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Madan Pal v. U.P.S.R.T.C. & Others - WRIT - C No. 27017 of 1999  RD-AH 11032 (3 July 2007)
Judgement Reserved on 30.4.2007
Judgement Delivered on 3.7.2007
Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 27017 of 1999
Madan Pal Versus U.P. State Road Transport Corporation and others.
Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 37654 of 1999
U.P. State Road Transport Corporation Versus State of U.P. and others.
Hon'ble S.U.Khan J
Heard learned counsel for the parties.
Both these writ petitions are directed against the same award dated 25.8.1998 given by Presiding Officer, Labour Court (II) U.P. Ghaziabad in Adjudication case No. 9 of 1997. Through the impugned award Madan Pal petitioner in the first writ petition and contesting respondent No.3 in the second writ petition who is a conductor employed with U.P.S.R.T.C respondent No.1 in the first writ petition and petitioner in the second writ petition has been awarded the punishment of stoppage of one increment and 50% back wages. The employer wants termination of the workman and the workman pleads for quashing of the punishment of stoppage of one increment and further pleads for payment of full back wages.
The workman conductor was found carrying passengers without tickets on two occasions. Firstly on 14.2.1986 he was found carrying 2 passengers without tickets. Checking party issued tickets to the said ticketless passengers after charging penalty. Just after three days i.e. on 17.2.1986 petitioner was again found carrying about 36 passengers without tickets. The workman was issued charge sheet on 22.5.1986 in respect of both the incidents. Thereafter domestic enquiry was conducted and on the basis of the report of enquiry officer services of the workman were terminated on 2/4.7.1987. The enquiry was held twice and on both the occasions workman was found guilty, however, it appears that in the first enquiry there was some flaw in respect of the compliance of principles of natural justice hence second enquiry was conducted. The government made reference to the Labour Court in respect of the said termination order dated 4.7.1987. The question as to whether domestic enquiry was fair or not was decided as preliminary issue. In the impugned award, it is mentioned in para 7 that the said preliminary issue was decided on 13.1.1995 and it was held that the domestic enquiry was not in accordance with the principles of natural justice. Unfortunately in none of the writ petitions copy of order dated 13.1.1995 has been filed. Thereafter, employer adduced evidence before the Labour Court to prove the misconduct. In respect of incident of 17.2.1986, it was alleged that there were 94 passengers in the bus out of which 36 were not issued tickets even though the conductor had realised the fare from them. It was also found that 9 tickets were with one passenger however, he had no companions whose tickets could be with him. The labour court did not find the version of the employer regarding number of passengers correct on the basis that even according to the witness of the employer some passengers had stepped down from the bus at the time of checking and according to the witness it was difficult to count the passengers. However, the workman himself admitted that there were 94 passengers, and afterwards he deposited the fare of the 94 passengers. In this manner there was no dispute regarding number of passengers. Labour Court also criticised the witness who was member of checking party on the ground that he did not record statement of any passenger on the spot. It was admitted by the workman that the entry of 36 tickets had not been made on the way bill. However, his explanation was that he was in the process of making entry in the way bill at the time of checking. Labour Court further held that the alleged ticketless passengers were not issued tickets and no penalty was imposed upon them hence it was clear that they had paid the money for the tickets and tickets had been issued to them. Specific case of the workman was that he had torn 26 tickets from the ticket book but had not handed over those tickets to the passengers and he was in the process of making entry in the way bill at the time of checking.
Labour court unnecessarily questioned the jurisdiction of the checking party. The checking party was of another region and the incharge of the checking party stated that the Regional Manager, Agra had given him the programme for doing checking in Ghaziabad. Labour Court stated that written orders in that regard were not filed before it. There is nothing wrong in asking the checking party of one region to check the buses of another region. The reason may be that the conductors may be knowing the members of the checking party of their own region, hence, in order to make surprise checking effective, it is more appropriate to engage the checking party of another region. Misconduct of carrying passengers without tickets is not lightened in the least on the ground that the checking party was of another region.
The Supreme Court in Commr of Police, Delhi v. Narender Singh AIR 2006 SC 1800 has held that standard proof in disciplinary proceedings against employees is not as strict as in criminal trial. As the workman conductor had charged the fare from the passengers, hence, passengers might not be ready to pay the fare again alongwith penalty to the checking party. Moreover, large number of passengers may have also made it extremely difficult for the checking party to charge fare and penalty from them. In any case the entry had not been made in the way bill and 35 or 36 passengers were not having any ticket. Even if 9 tickets with one passengers is accounted for, still 27 passengers were not having any ticket. If conductor realises fare from some passengers without issuing any ticket then it is quite natural and possible that on being stopped by checking party he tears apart requisite number of tickets from the ticket book. However, if passengers are not having the tickets then the only presumption is that the conductor had no intention of issuing tickets to them or making entry of tickets in the way bill and he would have kept the said amount in his pocket if checking had not taken place. The conductors are bound to follow the the principles of pay and board. Payment carries with it, issuance of tickets to the passengers concerned and its entry in the way bill. If another view is taken then no conductor may be punished for carrying passengers without tickets. He may very conveniently tear requisite number of tickets from the ticket book in case bus is stopped by checking party otherwise he may keep the money in his pocket.
In any case, Labour Court found that on 14.2.1986 the workman was in fact carrying two passengers without tickets. The said charge was found fully proved by the labour court. However, labour court held that as fare alongwith penalty had been charged from those two ticketless passengers and tickets had been issued to them by the checking party, hence, the offence was compounded but misconduct was not compounded. In view of this finding labour court took an extremely lenient view and awarded the punishment of stopping one increment alongwith 50% back wages.
Supreme Court has repeatedly held that conductor enjoys the position of trust and if trust is breached employer is fully justified in removing the conductor from service on the ground of loss of confidence. It has been held that in such situation only possible punishment is that of termination. It has also been held that even if single passenger is carried without ticket punishment of removal is the only punishment which is warranted vide UPSRTC Vs. M.N.Tiwari 2006 (1) SCC 118.
Accordingly, first writ petition is dismissed however, second writ petition is allowed. Award of the labour court in so far as it is in favour of the workman is quashed. It is held that services of the workman concerned were rightly terminated by the employer.
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