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The Management of v. The Presiding Officer,2. J. Venkatesan - WRIT PETITION No.14950 of 1995  RD-TN 377 (20 June 2002)
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT MADRAS
THE HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE P. SATHASIVAM
WRIT PETITION No.14950 of 1995
W.M.P.Nos.23803 and 26718 of 1995
The Management of ... Petitioner Pallavan Transport Corpn. Ltd.,
Pallavan House, Anna Salai,
1. The Presiding Officer,
II Additional Labour Court,
2. J. Venkatesan ... Respondents Writ Petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for issue of Writ of Certiorari as stated therein.
For Petitioner : Mr. Vijayan for M/s. King & Patridge For Respondent-2 : Mr. R. Rajaram
:O R D E R
Aggrieved by the award of the Second Additional Labour Court, Madras, dated 31.01.1994 passed in I.D.No.189/89, the Management of Pallavan Transport Corporation has filed the above writ petition to quash the same on various grounds.
2. The case of the petitioner-Corporation is briefly stated hereunder:-
The second respondent was a Driver in the petitioner-Corporation from 01.03.1985. During the relevant period, he was posted as a Driver in Route No.42V Fleet No.NSE 687 plying between Parry's Corner to Puzhal. While so, on 01.08.1987, he was closely driving behind another bus owned by the very same petitioner-Corporation towards Puzhal which was also plying on the same route (42V). Suddenly, the Driver of the bus proceeding ahead, stopped the bus due to some traffic obstructions. The second respondent, who carelessly and negligently drove the bus, dashed against the rear side of the bus proceeding before him and as a result of which both the buses were damaged. When the petitioner's bus was checked in the Depot, it was found that both air pipes leading to the front brakes were deliberately cut by the second respondent to escape from the liability and the same was not due to any wear and tear. Accordingly, the petitioner-Corporation framed four charges against the second respondent by its charge memo dated 12.08 .1987. The second respondent submitted his explanation denying the charges levelled against him which was not satisfactory. Hence, a domestic enquiry was conducted. The enquiry officer submitted his findings holding the petitioner guilty of all the charges levelled against him. After accepting the findings of the enquiry officer and by issuing second show cause notice, the petitioner removed the second respondent from service with effect from 03.08.1988. Against the order of dismissal, the second respondent raised an industrial dispute in I.D.No.189 of 1989 before the first respondent. The first respondent while holding the second respondent guilty of the charges of negligence and carelessness, interfered with the punishment imposed under Section 11A of the Industrial Disputes Act and directed the petitioner-Corporation to reinstate the second respondent with continuity of service with back-wages to be given for the period of his nonemployment except for one year. Against the said award, the petitioner Corporation has filed the present writ petition.
3. Heard the learned Counsel appearing for the petitionerManagement and the second respondent-workman.
4. The only point for consideration in this writ petition is whether the Labour Court is justified in interfering with the punishment imposed by the Petitioner-Management?
5. The learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner, after taking me through the charge memo, explanation, enquiry proceedings, dismissal order and the impugned order of the Labour Court, would contend that the conclusion arrived at by the Labour Court cannot be sustained. According to him, it is a perverse finding and the same cannot be sustained. He would also contend that there is no valid ground for modification of the punishment imposed by the petitioner-Management.
6. I am unable to accept both the contentions for the following reasons:-
The following charges were raised against the second respondent by charge memo dated 12.08.1987:-
a) That on 01.08.1987, while he was on duty in Route No.42V Fleet No.NSE 687 drove the bus closely following another bus without keeping sufficient gap in between the two buses and caused the accident. b) That he caused damages to the tune of Rs.285/- to the Corporation which is a misconduct. The damages for Fleet No. SE 687 is Rs.260/- and the damages amounting to Rs.25/- to the bus bearing Fleet No.SE.690. c) That he drove the bus not only in a negligent and careless manner but also to escape from the liability of the accident, he deliberately cut the Air Horn pipes to claim that there was no brake at the time of accident. d) That he deliberately tried to conceal the mistake committed by him. The above charges were misconduct as per the Certified Standing Orders provisions 25 (XIII a) & (XXVIII) (B).
Since the second respondent participated in the domestic enquiry and he was given adequate opportunity to put forth his case, it is unnecessary for this Court to go into the enquiry proceedings and the ultimate report of the enquiry officer.
7. It is seen from the records that it is the case of the petitioner-Corporation that in order to escape the charge and liability that the second respondent-Driver alone was responsible for the accident and it is also their case that it was the second respondent who cut the Air Pipes leading to the front brakes. The said accident had occurred on the evening of 01.08.1987. Immediately, the bus was taken to the Depot. The Bus was stationed in the Depot. Though the petitioner-Corporation through M.W.2 explained that it was the Driver who had deliberately cut the Air Pipes to escape from his liability, it is seen from the impugned award of the Labour Court that the Traffic Inspector did not notice the said aspect at the place of the accident. Only in the morning on the next day, M.W.2, after examination, noticed the said defect. No doubt, the learned Counsel for the petitionerManagement brought to my notice the evidence of Mr.K. Jayaraman, Foreman, examined on the side of the Management and contended that in the light of the statement made, the conclusion arrived at by the Labour Court cannot be accepted. Here again, I am unable to appreciate the said contention, because the Labour Court on appreciation of all the material available on record arrived at a factual conclusion that the Management had failed to prove the alleged fact of cutting the air pipe by the second respondent. Admittedly, the said air pipe was not placed before the enquiry officer and marked as exhibit in support of the petitioner-management's stand. In the light of the specific denial by the Driver concerned and in the absence of any evidence on the side of the petitioner-Management that it was the Driver, who cut the air pipe, I do not find any valid reason to disagree with the findings arrived at by the Labour Court.
8. Regarding the observation of the Labour Court with reference to the past service of the second respondent, the learned Counsel appearing for the petitioner by drawing my attention to Ex.M.10, would contend that in the light of the fact that the Driver had involved in two accidents and he was warned for the same, contrary conclusion arrived at by the Labour Court cannot be sustained. A perusal of Ex.M.10 shows that on both the occasions, namely, on 10.09.1985 and 17.04.1987, the second respondent was warned by the management. As a matter of fact, the incident dated 17.04.1987 is not an accident as claimed by the petitioner-management. In the light of the fact that on both the occasions, the second respondent was only warned by the management, that cannot be seriously taken note of.
9. On appreciation of oral and documentary evidence, including the enquiry proceedings and by invoking Section 11A of the Industrial Disputes Act, the Labour Court arrived at the conclusion that the punishment of dismissal is disproportionate to the proved charges and rightly modified the punishment. In the absence of any other material, I am of the view that interference by this Court exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India is very limited, inasmuch as the Labour Court has assigned acceptable reasons for modifying the punishment imposed. As stated earlier, the same cannot be lightly interfered with by this Court. In the light of what is stated above, I do not find any error or infirmity in the order impugned. Consequently, the writ petition fails and the same is dismissed. Consequently, W.M.P.Nos.23803 and 26718 of 1995 are also dismissed. No costs.
The Presiding Officer, II Additional Labour Court, Madras. sml.
P. SATHASIVAM, J.
W.P.No.14950 of 1995
W.M.P.Nos.23803 and 26718 of 1995.
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