High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Beant Singh v. Presiding Officer & Ors - CWP-6079-2005  RD-P&H 3234 (17 May 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH.
C.W.P. No. 6079 of 2005
DATE OF DECISION : 12-5-2006
Beant Singh ... ... PETITIONER.
Presiding Officer and ... ... RESPONDENTS others
CORAM:- HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE J.S.NARANG
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE ARVIND KUMAR
Present: Mr. Harinder Sharma, Advocate,
for the petitioner.
Mr. S.P.Garg, Advocate,
for respondents 2 to 4
Petitioner has invoked the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226/227 of the Constitution of India, seeking a writ in the nature of Certiorari for quashing award dated 29.9.2004, Annexure P-4, passed by the Labour Court, Bathinda and also a writ of mandamus for directing respondents No. 2 to 4 to reinstate him in service with contintuity of service, seniority and full back wages.
It is the case of the petitioner-workman that he joined the service of respondent No.4 as conductor on 2.5.1978. He was charge- sheeted on the ground that while on duty on 22.7.1997 on route No.60-A, he did not issue tickets to 11 passengers out of 65 travelling in the bus and thereby caused loss to the respondent-management by embezzling a sum of Rs.77/- upon which an enquiry was ordered. On conclusion of enquiry, the Inquiry Officer submitted report dated 30.10.1998(Annexure P-1) on the CWP No. 6079 of 2005 2
basis of which order dated 5.3.1999 was passed by respondent No.4, removing the petitioner from service. This led to raising of an industrial dispute by the petitioner-workman. Petitioner then submitted his claim application before the Labour Court challenging order dated 5.3.1999 on the ground that initially while giving the petitioner an opportunity of hearing, respondent No.4 had ordered for stoppage of his two increments with cumulative effect but later on passed the order of removal from service.
Upon notice of claim application, the respondent-management put in appearance and filed its written statement denying the averments made in the claim application.
The learned Labour Court on appreciation of evidence adduced by the parties before it, dismissed the claim application vide award dated 29.9.2004, Annexure P-4. The said award is now under challenge in the present writ petition.
Upon notice of the writ petition, written statement has been filed on behalf of respondents No.2 to 4. It has been stated that the services of the petitioner-workman were terminated following a departmental enquiry held against him as he was found having embezzled Rs.77/- by not issuing tickets to 11 passengers out of 65 travelling in bus on route No.60-A. It has been denied that while affording an opportunity of personal hearing to the petitioner, respondent No.4 had ordered for imposition of stoppage of his two annual increments. It has also been submitted that the impugned order, Annexure P/4, has rightly been passed by the Labour Court.
After hearing the learned counsel for the parties and going through the record, we find no merit in the writ petition.
The only argument addressed by the counsel for the petitioner is that the Labour Court should have invoked its jurisdiction under Section 11-A of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947. There is no force in this contention. When a proper enquiry has been held by the employer and finding of misconduct is supported from the evidence adduced in the said enquiry, Tribunal has no jurisdiction to sit in judgment over the decision of the employer as an appellate Authority. Interference with decision is justified only when the enquiry is unfair or findings arrived at in the enquiry are perverse or the punishment imposed is so disproportionate to CWP No. 6079 of 2005 3
the proved charges as to shock the conscience of the Court. In the instant case, on 22.7.1997, when the bus was checked by the Checking Staff, it was found that 11 passengers were traveling without ticket from Patiala to Rajpura though he had charged Rs.77/- ( @ Rs.7/- per passenger) but had not issued the tickets. He was accordingly charge-sheeted. A full-fledged enquiry had been conducted against him wherein he cross-examined the management witnesses besides examining himself in defence. The Inquiry Officer submitted his report against him. After issuance of show cause notice, considering his reply and after affording a personal hearing, the services of the petitioner were terminated vide order dated 5.3.1999. The plea of the petitioner that the report of the Inquiry Officer was not supplied to him and that the disciplinary Authority had first announced stoppage of his two annual increments with cumulative effect but later on changed the order, has been dealt with fairly in detail by the Labour Court and not found to be correct. The argument of counsel for the petitioner that the passengers were not examined during enquiry stands negatived in view of the decision of the Supreme Court in State of Haryana and another v. Rattan Singh, (1977) 2 SCC 491 wherein it has been held that examination of passengers is not a condition precedent.
The question now left is whether punishment is disproportionate to the said proved misconduct. It is not the amount of money misappropriated that becomes a primary factor for awarding punishment, on the contrary, it is the loss of confidence which is the primary factor to be taken into consideration. Petitioner when found guilty of misappropriation of money, there is nothing wrong in the department losing confidence or faith and awarding punishment terminating his services. This issue also came up for consideration before the Supreme Court in Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation v. B.S.Hullikatti, JT 2001(2) SC-72 wherein it has been held that in such cases where bus conductors carry passengers without ticket or issue tickets at a less rate than the proper rate, the said acts would inter-alia amount to either being a case of dishonesty or of gross negligence and such conductors were not fit to be retained in service because such inaction or action on the part of the conductors results in financial loss to the road transport corporation. In the said case, their Lordships of the Supreme Court were of the firm opinion CWP No. 6079 of 2005 4
that in cases like the one before them, orders of dismissal should not be set aside.
Applying the ratio of judgment in B.S.Hullikatti's case(supra) to the facts of the present case, we are of the view that the order terminating the services of the petitioner has rightly been passed against him and thus, calls for no interference.
Resultantly, the writ petition fails. It is accordingly dismissed.
( ARVIND KUMAR )
May 12, 2006 ( J.S. NARANG )
CWP No. 6079 of 2005 5
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