High Court of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh
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Bhag Singh v. Presiding Officer & Ors - CWP-16407-2003  RD-P&H 3235 (17 May 2006)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH.
C.W.P. NO. 16407 of 2003
DATE OF DECISION : 16.5.2006.
Bhag Singh ... ... PETITIONER.
Presiding Officer and ... ... RESPONDENTS others
CORAM:- HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE J.S.NARANG
HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE ARVIND KUMAR
Present: Mr. Vikas Singh, Advocate,
for the petitioner.
Mr. A.K.Jaiswal, Advocate,
for respondents No. 3 and 4
Petitioner has invoked the extraordinary jurisdiction of this Court under Articles 226/227 of the Constitution of India, seeking a writ in the nature of Certiorari for quashing award dated 22.3.2002, Annexure P-7, upholding the order terminating his services.
Petitioner-workman was appointed as Security Guard in July,1986, in Patiala Central Co-operative Bank ( in short the bank) and posted as such at Nandpur Kalan branch. It is the case of the petitioner that on 11.3.1991, when he along with the cashier of the bank were going in car along with cash of Rs.3.5 lakhs, their car was stopped by terrorists and the cash in their possession was looted at gun-point, due to which he CWP No. 16407 of 2003 2
was not taken back on duty. Petitioner then served demand notice dated 15.7.1991 upon the bank. Subsequently, the matter was referred to the Labour Court for adjudication. Before the Labour Court, the bank took the plea that the services of the workman were not terminated, as alleged by him. It was submitted that in fact the petitioner-workman had wilfully left the service after the said incident. He did not report despite letter written to him on 18.3.1991. According to the petitioner, since the matter was being adjourned time and again by the Labour Court, he preferred a writ petition, bearing No. CWP No.9125 of 2001, in this Court which was disposed of with a direction to the Labour Court to decide the matter within six months.
The Labour Court vide its award dated 22-3-2002, Annexure P-7, upholding the plea of abandonment of the management, held the termination of the workman to be justified and well-reasoned and rejected the reference of the petitioner-workman. Hence, the present writ petition.
Upon notice of the writ petition, respondents No. 3 and 4 have filed their written statement. At the outset, they have raised the preliminary objection that there is an inordinate delay of more than one year in filing the present writ petition as the impugned award was published on 6.9.2002 whereas the present writ petition came to be filed on 15.10.2003.
On merits, it has been submitted that the petitioner-workman was appointed on daily wage basis and was paid his wages. It has been denied that after the incident of looting of Rs.3.5 lakhs, as stated above, the workman came to join his duties. As a matter of fact, the workman himself abandoned the job and never came to the bank to join in spite of letter having been written to him in this regard. It has been submitted that the petitioner-workman never completed 240 days' service in a calendar year as admittedly, neither he worked on holidays nor received salary for those holidays. On these grounds, dismissal of the writ petition has been prayed for.
Replication to the written statement has been filed by the petitioner-workman, denying the averments made in the written statement and reiterating those taken in the writ petition.
We have heard the learned counsel for the parties.
The plea of the petitioner-workman is that his services were terminated on 11.3.1991 illegally, without complying with the provisions as contemplated under Section 25-F of the Act. However, on the contrary, the CWP No. 16407 of 2003 3
plea of the respondent-management is that the workman abandoned his service with effect from 11.3.1991.
Learned counsel for the petitioner contends that the petitioner- workman had sent demand notice after about four months i.e. 15.7.1991 and this conduct does not constitute abandonment of service. In support of his argument, he has referred to the decisions reported as G.T.Lad and others v. Chemicals and Fibres India Limited, AIR 1979 SC-582 and Som Nath v.
Presiding Officer and others, 2000(7) S.L.R. 746. There is no dispute with the proposition of law that a temporary or short absence sometimes may not constitute an abandonment of service. However, the intention may be inferred from the act and conduct of the employee. The question whether the employee has abandoned his service or not is a question which is required to be resolved in the light of facts and circumstances of each case.
There cannot be any strait-jacket formula in that regard. In the instant case, petitioner-workman was a Security Guard on daily-wage basis. On 11.3.1991, he was accompanied by Surinder Singh,Cashier, along with cash of Rs.3.50 lakhs when occurred a robbery stated to be by terrorists who took away the said amount along with the gun of the petitioner-workman.
Petitioner-workman although claims that he visited the Branch Manager of respondent-bank on 11.3.1991 itself when he was told that his services had been terminated but it is only his bald assertion without any cogent proof in that regard. The conduct of a workman has also an important role to play.
He in the event of termination of his services on 11.3.1991, was expected to make written representation to the concerned Authorities. If his grievance was not redressed there, then he could have approached the higher Authorities. In that situation, he would not have remained mum till reference was made on 15.7.1991. Petitioner-workman admittedly had not written any letter to the respondent-bank after the said date of incident.
Therefore, the grievance of the petitioner-workman that he has not abandoned his service but the same have been illegally terminated, does not sound to reason. The learned Labour Court in the impugned award, with reference to the statement of management witness, Sarwan Singh, has rightly observed that vide letter dated 18.3.1991 the workman was directed to report on duty but he did not respond to the said communication. In our view, it has rightly been held by the learned Labour Court that the CWP No. 16407 of 2003 4
workman had abandoned his service; the equity is not in his favour and he cannot take advantage of his own wrong. There is nothing in this case to impress us to take a contrary view.
In view of the above discussion, the writ petition fails. It is accordingly dismissed.
( ARVIND KUMAR )
( J. S. NARANG )
May 16, 2006 JUDGE
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