venkatachalam
Bench: Y Venkatachalam


JUDGMENT

Y. Venkatachalam, J.

1. This writ petition is filed by the writ petitioner by name Sri Sivakami Mills Ltd., Thenur, represented by its Managing Director at Madurai, invoking Article 226 of the Constitution of India for the relief sought for to set aside the order passed by the first respondent in favour of the second respondent in I.D. No. 396 of 1990, dated January 29, 1993.

2. In support thereon, the writ petitioner filed an affidavit wherein he narrated all the facts and circumstances that forced him to file this writ petition and requested this Court to allow the same.

3. The other side filed a counter-affidavit rebutting all the material allegations levelled against them one after another and requested this Court to dismiss the writ petition for want of merits.

4. The arguments of learned counsel for the petitioner and learned counsel for the respondents are heard. The point for consideration is as to whether there are any valid grounds to allow the writ petition or not.

5. I have gone through the material documents available on record together with the contents of the affidavit, counter-affidavit besides the contents of the award passed by the first respondent in favour of the second respondent in I.D. No. 396 of 1990, dated January 29, 1993. I have also kept in mind various points raised before me by learned counsel appearing for both sides, during the course of their arguments.

6. The salient features of the case on hand are as follows: It is the case of the management. that the second respondent by name Chinnappan was working before the management as workman and he was a permanent workman in the management. During the course of the service, he was involved in some misconduct of dereliction of duty. The management, having satisfied that prima facie alleged misconduct is made out against him with regard to dereliction of duty, ordered domestic enquiry. The enquiry officer, having framed charges against the second respondent- workman, conducted enquiry and recorded the evidence adduced by both sides and perused the documents marked by either side.

7. The management came to the conclusion that the charge is made out in view of the enquiry report filed by the enquiry officer and dismissed him from service. Thereafter, conciliation proceedings also ended in failure. Thereafter, the second respondent raised an industrial dispute before the then Secretary, Labour and Employment, Government of Tamil Nadu, who in turn referred the matter to the first respondent, Presiding Officer-Labour Court at Madurai, for adjudication.

8. The said Presiding Officer, having received the adjudication proceedings registered the same as I.D. No. 396 of 1990 and after recording the evidence oral and documentary by both sides, passed an award dated January 29, 1993, stating that the dismissal order passed against the second respondent-workman is disproportionate to the proved charge and set aside the dismissal order. At the same time, the first respondent passed an order disallowing the full back wages from the date of dismissal till the date of reinstatement and awarded only 50 per cent of back wages.

9. Aggrieved by the finding given by the first respondent, the petitioner has filed this writ petition. Now, I would like to examine the legality and validity of the impugned order passed by the first respondent. Admittedly, the proved charge is dereliction of duty on the part of the second respondent-workman in discharging his duties. It is not the case of misappropriation of funds or fabrication of accounts or falsification of accounts, cheating or any other major proved charge, which is punishable under the Indian Penal Code.

10. The rule of law is very clear that the punishment awarded should be proportionate to the proved charge. Here the proved charge is minor whereas the penalty is major. The first respondent, the Presiding Officer, Labour Court, after analysing the matter, came to the conclusion that the capital punishment of dismissal from service is disproportionate to the proved charge of dereliction of duty and hence set aside the dismissal order. I am of the clear view that it needs no interference and the point is answered against the management.

11. Now, I would like to examine whether the award passed by the first respondent-Labour Court regarding 50 per cent back wages from the date of termination till his reinstatement is valid or not. The rule of law is very clear that the second respondent has to make out his case in his favour that from the date of dismissal till his reinstatement, he is not gainfully employed elsewhere. Then only the second respondent is entitled to get full back wages. But the second respondent has not made out that aspect. Hence, 1 am of the clear view that the relief granted in favour of the second respondent-workman awarding 50 per cent of back wages is not valid under law and it is hereby set aside.

12. In the result, the writ petition is partly allowed setting aside the order passed by the first respondent-Labour Court, awarding 50 per cent of the back wages from the date of dismissal till his reinstatement in favour of the second respondent, while confirming the order of reinstatement passed by the first respondent in I.D. No. 396 of 1990, dated January 29, 1993. Consequently, the connected W.M.Ps are closed. But, in the circumstances, no costs.


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