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P. Velu v. Tmt. A. Antony Ammal - CIVIL REVISION PETITION (P.D.) No. 252 of 2002  RD-TN 273 (19 April 2002)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS
THE HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE E.PADMANABHAN
CIVIL REVISION PETITION (P.D.) No. 252 of 2002 AND
CMP.No: 2127 OF 2002
P. Velu ... Petitioner Vs.
1. Tmt. A. Antony Ammal
2. Thiru A. Chandran
Deputy Commissioner of Labour
(Commissioner for Workmen
Madurai. ... Respondents PRAYER:-Revision preferred under Art. 227 of The Constitution of India, to transfer W.C.No.22 of 1998 on the file of the learned Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Madurai, the respondent herein, to the Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Tirunelveli.
For Petitioner : Mr. Sundar
For Respondents : Mr. M. Chinnasamy, Spl.G.P. for R2
:O R D E R
The present revision has been preferred under Art.227 of The Constitution of India seeking for transfer of W.C.No.22 of 1998 on the file of the Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Madurai, the second respondent herein to the file of the Deputy Commissioner of Labour Tirunelveli.
2. According to the petitioner the approach of the second respondent is unfair, unlawful, unwarranted and contrary to the provisions of the Workman's Compensation Act and the Rules framed thereunder. It is contended that the second respondent has no jurisdiction to entertain the application filed by the first respondent under section 22 of The Workmen's Compensation Act since the accident in question took place at Tirunelveli, outside the jurisdiction of the second respondent, and the first respondent is ordinarily residing at Thuraiyur, Tirunelveli. Therefore the Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Tirunelveli alone has the jurisdiction to try the dispute.
3. It is contended that the first respondent had admitted that she was a resident of Thuraiyur in Tirunelveli District during cross examination and not residing at Madurai and therefore the second respondent has no jurisdiction. It is further alleged that the second respondent has personal bias against the revision petitioner as the petitioner had declined to compromise the mater, as suggested by the second respondent. The second respondent has acted in excess of the jurisdiction and always went on passing orders without following the fair procedure and without deciding the jurisdictional issue. It is further contended that the entire claim against the petitioner is false and fictitious. Certain expressions made by the second respondent during the hearing is also stated and relied upon as a ground for transfer as it reflects bias on the part of second respondent and he will not act fairly, as an independent quasi judicial authority.
4. Per contra, Mr.M.Chinnasamy, learned Special Government Pleader contends that the first respondent is residing within the jurisdiction of the second respondent and therefore the first respondent could maintain the claim. Though the incident occurred in Tirunelveli District, there is no bar for the second respondent entertaining the claim. It is further pointed out that the petitioner was always trying to avoid the claim as seen from the fact that the petitioner had moved this court on more than one occasion.
5. It is to be pointed out here that when allegations of bias and mala fides had been alleged against the second respondent by impleading him personally, it is incumbent on the part of the second respondent to have come forward and file a counter. In the absence of a counter by the second respondent, allgationts of bias and allegatinos that the second respondent has been acting unfairly or unreasonably or arbitrarily has to be sustained. Certain portions of the order dated 31.1.2002 passed by the second respondent also reflects on the second respondent. It reads thus:- "Thereafter the respondent has filed an I.A. Petition dated 9.9.20 00 praying to set aside the exparte order dated 2.8.2000 alleging some false, mischievous contentions spoiling the image of this court. A notice from this court dated 28.9.2000 was issued why it should not be brought to the notice of the Bar Council for further action. No reply was received from the counsel. However, a cost of Rs.10000/= was imposed to set aside the exparte order. Aggrieved over this order, the respondent had filed a petition before the High Court, Chennai to stay all the proceedings of this court. The Hon'ble High Court, Chennai in CMP.No.7110/01 in CRP.1311/2001 dated 24.7.2001 has passed an order for payment of Rs.5000/= as cost for setting aside the ex parte order. Further, the High Court, Chennai also directed to dispose of the main case within a period of three months.
In the meanwhile, the respondent has filed a petition raising a preliminary objection dated 26.12.01 over jurisdiction and to transfer this case to the Commissioenr for Workman's Compensation, Tirunelveli. This plea was rejected by this court.
Thereafter, the respondent has filed a petition dated 26.12.01 read above to issue the certified copies of affidavit petition and transfer petition. It is also brought to the notice of the respondent that he is delaying the proceedings paving way for contempt of Hon'ble High Court direction in disposing of this case within 3 months."
6. The portion extracted above would show the mind of the second respondent as well as his approach which approach has made the petitioner to comment. In the administration of justice be it judicial or quasi judicial, fairness is most important and justice should be seen to be done. This aspect of the matter is being highlighted by the counsel for the petitioner. Even if a revision is preferred, the Presiding Officer cannot take it personally and treat as if such revision is a challenge to his order, or as an affront to his authority. Being a quasi judicial authority the second respondent is expected to act fairly and reasonably and there shall be no bias nor there couldbe a room for bias and justice should be seen to be rendered. Ex facie, a perusal of the portion extracted above would show that the second respondent Thiru A.Chandran, Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Madurai, has not acted fairly and he has also failed to keep himself as an independent authority creating confidence in the minds of the claimants/objectors who appear before the said authority. The objection to the claim may be true or may not be true or may be even frivolous. Yet, the objection has to be considered and the claim has to be decided fairly, reasonably and justice should be seen to be done.
7. Apart from the above aspect, on the earlier occasion the petitioner filed an application to set aside the ex parte order dated 2.8.2 000 in W.C.No.22 of 1998, where the petitioner had alleged that the case was initially filed by one Chandran who is a court clerk and who is influencing in passing the orders. But the said Interlocutory Application was dismissed on 23.2.2001. In the affidavit filed in support of the said Interlocutory Application, the following averments have been set out:- "Initially W.C.No.22/98 was filed by one Chandran. He is a court clerk and influencing the passing of order. But that petition was dismissed by this Honourable Court on 28.12.1999. After the dismissal of W.C.22/98 the matter ends. The filing of a fresh petition by one Antoni Ammal was not known to me. I never received the copy of the new petition. When a new petition is filed, fresh W.C. Number ought to have been given, and fresh notice ought to have been issued tome. But no notice was given to me. The said Chandran, Court Clerk has influenced to adopt an illegal procedure, without notice to me, to get an ex parte order. The whole proceedings is void. I am living at Tirunelveli. I engaged a Lawyer to appear for me. But unfortunately, no intimation was given to me or to my lawyer about the enquiry in the above case. On account of that, I had no opportunity to know the proceedings. I was also ill from 2.3.2000 to 30.5.2000 and the medical certificate is herewith enclosed".
8. On the filing of such an affidavit, the second respondent had sent a notice to Mr.S.Ahamed Hassan, Advocate, counsel appearing for the petitioner herein to the effect that if the allegations are brought out to the notice of the court with the supporting affidavit, the matter will be brought to the notice of the Bar Council for further action, besides directed the advocate to desist from throwing mudslinging complaint against his proceedings and returned the said application. Once again an identical affidavit has been filed in the said I.A.No.10 of 2001. In the said Interlocutory Application, the second respondent passed the following order:- "Take further notice that in default of your appearance on that day before mentioned the matter will be heard and determined in your absence. I.A., will be allowed on payment of cost of Rs.1000/= which should be paid at the time of first hearing on 19.3.2000. Otherwise, the petition will automatically get dismissed."
9. Being aggrieved by the order dated 23.2.2001, a revision was preferred before this Court in CRP.No.1311 of 2001. F.IBRAHIM KALIFULLA,J., finally on 24.7.2001 held thus:-
Admittedly, no notice was given to the petitioner before the order dated 2.8.2000 passed by the Commissioner for workmen Compensation. During the pendency of this revision, while continuing the stay, the petitioner was directed to pay a sum of Rs.5000/= to the respondents as a condition precedent.
Learned counsel for the petitioner states that the said sum has been paid and the learned counsel for the respondent also confirmed the receipt of payment. In the circumstances, when admittedly the order dated 2.8.200 came to be passed by the Commissioner for Workmen Compensation without any notice to the petitioner, the petitioner is justified in claiming that he should be heard on merits on the claim of the respondent."
10. After the above order, the petitioner has filed his objections and one of the objections being that the second respondent has no jurisdiction to entertain the petition since the alleged incident had taken place in Tirunelveli District and the claimant is not residing in the address given in the claim petition. The petitioner also filed an application to consider his objections regarding jurisdiction as a preliminary objection. The claimant in her examination admitted that she is residing at Thuraiyur, that the address in her claim petition as if she is residing at Madurai is not correct. She has also deposed that she was not aware of the filing of the claim petition. The said admissions rather advance the very objection raised by the revision petitioner.
11. That apart, on 13.12.2001, the revision petitioner has filed an affidavit before the second respondent alleging that he is being compelled to settle the disputes. Once again another affidavit dated 2 6.12.2001 has been filed by the revision petitioner alleging that he has been compelled to compromise the matter with the respondent while wielding threat. It is further stated that the petitioner may not get justice and he has sought for a transfer of the proceeding.
12. In the affidavit, the petitioner had specifically made allegations against the second respondent, Deputy Commissioner of Workmen's compensation at Madurai that he has no jurisdiction. Further, his request for transfer of the case has been rejected and the order dated 31.1.2002 is extracted above. In fact, by order dated 5.2.2002, the second respondent had declined to furnish certified copy of the affidavit and transfer petition stating that there is no need. According to the petitioner, this again would demonstrate the second respondent being not fair.
13. In the light of the above background, this court is of the considered view that in all fairness the second respondent should have relieved himself of the proceedings as an independent authority, instead of taking an extreme stand and insisting that the petitioner should go on with the matter.
14. When the first respondent herself had admitted that she is residing at Thuraiyur,(Tirunelveli District) even on the date of filing of the petition as well as subsequently, it is rather extraordinary for the second respondent to have retained the matter on his file. Section 21 of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1923 provides that a petition shall be filed before the Commissioner for the area in which the accident took place which resulted in the injury of the workman, or in case of his death, the dependent claiming compensation ordinarily resides, or the employer has his registered office.
15. In the light of the admission of the claimant that she is permanently residing at Thuraiyur, in Tirunelveli District and the alleged incident took place in Tirunelveli District the venue of the proceedings in terms of Section 21 shall be before the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Tirunelveli District. In this case a specific objection has been raised and the evidence of the claimant herself before the second respondent is fatal. The relevant portion of her evidence reads thus:-
16. In the light of the above discussions, though Mr.M.Chinnasamy, learned Special Government Pleader persuasively contended that the second respondent has jurisdiction to proceed with the matter, this court is unable to sustain the same. It is clear from the above discussions the second respondent has no jurisdiction and only to confer jurisdiction a such version has been set out as if she is residing within the jurisdiction of the second respondent. This position is cleared from the above admission of the claimant before the second respondent. Much could be said against the second respondent. But judicial restraint requires this court to desist from adding anything more. The second respondent himself, as already pointed out should have relinquished himself from the proceedings as against him serious allegations have been made and he has failed to act reasonably and fairly. For the foregoing reasons, this court order transfer of the Claim Petition in W.C.No.22 of 1998 from the file of the Second respondent to the file of the Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation and Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Tirunelveli.
17. In the result, the CRP is allowed and there will be a direction directing the second respondent to transfer W.C.No.22 of 1998 pending on his file to the file of the Deputy Commissioner of Labour and Commissioner for Workmen's Compensation, Tirunelveli.
18. Consequently, connected CMP is closed. The parties shall bear their respective costs.
Deputy Commissioner of Labour
(Commissioner for Workmen
C.R.P.(P.D.) No.252 of 2002
C.M.P.No.2127 of 2002
After the delivery of the order, Mr.Chinnasamy, learned Special Government Pleader represented that the first respondent is a helpless widow, who has no income and taking into consideration of her social conditions, this Court may direct the petitioner to pay a reasonable sum so that, she could engage an Advocate and also contest the proceedings. For such a course, the counsel for the petitioner has readily agreed.
2. In the circumstances, the petitioner is directed to pay a sum of Rs.10,000/- to the first respondent within two weeks from the date of receipt of this order. The said payment shall be considered as exgratia payment. After the said payment alone, a hearing date be fixed by the Transferee Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Tirunelveli.
Order in CRP (PD) No:252 of 2002 &
CMP.No. 2127 of 2002
Pronounced on 19-04-2002
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